Lindsey Galvez

6 Reasons to Visit the Smoky Mountains in the Winter 
Category: Lodging
Date: February 1, 2017

You might think that the summer months are THE time to visit the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. That's the exact reason a trip to the mountains should be on your agenda in the cool, winter months of a new year. You'll find smaller crowds, great deals, and even more reasons to fall in love with the mountains and all that the Pigeon Forge area has to offer. Here’s my 6 reasons why January through March is a great time to plan a trip to the Smoky Mountains!

Smaller crowds

Most schools are back in session and summer attractions are closed for the season. That's one reason you'll find lower numbers in the first few months of the year. Don't let that deter you. If you have the ability to travel in the early months, it's a great time because you'll find less traffic and fewer crowds at your favorite stores and shows.

Be sure to check ahead on show times of some of your favorites. Although the crowds aren’t as big, dinner attractions like Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede and Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure have limited seating and can still sell out! You'll also be able to visit area attractions such as Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and the Titanic Museum without long lines and wait times.

Snow-capped mountain vistas

The sights of budding flowers in the spring are lovely. The changing colors of the leaves in the fall are fantastic. But when you get a glimpse of snow-covered trees and mountains, you'll understand why mountain-winterscapes are my favorite.

With hundreds of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are countless chances to see the beauty of the mountains in its coldest element. You can find a comprehensive list of hiking trails and their difficulty here. While the national park is open through the winter months, there are times when the park needs to close because of dangerous road and weather conditions, which you can check here. There's nothing more beautiful than a hike in the woods with a blanket of light snow on the ground. I highly recommend a trek up Clingman's Dome for the view.

Great rates on hotel stays

With less demand comes great hotel rates. My family will either extend our visit another night or upgrade our accommodations because of the value we can find. You should check into this, too!

This brings me to my next reason why winter is a great time to visit the Smokies: for obvious reasons, we tend to be inside more than other seasons. Choose wisely!

Warm, luxurious home base

Choosing the right hotel is important for any time of the year, but especially in the winter months. Just like there's nothing like coming inside from a day playing in the snow, there's nothing like having a comfortable hotel that feels like a home away from home when you're visiting Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in the wintertime. Dollywood's DreamMore Resort offers guests luxury, relaxation, and comfort. Whether you're pulling a chair up by the fireplace in one of the beautifully decorated living rooms or enjoying some much-needed relaxation in The Spa at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, this resort has something to make everyone feel at home in the winter.

If you're looking for larger group accommodations, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins are the perfect choice. Located throughout Pigeon Forge, the cabins are all close to the Dollywood parks and all the area attractions; but yet, you feel like you're up in the mountains away from everything.

Shopping opportunities abound

The amount of shopping opportunities are numerous when it comes to the cities surrounding the Smoky Mountains. Sevierville boasts Tanger Outlets where you can find dozens of name brands at outlet prices. The newly built shopping district, The Island, located behind Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure is full of fun, one-of-a-kind stores with something for everyone. The winter months are a great time for shopping as the deals are plentiful and (remember!) the crowds are smaller.

Winter activities

While most outdoor activities in the Smoky Mountains take place in the warmer months of the year, skiing is one that is prime time for winter. Ober Gatlinburg is a Smoky Mountain MUST. Plus, in addition to skiing, Ober offers snow tubing, ice skating and even an alpine coaster!

As I see it, there's no shortage of reasons to visit the Smoky Mountains in the winter. There are lots of attractions, shops, and restaurants to keep visitors happy and busy throughout the season. I encourage you to think outside the box and give the Smoky Mountains a try in the “off-season.”



What I Love the Most About Dolly Parton
Category: Dolly Parton
Date:March 13, 2017

When people ask me what I love most about Dolly and what she's done for her hometown, they are sometimes surprised by my answer. While Dollywood is at the top of everyone's list for fun, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is one that definitely shines for children and their parents... especially my family.

I registered both of my girls for the Imagination Library as soon as they were born. That means that they each got one book every month until they turned 5! Yes, those 60 books [120 between the both of them] contributed to our growing library of children's books. The quality of the books are impeccable, too. You can tell that there has been so much thought put into the books that are a part of the program. For example, each child receives "The Little Engine That Could" as their first book, which really shares the sentiment of the entire program. Dolly explains the reason she chose this book to be every child's first in the program is because she always had a dream of going to Nashville and becoming a successful singer/songwriter; her dream came true because she always believed in herself, and she wants all children to do the same!

Dolly Parton created the Imagination Library 20 years ago in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. With her own meager upbringing in mind, she wanted to create a program to help all families build their children a library of quality books. Since its creation, the Imagination Library has now mailed more than 87 million, yes million, books to children around the world! That's right—this program has expanded even outside of the United States and now has more than 1 million children enrolled.

I've always loved to read and I've always enjoyed reading to my girls, which has instilled a love of reading for them as well. That, along with the fact that they got a special gift in the mail with their name on it, made the day that they're "Dolly book" arrived in the mailbox the best day of the month. It probably also has to do with the fact that I always told my girls that the books were coming straight from Dolly herself. Because of our many conversations and, of course, visits to Dollywood, they both know Dolly very well. The fact that they think Dolly sends them a book through the mail every month, with their name on it, means so much to them.

So much in fact that when my youngest daughter received her last book on her 5th birthday this year, I thought she would burst from the excitement that, "Dolly sent me a birthday present!!!!" We've been talking about her upcoming adventure of going to Kindergarten this fall and it's always been met with apprehension until this book showed up with the special note from Dolly about how exciting school will be!

As a parent, it's wonderful to see your children so excited about learning and reading. It's also quite exciting to see my girls have a love for Dolly that matches their mama's! I'm continually amazed at how she gives back and the amazing work she does for our community, our children, and our world.

If you have children younger than 5 years old, be sure to register them in the Imagination Library. Please keep in mind that although the program is in all 50 states, it is not in every community. See the information below about how Imagination Library works and how you can get involved.

If you are in an eligible community, your kids will get excited about getting "books from Dolly" in their mailbox, too!