You may have noticed that I took a little break from blogging this past weekend. That is because I was in the mountains with family and friends where there is no Internet. We went to Bryson City, NC. I am always searching for fun places to go that are not too far away and don't cost too much money. I like to read personal accounts because I think they give you a better picture of what to expect. Unfortunately, there are not as many as I would like to see online to get good ideas. So, I am going to tell you about this vacation spot.
First, I live in a suburb of Nashville, TN. It took us about 5ish hours to get there. Actually a little longer because we stopped in Pigeon Forge (you drive through) for a quick break for the kids. If you plan for it, there is a cool Titanic Museum on the way that my kids would love to see, but we did not have time for. You will also drive by a very good Krispy Kreme which we stopped at and got doughnuts for then and the next morning, yumm.
We stayed at Estes Cabin which you can book by calling. It was totally cool. It was built in the mid 1870's and is the oldest home in the county. However, it has great air conditioning, four bedrooms with five double beds, a full kitchen and a washer and dryer. You know that smell that you get when you go into an historic landmark home for a tour? This place has it. If you love history, you will love this place. There were even some photocopied documents to peruse which belonged to the owner, including his confederate papers. If you go, check out the photos in the upstairs hall. My only complaint was that the outside lighting was non-existent, but since we always carry flashlights, it wasn't a problem. Our friends rented a more modern cabin nearer to the Nantahala River (15 minutes from town) which was two bedrooms with one double and four bunkbeads and no washer/dryer for $165 per night. However, it does have a pool and access to horse back riding. The Estes Cabin cost us $145 per night for the five of us. I think it is more if there are additional guests. It was worth the price. Just an idea that worked well for us - I read Little House on the Prairie to the kids on the way up. It describes how they built their cabin and gave our kids a better appreciation for our cabin and the time that it was built.
This cabin is also in a great spot. About a mile down the road you can rent tubes for $3 each (all day) and float down a beautiful creek. It is part of the Smokey Mountains National Park. There are also trails. We took one to see a waterfall which the kids played in. About a mile around the mountain in the other direction is Bryson City. Bryson City is a small town with numerous cute shops and a train station. The Great Smokey Mountain Railroad has a depot there. You can get a coupon here for $3 off the price of a ticket. However, since we were meeting up with our friends, a couple with four children, we decided to rent the caboose which was a flat amount of $499, not much more than buying tickets for all of us plus you get snacks and special treatment. The kids loved it! I think if you did it in the fall, it would be even more amazing. It was a four hour round trip ride (one hour is stopping for lunch). When you get to the end point, the train stops and the engine is moved to the other end of the train. Thus, if you were in the caboose, you become the first car after the locomotive on the way back which was also a thrill for the kids.
If you are looking for a family restaurant, there is a family pizza place (I think it was Anthony's) across from the train station with great pizza and reasonable prices. They also serve locally made beer which is quite strong (just fyi). I also noticed that the prices in their grocery stores were better than those where I shop. There is a gas station in town that is open late and it sells basic food supplies (very expensive). Otherwise most every place else closes early. Keep that in mind if you want to buy groceries.
We were only there for a few days so we didn't get to see all the things we would have liked. Cherokee is a neighboring town with an Indian museum that looked really interesting. They also have a nice movie theater. If you have more time check this town out. Also, the Biltmore is around an hour away - definitely an awesome day excursion.
If you want a quick weekend trip, this is a great, less commercial than Gatlinburg, place to go!