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We have arrived in Pigeon Forge in the Great Smoky Mountains and it's not quite what I was expecting!

Eagle Ridge Lodge, Pigeon Forge

So we have visited Memphis, Tupelo, Nashville and now we are in the Great Smoky Mountains! The Parkway in Pigeon Forge is the “main strip”; with plenty of entertainment along here including shows are attractions. There are huge billboards with flashing lights and images advertising the next show, we even drive passed an upside-down house (the kids are glued to the car windows!) and a Titanic replica (but I’ll come back to that – it’s definitely worth a visit!).

But we are looking for Eagles Ridge Resort, our accommodation for the next two nights, and it’s only a short drive before we arrive at our tranquil log cabin in the mountains. The two bedroom, two-storey house is lovely – with everything made from logs including the beds! There are two balconies, one with a barbecue and one with a hot tub!

We had already booked tickets to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede for our first night, a family show including a four-course dinner! When you arrive at the venue you have the obligatory family photo, which seems to be common at the shows here, then go into a room to be warmed up by Mountain Rukus, a Bluegrass band with a comedy element!

You are then taken through to the show and sit along benches around the arena. The meal consists of soup, a whole rotisserie chicken, corn-on-the-cob, pork slice, half a jacket potato, homemade biscuit and an apple slice plus unlimited Pepsi, sweet tea or coffee served in a jam jar – your definitely won’t go hungry! But be warned there’s no cutlery strictly fingers only!

This is an all-American show; a North vs. South competition with horse stunts, racing pigs and have you ever seen anyone racing an ostrich? You will here! You are encouraged to cheer your team on and wave your flags – it’s good family fun! But after the show hubby and I are ready to head back to our lodge and relax with a beer ready to take on Dollywood the next day.

We were told our family would love Dollywood! It’s one of the most beautiful theme parks in America and huge so can easily spend a day there – and they weren’t wrong, we had a really great family day out. My 8-year old daughter making me go on the longest, fastest roller coasters, getting wet on water rides, boat rides and train rides – it has everything and as we went on a Thursday there wasn’t any queuing. I even went on the new Wild Eagle ride, America’s first wing coaster – it was awesome! There is also Dolly Parton's Splash Country next door, the ultimate water park, but unfortunately it hadn't opened for the season when we visited. We relaxed with a bbq back at the lodge after a very busy day with my Happy Birthday Mom cake.

My husband is a motorbike enthusiast and riding a Harley Davidson in the Smoky Mountains was definitely on his bucket list. We arrived at the Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson office and very quickly and easily booked a new Harley Softail Heritage (although he was after a Harley Sportster but all of these were already out!). All you need is your driving licence, a $2000 deposit (refunded to your credit card upon safe return of the bike) around $130 for 6 hours (the minimum hire period including taxes and insurance) – bargain! He was pointed in the direction of the Foothills Parkway and off he went, while the kids and I explored more family fun in Pigeon Forge (crazy golf, mirror maze, Magiquest wand adventure and laser fun).

After two nights at the Eagles Ridge Resort we were now moving on to Oak Haven Resort, a luxury cabin rental in Sevierville nestled in the mountains and only a 10-minute drive from Pigeon Forge. This accommodation was amazing including a hot tub, a whirlpool bath, a snooker table, ping pong and a retro tabletop games machine – bring on the space invaders challenge! There is also a spa available but we didn’t have time to try it out. We were on our way to the Titanic.

The Titanic Museum tells the story of the ship, the passengers and the crew. You are giving a boarding pass of an actual passenger or crew when you arrive, to which you find out their fate at the end of the tour. The museum has over 400 artefacts and you can follow the audio tour, with a special one available for children. Along the way you can touch a real iceberg, put your hands in -2°C water, walk the Grand Staircase, see the different class accommodations and try to stand on the different stages of the sloping decks. The staff were very excited to have visitors from England – although we couldn’t persuade them to demonstrate their English accents! At the end of the tour we all checked our boarding passes to see our fate, the children and I had survived unfortunately my husband had not been so lucky, but the children enjoyed seeing a photo of the person they were on the tour and to find out what happened to them after the Titanic. This museum has been put together very well and is very interesting the whole family enjoyed it – well worth a visit.

We really enjoyed our holiday in the Smoky Mountains and you can experience full on family shows and attractions or relax in the beautiful mountains in one of the many lodges – I think we managed to get a good balance of both!

Our next stop is Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel…




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