Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Strands do Tennessee. And Kentucky. Kind of.

 One of my goals in life is to visit all 50 states and because last summer we didn't go on any roadtrips, this summer I wanted to get the most out of our summer. First trip was to Tennessee/Kentucky. We could only go for a few days if we wanted to fit our second trip in this summer to cross another state off. 


We left in the middle of the night so we can get to Tennessee in one trip (16 hours) and it ended up working out really well. 

Lucy would agree. I feel like we're road trip pros when a 16 hour drive doesn't even phase us. 
In Tennessee, our destination was Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge which I actually didn't realize was such a tourist mecca. It was like Branson, Missouri in my opinion. 
Highlights of our trip was Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. I highly recommend it if you're in the area, especially if you're a fan of sharks. They have a really cool shark area with species I hadn't even heard of. I'm not even sure we saw every area but the kids were getting tired (we walked around for two hours). I definity wouldn't recommend the "boat ride" which is literally a glass bottom boat, tethered, and goes in a slow circle and you see everything you saw in the shark area. It was an outrageous money grab and the kids were disappointed. 
We also went to the Skylift Park and Skylift Bridge on what felt like the hottest day of the week. You ride up on a gondola to get to the top, which is the gorgeous park area. The bridge itself is long with a glass bottom at the mid-point. It was SO hot outside so I only made it to the half way point before I had to turn around. I think a combination of the heat and height got to me because on my walk back I got so dizzy. I had to rest and hydrate when I got to the end. Conveniently, the park has lots of chairs to rest and enjoy the view. 
I mean, I could sit and look at this for hours. 
Jackson didn't love the height of the day so he was the real sport this day. 
We did some walking around Gatlinburg to see some shops and Jackson hit the motherlode when he found a small music store. He got some vinyl he's been searching for at an unbelieveable price, and a couple of posters that will look great in his room. 

We spent a night having dinner at the Island in Pigeon Forge and went with Margaritaville, a favorite of Jackson. We also walked around there and the little girls rode some rides. I was actually surprised it wasn't more busy, but maybe it was the heat. 
The next day we went to Dollywood and unpopular opinion.... I thought it was overrated. We didn't do the water park side, just the amusement park, but I wasn't impressed. It was overpriced, the food wasn't great, there was almost no shade and sitting areas in the shade, it was just a really long, rough day. The only positive was the lines for rides actually weren't that long so the kids were able to ride as many as they would like to. The best part of the day was paying the extra $45 for preferred parking because by the end of the day my legs were screaming. 
Another part of our trip was going to the Titanic museum, which was a wish from Penelope. She's obsessed and she was all over the place taking it all in. Unfortunately, my traveler and Jackson's traveler died, everyone else's survived. 
Even the big kids had a great time. I definitely recommend this if you're looking for something to do indoors. 
We also did some mini-golf, as recommended by all of the kids, and I had actually never mini-golfed before so I got to do something new. Recommendation: go to Pigeon Forge to golf, and go in the morning, otherwise the lines are long and you'll be rushed. 
Our very last day we drove to Bowling Green, Kentucky so we could go to Beech Bend Amusement Park. We weren't doing the amusement side, just the water park side. The kids a great day, I spent almost seven hours sitting in a shaded cabana because I forgot my book at the hotel and didn't have a current one on my phone. Rookie move! The park was OK, I'm not sure I wouldn't go out of my way to go here again, but if you're in the area and need somehting to do, it might be a fun day. 

Overall? We had a really nice week. It was so nice to go on vacation with all of us again, I can't wait for our next one to Michigan. 

1 comment:

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

wow what a time, looks like fun was had