About a 6 hour drive from my Kentuckiana home is one of the largest parks, and most popular wedding destinations in the country… in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Summer is a great time to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and enjoy some wonderful outdoor old fashion excitement.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is at the edge of Gatlinburg. This park has many hiking trails ranging in difficulty and distance. I first walked to Laurel Falls with my mother, who had Parkinson Disease. She was walking, but did get a neat natural looking walking stick to help her get to the falls. Believe me it was well worth the effort. We packed a small picnic, and had a wonderful day. The national park has plenty of hikes, trails, and car tours, so even if someone is challenged with mobility, it is still a wonderful stop.
Another friend went to the Cades Cove area with her in-laws and her 2 teen age boys. They had a great time exploring the wildlife, taking a small hike, and checking out the horses. I heard the father in law would love to stay and fish, but they didn’t have enough time. Other families brought bikes and dogs to this area. Remember to bring your camera, and know that it is usually at least an hour from the Gatlinburg area.
If there has been a lot of rain recently the more adventure oriented people might consider tubing or rafting down the river, while the ladies could do some outlet shopping. There are a number of companies who offer soft adventures in the area. There is also a huge outlet area. (Perfect combination if you ask me)
Finally, we have stayed numerous times in a vacation rental cabin. This gives everyone a little more room than staying in a hotel, and due to the cabin having full kitchens, outdoor grills, hot tubs, and more everyone finds something to enjoy. Many of the cabins have first floor bedrooms, which are perfect for us older folks with joint challenges and such. By the way, soaking in the hot tub after a day in the park is wonderful.
Special Needs Vacation By V has lots of information about the Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountain National Park are including Accessible lodging, hiking, and shopping.
Vicky Spencer Rouse