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March 2016

Hotel Review: Quality Inn Creekside Gatlinburg

I’m back with a review of the hotel we stayed at during our most recent trip to Gatlinburg— the Quality Inn Creekside.

First, let me begin by saying we stayed here last year, and received a really good deal on their cottage. Well, we weren’t exactly thrilled with our experience so we gave it another shot, knowing they have a three story building up on the hill beside the Summit Manor Condos, where we stayed in June 2014.

We decided to drive in a day before our reservation— contrary to our initial plans of driving halfway and stopping at a hotel in Kentucky. We arrived at around 8:30 p.m., and hoped we could at least get a room with two double beds. As it turned out, they had the same room booked for us the next day ready for us now. We were beyond thrilled with this and thanked the front desk employee, Matt, who we found out was originally from Northwest Ohio; this shouldn’t have surprised us given the amount of former Ohioans we’ve met that now call the Smoky Mountains home.

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Even though it was now evening, we knew we were going to have a positive experience upon entering our hotel room. As I mentioned earlier, our room was located in the tower portion on the hill that sits facing the Space Needle, and has an extended balcony, since it was on the end of the building, which was an added bonus for the price of the room. The room itself contained a decent size fridge, microwave, modern desks and drawers, plenty of room to fit toiletries and clothes, a comfortably firm bed, and great views with no noise from downtown crowds.

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The hotel serves a breakfast that is free and starts at 6:30, which is earlier than the breakfast places in town open, so that is very accommodating to the early risers. We didn’t partake simply because there are too many good, if not great, breakfast restaurants to choose from. I spent our free breakfast morning to take a walk down to the Donut Friar, which makes the best donuts and cinnamon bread you will find anywhere in the area; I feel very confident saying this because I’ve had many different donuts in my lifetime, and they are the real deal.

We were so pleased with our stay that we decided to book our exact same room for June. You simply cannot beat those prices for a nice, modern hotel room with great views of the mountains. You also have the option of taking the elevator down to the ground floor into their garage, or walking down a semi-steep hill that takes you right on the Parkway, and in the middle of all the excitement. We couldn’t be more excited to return here in June. I won’t name the hotel we canceled our reservation with to slide in this hotel, since it was nothing they did, but everything that Quality Inn Creekside did to make us very happy. Stay tuned for more posts related to our most recent visit to Gatlinburg. Happy travels everyone!

 

Spring Openings in The Great Smoky Mountains

In my last post I talked about the upcoming events Gatlinburg is planning on hosting in April. Today I will give you a preview of upcoming openings in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. As the weather warms most roads and trails will be continuously open throughout the warm weather months, with an occasional closing due to bear activity or flooding. There is so much to enjoy in the country’s most visited Park, and here is a listing of dates when certain areas will open:

March 25

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

April 1

Clingman’s Dome Road, Clingman’s Dome Visitor Information Center, Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road

April 8

Rich Mountain Road, Little Greenbriar Road

Parson’s Branch Road does not have a scheduled opening yet.

The Cades Cove Loop Road, during the time from May 11 through September 21, will be closed in the morning until 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays to bicyclists only.

When you are planning on a hike, make sure that you check out the current listing of closed roads and trails from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park website before you make a visit. This way you are not disappointed and you can make a Plan B on your vacation. I cannot stress enough the importance of visiting the Park. There is so much to see and do in Gatlinburg, but it can get a bit hectic with the crowds, and a visit to the Smokies is right on the doorstep, and it provides a welcome breath of fresh air that many of us desperately need on a vacation. Safe travels everyone!

 

 

 

6 Blooming April Events in Gatlinburg

Ahhh…Spring! There’s nothing like the smell of mountain air and the flowers when winter fades and temperatures begin their upward climb. Gatlinburg is certainly a good place to be when the calendar turns to April, and the throngs of tourists start making their way into town for what will be an eventful spring.

Here are some of the events on tap for April:

Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament- Rocky Top Outfitters is the sponsor for the 18th Annual Tournament, which is being held Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3. This event is open to anyone who wants to participate. Over 10,000 trout will be stocked in over two miles of streams, with over $10,000 worth of cash and prizes to be won.

Smoky Mountain Wine Fest- This event will be held at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts on April 9th from 1-6. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. It features wineries from all over Tennessee offering 1 oz. samples of their wine along with food samples from the best restaurants in Gatlinburg. For more details visit the Gatlinburg website here.

Mountain Man Memorial March- On April 23 the ninth annual March will be held, and it features a 26.2 mile march through the Great Smoky Mountains. It honors Cadet Frank Walkup, a 2005 UT graduate killed in Iraq. It has quickly become the largest event in the U.S. to celebrate the service and honor of these fallen heroes. More details of this great event can be found here.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage- Now in its 66th installment, this event takes place April 19-23. It offers professionally guided programs which explore the region’s rich wildflowers, wildlife, ecology and natural history through walks, motorcades, photographic tours, art classes, and indoor seminars. These are held rain or shine outdoors with indoor events held at various venues in Gatlinburg. You can register for this event at their website.

Earth Week- Gatlinburg has several events set for Earth Week from April 17-24. The Earth Day Festival will be held at Mynatt Park from 3-6 on April 21. It features music, free crafts, activities, and face painting good for the entire family to participate. Don’t forget to buy a specially-made Earth Week T-shirt created by local art students. These proceeds will benefit the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The Earth Day 5K is set for 10 p.m. on April 22nd. Participants of all ages are welcome to race in this evening affair, but you will want to register early to guarantee your shirt for the event which begins at 8 p.m.

Gatlinburg, as you may have now noticed, has a lot going for itself in the spring. Hopefully the weather cooperates for my end of the month visit, and I hope that you will get the chance to experience the busy month of April; a month where most of the activities are now geared to the outdoor enthusiast. Have fun and I will see you all soon!

I-75 in Tennessee Expected to be Open by March 17

There is some good news for those traveling from the north and south to the Smoky Mountains. I-75 is now expected to reopen in time for motorists going on Spring Break.

On February 26, a rock slide forced the closure of northbound and southbound traffic at mile marker 142 in Campbell county.

Now the expected reopening of the southbound lanes is anticipated for March 17 or sooner. The northbound side — according to a spokesperson from TDOT — will reopen one lane for traffic by March 24. The entire project is slated to be complete by April 15.

The detour routes are seeing obvious increases in traffic. Motorists traveling south should expect to add about 40 minutes to their commute, while northbound traffic will add about 45 minutes travel time. These times will vary during various hours, especially at rush hour in the morning and late afternoon.

This is welcome news for us, since we are expecting to travel this stretch of road at the end of this month. We were already planning on an alternate and more scenic route; however I think we will travel our normal drive through I-75, since we are anxious as always to reach our destination in Gatlinburg. Stay tuned for more news and the anticipated report of our next visit.

 

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