Part two of my trip features the activities we did away from Gatlinburg. As much as I love spending time downtown, it is always nice to just take a drive out of town to breathe in the mountain air and visit places that we don’t frequent often. This is what vacation should be all about, and I relish these special occasions.
On Monday we took a drive out to the Arts & Crafts Community and spent our first real time at the Covered Bridge at the Glades. Now I suggested we go here specifically, because I got to know, via Twitter, the owner of a small business at the Covered Bridge area, and I really wanted to meet her. Her name is Lori, and she runs Farmhouse Home Goods. It is a small boutique store with vintage inspired Decor and gourmet goodies that are made regionally; plenty of good local finds. The winner here is Lori’s homemade lunch fare, and I came back on my free day Wednesday for her fabulous Panini. Other items on the menu include: Sloppy Joe, Chicken Salad, Soup Specials, and various sweet treats that include chocolate brownies, and her fantastic Peach Cobbler. Please check out this hidden gem on Glades Rd. in the Covered Bridge area. You will be greeted with a smiling face and all the Southern hospitality you would hope to find here.
After our conversation I figured I would head down to the Morning Mist Village for her recommendation of Fudgewrights for some good fudge. I was not disappointed in the least. The owner said he had just made some pumpkin fudge and asked if I had ever tried it. I said no, and he proceeded to give me some of the best and creamiest fudge I ever had anywhere in the Smokies, despite the glut of fudge shops found downtown. I also tried the peanut butter and decided to buy a split piece of both of them. Definitely money well spent.
Tuesday was our day to spend in the gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After a few stops at an overlook and Newfound Gap, we made it to Oconaluftee Visitor Center, which is a state-of-the-art center with some neat cultural-themed exhibits. They also feature some interactive media center where you can watch and listen to an informative history of the area, including the sad plight of the Cherokee during the Trail of Tears.
From there we took a walk outside on a trail through the Mountain Farm Museum. This is a great way to spend an hour of your morning. There are historic buildings–moved from various locations in the Smokies–and other walking trails that we didn’t do on this trip. The historic buildings include a house, barn, springhouse, smokehouse, and a blacksmith shop. We enjoyed this visitor center–located on the south end of the Park–more than we did the Sugarlands V.C. located near Gatlinburg.
After spending a good hour at Oconaluftee V.C. we made our way to Mingo Falls. It wasn’t a smooth ride since we turned around and headed into Cherokee, even though we were actually on the right track to begin with. Needless to say we won’t make that mistake again. Mingo Falls was nothing short of spectacular; at 120 feet tall it is one of the tallest in the southern Appalachians. The trail is only .4 miles long, but what makes it moderate in difficulty is the 160 steps you climb at the beginning of the trail.
Amazingly, this was our eighth trip to the Smokies, and we are already looking forward to our next trip. Every trip is special, with this one being no exception. I thank you for reading and hope you will follow me on my next adventure here. Also I will post more tips and advice in the coming weeks that I have researched and experienced through our many visits. See you next time!