If you remember from last year, I wrote a post that described my brief Gatlinburg visit, which was a too short seven hours. This one was a similar trip which only afforded me the opportunity to spend a late afternoon/early evening visit to our favorite vacation spot. I won’t go into too much detail about the reason behind our road trip, but it relates to the same reason I took last year’s late summer excursion. Only this time I didn’t take it alone; I had my son in tow.
The day started early–but not too early–as we left home at around 7 in the morning. We arrived in Sevierville–our destination for our 2 day stay–just before our check-in time, but we still managed to get in our room before 3. I was very happy our accommodations were free, being as I am a Choice Privileges member, I turned in pretty much all of my points for our stay. The hotel, Clarion Inn Willow River, was very nice with hotel amenities such as a balcony with a nice view, lazy river, outdoor pool, indoor pool, and ample sized 2 queen rooms.
Since my son and I only snacked at the rest stop for lunch on our way to Sevierville, we were starving, so we left for Gatlinburg shortly after we got settled into our room for the next couple of days. Not long after getting onto the Parkway, it became abundantly clear I wish I would have taken the back way to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. Traffic was awful even for a weekday, but it is July so that can be expected. It started to get manageable once we got near The Old Mill area. The spur leading into Gatlinburg was also pretty easy-going, and we decided to park in the garage at light 3 in Gatlinburg. I initially thought about trying to lurk down River Road to nab a spot for free but after being in traffic, I quickly nixed that idea and suddenly didn’t mind paying a few dollars for parking.
It was a bit weird knowing we weren’t going to be in town long; everything is so familiar, it feels natural to be there–like it would if we were living here, and I was running into places picking up our favorite things, which we were actually. We walked past Anakeesta noting the progress they were making; they are planning on opening next month, but stay tuned if that doesn’t materialize. I had forgotten about the Craftsmen’s Fair going on at the Convention Center, so I told my son I wanted to check it out. Well, here’s this: I also forgot that it was $7 to get in, and I found that out as I was attempting to walk into the gymnasium. Oh well, I couldn’t justify spending the money if all I wanted to do was see who was there–and did I mention we were…STARVING!
Our planned destination was Smoky Mountain Brewery–not an unfamiliar place to us, but a place we hadn’t eaten at in two years. We got seated right away, and I wanted to try some of their new craft beers as part of my sampler and some old favorites. I wasn’t a big fan of the citrus, which I believe Josh–our fantastic server–described as a summer shandy, but the other one, which is one of their IPA’s, was very good. I also had to have two of their mainstays, which are my go-to brews: Cherokee Red and Helles.
My son and I decided to get personal pizzas, which provided us the luxury of each of us getting what we wanted on our pizzas. Zac ordered a pepperoni, and I opted for a new topping–garlic roasted tomatoes–and green peppers. I had never before ordered garlic roasted tomatoes on a pizza before due to the fact we don’t have that option at our pizzerias at home. I like tomatoes but these were so flavorful and went super well with the peppers, sauce, cheese, and crust. I felt like I was eating the perfect pizza; it was one of the best ones I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve had some good ones in Gatlinburg too–very, very high marks were given. I even gave my son a couple garlic tomatoes for him to try, as he can be quite picky, and even he gave it a big thumbs up–maybe even higher praise there. I was also happy to meet Bobby Fricks, who does all the social media for Copper Cellar Restaurants. He does a fantastic job and is one of the reasons why I have continued to maintain my social media presence. My hat’s off to you, sir! Wait…I don’t wear hats, oh well, thanks anyway.
So after a very tasty and memorable experience at the Brewery, it was time to run our errands for gathering treats to bring home with us. Chocolate Monkey was first. There we bought my wife’s favorite fudge, Monkey Butter, along with the ones Zac and I decided to buy: Cookies and Cream and Peanut Butter Pie. Chocolate Monkey has great fudge and you get one block free when you buy two. They also have a VIP card, which we have, that gives you 10% off as well. All you have to do is ask for one; we have had ours for several years. Everyone in there is super nice–including the manager who is a familiar face in here every time we go.
Of course, no visit to Gatlinburg should be made without stopping at The Donut Friar. No surprises here with what we bought for the road. I will say that these donuts are still good and still seem fresh after 3 days–that’s right, you heard me…3 DAYS! Our local donut place has very good donuts, and they are not edible after just a day.
Unfortunately, with just the few hours we had, there were no moonshine tastings, no Crockett’s Breakfast, no hiking, and no, well…time. Still, we enjoyed our three hours. Heck, any time being in our happy place for any amount of time is good enough for us. I hope you enjoyed my latest edition of Gatlinburg NOW. You all know I will have another post sometime soon. Thanks for reading!