We spent a few days in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a family vacation with our almost three year old. I totally recommend it, we had the best time. But, not so pro tip: you can get an unlimited day pass for the trolley, which would have saved us a bunch of cash, and also rummaging around for actual… well, cash. If you’re going to be headed out to Pigeon Forge a lot, learn from our mistakes, get yourself a trolley pass.
We loved the Ripley’s Aquarium, Bird kept saying we were going to “the squarium.” We both got to pet a jellyfish, and he climbed all over the playground. We could have easily walked there from our hotel, we didn’t think it was quite so close. But he was a big fan of the trolley, anyway. The Space Needle also has a giant arcade… under it? Next to it? Anyway, we learned that our toddler loves arcades, and he won himself a green race car.
The light in our room in the afternoon, oh man. Be still my little photographer heart.
The Wheel, at The Island. It’s not as big as The Eye, but it’s pretty dang big. I didn’t get a photo of Bird’s favorite part of this place, there were parrots, which he got to pet. One climbed up my arm and screeched at us, and my little guy loved it. We’d get off of a ride and ask him what he wanted to do next, and it was always “find the parrots.”
Great Smoky Mountains National Park ruled, obviously. We did the Cataract Falls trail, which is pretty short. John saw some ladies climbing down the side of the waterfall when we got there, and decided that we should climb up it. So we did. It’s 25 feet high, and the tree roots off to the side make some narrow, steep stairs. After we took some triumphant selfies and climbed back down, we found where the Cataract Falls trail connects to the Fighting Creek Nature Trail, and took that back to where we parked. Ended up being the perfect amount of hiking.
He rode this bouncy car ride three times. The first time, he asked to stop, but only so he could switch cars (which the very nice man at the Track let him do.) He’s been watching the Blippi go-karts episode a ton, so he told us we had to check the gas and oil before we got into the car (I uh… they’re not gonna let us do that, buddy) and then buckle up before we drove off.
This elevator might have been his favorite part of the whole trip, he talked about it every day. He also said “bye bye elevator” as we drove away from the hotel. Blippi got to go to the aquarium with us (their official doll was sold out for ages, so I crocheted him one, from a modified pattern of the 11th Doctor.)
I couldn’t find his shades (which he literally would not leave on his face for a second until we got to Tennessee) so he borrowed mine. I think he looks fabulous.
Poor little guy can’t get away from the office. I mean, we’re on vacation.
Sky Tykes course let him run around on some rope bridges and balance beams. He was sort of nervous at first, but was into it once he got the hang of it.
Trolley punx. Baberaham Lincoln.
This was our waterfall climb. Once we got into the Fighting Creek trail, Bird was getting tired. We moved from the Boba wrap when he was tiny straight to this Onya carrier, which I love. He can put in some miles, but when toddlers are done walking, they are all the way done. He’ll sit down in the middle of the street and start a new life there. But I can’t carry him in my arms for any real distance (dude is like 38 pounds now) so being able to put him in the carrier is great. It’s like a backpack that gives me hugs.
We did bring the stroller, but then Bird’s all “Daddy carry you?” and it’s hard to say no to him.
This dude looks so dang cool. Also, push pops? Perfect for toddlers.
More of the ropes course, plus a shot John got of me hiking up my skirt to ride this swing. I am a classy broad.
Our patio, which was perfect for morning coffee.
Dinners were kind of hard, this trip. As much as we tried to balance everything, the little guy still doesn’t get as much downtime on vacations as he does at home. By dinnertime, he’s in that weird, extremely overtired space that makes him want to climb me while I’m eating. But for one night, he zonked out in his stroller and slept through dinner entirely, so we got one very chill evening. He woke up on the way back to the hotel, and we stopped for pizza for him. (Which, btw, Mellow Mushroom has amazing pizza.)
We rode a little train around the Island (which isn’t exactly built with adults in mind) and my man got to ring the bell and blow the whistle. Very happy camper.
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