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July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

Hickory, North...
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July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

We are traveling to Gatlinburg in early July- any special suggestions/hints for a family with 12 and 14 year old sons?

Our older son has Asperger's, and I always have to have everything planned before we go because he doesn't do spontaneous. DH has travel anxiety, so I have to have maps, menus, hours of operation, etc. all available for easy access. Lots of work, but it makes for a much more enjoyable trip. :)

We are in the planning phase, and we have some ideas of what we want to do.

-Dollywood & Splash Mountain (worth the cost? How much time?)

-White Water Rafting (Company?)

-Hiking in Smoky Mountain Natl. Park (Best easy trail?)

-Clingman's Dome vs. Cades Cove?

-Best Family Friendly Restaurants?

Any information you could contribute would be very helpful! Tripadvisor contributors are always the most reliable. :)

Carencro, Louisiana
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1. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

We did Dollywood and Splash Country, we really enjoyed Splash Country they had family friendly rides, but Dollywood was either really kiddie rides or thrill seeker rides!! If your boys are not thrill seekers, then Dollywood in my opinion is not worth the money!!

A great family friendly restaurant is Old Mill!! Excelllent service, food and portions...we had leftover for supper the next night!! Bubba Gump was good food too, the service was ok, but not bad!!

We chose Cade's Cove over Clingman's Dome and we really enjoyed it, we are going back on our trip in June! But we haven't been to Clingman's Dome so I can't say one over the other!!

We haven't done any hikes yet, but have been told Grotto Falls and Laurel Falls are not bad hikes, we are going to do both in June! Also have been told that in Townsend at the visitors center, there is a short, easy trail behind the visitors center! Grotto Falls is off of Roaring Fork Motor Trail, we did do that last year and in my opinion is a MUST SEE, DO NOT MISS!! It is just beautiful there and right off the parkway in Gatlinburg!!

Hope I helped a little! I'm sure there will be others with much more experience that can give great advice! I have always gotten the answer I was looking for and a lot more helpful info on here, everyone is very willing to help!! Enjoy your trip!

Lesley

Edited: 11:34 pm, April 06, 2013
Louisville, Kentucky
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2. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

Cades Cove is a lovely 11-mile scenic one-way loop with lots of opportunities to see wildlife and also has numeruos historical stops along the way - which makes for a lovely half day tip. Plus there's a great, short waterfall hike off Cades Cove, Abrams Falls that could make for a great full-day outing. Since you have to make specific planning, Cades Cove is closed to cars on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10AM to allow cyclists to ride wtihout cars.

http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/abrams.htm

Clingman's Dome is a short, steep hike with spectacular views and the drive up to Clingman's is a scenic drive as well. Honestly, I would try to do both Clingman's and Cades Cove while in the Smokies.

I'm also a huge fan of Grotto Falls. It's a neat waterfall since you can walk behind the falls - which feels great on a hot summer day!

http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/grotto.htm

Iowa
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3. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

We really liked Dollywood, and none of us like thrill rides except dh. You tube has quite a few videos of Dollywood and the rides if you want to see what they all have.

We didn't do Splash Country so I can't comment on that. Likewise, we also didn't do any white water rafting.

There are several easy hikes in the park. Laurel Falls is a good one; short and to a pretty waterfall. Get there very early in July (I would aim for being there by 7 a.m.) because parking is limited, and it's a popular hike. There are also several short and easy hikes along Roaring Fork and Cades Cove. There's also a really short hike (more like a walk) behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

We did both Cades Cove and Clingmans Dome; they are very different and I'd recommend doing both if you have time. If I had to pick one, it would be Cades Cove just because there's more places to stop at, and a better chance of seeing bears. Cades Cove would be another area to be at very early in July, to avoid the traffic.

For restaurants, we really liked the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge.

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Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge
Sevier County, TN
Hickory, North...
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4. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

Thank you, so much, for your response! We definitely won't miss the Grotto Falls hike. :)

Hickory, North...
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5. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

I really appreciate you all taking the time to respond to my post. Your feedback will definitely help me plan a family vacation we all can enjoy. :)

6. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

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7. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

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Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

As far as rafting goes I can say Big Creek Expeditions has the most experienced guide staff on the Pigeon River. They all offer the same trip more or less but do not take your chances with Pigeon River Outdoors or Smoky Mountain Outdoors - They are the largest companies on the river, which means they train the most rookie guides every year. Trust me i know what I'm talking about. If you do chose Big Creek Expeditions feel free to ask them for one of their more seasoned guides and I'm sure they will honor your request and you will have an unforgettable time.

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

As far as rafting goes I can say Big Creek Expeditions has the most experienced guide staff on the Pigeon River. They all offer the same trip more or less but do not take your chances with Pigeon River Outdoors or Smoky Mountain Outdoors - They are the largest companies on the river, which means they train the most rookie guides every year. Trust me i know what I'm talking about. If you do chose Big Creek Expeditions feel free to ask them for one of their more seasoned guides and I'm sure they will honor your request and you will have an unforgettable time.

Tennessee
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10. Re: July vacation- must sees for family? Hints?

The only white water rafting we have done was on the Ocoee River, near Chattanooga TN. and probably about 1 hr. drive from Pigeon Forge, one way. Ocoee River was the site of the 1996 Olympic White Water Competition. This is the company we used: wwwocoeeadventurecenter.com

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Chattanooga
Chattanooga
Tennessee
Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge
Sevier County, TN