posing at the wax museum with michael jackson

Experiences Over Things: Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

I catch myself doing it all of the time. Taking life wayyyy too seriously trying to keep it all together and get everyone everything they need and everywhere they need to go in one piece.

It’s easy to turn into an old stick in the mud trying to keep everything in order, so I’m making it a point to try and have fun myself. A big way I have found to ensure we all enjoy life is to overhaul the family entertainment and trade experiences over things.

exterior shot of bear hideaway cabin in sevierville tn
Bear Country Hideaway cabin via Woodland Cabins in Sevierville, TN. Photo: Audra Rogers

I’m really digging family travel and just venturing out to visit places we’ve never been before. I’m thankful the kids are at an age that they aren’t insanely attached to things like they once were (which is a side benefit to electronics, amen.)

How Does Family Travel Fit In with Experiences Over Things?

We still have plenty of toys but I’m in the mindset now of experiences over things because it’s new to all of us.

We packed up and headed to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for Spring Break and that was a great time to let my hair down so to speak.

inside of bear country hideaway cabin rental from woodland cabins in sevierville
Adorable 1 bedroom cabin, sleeps 4. Photo: Audra Rogers

We found a great little cabin and hung out in the area for 3 days. The first two days were spent sightseeing.

What Experiences Did We Find in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?

We found the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster that slowly takes you up the mountain and then gravity takes over and you go shooting down the mountain like a shot. It’s awesome.

riding the skin mountain coaster ride in gatlinburg, tn
Wheee! Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. Photo: Audra Rogers

I planned to do a nice wooded hike and other things that are more uniquely Gatlinburg, but someone (me) bought the kids new shoes just before the trip because their old ones were falling apart and there were complaints about pinched toes before we even got started so…

But there is plenty to do there on a whim. Let’s just say Pigeon Forge knows what it’s doing with cool buildings that make kids in the backseat say “Can we go there mommy, please mommy?!”

exterior shot of the wax museum in pigeon forge
Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN. Photo: Audra Rogers

We walked into the Hollywood Wax Museum and found a few fun places to get into character.

posing at the wax museum with beyonce
Diva goals. I still love you bey. Photo: Audra Rogers
posing at the wax museum with michael jackson
You’ve been hit by, you’ve been struck by a Smooth Criminal. Photo: Audra Rogers

Nothing makes you feel like you’ve failed your children quite like being asked “Who is that Mommy?” when you’re standing next to Michael Jackson. I’ll get right to work on that I promise!

What Are Common Activities in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?

There are roughly 8 billion places to ride go-karts, play mini golf and dress up in old-timey photos in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, so when in Rome…

family old time photos in pigeon forge
Photo: Wild Gals Old Time Photos, Pigeon Forge

(You might expect it to be one picture but they’ll do a whole photo shoot to upsell, just fyi) It really was fun though, we adored the pictures and how many times do we live? That’s right, once. We bought several. And I have cute outlaws if I do say so myself.

specialty shops at the village in downtown gatlinburg
The Village, downtown Gatlinburg. Photo: Audra Rogers

We went to The Village which is an adorable area of small specialty shops. We walked around downtown Gatlinburg in comfortable shoes and watched them make taffy in a candy shop.

watching a candy shop make taffy in the village in downtown gatlinburg
The taffy just keeps rolling and rolling. Photo: Audra Rogers

We also found time to visit Ripley’s Aquarium and Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum, which is husband heaven if there ever was one. Mopar or no car, that’s what mine always says! (click links for video)

floyd garrett's muscle car museum in sevierville, tn is husband heaven
Husband heaven, muscle car bliss! Photo: Audra Rogers

On the last day we just turned on the radio, jumped in the hot tub and had a really lazy morning and afternoon at the cabin before heading back out to do a few more things.

hot tub
Does anyone else say “hot tub” in a James Brown voice? Photo: Audra Rogers

We just relaxed and went with the flow and honestly, probably my favorite thing in the world besides being lazy at the cabin was the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. Incredible, just wow.

rubbing is racing! riding go-carts in pigeon forge
Go-cart woman driver. Rubbing is racing! Photo: Audra Rogers

So we rode go-carts and played miniature golf and dressed up in old-timey photos and did our part to help ramp up the economy in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to help in the recovery after the wildfires.

There were lots of smiles and good times and tired aching feet and all is well with the world because mom jumped in and played too.

And you know how cool places always make sure you exit their attraction through a gift shop and we see our kids pick up something in our side eye and just automatically say no?

best mom award statue at hollywood wax museum gift shop
Awwwww. Best Mom award at the wax museum gift shop. Photo: Audra Rogers

It was humbling to be chosen and presented with a Best Mom award at the wax museum. I came this close to buying it but refrained. I accepted a big long hug and thank you instead. I’d say experiences over things is working out.

We set the tone, moms may we always remember what it’s like to be a kid 🙂

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