Summer was made for hiking, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect place to lace up your boots and hit the trails. Here is the list of our staff’s top 3 Great Smoky Mountains hiking trails.

Top 3 Hiking Trails

1. Laurel Falls

If you are looking to experience the thrill of a mountain cascade, look no further than Laurel Falls. Flanked by ‘mountain laurel’ (aka wild rhododendron), this hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains provides a truly stunning experience. The trail that leads to Laurel Falls is completely paved making it great for young families and those who are not accustomed to hiking in the mountains.

2. Alum Cave

The hiking trail to Alum Cave is more difficult than the paved path to Laurel Falls. Nevertheless, this hike leads to a geologically intriguing landmark. The giant (yet shallow) cave is all that remains of a massive limestone deposit that slowly dissolved over millions of years of rainfall. This is a prime example of chemistry in action in nature. For families that home school or that want to extend their children’s learning outside the walls of the classroom, Alum Cave could be an amazing research opportunity for your kiddos this summer.

3. Roundtop Trail

Our final recommendation on the Great Smoky Mountains hiking trails top 3 is Roundtop Trail. This hike begins near the Wears Valley community which makes it a great option if you stay in one of our mountain cabins. While this trail is the most difficult of the three, it also the least well-known ensuring your hike is quiet and enjoyable. This trail ends at the Little River in Townsend which is an added bonus in hot summer weather. For more information on the Roundtop Trail, check out this description of the trail.

After a really rough first half of 2020, folks are slowly adapting to the ‘new normal’. Planning a vacation to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge this summer probably means looking for outdoor attractions since it is easier to socially distance outside. Yet, finding family-friendly outdoor attractions can be difficult (and even more so in a pandemic). We have curated a list of the top 3 outdoor attractions for you and your family this summer that are open and ready to welcome visitors. All of these businesses have instituted coronavirus protocols to protect guests’ safety during their visits.

Top 3 Outdoor Attractions:

#1. The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

When you want to get some fresh air, what better way to do that than on top of a mountain? The Gatlinbury SkyLift Park is a great place to take your family to enjoy views of both the Great Smoky Mountains and downtown Gatlinburg. To protect the health of guests and staff, they have instituted stringent cleaning routines and require masks to be worn during visits. Make sure to purchase your tickets online to save time and better practice social distancing.

#2. Smoky Mountain Outdoors

If you are the water-loving type, you should definitely check out Smoky Mountain Outdoors and their rafting adventures this summer. Not only can you enjoy fresh air and take a swim in the river, you can get a solid arm workout, too. Their variety of rafting trips include options for beginners through experts. With regular cleaning procedures and mask requirements inside their retail store, Smoky Mountain Outdoors is a fantastic place to spend some time on your next vacation.

#3. Bluff Mountain Adventures

If the thought of riding through the woods on an ATV gets you excited, you should take a look at Bluff Mountain Rentals. Their rides allow you to have an exhilarating vacation while also practicing social distance. Be aware that they are a first-come, first-serve business; make sure to get there early to ensure you and your family can all ride. Their daily rides take place at 10:00, noon, 2:00, and 4:00. You can see their trail map here.

Stay Safe Out There

So, whether you and your family want to see the Smokies from a chairlift, paddle down a river, or power up a mountain on an ATV, there are many outdoor attractions in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg waiting to be experienced. Make sure to stay safe during your visit by wearing a mask, sanitizing your hands frequently, and maintaining social distance. If you need lodging in the area, check out some of our mountain-side cabins and plan your vacation today.

Picture it- you just booked a week at an awesome cabin in Wears Valley, Tennessee for your summer vacation.  You are already planning to chill on the deck with a glass of pinot grigio while the kids play pool.  Maybe you have even researched some hiking trails to enjoy.   Yet, for even the most seasoned traveler, there is one age-old question that always evades our best efforts at vacation planning:  “What restaurant should we try today?” Well, we here at Accommodations by Great Cabins in the Smokies have got you covered with our staff’s guide to the top 3 restaurants in Wears Valley, Tennessee.

Elvira’s Cafe


The first restaurant on our list is definitely a staff favorite. In addition to serving delicious food, they are also committed to the local community.  The menu at Elvira’s Café centers around locally-sourced ingredients and contemporary takes on mountain cooking.  Expect quality ingredients, excellent customer service, and lots of locals.

Hillbilly’s Restaurant


Next on our list of the top restaurants in Wears Valley, Hillbilly’s Restaurant provides country cooking at its finest.  Fluffy biscuits and solid portion sizes make this *the* breakfast spot in Wears Valley.  After you bring the family down for a hefty brunch, you will have plenty of fuel to power your visit to Townsend or Gatlinburg.

Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant


The final restaurant in our top 3 countdown is Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant.  Although they specialize in non-mountain cooking, they are the perfect choice for when you want something that reminds you of home.  Their eggplant Parmesan sandwich is killer. Likewise, you absolutely must try one of their chocolate cannoli. (Might I also suggest buying a few to go?  Practicing self-love on vacation is important, y’know.)

So, whether you are in the mood for down-home cooking or a scrumptious plate of spaghetti, Wears Valley has some great restaurants for you to try during your stay.  If you have not booked your getaway yet, check out our cabin specials, and reserve your cabin today!

While summer officially started on June 20th this year, many of us had already made the sneakers-for-sandals swap that marks the change from spring to summer here in the south.  The change of season often means yard work, visiting the local swimming hole, and trying not to get bitten by mosquitos.  For others, though, it means avoiding the stove at all costs.  Who wants to stand over a hot pan when it feels like a steam room outside? We here at Accommodations by Great Cabins in the Smokies are here to help with 5 staff-submitted summer recipes that will keep your kitchen as cool as a cucumber this summer.

 Spiked Pineapple Slush

-1 large bag of frozen pinapple

-4 ounces of coconut rum

-8 ounces of ice water

Blend all of the ingredients until smooth (~2 minutes) and enjoy!

Warm-Weather Watermelon Salad

-half of a medium-sized watermelon cut into cubes

-8 ounces of halved strawberries

-1 cucumber

-a small handful of fresh, chopped mint leaves

-4 ounces of blueberries

-the juice of 1 lemon or lime

-1 tsp. of honey or agave syrup

-a dash of salt

Put the lemon (or lime) juice, honey (or agave syrup), mint, and salt into a large bowl and mix well.  Then, add the fruit and cucumber; gently toss together and serve.

Southern Sangria

-1 bottle of cheap red wine

-4 ounces of simple syrup (water and sugar boiled together)

-half of an orange cut into slices

-juice of other half of the orange

-8 to 12 ounces of seasonal fruit cut into cubes (peaches, berries, and melon are all great choices)

-2 ounces of brandy or calvados (optional)

In a large pitcher or punch bowl, add the fruit cubes and slices.  Then, pour in the wine, juice, simple syrup, and brandy/calvados together.  Stir all together and refrigerate for 2+ hours.  Serve the sangria over ice. *You can substitute the red wine and simple syrup for one bottle of muscadine wine.*

Cucumber Gazpacho

-4 to 5 medium cucumbers cut into cubes

-2 cloves of garlic

-1 small handful of cilantro (or flat leaf parsley)

-4 to 6 ounces of extra virgin olive oil

-salt and pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients together; you may need to pulse the mixture at first for it to come together.  After it is sufficiently blended, refrigerate before serving. You can serve it with a dash of hot sauce if you want to give it a little extra flavor.

Antipasti Salad

-1 thick sliced cucumber

-A selection of cold cuts (salami, prosciutto, mortadella, serrano ham, etc…)

-a selection of cheeses (mozzarella, feta, Manchego, stilton, smoked gouda, etc…)

-kalamata olives, pepperoncini peppers, and other pickled vegetables

-1 chopped tomato

-1 sliced red onion

-extra virgin olive oil

-juice of 1 lemon

Arrange the cucumber, tomato, and onion on a large platter.  Place the drained pickled vegetables and olives in piles around the salad; drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.  Next, add the cold cuts and cheese to the top of the salad.  Serve with crusty baguette and a glass of chardonnay.

So there you have it folks; these are our top 5 summer recipes for your holidays. But do you know what would make these summer recipes even better? Getting to enjoy them from the comfort of a cabin with sweeping views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Check out all of our properties here.