Taking trips with my family is one of my favorite things. Especially as my kids are getting older, Steve and I really want to cherish this time and get away from the craziness of life whenever we get a chance. Now that we have the Airstream, we will be able to do little trips together much more frequently. A few years ago, we had a 47 foot, Prevost bus and had been Rv'ing for about 10 years. It was like having our own tour bus. We were able to pack it full and go out on trips for four to six weeks at a time as a family. That time in our lives was such an adventure. We have seen almost all of the National Parks and basically every state (all but 3!).
Now that the kids are involved in other things like sports and camps, we cant go on trips for that many weeks at a time, but the itch to go camping is one that we all share as a family. We needed to find something that was easy and that we could pack up for a long weekend trip. The Airstream was a fantastic investment and we were all so excited to take it out for our first trip.
Because we have to pull the airstream on the back of Steve's truck, Steve has decided that the max distance away from home we could go is about eight hours. So we just stared looking for places to go around the beautiful state of Tennessee. We began researching campgrounds and happened to find so many great ones! The one we went to first was located in a city called Townsend, TN. We stayed at the local KOA Campground. Now, I know some people are weary about staying at campgrounds. With any campground, you don't have just open areas of land all to yourself and often your neighbors are parked in the spots right next to you. But this campground was right on the river and there were tons of trees so the landscape of the area was very shaded and felt more private than most campgrounds. Each space has a concrete pad and a table with chairs, a little wooden deck off the end of the space and a campfire pit.
KOAs are knows as a higher end campground when compared to independent campgrounds. You know what they are going to look like before you get there which I always like. All you have to do is look up the location online. But sometimes with pictures, you can't exactly tell how clean a place will be. Let me just say, I was blown away at how clean everything was! There was a laundry mat, an ice cream shop, a pool and playground. They even have cabins on the property, so if you don't have an RV or a tent, you can still visit an get out into nature. They had bingo every night that we were there too.
All of the people there were very nice, but didn't come over into our space or anything like that. The camp ground is located right outside Cades Cove, which is apart of the Smokey Mountain National Park. It is gorgeous and happened to be the area that is most populated with animals, so we got to see three bears while we were there. Talk about getting out into nature! Plus, since it it right on the outskirts of the National Park, all of the greenery and foliage is untouched. It is a beautiful spot and we really had a great time. The campground is also about thirty minutes from DollyWood and Gatlinburg, so it is a great tourist destination. It is like a little Disney World in the mountains if you have never been.
We cooked most of our meals and almost everything was cooked over an open fire. But we do have a favorite restaurant that is about twenty minutes away from the campground called The Apple Barn and Cider Mill. It is just some good ol country cookin' in an old house and they make everything apple you could possibly imagine. Apple pie, apple turnovers, apple ice cream, apple fritters, apple donuts (I feel like I am in Forrest Gump! HA!). Just put the word apple in front of it, and they have it. They also serve you apple fritters with apple butter before you even order your food. So all you dessert first people, this place is for you! They also make some great chicken and dumplings that Lily loves. We have already been talking about going back the next time we venture through that area.
Another fun thing we did was go to this place called Trapped. It is like The Escape Game and you have to get out in under an hour. We escaped Alcatraz with eleven minutes to spare! So we all felt pretty good about that! It was a great little family activity to do while the weather was a little rainy. We also went on an alpine coaster. It takes you up the mountain and into the woods. The coster has these little handles that you can push down and and control our speed. It was kind of like riding a go-cart in the mountains! It was so pretty and peaceful. That area just has a ton of family friendly tourist-y things to go do. Your kids love it! Mine sure did.
Not only did we have a great time, but Jack was living his best puppy life. He is always a happy dog, but the whole time we were there, he never stopped smiling. He got to eat popcorn, swim in the river, take fifteen million walks, and he got to see a bear...he was like king of the camper. They do allow pets there, so bringing Jack really made it a complete family vacation.
We had such a great time and we are so excited to continue to take trips throughout the summer. The next stop for us is Fall Creek Falls campground plus Luke and Steve are going on a boys only camping trip while I go visit my mom in Florida. Let me know if you happen to see us rolling by with the shiny Airstream on our next adventure!