Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 2008 vacation - part 4

Saturday we had hoped to start our day with some trail hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. There is a lot of gorgeous natural wonders in the Gatlinburg area. However, the weather wasn't so co-operative. So, after some driving about, we moved on to our back-up plan: Ripley's Aquarium.

This downtown Gatlinburg attraction was a lot of fun and a great way to spend a rainy day inside. Everything is centered around this moving walkway that takes you through a tank filled with sharks and other exotic fish. There are dive shows in the stingray tank and the tropical fish tank. There are places where you can actual touch rays and horse-shoe crabs. We really enjoyed ourselves there.

Before a final dinner out at Alamo Steakhouse (which serves an awesome prime rib, by the way), we went to the plaza right across from our hotel for a little last minute shopping. There, we found a wonderful shop that makes and jars their own jams, jellies and preserves. We brought home with us some pints of strawberry preserves, apple butter and pumpkin butter.

One other thing - you'll notice when you visit this area of Tennessee that there are pancake restaurants every where you turn. No, seriously. It might be hard to find a Starbucks or two in the twenty mile area, but pancake places aren't a problem at all. They love 'em, and they do them well. We checked out of our hotel this morning at 7:15am, crossed the street and had a great breakfast at Flapjacks. Good food, large portions and quick service. We had eaten and were ready for hitting the road by 8am. Gotta love that.

I strongly endorse the Gatlinburg/Pidgeon Forge areas of Tennessee as a vacation spot, especially if you are looking for a variety of fun and adventure. I can tell you for a fact we plan to go back again some time in the coming years as it is a perfect long weekend trip for us.

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