My CMS Your Best Guide for a Great Smoky Mountain Vacation

September 7, 2014

Unique places to shop in the Smoky Mountains

By Jeaneane Payne

I have always appreciated the many shopping venues the Smoky Mountain area has to offer, but I’ve always preferred the traditional “mom and pop” shops — I favor tradition and supporting local businesses and the hard-working families that own these unique stores.

G. Webb Gallery


This magnificent art gallery is easily accessible, but it is carefully tucked away in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community in Gatlinburg, TN. Stepping into the G. Webb Gallery will take you into a world separate from any other. You will become completely enveloped in its warmth and uniqueness – warmth created by the artist and uniqueness designed by G. and his wife Vickie and the gallery’s assistant, Jenny.

Along with a large selection of art work, you will find pottery and regional books as well as jams, jellies and coffee from G. Webb’s Morning Glory Farm.

G. began painting age the age of ten after a high school art teacher recognized his talent and played an influential role in his early career.

In 1971 he discovered that the Smoky Mountains would be the inspiration for his art. G. opened his Gatlinburg gallery soon afterwards. Since then, he has released more than 150 art prints with a focus on landscapes, mountainscapes, florals, people and the heritage of the mountains. He is well known for his renditions of historical sites such as “Memories of Elkmont.” in 1962, “The Mountain View Hotel” in 1958, and “A Mountain Christmas” which is the old E.E. Ogle Store in 1924.

G. and his wife Vickie have a daughter, Cami Monet, who has followed in her father’s footsteps. Her watercolour art is on display at G. Webb Gallery.

A visit to the gallery will enhance your Smoky Mountain getaway and leave you inspired. This is a place where you can truly take a piece of the Smoky Mountains home with you. Located at 795 Buckhorn Rd, Gatlinburg, TN, the gallery can best be accessed by taking Hwy 321 in Gatlinburg and traveling a few short miles to the entrance of the Arts & Crafts Community. Drive until the road ends, and the gallery will be on your right.

Artist’s Attic


The moment I entered the Artist’s Attic, I sensed something different about the gallery. The walls were filled with beautiful art work of Smoky Mountain landscapes and still life. I was warmly greeted by the shop’s owner, artist Linda Morrow, who engaged in interesting conversation about her gallery and her art.

The one room shop is cozy yet offers many choices of art for you to take home with you. There are a few handcrafted items which add a nice flair to the shop.

One of the most striking paintings is “Barn at Richardson’s Cove”, an 18 x 36 unframed oil original. Linda says “”Each fall the Little Pigeon river area of Richardson’s Cove glows with beautiful light. When the rivers flow through the flatter cove areas, the water is smoother and more reflective and endlessly fascinates me.”

The Artist’s Attic is a stop you don’t want to miss on your Smoky Mountain getaway. It is located at 680 Glades Road, Gatlinburg TN in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community.

Aunt Debbie’s Country Store


Maybe it’s the large tin rooster at the entrance to this country store that reminds me of the traditional American folk song “Sourwood Mountain”

Chicken’s a-crowing on Sourwood Mountain
Hey-ho diddle-um day
So many pretty girls I can’t count them
Hey-ho diddle-um day

There is an invisible sign at the entrance to the store that says “Welcome”! Upon entering Aunt Debbie’s, I was warmly greeted by the owner, Debbie. Filled with handmade crafts and rustic decor, the store supports local artisans and carries items not found in other local stores.


You can expect to find unique items like Smoky Mountain Rain — locally made candles which smell like a flower field after a spring mountain rain or a Tennessee Sunrise candle which glows like a morning sunrise. The Cozy Cabin candle is a rich scent that captures the wood, cedar and aroma of a fire burning in the fireplace. You will also find rustic lamp shades — bear, deer, buck, moose.

Antiques, barn wood creations, bullets, guns, knives, cedar swings and furniture, wildlife statues, and a large number of other items fill this cabin like country store inside and out.

Leave room for some items from Aunt Debbie Pantry including Smoky Mountain honey, hot mustard relish, chow chow relish, tomato preserves, pepper jelly, strawberry preserve (mountain made), and gun shot sauce “hot”.

Wears Valley General Store


With the Smoky Mountain peaks majestically rising behind this unique general store situated in the heart of Wears Valley, a true case study of modern East Tennessee versus traditional is revealed.

The inside of this barn-like structure offers up old floors, plain shelves, a weighing machine from another era, and friendly family-style customer service make Wears Valley General Store all that much more “real.” You will find many antique items in the store along with some handcrafted pieces and an old-fashioned candy aisle.


Don’t let this general store fool you from its rather beaten up exterior. This is the way general stores looked and operated before elements of big business gave a marketing program, exterior and interior sheen, and a touristy look to some of our other stores in the Smoky Mountain area.

It’s worth your time to stop in Wears Valley General Store at 3239 Wears Valley Rd, Sevierville TN. From Pigeon Forge take Wears Valley Road at Burger King and travel 11 miles. From Townsend take Wears Valley Rd and travel 7 miles.

August 18, 2014

The Island at Pigeon Forge

the-island-fountainsThe Island at Pigeon Forge offers an inviting atmosphere. It’s like a miniature theme park but much more exclusive. To welcome you is a large, majestic fountain with waters that dance to the sounds of music. Your first inclination is to park yourself in one of the rocking chairs surrounding the fountain to relax as you rock for a while. The Island Show Fountain offers shows throughout the day, each one a stunning presentation of water dance and light. Choreographed to 14 pieces of music, 89 vertical nozzles create lively movement as a geyser nozzle shoots powerful bursts of water 60 feet into the air.

As Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is being constructed, many other restaurants and shops are already open.

For authentic mountain dining, the Timberwood Grill serves up some real down-home food — burgers, sandwiches, tacos, some serious steaks and steak and seafood platters, and desserts like you’ve never seen and gully washers to wash it all down. Their Hillbilly Whine made with Ole Smokey Moonshine White Lightning, Fee Bros. Cherry Bitters, simple syrup, ginger ale and a lime squeeze will put a little giddy-up in your step.

Mellow Mushroom is the late night hang out destination at The Island in Pigeon Forge. When the sun goes down the patio turns into the best seat in the house for an amazing LED light show with over 1,000,000 lights on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.

Gifts & souvenirs can be found at several unique shops throughout The Island.

The Sweet Shoppe of the South has gourmet cupcakes, hand dipped truffles, award winning caramel pretzels, chocolate covered caramel apples, and lots more.

For ice cream lovers, The Island Creamery has old fashioned favorites and also serves smoothies as well as coffees from around the world. Other snack eateries include Island Yogurt, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, and Mini Donuts. Create-A-Cone serves the largest Snow Cone treat in East Tennessee. The Fudgery has a great variety of homemade fudge and other candies.


Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant with its natural materials, exposed wood and warm tropical colors create a welcoming, laid back atmosphere with unique dining spaces, a concert stage, and multiple bars. A large exterior deck overlooks the Little Pigeon River where guests can enjoy outdoor dining and live music at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere bar complete with an oversized fire pit. The menu includes Jambalaya, fish & chips, buttermilk fried chicken with green beans, mashed potatoes, and chicken gravy, shrimp, steak, seafood mac & cheese, and more. Also offered are gluten-free and vegetarian menus.


If you just want to relax for awhile, Dude’s Daiquiris serves an eclectic mix of craft beers from around the globe. The patio is the perfect setting to relax, unwind, and have a great time.

For a taste of Germany, Poynor’s Pommes Frites serves Pommes Frites / Belgium Fries, Original Made-In-House Dipping Sauces, Authentic German Brats, Fresh Baked Brochen (German Hard Rolls) and Spaghetti Ice.


Bill’s Lemonade is a must stop at The Island. Bill’s “World Famous” Lemonade was first sold at county fairs and festivals, and from the very start they used a unique process which they perfected, combining select ingredients and a handmade touch to create the best fresh lemonade.


For a great time, visit Dick’s Last Resort a/k/a The Shame O’ The Smokies. Dick is the ornery, politically incorrect curmudgeon who started this whole thing. Dick’s Last Resort is known for its outrageous, surly, and energetic servers who dish out good grub, cold booze, and heaping helpings of sarcasm. From high-class to no-class, Dick’s is fun for all and all in fun! The servers are always entertaining, and if yer unlucky enough, you may even catch a little live music. Sandwiches and burgers are on the lunch menu, a great variety of dinner items, and they even have a menu for your rug rats.


When it comes to shopping, everyone will enjoy the Build-A-Bear Workshop where can choose from over 30 bears, bunnies, dogs and more to make. The Island Trading Post has fun-filled atmosphere with a huge selection of incredible souvenirs including gifts, candy, toys, sauces, jams, jellies, tees, sweets. For you gourmet cooks, the Pepper Palace sells everything spicy. At Timber Valley Rustic Furniture craftsmen create fantastic one of a kind furniture pieces that incorporate the rustic beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.

When completed, the 6,000-square foot Ole Smoky Moonshine store, known as Ole Smoky Barn”, will include an onsite still, a tasting bar and a retail store.

Attractions are plentiful at The Island. You will find A 7D Dark Ride Adventure, Island Mirror Maze, funny cars, and Arcade City.

The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel towering 200 feet, stands as one of the tallest attractions in the Southeast. It offers views of the Smoky Mountains in comfortable, all-glass gondolas that seat up to 8 people.


Manufactured by the Italian Bertazzon family, The Flying Horse Carousel has 22 horses and chariots that are hand painted and styled in a rich Venetian décor.

A Happy Swing accommodates children and adults, the Happy Swing delivers the sensation of weightlessness as it swings back and forth up to 9’ in the air.

Are you ready for a Shooting Gallery? Pick up a rifle, pistol, or flintlock and shoot your way around an old moonshine camp, but watch out because some critters fight back! This game allows for scoring competitions and up to seven players per round.

Save time to experience the Thunderdome, a giant 32 feet high aluminum dome that houses not one but four trampoline based bungy jumps.

Margaritaville Island Hotel is situated in the heart of The Island. This 132 room hotel features a fireplace and balcony in each room. Suites and Jacuzzi rooms are also available. Each hotel stay comes with a free, full hot breakfast, free wi-fi, 24-hr fitness center, concierge services, meeting facilities, and a rooftop pool and hot tub with multi-purpose pavilion.

For more information on the Smoky Mountains, visit here.

August 5, 2014

Book Early for Your Smoky Mountain Fall Vacation

fall foliage

A view of fall foliage from Newfound Gap Road. Image © 2014 by Image Builders.


Does “Book early for your fall vacation” sound familiar? If you’re planning a Fall getaway to the Smoky Mountains, you know that early booking is necessary. In early October, the leaves begin to take on their colors of red, orange, and gold as nature flaunts its Fall beauty. For that reason, the Great Smoky Mountains has over 2 million visitors between October and the first week in November. To be assured of getting accommodations during that period of time, you need to book early.

Book A Place to Stay
Hotel / Motel • Luxury Condo • Cabin

Many of the hotels and motels in nearby towns start to fill up quickly. Cabins, chalets, and condos come in all sizes, so to get the size and amenities you want, you should start booking now.

If you want to step away from the kitchen during your vacation, you might prefer a hotel or quaint mom and pop motel in the center of all the action. You can hop a trolley either at the front door of your hotel or at a nearby trolley stop where you can go to Dollywood, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, or even to Historic Elkmont inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

For those who would like to fix a few meals themselves, a luxury condo would be the perfect choice and would also provide easy access to attractions and restaurants.

Other folks might desire to have all the amenities of home where they can relax in a comfortable living space with a fireplace for those cool nights, a hot tub on the deck overlooking the Smoky Mountains, a game room with pool table, and a romantic Jacuzzi in the master bath. Throwing steaks on the grill or cooking up your favorite meal in a fully furnished kitchen adds to the enjoyment of renting a luxury cabin for your Smoky Mountain Getaway.

Many accommodations offer special packages which include attraction tickets and lodging. So, whatever your choice, your accommodations can fit your needs. Just be sure to book early for that Fall Mountain Getaway!


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