Can I just start off by saying that Tennessee is SO FREAKING BEAUTIFUL! We took our FIRST real family vacation, and it really wasn’t that bad. We did A LOT of traveling from our central location in Crossville, Tenn., including driving to Nashville, Chattanooga and Gatlinburg. We saw mountains galore, including the Great Smokey Mountains, climbed to waterfalls and even saw a waterfall underground IN a mountain (my claustrophobia was at its highest level.)
Day One: After driving 7 1/2 hours from our cozy home in Indiana overnight, we just explored a local park called Cumberland Mountain State Park. We did some small hiking and explored the area. It was really a more chill day because we were exhausted from the drive.
Day Two: It was my 28th birthday! We drove about an 3 hours west to Lynchburg, Tenn., home of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. We took a cool tour of the grounds (a definite must see if you are staying awhile more in the Nashville area) and even brought back some cool Jack Daniel’s souvenirs (yes, that includes whiskey.) We then drove to Nashville for the evening. We grabbed some dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, a cool restaurant near the lakefront that has a trolley car INSIDE the restaurant where people can actually eat. We took some photos by the lake front and watched a beautiful sunset over the pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River. They had grassy steps that Grace spent a good 15-20 minutes chasing birds on. We took a stroll down Broadway and saw some of the cool light up signs and listened to live music streaming from the numerous bars. The day was perfect.
Day Three: Wednesday was our chill day. We did A LOT of walking in the hot, humid weather and honestly we needed a day to catch up. We did laundry, had some pizza and even swam in the condo’s pool. Grace loved lounging in the pool. It was hard to get her to leave though her lips were getting a bit blue and she was shivering from the light breeze. Richie and I BOTH got sunburnt after lathering Grace up with sunblock and forgetting to put any on ourselves. We got a little bored and went to a local park about 40 minutes away. We were on the search for more waterfalls and found TWO! One at Fall Creek State Park about 40 minutes outside of Crossville. We did some SERIOUS mountain hiking that day the park was like a beautiful maze of greenery and even had a watering hole that I wish we had brought our bathing suits for. On the way back, we stopped at Ozone Falls and found another one that was super easy to go to the top of. Grace played in the creek that lead over the falls. I had to trek solo down to the bottom of the waterfall. It was a lot of uneven rocks that even I had problems climbing. I wish I lived near something similar because it would have been the most amazing chill spot to read or just hang out and chat with a friend!
Day Four: We drove to Chattanooga for the day. We had heard about a point where you can see seven states from. We could not find it! Navigating on a mountainside with a fear of heights and narrow roads made things tricky, and honestly, we were all hungry. We did manage to cross into Georgia! We will definitely have to go back and have a really Georgia trip. We instead went to Ruby Falls, which we saw dozens of signs for. We thought it was just a lookout (we did NOT do our research on this day) and bought tickets for the attraction. Turned out it was a tour underground to see Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall. It was so deep into the mountain, about the same “height” into the ground as the Empire State Building (tours are so educational) and it was frightening and AMAZING. The walk into there, about a mile, was super scary and tight and difficult to navigate with a wiggly toddler. After the tour, we did get up the the lookout point with a panoramic view of Chattanooga. We grabbed a quick bite and headed back, enjoying a sunset and stopped at a few cool lookout points.
Day Five: Gatlinburg! This was one place that I thought was so beautiful. Sitting along the Smokey Mountains was a lot less scary than I built it up in my head. Granted it was more of a valley of the mountains, the views and old town feel of the little town was the ideal hometown! I got to ride an alpine mountain coaster (a MUST if you go and seek a quick thrill.) It was super hot and humid for Grace, so we spent a good chunk of the day at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokey Mountains. It was one of the most interactive aquariums we have been to. I pet a stingray, Grace was less than a foot from a penguin, you could go on a boat with a glass floor over a shark tank and saw a mermaid show and take pictures with said mermaids! Gatlinburg also has a space needle you could go up in and a sky lift that would take you up into the mountains. I was WAY too afraid to go on the lift by myself because the carriers look like the cheap “cars” that were on old ferris wheels. If I came back to Tennessee, I would definitely go into the state park and visit some of the surrounding attractions (like Dollywood!)
Day Six: TIME TO HEAD HOME! The trip wasn’t over yet, though. I had to work that evening, but we spent time in Louisville, KY before crossing the Ohio River back into Indiana. The riverfront is a must see in Louisville. We lucked out that there a nearby arts festival right by the water. Grace chased birds and we grabbed some food. It was nice to break up the 7 hour trip back. Grace was awake for a majority of it and watched a few movies on her iPad (a lifesaver for the multiple trips that were 2+ hours.)
Well, then we were ready for home sweet home. I’m glad we didn’t plan too much for the week (though it seemed like a lot.) If you are planning a trip here, definitely take into account how time consuming each activity can be. However, there is SO much to do. If I did it all again, I would definitely focus more a more touristy area like Gatlinburg or Nashville to really take it all in (Gatlinburg would probably win that choice.)
Next up on our agenda, but with no definitive date is MINNESOTA and WISCONSIN! I have never been to the Mall of America, and I have friends in the St. Paul area that I hope to see! Of course, with Wisconsin being so close, we will probably do multiple trips.
Thanks for reading! I’m going to do my top ten bucket list items that I personally still want to do in my life! I’m glad my little has caught my travel bug, because she is such a good travel buddy.
Love, Grace and Veronica
Featured outfit: Tee: Perfectly Sparkled.
Shops featured in photographs:
Lullababy Wear: Code GRACE15
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