When the weather outside is frightful during the holidays and into January, most of the time I’d just as soon stay inside. But I’m also conflicted, because there are so many things that beckon me to come to the Smoky Mountains when the temperatures drop below my normal comfort level of 40 degrees or more.
So I’ve decided a compromise is necessary – what can I do mostly inside, knowing that I’ll have to venture out dressed in multiple layers before I can go back indoors!
The incredible thing is that the list is lengthy. Who knew that in a place known for outdoor activities – from hiking in the gorgeousness of the Great Smoky Mountains to all the outdoor fun at Dollywood – there are so many options for indoor fun. Well, now I know, and you’re going to know, too! First, though, I have to establish my headquarters from which to start my winter wanderings. Options are bountiful, but I’ve narrowed my list down to Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa or one of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins. There are so many different things I can do at the resort, and the cabins offer so many options in terms of number of bedrooms that I can get a whole group to go share in the wintry-weather fun.
Since there are still almost two weeks left to enjoy Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, I’ve still got that on the top of my list of things to do when the weather turns a bit cooler. I’ll brave most anything to get my picture made with Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, and the memories I’ve made watching the “Christmas in the Smokies” show for several decades now must be repeated every year. Here’s the perfect plan: make my way up to see Rudolph first, stopping to warm up along the way in several of the great craft shops and finish my Christmas list. After seeing my favorite reindeer and taken some photos, I’ll venture back down Craftsman’s Valley and go inside the Grist Mill for a loaf or two of hot cinnamon bread. The smell and taste of that cinnamon bread are going to overshadow any other senses, so I’m thinking I won’t notice anything else as I walk the short distance to see my favorite Dollywood holiday show. After the show, we’ll sneak inside the bakery for some hot chocolate and a gingerbread man cookie, before we head to the car. And Dollywood has added special “warming zones” with big outdoor heaters during its holiday festival in Showstreet, The Village and Country Fair areas. It’s all about having a plan to stay warm, and we’ve got it covered!
A similar cool weather plan is in effect for holiday shopping and after holiday shopping. It goes like this: enjoy warm car ride to Tanger Outlet Mall; pick section of shopping center that needs frequent stops and park accordingly; exit car and enter warm shop, secure necessary purchases and move quickly to inside of next store. Repeat as often as necessary to complete shopping mission, then head back to Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort to a cozy dinner inside at the Song & Hearth restaurant.
If you’re planning a Smokies getaway for January or February, there are lots of great places that offer fun indoor experiences that you should consider. It’s hard for me to leave any of these off my itinerary for a winter visit: the awesome Dolly Parton’s Stampede and the Titanic museum, both in Pigeon Forge, and Ripley’s Aquarium and the many options at Ober Gatlinburg – from skiing and snowboarding to ice skating to riding that super cool aerial tram. With so many options, you and your gang can pick different things that you like to do best and then meet back up for lunch or dinner or even dinner with a show at Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
Winter, I’m ready to face your chilliness as long as I can include some Smoky Mountain fun along with your cooler temperatures. When hot chocolate, shopping and warm memories are on the menu, it’s an experience that can’t disappoint.