I've been going to the Great Smoky Mountains at least once a year for the last 20 years for family trips. We've enjoyed big birthdays, Thanksgiving, Ober Gatlinburg ski and snow boarding trips, and summer vacations there. This was the first year we spent Christmas there, and it was perfect!
My husband, two boys, and I left sunny Fort Lauderdale early on December 22nd and drove straight through to a condo we rented at Our Place in the Smokies for the night in the mountains. We arrived very late, close to midnight, and went straight to bed. The next morning we woke up to this amazing view!
I'd definitely recommend these mountain condos in Gatlinburg, TN for a family of four or less. The condo, complete with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, dining area, and kitchen had plenty of space for the four of us. It also had this amazing balcony where I enjoyed my morning coffee.
On Friday, December 23, we packed up and drove into Pigeon Forge, only 30 minutes away, to have a quick breakfast and meet up with my family at Oak Haven Resort and Spa, where we always stay now when we visit. The cabins are gorgeous, the staff is amazing, and the resort features many great amenities. It's located just outside of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Sevierville, Tennessee.
My Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother-in-Law, two nieces, and nephew drove from Kentucky, only a few hours away, to spend our first Christmas together under one roof. I hadn't been that excited since my childhood for Christmas - and I get pretty excited for Christmas each year as it's my favorite holiday.
Oak Haven Resort and Spa has 100+ luxury log cabin rentals consisting of one to seven bedrooms. In addition to the luxury cabins, there's a basketball court, pool, arcade and gaming center, nature trails, playground, fitness center, gift shop, and the Oak Haven Spa, a full service spa to book your pamper sessions. For a menu of services, hours, and to book an appointment, visit their site HERE.
All 125 cabins are decorated inside and out during the holidays complete with a Christmas tree. Each cabin comes fully furnished, with a variety of entertainment for the family like pool tables, gaming consoles, checkers, ping pong, fuse ball, hot tubs, and WiFi. The kitchens are equipped with everything you need to cook meals right in the cabin if you prefer staying in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Our cabin, shown below and HERE, is Cabin 13. It's a 4-bedroom, 4.5 bath, custom log cabin that sleeps as many as 12 (my entire family consists of 11 and we were more than comfortable in this space). It's located, with just a short walk, near the spa and all other Oak Haven Resort amenities. Take a look HERE, an interactive map, featuring the entire resort and all of its amenities.
Another awesome feature, and definitely a favorite of mine, is that each cabin comes with a gas grill located on a screened-in deck for those of us who enjoy grilling and BBQs. I'm the Queen of grilled ribeye steaks (thanks to my father, who taught me well), so I grilled steak on Christmas Eve for my family. They sat in rocking chairs out on the deck enjoying cocktails and chatting with me while I prepared part of our holiday feast.
We had such a great time eating and opening gifts from one another on Christmas Eve. And the fun continued on Christmas Day, After a big Christmas morning breakfast of biscuits, gravy, bacon, hashbrowns, and eggs, we finished opening the remaining gifts, lounging around, and playing games together.
It was the first time I'd played games with my sister and her family, and I'm not quite sure I'll ever make that mistake again. You haven't seen competitive until you've played 500 Rummy or Yahtzee with my nieces. Cut-throat doesn't even begin to describe Emily and Audrey. They're so adorable and sweet and then BAM - your worst gaming nightmare!
On December 26, we decided to enjoy our final day in Tennessee out and about after a quick family photo shoot with our family photographer and my husband, Gino. The family photo sessions are always fun and interesting to say the least. I'm in charge of loosening everyone up to get some decent shots since I'm the family goofball.
We all split up for the day since we wanted to do different things. My mom, dad, and sister's family went out to lunch and to a movie in Gatlinburg while my husband, children, and I went to the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. It's full of history, actual items from the ship, and interactive displays to give you an idea of what it was like on the RSS Titanic. I definitely recommend visiting the museum and buying tickets for the guided tour. Visit the museum website HERE for more information or to book reservations.
After our museum visit, we headed back to Sevierville and stopped at the Tanger Outlets for a late lunch and some window shopping. There's no shortage of stores in this mall, so you could enjoy a full day of shopping. They have tons of stores with your top brands, ice-cream and coffee shops, and many restaurants in or nearby the mall.
Once we all returned to the cabin, we packed and loaded our cars for our departure the following day. After packing and tidying up the cabin, we enjoyed a quick and easy dinner, grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, and played a few more games before heading to bed to rest for the next day's drive home.
We had such a special time, as we always do at Oak Haven Resort and Spa. The time spent with my family and celebrating the holidays all together will never be forgotten. I can't wait for our next trip to the Smokies together! - Jill xoxo
Here are a few of my favorite fun things to do and places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains:
Ober Gatlinburg - Shop, dine, ski, skate, and more
The Incredible Christmas Palace - Shop all things Christmas
The Applewood Farmhouse Restauarnt - Southern-style dining at its best
The Island in Pigeon Forge - shopping, dining, and rides