For Charmingly CJ’s birthday, we decided to take her to Gatlinburg, TN for some birthday fun. She hasn’t been there since she was a baby, so she didn’t remember going there. On that trip we rented a cabin with another family, so we spent more time hanging out together at the cabin and didn’t really explore all that Gatlinburg had to offer. B has been to Gatlinburg a few times on motorcycle trips to ride the Tail of the Dragon. But Charmingly CJ and I haven’t been since she was a baby. So, it was like the being there for the first time. 

One thing about Gatlinburg, there is something for everyone to do. EVERYONE! In planning this birthday fun trip, Charmingly CJ had a list of places she already knew she wanted to go to. Each day, we went to one of those places, plus checked out the shops on the main tourist street. We were able to easily filled our day with things to do, for each day we were there.

This is the wrap-up of Adventures in Gatlinburg series. Let’s jump right into where to eat, sleep, and play while vacationing in Gatlinburg.


For this adventure, we stayed at Holiday Day Inn Express Gatlinburg Downtown. It’s located a few minutes walk from Parkway, the main tourist area. One highlight that drew us to stay here was the indoor pool area. It’s a mini water park!

Now, B has stayed here a number of times on motorcycle trips. So he had already checked out the hotel first hand and gave it a good review. He knew Charmingly CJ would love the water slide area. She loves the water and having an indoor mini waterpark plus a heated pool was going to make an amazing stay for her. 

The hotel also offers a breakfast buffet, fitness center, and a little game area near the fitness center. Here’s a look at the water slides. 

Waterslides inside the Holiday Inn Express Downtown Gatlinburg, TN.


OMG, there was an endless option of things to eat. Which was good, but it made it hard to decide on where to eat. We ate breakfast at the hotel each morning. Let’s jump right into the places that we ate at.

Dick’s Last Resort This was a total win for Charmingly CJ. We ate here almost every day of the trip for either lunch or dinner. She loved this restaurant. Everyone customers and staff all interact. The servers are obnoxious, talks shit but it’s part of what makes this a unique and fun restaurant. Everyone, adults included are given bibs to wear and hand-made paper hats with something written on them. Napkins and straws are usually thrown on the table as the server passes by. It’s all in good fun. The service is good, fast, and very kid friendly.

No Way Jose’s Cantina – located near the aquarium, it was a place that Charmingly CJ picked for her birthday lunch. The menu online had her favorite (taquito) and my favorite (tamales). We are very excited to get those two items on the menu, but it was a total let down as our server didn’t get our order correct. And when we ask to see the menu the server to show the server that taquitos on the menu said they are fried corn tortillas, not burritos he said that’s how they make them. What!? so you don’t make them the way they are described on the menu. He got the order wrong because he didn’t want to take the time to listen to our order when we place it. Very disappointed in that, even more so since it was Charmingly CJ’s birthday lunch. Lucky, her birthday dinner was a lot better.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. – This was our first time at a Bubba Gump and it did not disappoint. We ate here twice during our trip. Service was good, drinks were good, and the food was good.

Hard Rock Pigeon Forge – this was a great lunch. We arrived early and did not have to wait for a table. Service was good and quick. It’s located in the same parking lot as Wonderworks. Also next door to Dolly Parton Stampede.

Longhorn Steakhouse – Like any other Longhorn it’s good food. We ate here once during our trip because we were across from the restaurant and we’re all hungry for dinner. We knew that it wouldn’t be bad as any Longhorn we’re been to, the service and food have been good.


Between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg there is a ton of stuff to do, I mean a TON of stuff. We arrived on a Saturday and after eating lunch, the first place to check out was Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – AMAZING! One of the best aquariums we’re been to.

WonderWorks Fun, was very crowd when we went around lunch time. We left, there was no one in line waiting to buy tickets at about 3 pm.

Ripley’s Museum of Odditorium – Filled with neat facts and a fun place to check out.

Hollywood Wax Museum Fun, have your phone charged, you’ll be taking a lot of photos.

Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors Located in the same parking lot as the wax museum. If you haven’t done a mirror maze, this is a fun one to try out.

Titanic Museum – Great learning adventure. Not a boring history museum!

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure – it was ok. Believe it’s better after 6 pm. We went about 4 pm, so not scary.

Old Smoky Gem – This was a fun little adventure. Reasonably priced and we found a lot of gems.

These are some other places worth mentioning (we didn’t visit these attractions).

  • Smokey Mountains 
  • Dollywood 
  • Rafting in the Smokies
  • Woody Bear Coaster and Glider
  • Waldens Creek Stable
  • Ghost and Haunt Tours of Gatlinburg
  • Ole Smoky Whiskeys (whiskey tastings)
  • Rocky Top Theater
  • The Tomb Egyptian Adventure
  • Smoky Mountain Opry
  • Hatfield and Mccoy Dinner Feud

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One thing about Gatlinburg, there is something for everyone to do. EVERYONE! There are many, many shops on the main tourist street. You can easily filled your day with things to do, for each day we were there.

About the Author

Jay Creed

Jay Creed

Content Creator + Manager

Jay is the Content Creator + Manager here at Life of Creed. She shares her adventures in homeschooling, traveling, beauty, mental health, fashion, product + music reviews, DIY, and more. She is also a blog coach + mompreneur consultant over at Jay Creed.

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