Area Guide | Exploring the Highlights of East Tennessee
The perfect vacation to East Tennessee starts here! From shopping and family fun to hiking and exploring the park, there is never a shortage of activities. When visiting the Retreat at Covemont, you are able to experience the peacefulness of Wears Valley, TN, while being conveniently located near the area’s most popular attractions and dining options. Experience the best of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Cades Cove!
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
One of the park entrances is only a short drive from Covemont Retreat! When you experience the beauty and wonder of this incredible national park, it will be obvious why it is the most visited park in the United States. Some of the highlights include:
- Cades Cove: One of the most popular destinations of the Great Smokies, Cades Cove is rich with history and wildlife. It is recommended to allow two to four hours to enjoy the 11-mile loop.
- Hiking: The GSMNP has hiking trails and camping options for almost all levels of experience. All ages will enjoy the rich biodiversity of this awe-inspiring temperate rainforest. Find a map here.
- Visitor Centers: If you are looking for some additional guidance for your park visit, the visitor centers are a great place to start. Park staff will be able to help you find what will best suit your skill level and interests. Cades Cove, Townsend, and Sugarlands Visitor Centers are some of the closest locations to your cabin.
For family fun, high-energy activities, and great shopping options there is plenty to do in Pigeon Forge. Some of the top attractions in Pigeon Forge include:
- Dollywood and Splash Country – With rides, shows, and plenty of dining options, there is something for the whole family! Named after our wonderful hometown hero, Dolly Parton, it is an experience you will be sure to cherish.
- Tanger Outlets – If you are looking to do some shopping while you’re visiting the Tanger Outlet Mall has a great selection of stores, many with discounted options.
- Dolly’s Stampede – This action-packed dinner show includes 32 beautiful horses and their talented riders. This exciting attraction includes a four-course meal and is sure to be fun for the folks of all ages.
- The Island – One of the area’s most popular attractions, the Island is chock-full of shops, dining options, rides, and even an arcade. It even includes a 200-foot ferris wheel, one of the tallest attractions in the Southeast!
With plenty of dining, attractions, outdoor adventure, events, and shopping options, Gatlinburg is a great place to visit on your vacation. It also borders the park, so you can enjoy nature and night on the town in the same area.
- Anakeesta – This theme park pulls in the relaxed, nature-inspired, elements of the Smokies, while including fun activities for the whole family. The park is even home to the longest tree-top skywalk in North America!
- Ober Gatlinburg – This all-seasons park is filled with plenty of outdoor activities for folks who love an active lifestyle. This includes both an aerial tramway and a scenic chairlift, and are great options to view a beautiful perspective of the mountains.
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – Fish, turtles, penguins; Oh my! With plenty of shows and exhibits, this awe-inspiring aquarium in a fun and educational experience. You can even take a ride in a glass-bottom boat!
Space Needle – This impressive attractions stands at over 400 feet and houses a 360-degree observation deck to view the Great Smoky Mountains and the city of Gatlinburg
This beautifully quaint mountain community has been dubbed “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies,” for good reason. While that may be the case, there are still plenty of events and activities in the area. Some of the top attractions include:
- The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center – This beautiful museum explores the rich heritage of the area’s inhabitants. The GSM Heritage center is dedicated to preserving the rich culture of the Appalachian people, but also is home to an impressive automobile collection and host to many talented musicians.
- Tuckaleechee Caverns – These incredible caverns have a rich history, and are estimated to be twenty to thirty million years old. This memorable tour is about 1.25 miles long, and includes a “big room” that could house an entire football field!
- Tubing with River Rat – If you’re looking for a nearby activity to beat the heat, River Rat provides tubing and transportation for a fun, relaxing ride down Little River.
- Fly Fishing Tours – If you are looking to try your hand at Fly Fishing, both Little River Outfitters and R & R Fly Fishing are great options for booking your tour. Check out their options for classes, guided tours, and gear!
Hungry? Here are some of our favorite local dining establishments.
- Elvira’s Cafe – Located in Wears Valley, just a short drive away, Elvira’s cafe is a dining option that we highly recommend. With farm-fresh ingredients and a family-friendly atmosphere, this local cafe is a wonderful spot for your breakfast, lunch, or Friday and Saturday’s dinner.
- The Abbey – This craft beer pub, located in Townsend, is a great spot to sip some local brews or cider and enjoy some tasty appetizers or meals. This is a great spot to relax, complete with a beautiful view of the river.
- Peaceful Side Social – One of Townsend’s newest additions, this local brewery provides delicious farm-to-counter cuisine, refreshing beverages, and a community-driven atmosphere, all while maintaining it’s purpose to give back to our beautiful mountain home.
- Local Goat – Located in Pigeon Forge, just off of the parkway, this is a popular option for locally-sourced American cuisine. Steak, burgers, and craft beers are just a few of their highlights.
- Junction 35 – This Pigeon Forge based distillery has made a name for itself with their hand crafted spirits and mouthwatering cuisine. A great date-night spot for lunch, dinner, or drinks.
- The Peddler – Located in Gatlinburg on the outskirts of the National Park, this family-owned steakhouse is known for its great food, service, and atmosphere.
- Wears Valley Social – This food truck park is a great go-to for some fast and delicious dining options, with a variety of trucks that change weekly.
Looking for a delicious coffee treat?
The Heavenly Roast is the newest coffee-tastic addition in Wears Valley, conveniently located on the corner of Line Springs Rd., and 321.
If you are heading into Townsend, The Artistic Bean is another wonderful option to get your coffee fix.