Gatlinburg is a long-time top family destination, and now there’s a new reason to schedule a vacay there — the brand-new Margaritaville Resort. Located at 539 Parkway, the resort brings an impressive new level of comfort and upscale style to this part of the Smokies. The pristine, luxurious resort provides a perfect escape for your family.
RELAX & CHILL
Margaritaville Resort whisks your family into a beach-like, tropical atmosphere with its airy, spacious indoor and outdoor lounge areas and relaxing decor. An indoor pool is open year round — perfect for a fall destination — and there’s a large outdoor hot tub that’s open year round, too. Looking ahead to next summer, a sparkling outdoor lagoon-like pool with a twisting slide provides hours of relaxation. Also outside, there’s a tropical-themed zero-entry pool for little ones, boasting fountains, sprayers and coconut-shaped buckets that dump water. Gatlinburg’s Little River hugs the backside of the resort. Kick back in a hammock while being lulled by the sound of the water slipping over nearby rocks. Or, challenge your kids to a competitive game of corn hole.
ROOMS & SPA
The resort offers several types of comfy room options, all sporting 50” smart TVs, free WiFi, refrigerators and microwaves. Most rooms feature exhilarating rain showers and private balconies. Be sure to check out the family suites with separate rooms for parents and kids. Most important, the rooms and the entire resort is exceptionally clean and smoke/vape-free inside and out! Mom and Dad can schedule extra relaxation at the resort’s full-service St. Somewhere Spa. It offers a sumptuous menu of massages (including couples and prenatal options), facials and other spa/salon services.
The resort’s License to Chill Bar boasts a tasty menu with everything from nachos and salads to sandwiches, tacos, flatbreads and entrees. The Paradise Burger is delish, but my favorite discovery was the Ultimate Grilled Cheese. This double-decker bad boy is layered with havarti, cheddar and Swiss cheeses along with crisp bacon and jalapenos. The “Parakeets” kids’ menu for ages 12 and younger includes five kid-favorite options.
The nice folks at the Margaritaville Resort help to make your stay top notch. That’s key when you’re on vacation. Everyone from housekeeping staff to concierge is friendly and eager to help. Got questions about anything in the Gatlinburg area? Talk to Head Concierge Robbie Paxton. She’s a gem and a walking encyclopedia of all-things Gatlinburg. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Margaritaville Resort — it’ll be the only place I stay on future trips. Your family is sure to love it, too! For more info, or to book a stay, call 888-447-0222 or hop online to margaritavilleresortgatlinburg.com.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS IN THE GATLINBURG AREA
Gatlinburg is chock-full of fun things to do with your family. While Margaritaville Resort provides your home away from home on your trip, consider these cool outings with your kids:
1) RIPLEY'S AQUARIUM OF THE SMOKIES
888-240-1358 | ripleysaquariumofthesmokies.com This top-notch attraction brings you face to face with a variety of aquatic critters. Check out the brand-new Shipwrecks: Disasters at Sea exhibit and make the journey through the football-field length underwater tunnel of a world of discovery. Catch the mermaid show and touch jellyfish, too! The Ripley's brand has several attractions in Gatlinburg you might want to consider like Old MacDonald's Farm Mini-Golf, Haunted Adventure (ages 6+), Believe It or Not! Museum, 5D Moving Theater, Candy Factory, Guinness World Records Adventure and Marvelous Mystery Maze. Get info on all of them at ripleysgatlinburg.com.
2) MUSEUM OF SALT & PEPPER SHAKERS
865-430-5515 | thesaltandpeppershakermuseum.com
By far the most unique museum in Gatlinburg, it's also the world's only museum dedicated to salt and pepper shakers. The collection boasts more than 20,000 sets and they are curated by numerous themes like Christmas, vegetables, barnyard animals, international, pop culture and more. The mind-blowing collection makes for a truly unique experience. Kids will enjoy seeing shakers in familiar characters they love like Star Wars, Disney and a host of cartoon characters. It's open daily from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., and you can't beat the admission deal — $3 adults, free ages 12 & younger. If you purchase a keepsake set, your adult admission goes toward it.
3) GATLINBURG SPACE NEEDLE
865-436-4629 | gatlinburgspaceneedle.com
Take the elevator ride up 407 feet to the observation tower where you can get lots of cool photos of the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg. It's a 360-degree experience, and the ticket allows two rides — so go during the day, and come back for the nighttime view (it's breathtaking). Down below there's a giant arcade and a pizzeria.
4) OBER GATLINBURG
800-251-9292 | obergatlinburg.com
One of the area's most popular family destinations, Ober offers a bounty of fun. Board the Aerial Tramway for the ride up to the top where an amusement park awaits. Each attraction/activity has its own separate ticket price, so you can custom-build your experience or go for one of the wristband options. The Ski Mountain Coaster is an exhilarating thrill as you soar through the mountain in an individual car that lets you control the speed. The cars can fit two, so your child can ride with you. Ober also has indoor ice skating, a black bear wildlife encounter, an alpine slide, kiddie rides, mini golf and new ice bumper cars that are a big hit with kids.
5) BIPLANE RIDE
865-742-2359 | skyhighairtours.com
Make your way to the Gatinlburg-Pigeon Forge Airport to board an authentic open-cockpit Waco Biplane for a sightseeing experience like no other. It's open to all ages, and headsets are provided (leather helmets, goggles and silk scarves optional).
865-325-2400 | anakeesta.com
Located right across the street from Margaritaville Resort is Gatlinburg's newest attraction. Board a four-person chairlift or six-person enclosed gondola for the ride up the mountain where you'll arrive at Firefly Village. There's a lot of family-friendly fun here like ziplines, a canopy walk, the Rail Runner Mountain Coaster, gem mining, gardens and more. Your kids will love exploring Treehouse Village featuring interconnected bridges, plank walks and tunnels.
7) HOLLYWOOD STAR CARS MUSEUM
865-430-2200 | starcarstn.com
Your kids will have a blast getting up close to more than 40 real Hollywood movie and TV cars. The collection includes the original 1966 Batmobile, The Flintstone Mobile and the Bumblebee 1977 Chevrolet Camaro from Transformers.
8) MYSTERIOUS MANSION
865-436-7007 | gatlinburgmysteriousmansion.com
If you have older kids and dare to embrace a fun fright, then head to Gatlinburg's oldest and scariest attraction. The self-guided tour takes place in the three-story early 1900s Victorian-style house. It features live actors and is not recommended for small children. There is mild gore, and Halloween shows in October promise to amp up the fright factor.
9) SMOKY MOUNTAIN RIDING STABLES
865-436-5634 | smokymountainridingstables.com
Experience the beauty of the Smoky Mountains on horseback right inside Smoky Mountains National Park. The outing is suitable for beginning to advance riders, ages 5 and older. Along the way, you might encounter flocks of wild turkeys, a herd of deer or a spectacular black bear climbing a tree.
10) CADES COVE
865-436-1200 | nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cadescove.htm
Make the 27-mile drive to Cades Cove to experience the majestic Smoky Mountains in an unforgettable way. The 11-mile one-way loop road provides spectacular sightseeing at a leisurely pace. The loop has plenty of pull-offs where you can stop, stretch your legs and capture amazing photos. Find several hiking trails, too, where you can experience waterfalls and caverns. There are picnic spots, and the cove is the place to be for the best wildlife spotting.