The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Most people know of the Titanic disaster from the popular 1998 film by James Cameron starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. But how much do you really know about the ship that was the length of 4 city blocks took 15,000 people two years to build, and less than three hours to sink in the early morning hours of April 14, 1912, with only 712 of the 2208 passengers and crew members surviving?

On a recent visit to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, we spent the morning exploring the Titanic Museum, located right on Route 441 in the heart of all the action (and less than a half hour from an entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Read about our adventures in the park here). The other Titanic Museum in America is located in Branson, Missouri.

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How to Explore the Great Smoky Mountains if You Don’t Hike or Camp

I’m saying it from the start: I am not a hiker. Or a camper. I think I like to hike and camp. I think I like being in the wilderness and communing with nature. I think I like to be without technology and modern day conveniences like running water. But when push comes to shove, I like it for about a day.

So here’s the disclaimer: I spent one day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I want to be up front: you could spend weeks- months- inside this national park that spans over 500,000 acres across two states (Tennessee and North Carolina). But I know my limitations, and I knew at the start of an almost four week road trip it was going to be a marathon and not a sprint, so I couldn’t get burnt out right away. I researched the Great Smoky Mountains and found the most manageable places to explore that would still give me the sense of accomplishment of hiking/camping/communing with nature. Here’s what I recommend if you want to get a feel for the mountains without camping for days:

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The Inn at Christmas Place Pigeon Forge, TN

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is known for being the home of Dolly Parton, a mecca for mini golf loving-race car driving- carnival rider seeking tourists, and as the gateway to The Great Smoky Mountains, the most popular of the 58 National Parks in America.

After hiking and exploring the mountains, we treated ourselves to an overnight at a magical place where it’s Christmas every day: The Inn at Christmas Place. It’s located right on the "Parkway" (Route 441, also known as the main strip of all things Pigeon Forge), but once you step inside, you’ll swear you’re on the North Pole. Children of ALL ages will love the magic of the Inn at Christmas Place.

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