Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee

Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage was the exclusive property of Andrew and his wife Rachel. He lived there from 1804 until his death in 1845. It was bought by a nonprofit organization in 1889 and opened later that year as a museum in his honor. Almost every artifact in the mansion is authentic. The property averages about 600-700 visitors each day, but when we were there, a docent said it had been one of the busiest days of the summer, with over 1,000 visitors by mid afternoon.

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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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Year in Review: Highlights of 2018

2018 was an exciting, adventure filled year for my family. We started a bit early by purchasing a new 2018 Chevy Equinox, and to date-exactly 54 weeks later- we have over 26,000 miles on the odometer. We’ve been as far west as Texas, as far south as Florida, and as far north as Maine. We’re explored over a dozen states, over twenty National Parks Service locations, over two dozen museums, two baseball parks (that brings our total count to 24 out of the 30 MLB parks), and created countless memories.

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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 Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee

My family received most of their country music education when we visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on a recent trip to Nashville. However, no education would be complete without a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. The backstage tour gave us an insider’s perspective to what it’s like for one of the 64 living, active cast members who perform at the Opry. Since its inception, the Opry has invited (invitation is a must) 215 musicians to become members, 74 of whom are women.

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