Not many people know about the town of Sevierville, at least not those living outside of the southeast. This little town holds a few treasures you don't want to miss though, and it also has a secret. It is Dolly Parton's hometown, and yes, Dollywood is close by. Ms. Parton doesn't hold the monopoly on this area however, although she does draw quite a crowd when she is in town. The Great Smoky Mountains are the real shining beauty around here, and definitely make the trip to Tennessee worth it, even if you aren't a Dolly fan.
Where to eat
Barbeque is the name of the game when you are driving through the South. Gospel singing sensation Tony Gore set up a restaurant, aptly named Tony Gore's Smoky Mountain Barbeque, in Sevierville so he could cook his favorite meats when he wasn't on the road. T's Loaded Tater Chips with pulled pork on top should be the first thing you order. Just make sure you leave room for cake but be forewarned; the slices are huge and delicious. If BBQ isn't your thing you are looking for southern hospitality with a side of healthy leafy greens, then go say hello to Howard at The Diner. He serves up your basic diner food, but uses fresh ingredients. You won't find any powdered soup mixes in his joint or iceberg lettuce. Howard's philosophy is if he wouldn't eat it, why would anyone else?
Where to stay
Once your bellies are full you are going to need a place to rest your head. Wilderness at the Smokies is home to Tennessee's largest waterpark and it is only open to guests. No matter what the weather, you will have a waterslide to shoot down with their indoor and outdoor facilities. The local Fairfield Inn also provides comfortable accommodations for families on a budget with a free breakfast and suites for larger groups.
Where to play
You came all this way to see the mountains, so head into the Smokies through Greenbriar first. This old settlement was once home to over a hundred families. Now there are very few traces of these early settlers to the region. Once the Smokies were declared a National Park all residents were pushed out to make way for Mother Nature. A small cemetery though still stands along with a few boundary walls. One barn, stream house and hiker's cabin are left to remind future visitors of what used to be there. Nature has its time and place, but so do a few roller coasters. Dollywood is the perfect spot for families with kids of all ages and even grandparents in tow. There are tons of live shows, craftsmen at work, rides to hop on and roller coasters to scream down. Still looking for a bit more speed? Adrenaline Park has a zip line over the river that is sure to drop your heart into your stomach, and you will want to do it over and over again.
In many ways Sevierville is reminiscent of a beach community. There are loads of family-friendly activities to be had, greasy food to eat and places to sleep. Instead of the ocean to swim in, you hike through the mountains as your natural playground. Dolly Parton feels it's a good enough place to call home, and after one visit, I bet you will too.
Have you been to Sevierville? What did you think?