Sunday, May 30, 2010

Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales

All summer long hear tales, mountain music, and learn the lore of the Smoky Mountains on the sidewalks of downtown Gatlinburg. Fourteen acts nightly. 5 - 10 p.m. June 11 - August 7

Tales and Tues Video

Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair

Art, crafts and music lovers can find almost 200 booths featuring some of the nation's finest work. Artisans and craftspeople are on hand to demonstrate their skills, answer questions and offer their unique art for sale. Live Country & Bluegrass entertainment. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gatlinburg Convention Center.  July 16 - 24

The synchronized lightning bugs are back!

The lightning bugs synchronized light show is actually part of the fireflies mating behavior. This start and duration of firefly behavior can vary based upon, when they emerged, current temperature among other factors so and exact "peak date" of when it is the best to see the Synchronized firefly show in Great Smoky Mountains national park will hopefully be when the trolleys are running from June 5th to the 13th.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that the Elkmont entrance road will be closed to motor vehicles and pedestrian use every night from 5:00 p.m. until midnight, June 5-13, except to registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground.  The closure is to accommodate transportation service for visitors planning to spend the evening viewing the natural-occurring, synchronous firefly beetles at Elkmont.  
The City of Gatlinburg, in partnership with the Park, will provide the trolleys for this activity.  The trolley service, coinciding with the expected peak flashing period, will be the sole transportation mode for visitor access during this period; no private vehicles will be allowed to enter Elkmont.  For safety purposes, restrictions will be in place to prohibit motor vehicles from parking along roadsides, pullouts, or any other areas besides at the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area for the purposes of viewing fireflies at Elkmont.  Only those visitors parking at the visitor center will be allowed to ride the trolleys.  Because of safety concerns, visitors will  not be allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road. 
The trolleys will begin picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus parking area at 7 p.m.  The trolleys will run continually until the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area is full or until 9 p.m., whichever comes first. The last trolley to return visitors from Elkmont to the Sugarlands Visitor Center is scheduled at 11 p.m.  The cost will be $1 round trip per person as in previous years.  
For those riding the trolleys, it is recommended that visitors bring flashlights with red cellophane covers to reduce white light.  Visitors can bring lawn chairs, and carry food and water in backpacks which can fit on their laps in the trolleys; there are no services available at the site.  Visitors are prohibited from bringing coolers, alcoholic beverages, or their pets.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Midnight Independence Day Parade

For the 35th consecutive year, Gatlinburg kicks off America’s Independence Day celebration with the nation’s first parade, which leads off at 12 a.m. on Sunday. July 3 - 4


For the 35th consecutive year, Gatlinburg kicks off America’s Independence Day celebration with the nation’s first parade, which leads off in the opening moment of the holiday at 12 a.m. on Sunday, July 4, to the cheers of close to 100,000 spectators and features a special tribute to our military personnel among the many highlights of this one-of-a-kind patriotic event.

Among the military personnel being honored as Grand Marshall for the parade will be the 129th Army Band from Nashville, Tennessee, which will march in the event. Vintage military vehicles will also be part of the parade.

As soon as the street is closed late on July 3, the parade route comes alive with pre-parade entertainers that begin the excitement of what is to follow. Marching bands, colorful floats and helium balloons will navigate the streets.

Also appearing in the line-up will be a parade-scale replica of the famous starship U.S.S. Enterprise from Riverside, Iowa and the Boyertown Alumni Marching Unit from Boyertown, Pennsylvania.

Bands schedule to participate in the Midnight Parade include the 129th Army Marching Band, Boyertown (Penn.) Alumni Marching Unit, the Nashville Suzuki Strings and Knoxville Pipe & Drum.

“This will be one of the most patriotic and colorful midnight parades that the City of Gatlinburg has ever produced,” according to Special Events Manager George Hawkins, who organized the first Gatlinburg 4th of July parade in 1976 in celebration of America’s Bicentennial. "We are very excited about the entire weekend of events, which will include a four-day festival highlighting our armed services!”

Additional weekend activities in downtown will include free admission concerts by the 129th Army Band, the Boyertown Alumni Marching Unit, Nashville Suzuki Strings, Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta unmanned floatable race, and a spectacular fireworks display.

For more information about the 35th Annual 4th of July Midnight Parade, please call 800-56-VISIT (568-4748).

The New Rocky Top Wine Trail

IMG_1835_smallWith in minutes of the lodge you can explore the "Rocky Top Wine Trail." You will be able to visit and tour some of areas finest, award-winning wineries located just minutes from Gatlinburg. You could bring back a bottle of wine and relax in a rocking chair while enjoying the spectacular Smoky Mountain View from your own balcony or the massive lodge deck. Or take and afternoon tour of all the wineries. There are three wineries on the "Rocky Top Wine Trail." They are Mountain Valley Winery, Hillside Winery, and finally, Apple Barn & Cider Mill.

Mountain Valley is Tennessee’s largest winery and host to a National Award-Winning "Wines of the South" (voted 2009). Mountain Valley is located only a few minutes away from Dollywood, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and downtown Gatlinburg TN. You can take a tour of the winery from the moment the grape is picked from the home grown vines to the time it is bottled and corked. Make sure you stop by the FREE tasting bar to sample over 20 award-winning wines. They also have a variety of freshly churned cheeses from Tennessee Farm Products. We are sure you will love the Mountain Valley Winery as we produce thousands of gallons of wine each year and have taken medals, both nationally and internationally, since our doors opened in 1991. Before you leave stop by the gift shop and take some souvenirs home with you! For more information please visit

Hillside Winery is the Sister Company to Mountain Valley Winery. It is the newest winery to the Smoky Mountain area. Take a tour of the winery experiencing their newly offered Italian wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and several others. The Hillside Winery has a wide selection of sparkling wines, such as the Black & Blue, which is made from homegrown blackberries and blueberries. For more information please visit page

The Apple Barn & Cider Mill is your last stop. Apple Barn and Cider Mill has a working apple farm with a general store, winery, two restaurants, a candy factory, an ice cream parlor, and a Christmas shop. The beautiful estate and genuine Apple Barn Farmhouse Grill will make you feel like family just by stepping into the restaurant. The Apple Barn has homemade butter, apples, pastries, bread and cider. The staff will be there to help you with any questions you might have. For more information please visit

Rest and renewal for body and soul

My husband and I enjoyed an all too short 3-night stay at Berry Springs Lodge following a conference I had attended in Nashville. I cannot imagine a better bed and breakfast-style retreat in which to rest and renew than the lodge. Its peaceful and beautiful mountain top setting seems light years away from the Nashville nightlife and the now over-commericalized Sevierville-Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg strip. Owners Patrick, who is the "front of house" host, and Sue, who prepares the amazing 3 course breakfasts and decadent nightly desserts, have created a true haven from the busyness of life.
Our well-appointed room came complete with comfortable king bed, fireplace, a great reading area and a private balcony. The en-suite bathroom was large and, like everything at the lodge, immaculately kept. Housekeeper Melissa does a great job. The lodge's large, covered back deck afforded spectacular views of the rolling hills of the Great Smokey mountains and proved to be our favourite place to read, birdwatch and enjoy some conversation with other guests. Because the weather was warm and we wanted to be outside, we didn't spend much time in the indoor living spaces, but we could imagine ourselves curled up on a counch by the fire at another time of the year. We took advantage of the amenities down by the bass and catfish ponds. While we didn't fish or canoe or shoot some pool at the table that can be found in the loft of the barn, we did play ping-pong and croquet for the first time in years. Each morning we wandered the trails in the woods, well worth the hike as there are lovely views to be had at each turn.
It had been 30 years since we were last in Tennessee and we'd camped out that time. After such a wonderful stay at Berry Springs Lodge, we know we won't wait so long until our next visit. The scent of the honeysuckle, Patrick's passion for the mountains and the lure of Sue's wonderful cooking will draw us back soon to the piece of paradise they are stewarding - and sharing- so well.  May 29, 2010  Guelph, Canada

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Heavenly and Peaceful

Patrick and Sue thought of everything! You couldn't ask for a better place in the Smokey Mountains to stay and be pampered! You are close enough to all shows and great eating places, but far enough out in the beautiful country side for peace and quiet. We would highly recommend anyone to stay at Berry Springs Lodge! By the way ~ Congrats to Patrick and Sue for their 10 year anniversary of owners of the Berry Lodge.  May 25, 2010  Little Rock, Arkansas

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two sisters at Berry Springs

Being at Berry Springs was like being home. (Except someone else took care of everything!) The views from the back porch and our room (Colorado Springs) were superb at every time of day, from morning mist over the mountains just before sunrise to twilight and approaching darkness as the birds settled in for the night. The breakfast was varied and enough to last us until long after lunchtime. The dessert each night was, again, varied and delicious. Patrick gave us good suggestions for activities and restaurants and provided clear directions to get there. The peace and quiet of this hilltop location is surprising, since it is very close to areas of substantial tourist activity. It only took us 15 minutes to drive to the Smokies. Our room and the common spaces (giant livingroom, diningroom and the back porch) were attractive and thoughtfully furnished, with every detail for our use (such as binoculars waiting in a basket by the porch door). We enjoyed interacting with the other guests.

May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Peaceful, relaxing but within minutes of everything

This B&B is the best kept secret in Sevierville. It is located just east of downtown Sevierville, but you feel as though you have arrived in a different time and place. The B&B is located on a mountain with spectacular views and quiet all around. We loved being there. We were minutes away from everything we enjoy doing in the Sevierville/Gatlinburg area, yet it was so quiet and relaxing -- the perfect getaway!

This B&B is extraordinarily clean and well-maintained. The hosts, Patrick and Sue, are friendly and welcoming. The food is great, and if you have special food needs, they are more than willing to go the extra mile. It was a great pleasure to stay at Berry Springs Lodge. We have already recommended it to friends, and we will be returning!!!

May 17, 2010  Memphis, Tennessee