The Smokey Mountains
The most visited National Park in the country is The Great Smokey Mountains. The popularity is evident in places like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You can visit Ripley's Believe It Or Not, putt putt for days and see the original 1966 TV-show Batmobile. What that has to do with Tennessee? I don't know. These corporations will be happy to relieve you of all your travel money for processed dinners, overpriced Ramadas with log cabin fake facades and memorabilia. Although I do fancy some "cheese" - it was is even too stinky of a flavor for me. I did buy a annual pass to Dollywood but even I have some limits. The Smokey Mountains have over 16 million people visit and its reeking havoc on the culture and ecosystem. The money making machine has replaced sane attractions. Visiting Clingman's Dome is both inspiring and depressing. The trees at the top are dying due to past acid rain and the traffic pollution is adversely affecting the environment. So what to do instead.
Try to stay on the west south side for less crowds and go in September or spring.
Travel down the road to instead
"Cherohala Skyway (TN Hwy 165, NC Hwy 143) is a 43-mile National Scenic Byway that connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, with Robbinsville, North Carolina. Opened and dedicated in fall of 1996, this highway starts at 800 ft. in elevation, and climbs over mountains as high as 5390 ft at Santeetlah Overlook on the state border, with 21 miles of the Skyway in southeast Tennessee and 15 miles in North Carolina. The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, thus the name "Chero...hala." Travelers on the Tennessee side are treated to mile-high vistas, brilliant seasonal foliage, the magnificent splendor of the Cherokee National Forest and the Tellico River. The rugged mountains, sparse human population and diverse habitats of Tennessee's eastern border make it home to an amazing variety of wildlife. There is little evidence of civilization from views that rival - or surpass - any from the Blue Ridge Parkway."(cherohala.org)
Stop at the vistor center for more info.
Tellico Plains, TN
I love this town. Its small, quaint and has not been ruined yet. Old buildings are being auctioned at $35,000 here. If I could put down stakes this is where I would do it. The plains are just that a flat area breaking up the mountains. I do fear a real developer will accend on this town soon but for now it is the deal of Tennessee.
A "must try":
Tellico Grains Bakery, 105 Depot St, Tellico Plains TN 37385. Open Tuesday-Saturday 8am to 4pm. No Sundays or Mondays. Charlie and I visited this place almost every week for the year we lived in Tennessee. My husband still craves the rueben sandwich to this day. I love their pizza with artichokes, spinach and sausage. We would split and fight over the last bite of a carrot cake muffin with real cream cheese frosting. The cost is higher then other places in that area but for the quality it is a bargain . No restaurant-stomach-aches here. The owners Stuart and Anissa Shull use real ingredients and lovingly bake everything on site. The atmosphere is playful and friendly. The building is an interesting old bank converted into a bakery. Dee behind the counter is a lovely person with constant cheer. Do plan on a line and waiting patiently in the dinning space or read the book about Tellico Plains on hand for entertainment. One last recommendation is don't forget to pick up a loaf of bread to go with your original order. Once you try their lunch you are going to want to take something home. Try the Sour Dough bread or the Herb Flatbread Fougasse and they are more then willing to slice it for you. It is very worth the money and calories.
The Cotton Pickin Inn and Diner, 100 Scott St, Tellico Plains, TN 37385 (423) 253-3468
Tim and Rose own and operate this little gem of an INN. They are brilliant developers with masterful construction abilities. Call and leave a message for one of their beatifully appointed rooms for rent. No AirBNB for them they don't need it.
Tellico Community Market, Follow the signs and keep going you will get there
This market was a Gift from God for us. The area is kinda a food dessert with very limited organic or locally sorced grocery store options. The mennioties that run this farm only know how to make georgous real food. It was 40 minutes from where we lived but I shopped there every week. Truthfully I don'd think I have never had outside of California better fruits and vegetables. Do yourself a favor and get a melon anyone kind is good but weekly I got a mini watermelon. I have never seen a better selection of chilli peppers in my life. Take some time here to look around the view out the back is Van Gough pictueresque farm land from a different time area. A sign in the store asks people to please be respectful and dress modestly. It reminds you of the deverse cultures we have within this country. I would chat with Marlin a bit but he was much friendlier and more comfortable when my husband was with me. Only the men in this community run the store. Purchase your souvernours here. Homemade Chow Chow, Strawberry Jam and pickled Okra are outstanding and are a lot cheaper then in the tourist areas. One for the road ...the homemade brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and cherry tomatoes are delicious travel friendly snacks at crazy low prices.
P.S. If anyone has any manuel counting machines please send it to them they need it.