We Middle Tennesseans sometimes forget that one of nature’s most amazing landscapes is just a few hours drive east — the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Growing up, my family would take us kids to the Smokies at least once a year to either the National Park, Dollywood, Ripley’s Aquarium or Ober Ski Resort and we’d stay in a rental cabin — there’s just something about getting cozy and drinking cocoa by the fire that really resonated with my folks.    

Nowadays, you can save yourself travel stress by booking places that give you and the kids every reason to never leave, like the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park. With access to hiking trails, three heated outdoor pools, a full-service spa and a 60,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor waterpark, this place really makes it easy to skip the downtown strip — especially during a pandemic.

3 Day 2 Night Gatlinburg Vacation Packages | Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort  & Spa | Westgate Resorts

Want to go zip-lining? Check. Mini golf? Check. Need a grocery store and multiple dining options on-site? Check and check. As a parent, I don’t have to tell you how nice it is to not have to drive around looking for a parking spot while you’re on vacation.

Providing beautiful cabin-style rooms, Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort’s spacious villas offer up a range of creature comforts: including a working fireplace, fully-equipped kitchen, private balcony and large screen television. Most even come equipped with an indoor hot tub (wait for it) in the master bedroom!

If you do decide to wander outside the campus, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance is less than five minutes away and downtown Gatlinburg is less than 10. So, between the trolley service that takes you to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge and the 24-hour resort shuttle that can take you anywhere in the facility, you don’t have to drive much after you get there.   

The resort has its own menu of activities (archery, painting, jewelry making and more) as well as daily education adventures for kids.

Looking for a weekend escape to the Smokies? I highly recommend Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park — whether you hire a babysitter or not.

If you’re keen on visiting, check out their Gatlinburg hotel deals on their site, which are usually pretty good.

Mini Golf in Gatlinburg, TN | Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa | Westgate  Resorts