Hitting the road for Spring Break or looking for a fun new destination? How about Dollywood? An all-American theme park with something to see around every corner.
It’s safe to say that if there is an amusement park within a few hours, we have been there.
Likely multiple times.
When my sister and I were kids, I have fond memories of visiting Great Adventure with my Dad. We would leave at (what seemed like) the crack of dawn, so we could be there when the park opened.
And now as a parent myself, visiting theme parks have been a fun pasttime for us.
Especially since Nick LOVES roller coasters.
Higher. Faster. Better. Is pretty much his mantra.
Two feet on the ground is pretty much mine.
So when I was planning our Spring Break trip to Tennessee last year, I checked to see how far we would be from Dollywood, a theme park that has been around forever (well, almost, since they’re celebrating their 30th anniversary this year).
We didn’t exactly get there right when the park opened, which would have surely disappointed my Dad, but we did manage to make it there by noon. A day with beautiful blue skies and temps in the 80s, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
The theme park was easy enough to find, but the parking lanes were not especially well marked, so pay close attention as you follow the signs. Parking is a reasonable $12. The tram line to go from the parking lot to the theme park entrance gates was l-o-n-g; suffice it to say there is huge merit for arriving when the park opens, as my Dad was wont to do, as opposed to lunch time. Although parking spaces were easy to find, it took about 40 minutes of waiting in line to get on the tram.
As for Dollywood?
In short: we loved it.
Throughout every inch of the park, it truly celebrates the artisan and handcrafted workmanship. Many various crafters and their workshops were located all through the park, and we loved visiting them, watching them work, and learning more about what they did. You’ll find everything from blacksmiths and artisans working with leather to wood carvers and candle makers.
Madeline was particularly enthralled with the glass blowing workshop, as she watched the artisan put finishing touches on glass dolphins (and, of course, one came home with us). The glass items reminded me of my grandmother, because she used to have a few, so it was sweet that one followed us home. An added bonus is that the glass blowers also helped (unfortunately unsuccessfully) with splinter removal, a band-aid, and directions to the First Aid department.
Because what outing is complete without the hunt for First Aid?
The attention to detail throughout the park to their old world, country theme is amazing. There is nothing thrown together or haphazard at Dollywood. Whether it’s the snacks they’re making before your eyes, the rides, or the gifts they’re selling, it all worked together seamlessly, and made it so much more than “just a theme park.”
Even the train ride, which we all loved, came complete with a history lesson.
And, of course, another smooshed penny to add to our collection. These are, easily, one of our favorite mementos to collect any time we’re out and about … simple, small, inexpensive, and memorable.
The only “problem” with being the only grown-up on the trip? That I sometimes need to go on a ride that I really don’t want to. The kids convinced me to get on a ride that was, thankfully, not a roller coaster, but one that I got soaked on (not the ride pictured below).
Luckily the sun was out, so we dried off quickly and could avoid the $5 dryer machine.
The food was, honestly, amazing. The most delicious, made in front of you, pork crackling.
So delicious that we actually stuffed three bags in our suitcases to come back home.
One of our favorite food visits while we were at Dollywood was the grist mill. We also gobbled up the cinnamon bread, which we watched them make right before our eyes. Warm, delicious, it was perfect.
The rides are a good mix for all ages … and all levels of bravery.
For my East Coast readers, I realize that Dollywood isn’t exactly around the corner, but if you find yourself in the area, whether you live near or far, it’s worth a visit. The focus is on family fun, with a little bit of history and craftsmanship thrown in for good measure, and it makes for a unique experience you won’t find elsewhere.
If you happen to be visiting Tennesee and you are looking for more to see and do, you can check out my Pinterest board right here, dedicated to everything we did. Or at least everything I’ve blogged about so far.
You can also find my Pennsylvania board here, and this one covers day trips and fun things to do in the Tri-State area.
Dollywood Theme Park
2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863