Who doesn’t love a weekend getaway to the mountains?!
As Floridians, we see quite a bit of the beach and love any chance we have to trade our sandy beach view for mountains. This Christmas, we headed to the Smoky Mountains and experienced a winter wonderland! Logan has seen snow flurries a handful of times, but has never experienced a snowstorm before. It was nothing short of magical for our Florida babies who have never seen snow!
We had the privilege of checking out both Westgate Resorts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & River Terrace Resort and Convention Center. We stayed at the River Terrace Resort in a river view room and enjoyed the amenities at the Smoky Mountain Resort. Both resorts offer unique experiences, depending on your personal preference and what you are wanting out of your Smoky Mountain vacation!
Smoky Mountain Resort Pros & Cons:
- The Smoky Mountain Resort is a beautiful mountaintop oasis with gorgeous views. We were there during the winter and were blessed to see the mountains after a snowstorm. I imagine the views in the fall months are breathtaking as well! I could curl up in a rocky chair, sip my coffee, read a book and look out over the beautiful mountains for days.
- The resort is newer, up-scale, and well maintained. Every building looks like a log cabin, is clean, and freshly painted. The property itself has great landscaping, décor, and is well-kept. I consider it a “Pinterest-worthy” resort.
- There are many different amenities and activities that are great for all ages. You could spend days there and not run out of things to do around the resort. The amenities include: Wild Bear Falls Water Park, Flying Bear Zipline, Serenity Spa, Southern Comfort Restaurant and lobby bar, Roaring Fork, Mountain Top Pool Bar, The Marketplace, outdoor pool and spa, mini golf, fitness center, activity room, and a daily activity guide.
- Food is easily accessible around the resort. You can have a sit down dining experience at Southern Comfort (make a reservation if traveling on a holiday weekend). The Roaring Fork and Mountain Top Pool Bar can be enjoyed around the pool & water park, or you can grab and go. The Marketplace has a hot food case with a daily menu, Starbucks coffee, and the convenience of a small grocery store.
- There are a variety of lodging options that can fit the need of any party. Studio Villas are similar to your classic hotel room, although very spacious! They have villas with anywhere from 1-5 bedrooms! These villas have separate bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and living room. One bedroom deluxe villas-five bedroom villas even have a fireplace! These lodging options make it a great place for a couples weekend getaway, or a week-long trip with your entire family. If you have kids, I recommend at least getting the one bedroom villa to give yourself some extra space and a private place for yourselves or the kids. We like to have the separate bedroom so that we can put the littles to sleep and still enjoy the living space.
- The resort has very steep, winding roads that are difficult to drive and dangerous to walk. There are shuttles that will take you around the resort. We found it difficult to walk with small children and if you have any kind of knee or back issues.
- Because of those road conditions, the roads leading to the top of the resort may be shut down due to weather in the winter. This was the case while we were there. The resort was quick to salt and clear the roads, but guests were snowed into their rooms for some time. Some people would enjoy this (myself being one of them), but some might not (my husband & in-laws). While this will only effect those traveling in the winter and IF there is a snowstorm, it’s something to consider.
- If you plan to go to any of the downtown areas, Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, it is about a 15 minute drive. During busy seasons, it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to and hour.
River Terrace Resort Pros & Cons:
- The resort is in close proximity to the downtown area. You can easily walk from the resort to Downtown Gatlinburg, where there are a ton of shops, restaurants, and activities. If you enjoy site-seeing, visiting local spots, and packing your vacation with a lot of experiences, this location is great!
- The rooms are a great size for families, even the standard rooms. The river view signature rooms have a beautiful view and a fireplace. The river view signature king loft has a loft sleeping space and a good sized living space that would be great for families with older children. We had a first floor river view room and felt like we were right on the river. Our kids loved sitting on the patio and watching the snow fall into the river.
- There are a few amenities to enjoy, like two pool and spa areas overlooking the river and Drafts Burger Bar. After a day of exploring, you can head to Drafts Burger Bar to catch a game, eat food, and get drinks before heading back to your room.
- There is a private walkway to ,Ripley’s Aquarium. If this is one of your main attractions for your stay, you can easily walk their from the resort.
- The resort is older, smaller and has very view amenities. If you are someone who likes to stay and enjoy the resort, this is not the place for you.
- There is only one restaurant on property. We personally did not get to try the food because it was closed while we were there, but the menu looked good.
Everyone has a different way they vacation, even people in the same family. My in-laws prefer to always be on the go while they are on vacation. The more attractions and experiences, the better. Being within walking distance of downtown Gatlinburg was a big selling point for them with the River Terrace Resort and it did not disappoint. It was especially great because we were there in the middle of a snowstorm. While the roads were closed, we were able to walk around downtown and enjoy the views. If you’re like my in-laws and love all the thrill of vacations, book your River Terrace Resort vacation HERE.
My ideal vacation would be one where I could have a few days exploring and then a few days sitting around, reading a book, doing absolutely nothing. If you’re like me, Smoky Mountain Resort is the place to be. I could imagine myself sitting on a rocking chair, curled up with a book, calling for room service or heading to the marketplace for meals. But I have children and Logan, who would all lose their minds, so I’ll keep dreaming! You can book your Smoky Mountain Resort vacation HERE and enjoy the relaxation for me.
After you book your trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, connect with me on Instagram for more must-do activities! Happy Traveling.