Cultural Experience | Tennessee

Weekend Warriors: Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

A weekend in the Smokies full of autumn magic and wonder.

Traveled from Cleveland, TN to The Smoky Mountains, TN

Traveled by Car

Stayed at: Wyndham timeshare gifted by a family friend

Visited: The Smoky Mountains (Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge), Cade’s Cove

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been itching for fall to get here ever since the new semester started. Here in Tennessee, fall is a big deal. We love to watch the leaves change, throw on an infinity scarf and frolic through a corn maze with a pumpkin spiced latte in hand. Thinking about all things fall has me thinking back to the vacation I took last fall to the Smoky Mountains with my boyfriend and his family.

The Smoky Mountains include Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and as a whole they make up the quaintest region of the southern United States. We rode a chairlift over the city, picnicked at the national parks (including the mesmerizing Cades Cove) and went to The Dixie Stampede, a famous dinner theater show. It was the perfect weekend destination, and not to mention a nice break from school.

Here’s what was in my suitcase:

1. My army green pants from Forever21 – perfect for fall colors. Mine were pretty inexpensive, and they’ve lasted long enough to come back as a wardrobe staple this year.

2. More fall accessories like my favorite beanie and a scarf to match my pants. What better way to get into the spirit of autumn than with accessories to match the season? I get my favorites from Forever21 and Target!

3. Extra cash for those spontaneous shopping trips. You never know what you’re going to find when you’re on a road trip, so it’s better to come prepared. Gatlinburg has the best Christmas store, so I scored some great decorations just a few months early.

4. My jean jacket from Gap was perfect for the fall mountain air: not too heavy, but it still kept me warm in the evenings.

5. Are Toms still trendy? Well, whether or not I rocked them at Cades Cove. They’re comfy, casual and cute, which is just what you need when you’re on the road.

6. But, when I felt a little fancier, I pulled out my chocolate brown boots. They are another fall wardrobe staple that match with basically any outfit.

7. My iPhone and mobile charger. My phone is vital for capturing the perfect Instagram pictures, so I need my car charger to make sure it stays juiced up on the road. I typically get mine from Amazon.

8. A big, cozy cardigan is yet another staple for fall, and I loved wearing it when I was lounging around the hotel or traveling in the car. This season, go for a cardigan in traditional autumn colors: cream, burgundy, green, browns and deep orange.

9. Snacks! Luckily this aspect of my trip was taken care of by my boyfriend’s awesome mom who never let us go hungry. When you’re in the car for a long time you gotta come prepared! While you’re snacking you’ll also need….

10. ….lots of water. If your destination is in the mountains, you have to stay hydrated.

11. Bonus item: always always aways bring your sense of adventure along on a road trip. My boyfriend and I had a free day on our trip, so we spontaneously zip-lined through the Smokies! It was definitely a trip highlight that we still talk about today, and it never would have happened if we didn’t bring our thirst for a thrill.

Caroline Eaton

Lee University | 11 stories

Caroline is a full-time student, wanderer and writer that believes adventure can be found anywhere, whether you're on the other side of the world or in your own backyard. She celebrates all forms of travel and exploration, and dreams of writing her way across the entire earth. She blogs at, and you can send a tweet her way at @caro_eaton.

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