Perfect Smoky Mountains Souvenir

Heirlooms from the Arts and Crafts Community

For generations, the mountain community surrounding the Gatlinburg area has been known for its skilled artisans and craftsmen. Visitors can find excellent representations of arts and crafts of all kinds throughout the region, especially in the Great Smoky Arts & Craft Community, part of the Tennessee Heritage Trail. Nowhere else in North America will you find a larger collection of independent artisans than in the community located just a couple of miles from Carr’s Northside Cottages. Originally organized in 1941, the Great Smoky Arts & Craft Community continues to showcase the rich heritage and artistic skills of this vibrant region.

Heirloom Art Pieces for Smoky Mountain Souvenirs

Watching and Helping!

The 8-mile loop that follows Hwy 321, Buckhorn Road, and Glades Road is home to over 100 artisans, artists, craftsmen, and cooks. No matter your particular area of interest, you’ll find something that piques your curiosity along the loop. You’ll see traditional artists of every stripe: potters, weavers, carvers, wood-workers, quilters, jewelers, and candle-makers. Every medium is available too: ceramics, stone, wood, fabric, precious metals, leather, glass, paint, photography and more. Many of the artisans work on site, allowing you to view the creative process as it happens. You can follow the progress of a pot from a lump of clay, to the throwing wheel, to the glaze, to the kiln. Or you can watch carvers shape wood into beautiful forms. Seeing the process allows you to better appreciate the skill and technique that goes into making the objects that function in or decorate our homes.

With so many stores to browse and so many artists to appreciate, you’ll certainly want to allow for a whole day to explore. When you get hungry—and you will—stop in one of the many restaurants located along the loop. Get a taste of the local cuisine for a full sit-down meal or just pick up a snack to eat along the way. Eat ribs, wings, or local trout for a fuller dining experience, or just satisfy your need for a sweet snack with some fudge or ice cream or maybe both!

If you don’t want to drive yourself, just take the Gatlinburg Trolley. For $1 you can ride the Yellow Line Trolley all day, making stops all along the loop. The trolley can be boarded at the Gatlinburg Mass Transit Center at Traffic Light #5 and runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

At the end of your day of exploring crafts loop, you’ll be inspired by the work that you’ve seen and find that just-right piece of art that you can claim as the perfect vacation souvenir and family heirloom.

Experience a Chimney Tops Adventure

A Hike, Climb and Mountain Picnic

Chimney Tops Trail Panoramic Mountain View

Chimney Tops Bare Rock Summit

Just a 20-minute drive from Carr’s Cottages, the Chimney Tops Trail is the perfect place to spend the day. Since it is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Chimneys can get pretty crowded during the warm weather months. From Carr’s, you’ll be close enough that getting an early start will avoid big crowds on the trail. Pack a picnic lunch and head out! Wear hiking shoes with good support and take plenty of water to stay hydrated during the 3.8-mile roundtrip hike. You’ll want to allow a few hours to really enjoy your trek up the mountain and to spend some quality time soaking in the panoramic view that makes the steep end of the trail more than worth the effort.

The recent trail rehabilitation project added plenty of stone stairs to the trail and has improved accessibility. Simply put, it’s one of the best hikes around. Keep an eye out for the abundant plant life along the trail. Notably in May and early June, you can spot Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron. When you get to the top, you’ll get to see one of the few bare rock summits in the Smokies. You’ll find plenty of spots to climb around to get the full experience, but do be careful!

The Chimneys Picnic Spot

Everyone Loves a Chimneys Picnic

Once you’ve conquered the Chimney Tops Trail, travel to the Chimneys Picnic Area located a few miles north of the trailhead. This amazing picnic spot is absolutely beautiful and offers charcoal grills and plenty of easily accessible tables. (Park right at the table, so you don’t need to haul your coolers too far!) When listening to the rushing river, you’ll know you’ve found one of the most relaxing spots in the Park. Eat, read a book, or clamber around on the many massive boulders that stud the river. Splash in the cool mountain water and then flop on a nice, flat rock to dry off.

You can easily spend an entire day enjoying all that the Chimney Tops area has to offer. Actually, you may want to pack more than just a picnic lunch because once you arrive at the picnic area after your hike, you may have a hard time leaving. It really is all THAT! So, stay and play as long as you’d like; Carr’s will be waiting for you when you’re ready to call it a day.

Vacation in Gatlinburg

A Destination for the Generations

Honeymoon, Family Vacation or Family Reunion in Gatlinburg

Multi-Generation Family Vacation

Carr’s Northside Cottages & Motel has been offering a quiet getaway in Gatlinburg for over 70 years. In that time, many a couple has started their lives together by enjoying a honeymoon in one of the many cozy and romantic spaces. The location is perfect for newlyweds as it’s close enough to the attractions of town, yet out of the way enough to allow for plenty of time together without ever leaving the property.

Jacuzzi Suites | Romantic Log Cabin

As young couples enter the next phase of life, Carr’s continues to be a top vacation spot for their growing families. With indoor and outdoor activities nearby from mini golf to hiking to wacky attractions, kids enjoy fun-filled days of excitement in downtown Gatlinburg or in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The best part, though, is that families find plenty of things to do right here at Carr’s too. One mother explains that staying at Carr’s is “like sitting in your backyard with all of your family.”

Property Amenities | Creekside Motel Rooms

Carr’s offers all the comforts of home AND the anticipated family vacation fun. Property amenities include a level yard for outdoor games, playground, horseshoes and basketball hoop. And what kid doesn’t love to play in the water? Parents can relax poolside in a lounge chair while the kids swim the day away, or pull up a chair by the creek and watch the kids splash and wade.

Family Suites | Vacation Cottages

Once the kids are grown and have kids of their own, Carr’s is where a family vacation becomes a family reunion. With cottages from 1-3 bedrooms in close proximity, multi-generation families can choose several rentals that keep everyone close, yet provide maximum comfort and privacy. (Toddlers can take an uninterrupted afternoon nap while elders can enjoy their “early to rise, early to bed” routines.) Entire families—grandparents, parents, kids and grandkids—can gather together at the picnic pavilion for a ‘new tradition’ family dinner or cookout, and simply enjoy peaceful, quality together time.

When it comes time to explore the National Park, the whole group can visit the same places the newlywed couple did, the trail where the family first hiked, or find the perfect spot for a family reunion photo and reminisce about everyone’s first introduction to the Smoky Mountains.

The family traditions and time spent together at Carr’s Cottages are memories that will be forever cherished. Whether the first Gatlinburg getaway was as a newlywed or doting grandparent, there are many more memories to be made in the years to come.

Kid-Friendly Hikes

Short, Easy Smoky Mountain Hiking Trail

Kid Friendly Hiking Trails Smoky Mountains

Future AT Hikers and Park Advocates

One of the best hikes for families with young kids or elderly members who cannot walk a great distance is the .5 mile (1 mile round-trip) hike to the waterfall on the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail. This trail is an ideal introduction to hiking. Walking sticks and multiple bottles of water are optional, but a camera and taking your time to appreciate the woodland scenery along the shaded trail are a must! Kids may be tempted to run ahead a little ways, but they’ll easily be within eyesight.

This low impact, outdoor adventure will start at the Sugarlands Welcome Center at the Gatlinburg entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s approximately 2 miles from downtown Gatlinburg traffic light #10 on US-441. There’s plenty of shaded parking, restroom facilities, picnic tables and a museum. There’s also a 20-minute free movie, but little ones with little attention spans may just be ready to get outside.

Before you head out, take a few minutes to look at the 3-D relief map. This will show everyone just how large the park is and how many more hiking trails are available, so that one day when you are feeling more ambitious ya’ll can hike another.

Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail Waterfall

Sugarlands Trail Waterfall

Make use of the restroom facilities and walk right out the door to begin your hike, which actually begins when you step off the Visitor Center sidewalk. The path is wide and level with only a few tree roots to avoid. The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is well traveled, but the waterfall at the end will give everyone a wonderful reward.

While on the trail, be sure to snap a selfie or ask other hikers to trade photography favors. When you arrive back at the Visitor Center, spend as much time as your group will allow. Look at the flora and fauna exhibits, ask a park Ranger about things you saw along the trail, and visit the small gift shop for souvenirs. Besides plenty of books and hiking trail maps, the gift shop has plenty of educational items that will help instill a love of nature and teach your kids to take care of our green space for the future. Every purchase from the gift shop benefits park preservation and is greatly appreciated!

A Cool Down Summer Vacation

Rivers, Mountain Streams, Water Parks and Swimming Pools

If you’re heading to Gatlinburg for summer vacation, it’s likely that you’ll want to enjoy the cool waters of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or find attractions that are sure to help you ‘chill out’ and relax on warm weather days.

If that’s the case, you’re in luck as Carr’s Northside Cottages offers convenience to both. Just off East Parkway (Hwy 321) and 3 blocks from downtown Gatlinburg, Carr’s is in a great location giving you easy access to the things to do in the Smokies that include ‘wet, water or river.’

Greenbrier Swimming Hole

Cool Fun at Greenbrier

For natural, nearby places to beat the heat in fresh waters, visit Metcalf Bottoms, Greenbrier, Cades Cove or the Chimney’s. Most of these Great Smoky Mountains National Park recreational areas have abundant picnic tables and restroom facilities as well as shallow water and giant boulders for wading and climbing. The best part of these adventures is that they are self-guided and completely free! Check out these and other wet places to play for free on the National Park Service website.

If you prefer popular water attractions, you can visit the underwater world of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies; paddle around Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park; or have a wild whitewater river adventure with Rafting in the Smokies. Although these activities aren’t free, you can purchase discount Splash Country tickets at our front desk and other attraction discounts can be found here.

No matter where you go in our area, there are plenty of places to keep everyone in the family engaged, entertained… and refreshed! When you start to plan for water adventures, you can ask our front desk staff for recommendations but don’t be surprised if they say, “Don’t go anywhere.”

The best and most affordable part of your vacation just might be staying put! Head down to Roaring Fork Creek that runs through our hotel property to relax creekside at a table or swing, or wade across the shallow waters and find a big rock on which to sit. Prefer to be poolside? There are lounge chairs and umbrella tables right next to the heated swimming pool and wading pool.

Ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? You won’t when you stay at Carr’s. Affordable, friendly, and THEE place to cool down.

Carrs Cottages Roaring Fork Creek and Hotel Swimming Pool

Roaring Fork Creek, Swimming Pool, Wading Pool and Hot Tub Onsite

Free Family Fun Vacation Activity

Little River Railroad and Lumber Company

Carr’s Cottages prides ourselves on not only offering affordable vacations, but also for being knowledgeable about the sights and activities in the Gatlinburg area that will help you have a great family vacation.  You’re going to like this!

One unique, family-friendly activity is The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum. Founded in the Smoky Mountains in 1901 by Col. W. B. Townsend, the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company (LRRC) built 150 miles of track and sawed over 2 billion board feet of timber before becoming part of the newly formed Great Smoky Mountain National Park in 1939.

Imagine the fun your kids will have pretending to be passengers or a conductor on the museum’s outdoor displays consisting of a 1909 Shay 2147 engine, a Frick steam engine, “Little Woody – a vintage caboose car, original flatcars, and a log loader. Inside the museum, housed in the original Walland TN Depot building moved to this site, are over 200 enlargements of vintage photographs, papers, tools, exhibits and small artifacts.  Don’t miss seeing the authentic “setoff” house – a movable block-like dwelling that workers lived in that could be picked up, placed on a flat car, and “set off” at the next working site.  We’d say that this is truly the first of “mobile” homes.

Each year, the The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum celebrates Railroad Days.  This year’s event is Saturday, September 27 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.  Activities include museum tours, hand car rides, walking tour of old Townsend and Tremont.

Townsend TN Fall Festival Railroad Days

Railroad Days
Saturday, September 27

There is never a museum admission fee, but it does operate on donations and sales from the Gift Shop, which is housed in a replica of the early Elkmont Post Office.  Visit The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum in Townsend on US 321 near the west entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  If you can’t make it for their Railroad Days, visit anytime during these dates and hours:

June, July, August, October
Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday:  1 – 5 p.m.

April, May, September, November
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday:  1 – 5 p.m.

December – March
By Appointment Only

When you stay with Carr’s, you are on the right track to having a great family vacation!

Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum
7747 East Lamar Alexander Pkwy., Townsend
865.448.2211 |

Where to Take Family Photos

Gatlinburg Family Vacation Photo Ops

Family Vacation Photos in Gatlinburg

Share Your Vacation Photos with Us!

Family vacations to the Great Smoky Mountains are often about capturing special times with your family, and whether you plan for it or it happens by accident, everyone leaves with memories.  Bring your camera, bring your phone, or bring your camcorders because the scenic value of your memories will be something to capture and write home about.   Unlike the fisherman who hoards the location of their secret fishing hole, we’re giving you the scoop on a few choice family photo spots that are scenic vistas, points of interest, or of historical importance.

Gatlinburg never disappoints to provide scenic family photo ops.  You will find the most spectacular view of Gatlinburg and the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains from the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook on the Gatlinburg Bypass.  Along this route you’ll have a birds eye view of downtown.  Be mindful of traffic and use one of the convenient pull off areas to fully appreciate the scene and get the perfect shot!

On a hot day consider the Roaring Fork Nature Trail, located about a mile outside Gatlinburg. The Roaring Fork Nature Trail is a 6-mile loop that will take you along some waterfalls!  Rainbow Falls stand’s 80 feet tall and provides a 5.4-mile roundtrip hike and is considered moderate to difficult.  The Rainbow Falls Trail continues for approximately 4 miles beyond the falls to the summit of Mount Le Conte.  Grotto Falls, a picturesque 25′ waterfall is the spot of a thousand drips.

For historical and wildlife photos, Cades Cove is the place to go.  Arrive early to get the best experience, as it’s early in the morning that animals are moving and haven’t had a moment to tuck themselves out of travelers view.  Take your time along the one-way tour as Cades Cove is home to a working gristmill, barns, primitive churches, and many cabins that were used by the first settlers.  Pull aside to allow those in a hurry to pass because you don’t want to miss an opportunity view wild flowers, a wild turkey, deer or even a black bear!

Even with all the beautiful backdrops throughout the Smokies, the best place to take your vacation photos is right outside your door at Carr’s Cottages!  With our park-like setting, playground, babbling brook and two swimming pools, there’ll be plenty of family fun to photograph.  We hope you’ll share your photos with us on Facebook because some of OUR best memories are the pictures of YOUR memories at Carr’s Cottages.


Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair 2014

Annual Fall Craft Show a Highlight of October in the Smokies

October is a month ideal for heading to the Smoky Mountains and submersing yourself into everything ‘Appalachia.’  The weather is perfect for appreciating the National Park, Vols football is in full swing, and cultural celebrations and festivals are happening every weekend throughout Sevier County.  And, all year long, folks are looking forward being in Pigeon Forge during the month of October for the much loved Rotary Club Craft Fair.

From September 27 – October 25, 2014, the Rotary Club of Pigeon Forge will set stakes at Patriot Park for the 39th Annual Rotary Club Craft Festival.  This craft fair is a wonderful opportunity to shop for wares from both local and nationally skilled craftsmen and browse for handmade gifts for yourself or friends, find unique Smoky Mountain home décor, and even begin working on your Christmas shopping list.  Featured craftsmen have a proficiency in woodworking, Native American jewelry and gifts, quilts, stained glass, and so much more.  Browse the booths and get to know these talented individuals!

Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair 2014

September 27 – October 25, 2014

For 2014, the Rotary Craft Fair is bringing “Together We Can Make a Difference” to this year’s festivities. As the Rotary Club’s biggest annual fund raiser, proceeds of booth rentals, admission donations, and concessions will benefit local organizations such as Children’s Christmas Party, Handicap Scouts, House of Hope, Programs for Disadvantaged Youth, Scholarships, Sevier Food Ministries, Youth Exchange, Boys & Girls Club and Sevier County Schools.

A donation of any size is your festival admission and is greatly appreciated.  Fair is open every day from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

It is easy to find Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge: turn off the Parkway at traffic light #7 / the Old Mill and look for the carnival tent.  Parking is free.  When you return to Carr’s, be sure to stop by the front desk so we can see what you’ve bought!

What is a Rotary Club?  To find out more about the mission and importance of Rotary, our local Rotary Club and how you can become a Rotarian in your own community, click here to visit online.

Thank you for supporting our community simply by visiting and appreciating the Great Smoky Mountains!


Fun for Kids at the Wonderful World of Ripley’s

Ripley’s Gatlinburg Aquarium and Special Events

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is pulling out all the stops this summer to entertain your kids! Even if you’ve been to the aquarium a number of times and think this might be the year that you can skip it… DON’T! There is a new exhibit appropriately named “Slime,” special guest appearances, and some creative, free fun on the Plaza all summer long.  Click here to print a Ripley’s Gatlinburg Attractions Event Calendar.

Live Mermaid Show at Ripley's Aquarium

Throughout the Month of July

The Mermaids are back! Throughout the entire month of July, you can watch live Mermaids swimming the Coral Reef every day at Noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Now through August 9, Ripley’s Aquarium is hosting a “Kid’s Fin-Tastic Summer” on the Plaza. Kids are invited to participate in free crafts and activities each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. We’re guessing this will be some ‘camera worthy’ fun that will make a great addition to your summer vacation scrapbook!

Various dates between August 16-November 15 will welcome special guest appearances from kid stars including Disney’s ‘Fletcher,’ ABC’s ‘Danny,’ Mr. Potato Head, the Cat in the Hat, and others. Their appearance will be at the aquarium and included with a regular admission ticket.

The hot topic at the aquarium is this year’s new exhibit, “SLIME.” In addition to Touch-a-Ray Bay, now your kids can touch Jellyfish at the limited-time Jellyfish Encounter too. There are over 15 videos and interactivities, and additional aquarium tanks featuring interesting and extra slimy fish and critters. We’re betting your kids are going to enjoy grossing you out with all the cool stuff they’ll learn!

We know you choose Carr’s because of the affordable, comfortable accommodations, and for the fact that your kids love the swimming pool and wading in our creek. But did you know that we sell discount aquarium tickets too? Pick up your tickets at our front desk and save.

Adult Tickets: Save $4.47   •   Kids Tickets: Save $3.35

Have a little sneak peak at what’s in store for you at the Gatlinburg Aquarium and then make your reservations to vacation with us at Carr’s!

Kids Junior Ranger Program

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When you vacation at Carr’s Cottages, you join the ranks of generations of families that have been enjoying affordable, family vacations in East Tennessee.  We love families and kids of all ages, and hope that your kids will come to love the great outdoors as much as we do.  One way to inspire them is through the interactive Junior Ranger Program!

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just one of 300 participating parks that offer children between ages 5-12 the chance to become Junior Rangers, complete with a certificate and badge!  While your child can become a Jr Ranger at any time of the year, there are many unique, ranger-led activities to encourage kids to explore and learn about the park are scheduled during the spring, summer and fall.  Activities include such things as short hikes, learning how to pack a daypack, animal Olympics, bats, and more that your kids will absolutely love.  See some of the outdoor activities scheduled for 2014.

Become a Junior Ranger in the Smoky Mountains National Park

Earn a Junior Ranger Badge & Certificate

As a Junior Ranger, I promise to help protect the plants and animals of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and keep the air, water and land clean. I will continue to learn more about the park so I can help protect it for all the years to come.

To become a Junior Ranger, the child must complete eight of eleven different activities in a specially prepared, age-appropriate booklet (one each for ages 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12), talk with a ranger or attend a ranger-led program, and pick up a bag of trash.  The booklet includes learning skills such as identifying leaves (and poison ivy!), answering historical questions, drawing pictures and unscrambling puzzles.  Junior Ranger booklets can be purchased for $2.50 at any park visitor center, at the Cades Cove or Elkmont campground, or online at the Smokies Store.

From a parental perspective, the booklet is an outstanding, structured National Park guide created to spark a love of the outdoors through entertaining education.  After beginning with a few necessary rules such as “leave everything as you found it, don’t feed the wildlife, and don’t carve your name on a historic cabin,” the booklet quickly turns into fun and adventure for your children… and you!  Once the requirements are completed, return to a visitor center and let a staff member know that the booklet requirements have been complete.  A park ranger will proudly present your child a Jr. Ranger badge in front of everyone.  Bring your camera!!

Being welcomed into the ranks of Junior Ranger is a great honor, and one that should be celebrated!  Carr’s is just the place to commemorate the achievement with a BBQ picnic at our pavilion and a dip in the heated swimming pool, or a nighttime marshmallow roast by the creek.  Be sure to stop by the office so that we can say our congratulations too!

For additional information about becoming a Junior Ranger in the Smoky Mountain National Park, visit the NPS website.