Saturday evening, we enjoyed the firepit as well as some delicious smores! We even got nostalgic telling scary stories by the fire, which was so “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” fun. We ended the evening watching a movie in the spacious theater, that included reclining seats as well as bean bag chairs.

Some of my close family members decided we would expand our COVID circle and take a trip to Gatlinburg, TN. I know it’s not the sexiest location, but in these times it may as well have been Tahiti. We did the research and had a fantastic time! Definitely the new way to vacation. Here are a few steps to prepare:

  1. Decide on who you want in your circle.
  2. After agreeing on our travel group, we all voluntarily got COVID testing to make sure we were safe at least going into the trip. Now obviously, this is only good for a point in time, but it did at least help ease our mind. 
  3. Find a private house in the location of your choice.
  4. Make sure you have all the amenities. This is key ideally you won't have to leave the house much so make it count!
  5. Make cooking onsite fun.
  6. Take it back to the old school with games galore.
  7. Don’t forget the drinks.

Saturday, we started the day with a delicious brunch, complete with pancake charcuterie! If you haven’t tried this trend, it’s worth the time and actually pretty simple. Then, we ventured out to Patriot Park to get in a little exercise and see some of the local sights. We spent most of the time in the car driving through Downtown Gatlinburg, which was buzzing with energy and people. We pulled into a couple of the state park overlooks to get some great photos of the amazing mountain views this place has to offer. Additionally, the state park also had a few barbeque stations set up that seemed like a fun socially distanced afternoon for the whole family..

So like everyone else I have been DYING without travel. I mean the whole website is dedicated to the topic, so you know it’s one of my favorite things, but because I’m being COVID safe I’ve been staying at home and self-quarantining when necessary. I needed a break, and my family reunion was cancelled for the first time in 30+ years, so I took matters into my own hands.

Friday started with beautiful mountain views and a quick trip into Pigeon Forge to visit the “The Island” to secure a souvenir I had promised another family member. I was pleasantly surprised to see most people donning masks indoors and I would say the attendance was about half of what you’d normally see this time of year. If you do decide to venture out, all of the tourist activities are still open. After securing the souvenirs, we headed back to the house and spent a fun filled evening in the hot tub and pool. We also did a “Grill Night” which included jerk chicken, smoked queso and all the fixin’s.

We arrived on Thursday to a house that I for real stalked to make sure everything would be great. Check-in was 4PM with no early check-in available due to COVID cleaning procedures (that made me feel safer) and pretty seamless with keyless entry. We immediately took the house tour of Pool on Summit Point and were pleasantly surprised with the amenities, which included a private indoor pool, hot tub, theater room and state of the art kitchen. The first night was a taco bar theme and we just enjoyed hanging with each other on the spacious deck. 

No one was ready to leave on Sunday when it was time to pack up, but we had to head back to our separate quarantine existences. I highly recommend a quarantine staycation. Whether you do it with family, friends, or even solo, there are ways to have a safe getaway during these crazy times. Next up, I’m looking at safe beachfront locations. Til next time folks! 

Gatlinburg Getaway