By Jim Watson
Year after year you pack up the kids and head for the beach for spring break. This year try something new. Celebrate the return of warm weather in a new place – the Great Smoky Mountains.
Watch the Mountains Come Alive
There’s simply no prettier time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains than spring. With more than 800 miles of hiking and riding trails, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to experience the area coming alive. The forest is filled with wildflowers of every color, deer and other wildlife scamper and play, and streams burble and flow with winter runoff. A day spent hiking the trails will leave you feeling refreshed and help you shake off the last of winter’s chill. Like a bear after a long winter nap, you’ll be ready to face the world again.
The more adventurous are invited to strap on a helmet and harness and experience the mountains from high in the air. Zipline tours let you soar like a bird from tree to tree while the breeze whips your hair back and the ground rushes beneath you at lightning speed. You’ll soar ever higher, stopping to perch in the treetops and snap a picture of the countryside, before taking off again on another leg of the journey.
Or hop on a horse for a leisurely tour of the backcountry, cowboy style. New riders can choose an hour or two in the saddle, while the more experienced will love the opportunity to spend an entire day riding the trails. In fact, you can even choose to camp out under the stars just as the early settlers to the area did.
Entertainment for the Entire Family
If you and the kids prefer a more active vacation, head to Dollywood for a truly memorable day. The newest coaster, Wild Eagle, opens in March 2012 and promises thrill seekers a ride they won’t soon forget. Youngsters will enjoy the mystical and magical Professor Seymour Tricks, and kids of all ages will appreciate a hot afternoon spent at Splash Country.
For a different kind of adventure, hop aboard the Aerial Tram for a trip to Ober Gatlinburg. Perched atop Mt. Harrison you’ll find plenty of family fun, including arcade games, an indoor ice arena, and Wildlife Encounter, where you’ll meet many of the animals that call the mountains home.
Jump on the scenic chair lift for a beautiful ride up the side of the mountain. Not only will you love the view from the top, but the ride down on the Alpine Slide will thrill young and old alike. You’ll plunge down one of two 1800-foot tracks, twisting and turning through the trees and along the ski trails. It’s like a toboggan run for fans of summer weather.
Don’t let this year’s spring break turn into just another day at the beach. Instead, see the amazing scenery and one-of-a-kind attractions the Great Smoky Mountains have to offer. You and your entire family will be delighted at the change of pace.