The holiday season is already creeping into retail stores around the country, and Santa Claus seemingly keeps showing up earlier and earlier every year…Pump the brakes and get centered before all the craziness begins. The serenity and peacefulness of a cabin in the Smoky Mountains is my favorite, quick remedy to that itch to run away before all the hoopla of the holidays revs up.
I may have Wi-Fi access in the cabin, but I will gladly set all the tech aside to keep school, work, and everyday stresses from invading my weekend mountain sanctuary. If you’re like me and you just want to slow down for a few days before hitting the ground running from October through January, take an intermission and escape to a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Scottish-American author and environmentalist John Muir once said, “Keep close to nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” I am not going to be roughing it in the woods, but it’s advice I’ll happily take because there is something about that mountain air and the expansive views across miles of majesty that soothes my restless mind. Here’s my usual laid-back lineup when I need some major “me time” in the Smokies.
IN-CABIN SPA DAY
Just Pure Laziness – I don’t have to worry about doing my beauty routine or putting myself together for this day. It’s all about me and whomever I dragged with me to my cabin escape. When I manage to climb out of the comfy bed, I’ll grab some caffeine-free herbal tea and relax out on the deck as the morning bird conversations progress.
Working It All Out – We are not going to start getting too dressed up, because I’ve scheduled an in-cabin massage via Cabins for YOU! I love the Swedish massage, but there’s a different massage for every need, including deep tissue, neuromuscular, and more. After we get our problems literally kneaded out of us, we grab my favorite refreshing drink, cucumber water, and head to the hot tub. Quick note: if your masseuse used spa oils, be sure to take a quick rinse in the shower first, so you don’t accidentally leave residue in the hot tub.
I Deserve This – For the rest of the day, we will each grab our favorite book and melt into the living room couches. We’ll snack small because I have an awesome dinner surprise. Chef Jeremy of Savory Solutions is very talented and loves what he does because it really shows in his work! He and his team can create a custom menu for any allergies, tastes, or special occasions.
Lying around with purpose – If we are able to keep our eyes open after such a divine, hearty meal, it’s feature film time for movie night in the living room. I FINALLY watched The Dark Knight Rises during my last cabin trip and I’m kind of glad I waited. The huge flatscreen TV in the theater room of our cabin was a pretty awesome upgrade from my small TV at home, and we didn’t have to drop all that money at a theater!
Cruisin’ in my Camry – If you want to keep physical activity to a minimum, or want the most relaxing drive of your life, head down Newfound Gap Road for lush, green forest roads by soothing, quiet streams in the Great Smoky Mountains. As beautiful as that sounds, just wait ‘til you catch that first opening in the trees…but don’t worry about missing your opportunity to gawk, because there are numerous spots along the road and a couple small parking lots to stop in. I’ve sat on the trunk of my maroon Toyota Camry – staring across miles and miles of mountain peaks touching clouds – and completely lost track of time. No writing can sufficiently do this feeling justice.
A Cove of Mountain Treasures – After sights like those, I’m hooked, and I want more of the Smoky Mountains. That’s when I discovered Cades Cove while searching short hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Cades Cove is a divine rolling valley nestled quietly into the mountains, where you can drive the 11-mile scenic route, bike, hike, and take guided horseback tours. Park the car at the Cades Cove Visitor Center or one of the small lots along the loop and explore the sleepy mountain town cabins and restored remnants. Cades Cove is a crowd favorite for its picturesque views, so I like to get out there early. Plus, the sight of the dreamy morning light drifting across the magical valley in Cades Cove is wildly captivating.
PREPARING FOR FAMILY
Let me preface: I love being with my family. But holidays are stressful, even if you love all the tinsel and egg nog and watch Christmas Story on repeat. Rocky Top Wine Trail and Tennessee Whiskey Trail are where I left the rest of my mental stress “knots” that the masseuse couldn’t get to. From the gorgeous mountain scenery to the lovely taste of the local drinks, these tours are a great way to just enjoy some peacefulness in the Smokies. Start at any of the 6 locations and download their “passport” to check in to each winery and distillery you visit! Every location offers free tastings, while a few run free tours during the day. Simply click the tour names to access the passport, map out your personal itinerary, and tour wine and whiskey country with some friends before family holiday gatherings have you running everywhere!
Simply getting away in a Smoky Mountain cabin with a few friends or a loved one is rejuvenating enough to prepare you for the domino effect of events from October all the way through the end of the year. If you are a teacher, the jitters of the new school year have only died down for the few weeks before the holiday school parties. If you’re a parent, you’ve also just gotten past the Labor Day weekend and the kids have already started handing you their wish lists. No matter who you are, the lull of the few weeks in October and early November is the perfect time to center your soul by planning to be lazy for a laid-back weekend in the Smoky Mountains during the breathtakingly beautiful fall season.