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Whether it's a trip to the city or into the wilderness you don't have to travel far from Knoxville to find it! Come explore the region (and more) with me, because no matter what day it is, it's always "trip time."

The island life in the Smokies

The island life in the Smokies

 The Island at Pigeon Forge provides abundant opportunities for entertainment and relaxation.

The Island at Pigeon Forge provides abundant opportunities for entertainment and relaxation.

For years, I've heard people describe Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge as Myrtle Beach in the mountains and now it appears you can live the island life and still keep your view of the Smokies.  Several years ago, plans for a development in the middle of the Pigeon River finally started to materialize.  The result is what is called The Island in Pigeon Forge.

 The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is 200 feet high.

The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is 200 feet high.

One of the first things to come to the island was the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.  This 200-foot tall attraction is hard to miss if you're passing through Pigeon Forge.  At night, its framework becomes a spectacular light show you can see for miles.  The Wheel has spacious enclosed gondolas which take you around to see one of the best views of the Great Smoky Mountains and a pretty impressive view of The Island.  Ticket prices range from around $12 a person to a VIP package for $75.  Look around the brochure stands around town for discount coupons or explore online before you ride. 

Another amazing thing to see while at The Island is the fountain show which opened a few years ago during a New Year's Eve celebration.  In all there are 89 vertical nozzles that shoot water up to 60 feet up into the air.  Add in some multi-colored lights and music and you are in for a real treat, especially if you're up in The Wheel or standing on the rooftop of the Margaritaville Hotel.  The shows happen about every 30 minutes.

 The Latitude Lobby Bar at the Margaritaville Hotel.

The Latitude Lobby Bar at the Margaritaville Hotel.

At the heart of The Island is what probably exudes the most "island" charm.  Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Island Hotel is sprawled out above dozens of shops and restaurants.  Just inside the entrance to the hotel is the Latitude Lobby Bar, a great place to get a drink even if you're not staying at the hotel.   Raise your glass inside next to the big fireplace or chill out on the patio overlooking the Little Pigeon River.   There's also a coffee shop on the other side of the lobby if you need a little caffeine to jump start your day.  And while not attached to the hotel, the world famous Margaritaville Restaurant is just steps away from the lobby of the hotel. 

 The view from one of balconies in the rooms at The Margaritaville Island Hotel

The view from one of balconies in the rooms at The Margaritaville Island Hotel

After a meal at Margaritaville, the Mellow Mushroom, Paula Deen's, the Timberwood Grill or Dick's Last Resort take time to taste some of Old Smoky's Moonshine, grab some fudge at the Big Rock Candy Kitchen or a giant lollipop at Sweet!  But the fun doesn't end there, The Island has an arcade, lots of specialty shops and is close to the Alcatraz East attraction and just across the river from Dolly's new Smoky Mountain Adventure Dinner Theater.   

Yes, the island life is just minutes away from Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

 

Row, row, row your way to Oak Ridge

Row, row, row your way to Oak Ridge

Crossing the Big South Fork at the O&W Bridge

Crossing the Big South Fork at the O&W Bridge