The tourna-cation is one of America’s hottest new travel trends! As we detailed in a previous article, a “tourna-cation” happens when a family plans a vacation around their child’s sports tournament. Combining a vacation with sports travel is a great way to make the most of your time together as a family, all while saving money in the process.
Here at Rocky Top Sports Word, we are big fans of the tourna-cation concept! Our athletic complex is located right in Gatlinburg, TN, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Southeast. When you visit our sports campus for your young athlete’s next tournament, you will be minutes away from all of the wonderful attractions, restaurants, and shops in Gatlinburg and throughout Sevier County.
To help you prepare for your tourna-cation in the Smokies, Rocky Top Sports World has put together the following helpful tips.
1. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Gatlinburg is situated at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park in the United States! Home to over 800 miles of spectacular scenery, the Smokies are a can’t-miss stop for any vacation in East Tennessee.
If you have a tight schedule during your tourna-cation, here are a few quick and fun things you can do in the national park:
- Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a 5.5-mile loop road that begins near downtown Gatlinburg
- Chat with a park ranger and enjoy some souvenir shopping at Sugarlands Visitor Center
- Hike the Gatlinburg Trail, a 1.9-mile, one-way walking path that begins at the Sugarlands Visitor Center
Vacationers who don’t have any time constraints should consider taking a scenic drive on Newfound Gap Road, admiring the vistas from Clingmans Dome (the highest point in the Smoky Mountains), and looking for wildlife in Cades Cove (the national park’s most popular area).
2. Visit the Area’s Famous Breakfast Restaurants
Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge! Our Smoky Mountain cities are home to more pancake houses and breakfast joints than just about anywhere else in the world. If you’re looking for a hearty meal before the big tournament, we recommend the following restaurants:
- Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin – specializes in scratch-made buttermilk pancakes
- Mama’s Farmhouse – offers mouthwatering Southern food served family style
- Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que – features an awesome breakfast buffet each morning
3. Check Out Dollywood’s Festival Schedule
No trip to the Smokies is complete without a visit to Dollywood! Owned by our hometown hero Dolly Parton, this incredible theme park is famous for its thrilling rides and incredible live music. Throughout the year, Dollywood hosts a number of amazing festivals that bring world-renowned entertainers to the park, along with special food and decorations. Here is a quick look at Dollywood’s festival schedule for 2018:
- Festival of Nations (March 17 – April 9)
- Spring Mix Music Festival (April 11 – 19)
- Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival (May 25 – June 10)
- Summer Celebration (June 16 – August 5)
- Harvest Festival (September 28 – November 3)
- Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival (November 10 – January 5)
4. Be Prepared for a Rainy Day
While everyone keeps their fingers crossed for sunny skies during their vacation, sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t cooperate with your outdoor plans. Fortunately, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are home to a number of fantastic indoor attractions that are ideal for a rainy day. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Arcadia – offers over 100 fun arcade games
- TopJump Trampoline Park – features a ball pit, ninja course, and gladiator pit
- Headcase Escape Adventures – challenges guests with exciting puzzles and mysteries
- Fannie Farkle’s – combines arcade classics with delicious country fair-style food
About Rocky Top Sports World
Rocky Top Sports World is one of the nation’s best tournament destinations. With seven fields, six basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, team rooms, and an onsite grill, our 80-acre athletic complex has everything you need for an unforgettable sports event. To see a complete listing of our upcoming tournaments, check out the Rocky Top Sports World Events Calendar!