Southeast

Southeast

ARKANSAS FAVORITES

PARK:  Tom Sawyer Mississippi River RV Park

RATING:   

LOCATION:   West Memphis, AR

WHAT WE LIKE:   It’s hard to describe this park as being in Arkansas because it is right across the river from Memphis, Tennessee.   In fact, it is only 15 miles from Graceland, so it is an ideal place to camp while visiting attractions in the Memphis area.  We LOVED the bayou feeling from the park being right on the Mississippi River!  So much so, that when driving into the park, as you cross the railroad tracks and levee, I swear, you hear banjos playing somewhere in the recesses of your mind!  The sites are wide and flat and I suggest springing for one of the pricier sites in the shady areas closest to the river.  It was an absolute delight to sit on one of the many benches alongside the river and watch the barges and riverboats make their way up and down the mighty Mississippi.  We happen to have our own washer and dryer but, guess what?  Their laundry room and facilities are FREE!  How nice is that?  Truly a unique place to stay!

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  We didn’t like that due to the park being located RIGHT on the water, your reservation is at the mercy of the flood stages of the river!  Certain times of the year are more susceptible than others when it comes to vast amounts of rain.  Of course, it was that time of year when we were scheduled to be there.  However, the park has a nice tab on their website called “River Stage & Floods” (yikes!) that takes you to a table where you can monitor the current water levels of the river.  They even tell you to watch the column titled “MEMT1” and if it indicates the water level nearing 31′, you might want to give them a call.  Interesting, right?  Our visit turned out just fine, however and we would not hesitate to reserve again.

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Graceland – I do believe, that no matter where you go in life, eventually your travels will lead you to Graceland!  We love to go and have been on more than one occasion.  Every visit we see changes and improvements too.  In the past you had to drive to more than one location to see the Elvis sites, nowadays it is an entire complex dedicated to “The King”.  You park one time and visit the complex where there are several different museums devoted to the different aspects of Elvis Presley and his many accomplishments and endeavors.  Eat at one of the several restaurants on property, shop for a Graceland souvenir, see his two private airplanes, and ride a tram to the mansion itself – Graceland.  This is an entire day’s worth of Elvis memorabilia!
  • National Civil Rights Museum – I love the informative and interactive displays you encounter from the time you enter the parking lot of this unique museum.  The facade of the museum is that of the famous Lorraine Motel where on April 4, 1968, Reverand Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated outside his motel room #306.  You wind your way through the museum while learning about the challenges and struggles of the African-American communities in their quest for equality and civil rights.  The tour culminates at the Dr. King’s motel room that remains the same as it did on that fateful day.  An educational, sobering and introspective museum, to be sure.
Bill on bench at Mississippi RIver
Tom Sawyer Mississippi River RV Park / West Memphis, AR

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FLORIDA FAVORITES

PARK: Blueberry Hill RV Resort

RATING:   

LOCATION: Bushnell, Florida

WHAT WE LIKE: We LOVED the wonderful community feeling you get staying at this park.  We were there for two months – February and March – as were all the other “snowbirds”.  Half of the park is RV sites and the other half are park models, as well as RV sites for longer stays.  Both sides are kept immaculately  clean and everyone interacts like one big happy family.  The clubhouse has so many activities that you can’t keep up with it all!  Music, special dinners, arts and crafts, golf outings, BINGO (my fave!!), and MORE.  The pool is big and beautiful and there are constant shuffleboard, horseshoe, and pickle ball tournaments taking place.  Restaurants, hair salon, and Wal-Mart – all just a short walk across the road.  We look forward to returning again some day.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE: The sites were a bit close together – just another couple of feet would have been great.  Other than the activities at the park – there is not a whole lot to day in the immediate area.  The bright side?  You’re just an hour or so from Orlando to the east and all it has to offer, and the Gulf Coast to the west.  But those are the only negatives – like I said, we’ll be back!

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park – We LOVED this zoo/animal sanctuary dedicated to rehabilitation and care of wildlife unable to sustain themselves in the wild!  It’s a pleasant 45-minute drive and truly a special treat!  Check out our complete BLOG POST describing the park HERE.
  • Dade Battlefield Historic State Park – Nice park just around the corner from Blueberry Hill.  The park is the setting of the 1835 Florida Seminole Indian Wars which are re-enacted at the park every January.  There is a nice museum with a movie describing the events that took place here.  There are also trails and picnic facilities. Pleasant little park!
  • The Villages – This area about 45 minutes north of Bushnell comprises several neighborhoods or “villages” designed for active 55+ seniors.  Golf is the “name of the game” here and at last count the area boasted 12 championship and 38 executive courses!  Nearly every street is flanked with special roadways designed especially for …. golf carts – 100+ miles of these paths! This is a great place to go for shopping, restaurants and regularly scheduled special events too.

Bushnell RV Park

PARK:  Walt Disney World Fort Wilderness Campground

RATING:   

LOCATION:  Lake Buena Vista, Florida

WHAT WE LIKE:  This RV Resort and Campground is the “-EST” park of any that we have ever stayed!  The biggEST.  The cleanEST.  The busiEST.  The happiEST (it is Disney, after all!).  And, without a doubt, the costliEST!  But, it’s so worth staying there – you won’t be sorry.  The Disney enchantment overtakes you the minute you drive through the check-in portico.  That’s right, you don’t even have to exit your rig to register!  The roadways inside the park are lined with bike and golf cart pathways.  It is wooded, green, and immaculately manicured – exactly what you would expect from an RV park sporting Disney’s name.  They have LOADS of activities – archery, canoeing, horseback riding and more.  And every night at 7 p.m. you can gather round the campfire for a marshmallow and weenie roast sing-a-long with, none other than, Chip & Dale!  Add to all of this an old-fashioned swimming hole, horse-drawn carriage rides, restaurants, souvenir shops and a boat to take you directly to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom.  It is, by far, the happiEST campground on Earth!

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  We didn’t like the size of the sites. At. All.  You must take into account that this park was constructed in 1970-71, before monster-sized RV’s with multiple slides were all the rage, so it only stands to reason that today’s over-sized rigs don’t exactly fit into the spaces.  We booked a “Premium” site.  The roomiest sites offered and still had problems.  The first site assigned to us did not work. At. All.  In order to back in (did I mention they are ALL back ins?) we had to position ourselves across the main road and back in at an extreme right angle while maneuvering between a trash can and street sign.  We called from our assigned loop and Disney graciously re-assigned us to another site.  This second site was still tricky to back into, but at least possible.  And remember how I mentioned that it was the costliEST?  It was the most expensive park in which we have ever stayed.  We didn’t like that part either!

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Magic Kingdom –  The Magic Kingdom is definitely the OG of Disney and the favored park, at WDW, by many.  The centerpiece is Cinderella’s Castle (the castle at Disneyland in California belongs to Sleeping Beauty) and is surrounded by Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, as well as Liberty Square and Main Street.  Each “land” features rides, shows and attractions keeping with each areas themes.  Parades, restaurants and shops round out the amenities.  And don’t forget the costumed characters featuring the “main man” himself – Mickey Mouse!
  • Epcot – Short for Environmental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – this park is divided into two parts.  Future World and World Showcase.  Future World features rides, shows and attractions that entertain and educate on ways to sustain our planet today and in the future by focusing on space, energy , our oceans, the land and imagination.  The World Showcase consists of eleven pavilions representing countries around the world:  Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico.  Each pavilion showcases food, rides and entertainment typical of that country.  Epcot also hosts various festivals throughout the year such as Festival of the Arts, Flower & Garden, and the Food & Wine Festival.
  • Hollywood Studios – Previously called MGM Studios, the current Hollywood Studios features rides, shows and attractions themed after old Hollywood and more specifically movies and film.  Hollywood Studios is the “up and comer” at WDW these days following the recent opening of the new Toy Story Land in June of 2018.  The much-anticipated Star Wars Land called Galaxy’s Edge is slated to open late August 2019, ensuring the park’s popularity, not to mention extreme crowds, over the next few years to come.
  • Animal Kingdom – Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World comprises six areas surrounding the giant and iconic Tree of Life.  These include Pandora, Africa, Asia, Dinoland, The Oasis and Discovery Island.  Each area showcases rides and attractions representative of the creatures inhabiting these areas – both real, extinct, and imaginary!  What sets Animal Kingdom apart from the other parks are the LIVE animals featured in its attractions.  The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, Maharajah Jungle Trek and Kilimanjaro Safaris are all examples of some of the hikes and rides that allow you to get up close and personal with real-live animals.  Think ZOO on some crazy Disney steroids!
boat dock at fort wilderness
Boat ride from Fort Wilderness Campground to Magic Kingdom at WDW

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NORTH CAROLINA FAVORITES

PARK:  Camp Hatteras

RATING:   

LOCATION:   Waves, NC

WHAT WE LIKE:   The BIG question is what is there NOT to like?  The park is located only steps from the Pamlico Sound and Atlantic Ocean on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Prefer not to track sand into your camper?  Camp Hatteras has a beautiful pool to enjoy, as well.  The interior roads are paved and the sites (back in only) are concrete with patios.  The sites are nice and roomy and surrounded by green grass.  There is a large clubhouse, playground and miniature golf greens.  And our puppies give the fenced-in dog run three WOOFS!  It is large and grassy with plenty of room to run!  Everything you would expect of a beach RV Park and more!

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  We didn’t like that we were evacuated due to Hurricane Florence a week before our stay was complete.  So very sad!  But the park staff handled it like true professionals and refunded our money due to the mandatory evacuation.  There was honestly nothing else that we did not like – we will DEFINITELY reserve here again the next time we visit the East coast.

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse – If you only see ONE lighthouse when visiting the Outer Banks – make it this one.  This iconic black and white swirled lighthouse has been guiding ships to safety since 1803!  The photo opportunities, alone, are worth the stop but by all means, climb this beauty!  For around $8 you can climb the 257 steps to the balcony at the top for astounding views of the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound.  It’s strenuous – but you won’t regret it!  Read more about the lighthouses of the Outer Banks HERE.
  • Ocracoke Island – A trip to this quaint island and inlet village is a wonderful adventure!  To get there you must board the FREE Hatteras Ferry for an hour-long ride across the Sound.  Upon arrival you can stop and visit the “Pony Pens” where they keep the feral ponies that are reputed to be descendants from the Spanish galleons from the 1500’s.  Visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse and stop in a few of the adorable shops and restaurants that line the inlet protected by the lighthouse.  This is a super fun day!
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Visit nearby Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!

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PARK:  OBX Campground

RATING:   

LOCATION:   Kill Devil Hills, NC

WHAT WE LIKE:   We LOVED the size of these enormous sites!  Most RV parks would have put a whole other rig in between each of these sites – no fooling.  The grassy sites were incredibly inviting – ask for one backing up to the lovely Albemarle Sound!  The park is way off the beaten path so peace and quiet is exactly what you get.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  We didn’t like that the park had no pool, thus the rating of only 2 RVs.  We were at OBX Campground the last couple of weeks of August and a nice pool would have been VERY welcomed.  The park has no pull through sites which might be a negative for some people (normally US!) but the sites are so incredibly wide that it is no problem at all backing in to these sites.

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Wright Brothers Memorial – You pass right by this memorial to the Wright Brothers and their historic first flight when entering and exiting OBX Campground.  Run by the National Park Service, this memorial offers exhibits depicting the actual distance of those first successful flights, a memorial high on Kill Devil Hill overlooking this area of the Outer Banks, a bronze sculpture of the famous brothers and their first aircraft, and a brand new museum just opened September, 2018.  Check out our blog post HERE for more information about the memorial!
  • Currituck Beach Lighthouse – One of four lighthouses located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this beautiful brick lighthouse is located thirty miles north of OBX Campground in the town of Corolla.  The pleasant drive through the quaint town of Duck, NC, en route to the lighthouse, provides a wonderful sense of the lifestyle on the Outer Banks.  Check out our blog post HERE for more information about this and other lighthouses located on the Outer Banks.

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PARK:  Tanglewood Park RV Campground

RATING:   

LOCATION:   Clemmons, NC

WHAT WE LIKE:   This park has a soft spot in our heart from the “get go” as they were able to accommodate us at a moment’s notice when we were evacuated from the Outer Banks of North Carolina due to Hurricane Florence.  This is actually a campground located within a large and beautiful county park.  The campground portion of the park is separate from the rest of the park but all park amenities are available to campers. They include a swimming pool, golf courses, many walking trails, and a HUGE dog park.  We loved the huge oak trees and shady sites.  It truly felt like a planned destination rather than a place of refuge in the midst of a storm!

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  We didn’t like that they only have back-in sites. (They actually have ONE pull through, but good luck scoring that one!)  By now you probably know that we are HUGE.  And “backing” challenged.  But we always manage – and we did here as well, so while it might be a downside for US, it would not be for most.  Another downer might be that, like many state and county parks, they have a “14 day maximum stay” rule.  And you will definitely be wanting to stay here longer!

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Old Salem Historic District – We were pleasantly surprised when we spent a day exploring this restored Moravian community from the 18th and 19th centuries.  It is free to explore the neighborhood itself but purchase a ticket if you want a more in-depth look at the restored buildings and guided tours by costumed interpreters.  The tours highlight the culture and daily lives of these early settlers.  And be sure to stop by the bakery for some traditional Moravian cookies.  Our favorites – the original spice flavor full of cinnamon and ginger!
Tanglewood Campground
Tanglewood Campground / Clemmons, NC

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SOUTH CAROLINA FAVORITES

PARK:  Camp Lake Jasper

RATING:   

LOCATION:  Hardeeville, SC

WHAT WE LIKE:  This park is, in our humble opinion, in an IDEAL location.  It is far enough off of the highway for peace and quiet (well, there are those blasted roosters – but that’s sort of endearing) and, yet close enough to be on your way to wherever in just a matter of minutes.  You are only a half hour’s drive from all the activities at Hilton Head, SC AND from the historic charm of downtown Savannah, GA.  The park itself is surrounded by Lake Jasper, with a lovely swimming pool, laundry room and shower house.  The folks that run the park are wonderful.  We were there over Thanksgiving and they hosted a complimentary Thanksgiving dinner for all of their guests.  Nice? Yes, indeed.  And the dog park is tucked away back in a corner and large enough for pups to run wild.  A great little park that we look forward to returning to someday!

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  Two things:  1. When we reserved our site we were quoted a price and assigned a pull-through for our month-long stay.  Upon arrival, we were told “Absolutely NOT – the pull through sites were ONLY for short-term stays.” The rate was less than originally quoted – so that was good, BUT, if you have your heart set on a specific site – you might want clarification when reserving.  We were fine with the change – but being told ONE thing at reservation and the exact OPPOSITE upon check-in never sits well with us.  2.  The back-in sites (that we really did NOT reserve but had no choice but to take) are narrow.  If the sites had been wider and there had been better follow through on the reservation process, we would have scored this park a THREE RV rating.

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Downtown Savannah – Exploring all that downtown Savannah has to offer could easily take a week or more!  But if all you have is a day or two, a great comprehensive overview can be achieved by taking a ride on one of the city’s trolley tours.  We took the Old Town Trolley Tour (the orange and green trolley) that leaves from the Savannah Visitor’s Center.  With 15 stops where you can hop on or hop off at will – this is the perfect way to explore this wonderful and historic town!  The narrated tours are informative and stop at strategic points around the historic downtown, making it easy to tour the many museums, famous squares, and shop and eat to your heart’s desire!
  • Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room – There are so many wonderful places to dine while visiting Savannah and one of my very favorite places is Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room!  Since 1943 they’ve been serving up traditional Southern fare, the likes of:  fried chicken, barbecued ribs, meatloaf (just like mama used to make!), sweet potatoes, biscuits, grits and gravy, potatoes, okra – if it’s Southern, they serve it!  On many days, folks begin lining up outside around 9:00 a.m. to be ushered in at 11:00 a.m. to be seated and served family style.  They don’t take reservations and are only open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  And be sure and bring cash – it’s $25 bucks per person and they don’t take credit cards!
  • Harbour Town at Hilton Head – Located within the lovely Sea Pines Resort complex, Harbour Town is a lovely way to spend an afternoon or evening.  Enjoy a meal with a beautiful harbor view, explore the whimsical Hilton Head Lighthouse, buy a nautically-themed souvenir, or simply take a load off on one of the many rocking chairs lining the harbor.  There are plenty of things to see and do in this beautiful, storybook-like, seaside setting!  It will cost you around $5 at the entrance for a day pass into the Sea Pines complex – it’s worth it!
Camp Lake Jasper entrance
Camp Lake Jasper / Hardeeville, SC

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PARK:  Myrtle Beach Travel Park

RATING:   

LOCATION:   Myrtle Beach, SC

WHAT WE LIKE:   Our favorite thing about this park is that anytime we chose to, we could step outside our RV and be right on the beach.  Every morning and every evening we took walks on the sand – it was the best!  And often at night we could lay in bed and listen to the waves crashing on the beach. Our site was about half  way back toward the General Store, so you don’t have to be right next to the beach to hear the waves!  And since I mentioned it … we loved the General Store – stocked with anything and everything you might need.  And the pool was big and clean with a lazy river.  We stayed six weeks and it was probably one of our favorite six week stints since we’ve been on the road.  And, how could I forget, we LOVED the cute wooden cabanas that were located on every site!  Many folks added tarps on three sides to create a wind-free, outdoor, living space.  Such a memorable stop for us – will always be one of our favorites.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  We did not like that the sites were SUPER close together – this took our rating down a full two RVs.  I’m not sure this park would make our “Favorites” list had we stayed here in the middle of the summer when the park was full of kids on summer vacation.  BUT, since we stayed here in October, and a good portion of the time many of the sites were empty, it didn’t feel too awfully crowded.  And then the sand is purely a LOVE-HATE relationship.  We LOVE that we were someplace where we had sand to contend with, BUT between us and the pups, I swept sand up every single day.

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Mini Golf Courses – Myrtle Beach is the miniature golf capital of the WORLD!  Every October the Mini Golf Masters is played at Hawaiian Rumble located in North Myrtle Beach and has been since 1997.  Betcha’ didn’t know THAT!  And if you need to get some practice time in, Myrtle Beach is the place to do it!  There are over FIFTY miniature golf courses located in the area – most with their own unique gimmicks in an effort to convince you to call them the BEST!  We played several courses during our stay in Myrtle Beach – you really should too!
  • Brookgreen Gardens – These beautiful gardens, located just south of Myrtle Beach at Murrell’s Inlet, are a wonderful way to spend a day anytime of year.  It is a respite from the sun with lots of shade in the summertime and just a lovely garden stroll any other time of year.  This botanical gardens + sculpture gardens + zoo has a little something for everyone.  It is the perfect escape from the touristy atmosphere of the busy nearby beach communities.
Myrtle Beach Travel Park
Myrtle Beach Travel Park / Myrtle Beach, SC

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PARK: Oak Plantation Campground

RATING:   

LOCATION:   Johns Island, SC  (Charleston area)

WHAT WE LIKE:   We love the graceful old Live Oaks throughout the park.  We love the drippy Spanish Moss making the park feel like a true Southern getaway.  We loved the nice, wide sites and grassy lawns.  We (and our pups) loved the fenced, ACRE-size, dog park!  There was also a very nice pool and a HUGE blow-up bouncy slide that the park inflated weather permitting.  The best part about the park was the location.  It was the perfect spot to explore all the tourist attractions that Charleston had to offer.  Close to everything – but once you drove through the gates and back into the park of Oak Plantation, you truly felt like you were miles away from the hubbub.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  Turning INTO and OUT OF the park can be a bit of a nightmare.  INTO THE PARK:  If you’re coming from the NORTH – you’re golden – make an easy right straight into the park.  But if you are coming from the  SOUTH, you have to cross traffic to make a left into the park.  The line of cars stretch from both lanes continuing straight AND a turn lane making it extremely difficult to turn without the help of a couple good Samaritans willing to halt traffic to let you make your turn.  I covered my eyes and ducked my head every single time we made the turn.  OUT OF THE PARK:  Turning left (North) out of the park is close to impossible unless you’re doing it in the middle of the night.  Turning right can even be tricky but is your best bet.  Ask at the front desk the alternate routes getting in and out of the park.  There are a couple, and although they add time to your travel, they do make easier.  Even with all of this said – we would stay again – the location is just too ideal when visiting the Charleston area.

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Charleston Tea Plantation:  This is a great place to spend an afternoon!  Only 16 miles from Oak Plantation Campground, on historic and lovely Wadmalaw Island, the drive getting there is half the fun.  The plantation is the ONLY tea plantation in the United States and the lovely grounds, free indoor tour, souvenir shop with free tea samples, and trolley tour of the grounds (fee charged for trolley tour) make the perfect way to get a taste of the old, slow low country of Charleston!
  • Old City Jail / Charleston:  We loved our guided tour of the Old City Jail in downtown Charleston.  Conducted by Bull Dog Tours, we opted for the daytime History Tour rather than one of the popular nighttime Ghost Tours.  The passionate tour guides share the dark history of the old jail including details of some of its most famous inmates – including the infamous Lavinia Fisher – reported to be America’s first female serial killer!  Yikes!  Excellent tour.

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TENNESSEE FAVORITES

PARK:   Cove Creek RV Resort

RATING:   

LOCATION:   Sevierville, TN

WHAT WE LIKE:   We love that this park is right in the “sweet spot” of the Smoky Mountain area of Tennessee.  It is located in the lovely Wears Valley just 8 miles from the middle of all of the “tourist trap” action of Pigeon Forge and only about 10 miles from the entrance to the wonderful Smoky Mountain National Park.  The park has plenty of room to stretch out with both graveled back-in sites or more manicured and upgraded concrete sites with strips of green grass and tidy bushes.  The park has a nice pool, a small fitness center with pool table, a playground, and everything else you would expect from a “3 RV Rated” park.  And you can WALK to Hillbilly’s Restaurant for a stack of pancakes every morning if you want!

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:  Hey, I rated it with THREE RV’s – it’s truly hard to find something NOT to like!  I guess I would have to say that we wish they had a fenced dog run for our Boogie and Rocket to do that crazy, running like a “mad dog” thing that dog’s do – always GREAT for a laugh.  But that is, honestly, all that is wrong with this park!

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

  • Smoky Mountains National Park – We’ve been to a good number of National Parks, and this is our favorite.  We love the curvy roads that wind their way through the park.  We love the occasional rock bridge/tunnel that you must travel through to get to the other side of the mountain.  We love all of the convenient turn outs that are just a short pathway down to the edge of the babbling streams and waterways – large enough to “tube” in some areas.  AND we love that every time we’ve visited the park we have seen black bears lumbering around in their natural habitat – how can you not love THAT!
  • Gatlinburg, Tennessee – We just love this entire town full of tacky tourist attractions and smacking of Appalachian Mountain charm.  It is the place to visit an aquarium (why yes, why wouldn’t you place an aquarium in the middle of the mountains?), ride a tram to a ski area, take part in a ropes course or zip line through the trees, listen to some live mountain music, play some miniature golf, shop for souvenirs, or sample some MOONSHINE!  There is plenty to do here whether you’re spending an afternoon or an entire week.
Cove Creek RV Resort
Cove Creek RV Resort / Sevierville, TN