Friday, November 18th:
**Side note: Because of the fires in the Smoky Mountains, we considered not going into the mountains (like we planned) and heading to the coast to see Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia instead. While we were watching the news in Virginia we found out that the smoke was actually worse southeast of the fires. The skyline of Atlanta, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina looked a lot like the smog in Los Angeles. We decided to stay with our original plan instead of driving all the way to the coast and not enjoying it.**
We woke up in smoky Asheville, North Carolina, checked out of the hotel, and headed to the Visitor Center where we bought tickets (with audio tour) to the Biltmore Estate.
We then headed south to beautiful Biltmore Estate!
The Biltmore Mansion is a Chateauesque-styled mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895 and is the largest privately owned house in the United States. It has 250 rooms including 33 bedrooms for the family and guest, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and three kitchens, a bowling alley, a gym, and an indoor pool! There is 178,926 square feet of floor space with 135,280 square feet of living space! Insane!
The interior tour took us through multiple floors, tons of rooms, and even into the basement!
[View from the balcony]
[Mr. Vanderbilts room]
[Banquet Hall - From a different view]
After exploring the main floors we went into the basement.
[Stairs up from the basement]
After we finished with the basement we went out to the gardens and took some more pictures of the house.
After finishing our audio tour we headed to Sassafras Mountain in South Carolina. At 3554 ft, it is the highest point in South Carolina!
We walked to the top of the mountain but it was way too smoky to stay up there! We took our pictures, jumped back in the SUV and drove the curvy Blue Ridge Parkway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
[6033 ft / Highest Elevation / Blue Ridge Parkway / Motor Road]
We got to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and drove straight to the Clingmans Dome Visitor Center.
We walked up the path to the top of Clingmans Dome. At 6643 ft this is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail.
The view from the top was still obstructed by the smoke, but it wasn't as bad as Sassafras Mountain because we were above the smoke here.
After descending the mountain, we drove to Gatlinburg, Tennessee where we found our hotel, showered, and headed out into the city.
Turns out Gatlinburg is a huge tourist trap! It's like a mini-Hollywood! I thought it would be more like Park City, Utah, so I was a little disappointed. Well, we made the best of it by going to the Sugarlands Distilling Company to do a little Moonshine tasting.
We gathered around a bar and the bar tender would tell us what we were going to be tasting, go around the bar and pour everyone a small shot, and then tell us all to drink at the same time.
We had a blast tasting all the different moonshines! The bar tender was a lot of fun and we tasted some interesting flavors including peanut butter and jelly, mint, cream, and apple pie!
After our shots we walked down the street and had dinner at Bubba Gumps!
[Josh was excited to be sitting so close to all that hot sauce!]
After dinner we went to the Old Smoky Distillery where we did another round of moonshine tasting. Overall, we had a fun night in Gatlinburg, but I probably wouldn't come back.
Saturday, November 19th:
We got up the next morning and had breakfast at Flapjacks before heading to Atlanta, Georgia to see Tiersha, Josh and Charlotte!