A Road Trip to Remember

My oldest child turns 18 tomorrow and I've always wanted to take him on a good old-fashioned road trip that you drive and stop every few hours to do sightseeing activities. I'm very thankful that we got the opportunity to do this recently. It will certainly be a road trip that my family will always remember.

We began the road trip with breakfast at Cracker Barrel, my all-time favorite restaurant. I explained to my kids that EVERY road trip must begin with this step to be a successful trip. Okay, I confess I am a little addicted to their sweet tea and biscuits, and I will find every reason possible to stop at a Cracker Barrel.

We began the road trip to Atlanta, GA. All I can say is it takes way too long to get out of South Florida. Goodness! Our first destination was Stone Mountain National ParkWe went to the top of Stone Mountain on the tram and walked on the top of the mountain. It was absolutely breath-taking.

The big Chilver boys are on top of the world!
We almost lost them!
The Confederate Memorial is the largest relief carving in the world. My kids could not believe it is larger than two football fields. It's even larger than Mount Rushmore. 
Confederate Memorial
Stop #2 Asheville, NC
Driving through the mountains, I was in awe over the vibrant colors of the fall leaves. Take a look.

The kids were hungry when we arrived at the Biltmore Estate so we first ate at the Deerpark Restaurant, which was incredible. Doesn't this photo look like it belongs in a magazine? It was beautiful inside. The food was delicious and the scenery made us feel like we were actually royalty. What a wonderful dining experience!
Our perfect lunch at Deerpark
After lunch, we visited the Biltmore house, the largest home in the United States. We did the audio tour and walked around the house. The kids kept saying that it was just like a castle inside.  I would highly recommend the audio tour. My boys are usually very active but during the audio tour, they were so attentive and learned a lot. 

The Biltmore Estate was built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt and the view was amazing. We also took a tour of the winery to learn how grape juice and wine were made. We had some samples of homemade grape juice, and the kids said it was the best grape juice they have ever tasted.

Stop # 3 Cherokee, NC
We took a tour of the Oconaluftee Indian Village and learned about the Cherokee Indians. We saw Indians making beads, fabric, baskets, weapons, canoes, and houses. We even saw a blowgun demonstration! This is definitely my favorite way to teach history.
Basket weaving

A blow-gun demonstration- the boys were mesmerized

Making canoes
Before leaving for our road trip, Colton persistently kept asking me if we will see snow. I kept answering "no" since it was much too early for snow in the Smoky Mountains BUT as we were leaving the Indian village, look what we saw! I could not believe my eyes! We had no idea it had snowed the night before. What a wonderful surprise for the boys! They were thrilled beyond words!

Is this for real?
We had to drive to the top to play.
The happiest kid in the Smoky Mountains!
Coen is ecstatic, too!
Stop #4 Gatlinburg, TN
We drove through the Smoky Mountains from North Carolina to Tennessee and saw Elk and turkeys. When we arrived in Gatlinburg, we rode the tram up the mountain to Ober Gatlinburg. I was honestly complaining that the wait was too long and I was even contemplating leaving the line and just driving up the mountain, but I am VERY glad we waited. The view was spectacular!!!

Once we got to Ober Gatlinburg, we rode the chairlifts a little higher up the mountain and then rode down the mountain on the Alpine Slides. We were zooming everywhere and had a blast! My kids went on rides, shot the targets at the shooting range, went ice skating, and saw black bears in the zoo section.  You could literally spend an entire day there since there is so much to do.

Next, we went to the Comedy Barn and it was hilarious! I appreciate good clean family fun since it is sometimes impossible to find a comedy show that is appropriate for the entire family. Colton was even the star of the show! My kids still go around the house saying "sissy pants." You have to see the show to understand. ☺

While leaving Gatlinburg through Pigeon Forge, we stopped by the Titanic Museum. My kids and I are fascinated by the history of the Titanic. This museum is incredibly cool! It is so cool that we got to touch a real iceberg! We also got to touch the water was that was 28 degrees. I enjoyed how the museum is set up to make you feel like you are actually a guest on the ship and it's so hands-on for the kids. We all thoroughly enjoyed this museum.

Our last stop was our home away from home, Rocky Top TN.  We hung out with our friends in Knoxville having bonfires, eating s'mores, drinking hot chocolate, playing and watching football, and eating some good southern food before our marathon drive back to SWFL.
Tammy and I taught school together years ago. I just love her!
I'm so blessed to have such great friends.
Fun times
I was sad to leave our TN friends but anxious to see the babies waiting for us at home. After returning home from the mountains, I had to unpack ten suitcases, tackle all the mountains of laundry, and clean out my messy car. That was the not-so-fun part of going on road trips.