Great Smoky Mountains, Parks

The single most underrated way to step out of your comfort zone while on vacation

When it comes to travel, almost everyone likes the idea of stepping out of their comfort zones. The mere act of leaving our normal routines, friends, homes and entering new environments has a beautiful way of shaking up our perspectives on ourselves, our lives, and the world.

Many of the best, most transformative travel experiences are direct products of the unfamiliar and unexpected: doing things we wouldn’t normally do, meeting people we wouldn’t ordinarily meet, and learning new perspectives that make us better versions of ourselves.

However, for most travelers, the actual process of stepping out of our comfort zones can be uncomfortable, or daunting or downright scary — step too far and we risk remembering a vacation for all the wrong reasons. As a result, we tend to revert back to the safest, most predictable plans, taking solace in knowing exactly what we’ll get.

This is why I’m an advocate of single decisions that make the process of stepping a little bit outside your comfort zone on your next vacation easy, automatic, and even fun! From years working with the most innovative vacation rental hosts in the world on the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, my favorite single decision lies in the kind of accommodations in which you stay: instead of booking a traditional hotel, choosing the right vacation rental property opens many doors and facilitates all kinds of meaningful experiences.

Embedding one’s self in a residential neighborhood away from groups of tourists means meeting local culture in an entirely new way. And in this environment, we’re more likely to encounter delightful surprises and explore more of the unknown. No matter where you’re heading for your next vacation, choosing the right vacation rental can be that single choice that makes all the difference.

Here are four ways in which choosing the right vacation rental can make your next trip almost by default more adventuresome, interesting, and memorable.

1. Automatic Local Friends

Since most vacation rental operators live in the area and love it, they make for the ideal destination ambassadors and therefore the perfect local: friends. The best vacation rental hosts are able to recommend their favorite haunts, introduce guests to the right guides or contacts, and even let visitors in on insider secrets. One of my favorite anti-comfort zone moves is to invite your vacation rental host out for lunch to their favorite restaurant.: Use this chance to pick their brains, to help you organize your itinerary, or merely to get a lay of the land. Very few hotel concierges are able to offer this level of personal attention due to the size of the business — a vacation rental host is that all-too-valuable connector you can’t do without.

2. The Excuse to Be Curious

Staying in a vacation rental as opposed to a traditional hotel means everything is less formulaic and that is the best way to digest local culture. Instead of relying on room service or overpriced hotel taxis, I like to encourage travelers to wander out and use the excuse of being a new neighbor to ask questions! Where’s a great place for a lazy afternoon lunch? What’s the best way to get downtown? What’s it like to live here? Preface any of these questions with the fact that you’re only playing neighbor for the week and you’re bound to get a warm reception and sense of place.

3. The Fun of Dining In

Eating out on vacation every day can get expensive, if not downright exhausting. A vacation rental’s kitchen is the ideal alternative and amenity that breaks down comfort zone barriers because it encourages local grocery shopping excursions and the improvisation of putting together a meal of your own. If you’re looking for inspiration, try to replicate a popular local dish or seasonal specialty… experiment with something you’ve never made before. If you’re feeling fancy, ask your host about a private chef. And if you’re feeling lazy, order delivery and enjoy lounging around the ultimate comfort zone — the living room.

4. The Permission to Get Lost

At home when we’re in our typical routines, getting lost is frowned upon: it makes us late for work, embarrassed before friends, and disappointed in ourselves. But when traveling, getting lost is a virtue — a plus that leads to some of the best vacation memories. By choosing a professional vacation rental instead of a traditional hotel, we remove the compass and maps of structured tourism and embrace the idea of not knowing exactly where we are or where we are going. This is not an endorsement to put anyone’s life in danger — it is permission to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. It is a good reminder to relish the beauty of travel at its core, which is the consent to relinquish a bit of control and find your own way.

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Amusement, Entertainment, Food, Pigeon Forge, Show

Dolly Parton’s Pirate Dinner Theater

Pirate battles, live animals, custom-designed costumes, and more.  Arrive 50 minutes before the show for the chance to explore Pirates Village, where your kids (and you too!) can dress up like pirates and mermaids and enjoy pirate-themed beverages and snacks.  adjacent to The Island in Pigeon Forge and includes a 30,000 square-foot arena that seats nearly 700 guests. During the show, guests will get to see the Crimson and Sapphire pirates battle on deck, in the water, and in the sky above their full-sized pirate ships in a 15-foot-deep indoor lagoon.  Enjoy a four-course pirate feast at the show! The menu will include the Walk the Plank Peach Turnover, creamy vegetable soup and fried chicken.

Pirate

https://piratesvoyage.com/pigeon-forge/

Entertainment

Gatlinburg’s LARGEST Family Fun Arcade Attraction

When I was young, we used to go to game rooms.  This was before everyone had gaming systems in their homes.  This game room brings back memories.

arcadia-in-gatlinburgEnjoy over 100 of the hottest games in this 25,000 square foot amusement center . Located below the Gatlinburg Space Needle, Arcadia was established in 2009.  Friendly staff will greet you, ready and eager to supply you with play cards for the ultimate gaming experience. You can pick up play cards purchased online, or use one of our many kiosks on location.

Delight yourself with a vast variety of amusement games, simulators, and activities. Earn as many tickets as you can and redeem them at the elite redemption counter.

http://gatlinburgarcade.com/

Attractions, History

Ogle log cabin

IM000925.JPGGatlinburg, Tennessee is a place which boasts a very rich history. Of course, all the attractions and shops lining the Gatlinburg Parkway are fun, but behind all the touristy stuff lies quite a few historic sites you can visit to experience the essence of what makes our quaint Smoky Mountain town so special.

In about 1802, William Ogle laid claim on what was to be the site of the first home in Gatlinburg, then called White Oak Flats. He cut and hewed the logs for the cabin and returned home to South Carolina to get his family, telling them they were moving to the “Land of Paradise.”    William Ogle came down with malaria and died in 1803, before he could bring his family to his newly-discovered paradise.  His wife, though, followed through on his plans — four years after his death, she gathered the family and they traveled to White Oak Flats, found William’s hewed logs, and finished the cabin.  She raised 7 or 8 children in that little home.  It’s humbling to go through and think about the lives of people during this time. http://www.gatlinburg.com/things-to-do/culture-history/

The Ogles modern day descendants own most of the land around Gatlinburg. The business you see are mostly long term ground leases, not Fee Simple ownership of the land.

The nature trail behind the house is very beautiful and peaceful (the trail head says easy, but is rocky).   The streams and creeks are very relaxing to hear.

Address – Corner of Parkway & Cherokee Orchard Road, Gatlinburg, TN  Directions-to-Ogle-Cabin

We had a hard time finding this cabin.  It is right at traffic light number 6.  This is a big intersection where the Aquarium and the bar Draft’s is.  If you take the trolley and get off at the Ripley’s Aquarium, you will see a gift shop across the intersection.  To the right of the gift shop there is the cabin hidden by some trees.  We did not see a trail.

Attractions

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore-Estate
George Vanderbilt created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life. It was built between 1889 and 1895. A visit to the 8,000-acre estate in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina provides limitless activities. The Biltmore Estate consist of a house, gardens, Antler Hill Village, and the winery. The house and gardens are three miles from the front gate. Antler Hill Village & Winery are five miles from the house. Plan on 5-6 busy hours to see only the major attractions and have lunch. Plan on arriving early. Some attractions close as early as 3:30 on the off season. The Self Guided Main House Tour Offers The Best of Biltmore House. At 178,926 square feet (16,622.8 m2)[2] and featuring 250 rooms Biltmore is “The Largest Private Home in America”. It stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age, and of significant gardens in the jardin à la française and English Landscape garden styles in the United States. In 2007, it was ranked eighth in America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects

The estate is about 2 hours from the Pigeon Forge area, but I have had some really good reviews from past cabin guests at “Nothin But Views” and family friends about the estate.

Address – 1 Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803
Website – http://www.biltmore.com/