Brairwood Ranch Safari

Auto Tour a Safari near The Smokies

So you find yourself in East Tennessee staying at Carr’s Northside Cottages in Gatlinburg, but suddenly you want to visit six continents all at once. What are you to do? Does any Gatlinburg attraction offer such a wide-flung possibility? Certainly one of the Ripley’s attractions might fit the bill, but what if you want to see something real, something live? A spot over in Bybee, TN is just the place you want to go.

Briarwood Ranch Safari Park Auto Tour

See King Julian!

At Briarwood Ranch Safari, you can see animals from six continents (Antarctica being the notable exception, as recreating a snowy desert wasteland in the lush hills of Tennessee would be a bit of a stretch). On the four-mile safari tour, you can drive your own vehicle or you can opt for the open-air wagon for an even more up-close-and-personal experience. As you make your way around, with feed bucket in hand of course, you’ll be visited by animals from all over the world, like the axis deer and fallow deer. If you’re interested in beasts that hail from Africa, turn your attention to the camel or the zebra. And the denizens aren’t limited to the foot-footed kind, either. Both emu and ostrich roam the park.

You really haven’t lived until a bison has stuck his massive muzzle in and stretched out a long purple tongue to get some delicious feed. The kids will love seeing the elk with its majestic antlers sidle right up to the wagon. Everywhere you drive in the park, you’ll see exotic animals dotting the scenic landscape. Drive through as many times as you like; you’re sure to spot something different each time. Just be sure to be out before the park closes!

To get to Briarwood Ranch Safari from Carr’s Northside Cottages, you’ll want to take the scenic drive along the edge of the National Park through Cosby. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend some time in the quieter parts of the Smokies. The drive will take about an hour, so take your time and enjoy the scenery. Making a day out of it will create vacation memories that you won’t soon forget.

Briarwood Ranch Safari Park
Web Site | Purchase Tickets
255 Briar Thicket Road, Bybee TN 37713
Sunday:  12-5 pm
Monday – Saturday:  10 am – 5 pm
*Last tour begins one hour before close

Forbidden Caverns

Smoky Mountain Excursion

Great Excursion for Family Reunions, Youth Groups and Individuals

Smoky Mountains Underground Attraction

Anywhere you visit in East Tennessee, the earth below your feet is riddled with caves–thousands of them–extending for mile upon mile deep in the stony layers. Most of these caverns have never been seen, and probably never will be. Others, though, have been used by people for thousands of years for storage, shelter, and of course, moonshining far from the prying eyes of the authorities. Many of the caves have been opened to the public and make for a great excursion during your vacation stay at Carr’s Northside Cottages.

Smoky Mountains Underground Attraction

Lighted Grotto

Located in Sevierville TN, Forbidden Caverns makes for a perfect day trip either to beat the summer heat (temperatures in the cave remain at a comfortable 58 degrees year-round) or to take advantage of the pleasant autumnal weather for a day out and about. From Carr’s, you can travel the bigger highways through Pigeon Forge and Sevierville (a 45 minute trip without traffic) or you can opt for the more scenic route along the edge of the National Park on US 321 (around an hour of beautiful country driving).

The cave itself is a well-lighted affair with music accompaniment to your tour. In some ways, the cave tour is more like a combination natural wonder/theater light-show. Expect to spend an hour walking through the spectacular formations and features, all with fanciful names like Valley of the Moon or Ledge of the Gargoyle. You’ll also see a replica moonshine still, as the cave has been used in the past for distilling because of the privacy and ready supply of clean, clear water.

If you’ve never visited a cave, be aware that you’ll want to wear some trustworthy footwear that you won’t mind getting slightly damp. A trip during the summer means taking along a jacket, which seems strange when the sun is beating down, but the cool cave feels even colder when the temperatures outside are soaring.

Tours begin at 10 a.m., with the last tour leaving at 5 p.m. Forbidden Caverns is open April through November, Monday through Saturday. Plan to make a whole day out of your excursion, with a picnic lunch either on the way at the Cosby entrance to the National Park, or on the way back.  Visit the cavern web site for a sneak peek!

Gatlinburg Day Trip

Worth the Drive from Carrs!

Forbidden Caverns
April – November
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving Day
Closed December – March
455 Blowing Cave Road
Sevierville TN 37876
(865) 453-5972

 

 

 

 

Mini Golf Course Gatlinburg Attractions

No Tee Times Necessary

Folks who vacation at Carr’s Northside Cottages enjoy the many opportunities for family time that are possible both onsite and around town. When you and your kids have splashed around in the pool as much as you can and are looking to spend a few hours in family-friendly competition, you might consider a few rounds of mini-golf. Gatlinburg boasts several options to satisfy everyone’s inner putter, but these three offer something a bit unique.

Gatlinburg Hillbilly Mini Golf

Yep… That’s an Outhouse

Hillbilly Golf has been around forever. If you came to Gatlinburg as a kid, you probably played this course that bills itself as the “World’s Most Unusual,” and for good reason. Would anyone else build a golf course on the side of a mountain? That’s part of the charm of the place. You ride the incline 300 feet straight up the mountain (a treat for the kids before the golf even begins) to the two 18-hole courses full of “mountaineer hazards.” Along the way, you’ll knock your ball past Appalachian-themed farm equipment and moonshine stills, which seem to be everywhere these days. A round of mini-golf here will teach restraint: if you hit the ball too hard, off the mountain it’ll go.

Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini-Golf also offers a country theme, but in a completely different way. Playing off of Tennessee hero Davy Crockett, the two 18-hole courses are nicely laid out and easy to navigate. Plenty of animated animal characters add to the experience as you putt putt your way through. You might not feel like the king of the wild frontier when you finish, but the place is charming and is great fun for adults and kids alike. If you’re also planning to visit the Aquarium, you can combine your miniature golf and the aquarium as part of a package deal.

Gatlinburg outdoor and indoor mini golf

1 Indoor Course, 2 Outdoor Courses

Fort Fun’s Old Gatlinburg Golf & Games offers a little bit of everything, sort of a one-stop-shop for family fun. Play mini-golf, then laser tag, or bumper cars, or gem mining. Everyone in the family will find something to do here. The two outdoor courses offer opportunities to learn a little area history at each hole. Both the Old Town Square course and the Old Mountain Trail course will teach you a little bit as you play. The nine-hole indoor mini golf course is open rain or shine and uses a undersea theme in blacklight.

After you’ve putted around town, you can roll on back to Carr’s for a little rest and relaxation before you swing out to more adventure.

Gatlinburg Old Growth Forest Tour

Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail

Within a few short minutes of the hustle and bustle, stop and go of the Parkway in Gatlinburg, you can drive through one of the most beautiful areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail is an absolute must during your vacation at Carr’s Northside Cottages.

Roaring Fork Nature Trail Drive and Hikes

Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

From the downtown Parkway, you will enter the trail from stoplight #8 at Airport Rd. The 5.5-mile one-way road ends less than ½ a mile from Carr’s Northside Cottages. The driving trail is open from May 1 – November 30, 2015.

If the weather cooperates, plan to take your drive after a good rain. The streams and waterfalls will be at their best when Gatlinburg has gotten a good soak. Rather than putting a damper on a vacation, this time some rain will greatly enhance the experience!

Take the opportunity to learn a little bit about real mountain culture when you tour the Noah “Bud” Ogle farmstead. This self-guided nature trail will offer a glimpse of two key attributes of the Smokies: the beauty of the developed forest and the simple ingenuity of the Appalachian farmer.

Bud Ogle Log Cabin and Farmstead

Noah “Bud” Ogle Log Cabin

If you’re still in the mood for walking after the nature trail, you can tackle two great hikes along the driving trail. You can stop at the Rainbow Falls trailhead, 5.4-mile moderately strenuous hike. The Grotto Falls hike, further along on the driving trail, is also worth the walk. While easier than the Rainbow Falls trails, you’ll still want to be prepared for this moderate 3 mile round trip hike. If you choose either of the treks, be sure to wear appropriate footgear and take along water and snacks.

Of course, Roaring Fork can also be enjoyed as a quiet, leisurely drive through some old growth forest. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to pull off of the road to admire the scenery and to take lots of photos. You can see log cabins, gristmills, and other historic buildings.

That’s part of the appeal of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail: you can approach in a way that suits your needs. Drive through as much as you want or get out and explore at every opportunity. You can always come back another day to see anything you might have missed the first time through.

Save a Bundle with Ripley’s Attractions

Big Savings on Gatlinburg Fun

If you’re looking for activities to keep the whole family busy during your visit to Carr’s Northside Cottages, you’ll be able to fill up a whole week with trips to all of the Ripley’s Attractions. You save a lot when you bundle your tickets, so plan to take in several options.

Most people will want to start with passes to Ripley’s Aquarium, and the bundle packages start there as well. The largest of the Ripley’s attractions in Gatlinburg, the Aquarium is indeed one of the most visited spots in the region. This 1.4 million gallon aquarium features over 10,000 denizens of the deep. Gaze in wonder as you glide along the moving walkway through the underwater tunnel; the sharks slip right over your head. Be sure to check out the new Swarm exhibit and get a free fish manicure. That’ll be a new experience! Allow for at least two hours to see all that the aquarium has to offer.

Ripleys Gatlinburg Attractions Tickets

Bundle Ripley’s Attractions for Big Savings

If the countless exotic sea creatures don’t slake your thirst for the unusual, you should head over to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, home to all things weird and wonderful. Spanning 3 floors with 16 themed galleries taking up 12,500 square feet of exhibit space, the Odditorium is certain to be both educational and entertaining.

After all the walking around at the Aquarium and Odditorium, you might be ready for a sit-down. Don’t expect to relax too much at the Moving Theater, though. You’ll strap in for a thrilling 5D movie adventure with motion seats and digital effects to enjoy one of two films: Roadhoggers or Winter Wipeout. You’ve never seen a movie quite like this!

Step back to a leisurely pace as you knock a golf ball around for a bit at Davy Crockett Mini-Golf. This activity is perfect as part of a combo pack because the whole family will love the delightfully themed courses, complete with whimsical animated characters. Play one or both of the two 18-hole courses.

You can get another, even more challenging winding walk at the Mirror Maze. There’s only one way out, but the maze creates the illusion of infinite possibilities. If you get hopelessly lost, don’t worry! Search parties rescue wanderers every half hour. After you successfully exit, celebrate your victory with a candy treat from Ripley’s Candy Factory.

Which family member holds the record for the fastest time through the mirror maze? If you’re a fan of the Guinness Book of World Records, you’ll want to see the records and memorabilia at Guinness World of Records.

When evening rolls around and your energy is dipping, you need the shot of adrenaline that you’ll get when you visit the Haunted Adventure. It’s the #1 haunted house in Gatlinburg, and rightly so, featuring plenty of terrifying live actors in the 10,000 square foot spook house. On second thought, you might not want to make a haunted house your last stop of the day. You’ll want to get a good night’s sleep at Carr’s Northside Cottages before you set out for another day of adventure in Gatlinburg.

Choose Your Gatlinburg Attractions Package

Bundle Up to 8 Attractions

Sweets and Treats in Downtown Gatlinburg

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Gatlinburg covers a lot of ground and you’ll get around most of it on foot. That’s a lot of walking including some of it uphill. You’ll be burning a lot of calories, right? You’re practically exercising on your vacation, so you will have earned yourself a treat or two (or three, or a few, and then some to take home to enjoy later). There’s no better place than Gatlinburg to satisfy a demanding sweet tooth. Three locations in particular will offer you everything you need in the sweets department.

Gatlinburg Fudge Shop, Icecream, Candy

Ice Cream, Apples, Fudge Oh My!

If you can’t quite decide whether you’re in the mood for ice cream or candy, Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice Cream is your destination. Maybe it’s the middle of a summer afternoon and what you really need is a nice, cold scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone. Or maybe you need a fruit snack…just get an apple covered in caramel and you’re good to go. As long as you’re eating fruit, toss a couple of chocolate covered strawberries in too. You’re practically eating health food.

After eating all that fruit, you’ll certainly have the energy to take in a couple of attractions or do some downtown shopping. Before you set out on your trek, be sure to stop at one of the two Aunt Mahalia’s Candies locations for some fudge to take along. Aunt Mahalia’s has been in the business of making delicious fudge for over 50 years; the know what they’re doing. You may want to go ahead and grab some syrup or honey while you’re at Aunt Mahalia’s so back at your Carr’s cottage or cabin you can whip up a yummy pancake breakfast.

Homemade Fudge, Saltwater Taffy Downtown Gatlinburg

Yum-O

Since the early 1950s, visitors to Gatlinburg have been able to take a break from strolling around the parkway by watching the candy being made at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. They have fudge too, but it’s the taffy that they’re known for. Stand mesmerized by the saltwater taffy puller and the wrapping machine as they spin and whir, then go inside and pick out a box of taffy to take home. Get some for your friends. Might as well get a box to eat later today as you make your way back to the motel.

The kids will want some of your candy of course, but they’ll need to get their own won’t they?

You’ve earned this!

Perfect Smoky Mountains Souvenir

Heirlooms from the Arts and Crafts Community

For generations, the mountain community surrounding the Gatlinburg area has been known for its skilled artisans and craftsmen. Visitors can find excellent representations of arts and crafts of all kinds throughout the region, especially in the Great Smoky Arts & Craft Community, part of the Tennessee Heritage Trail. Nowhere else in North America will you find a larger collection of independent artisans than in the community located just a couple of miles from Carr’s Northside Cottages. Originally organized in 1941, the Great Smoky Arts & Craft Community continues to showcase the rich heritage and artistic skills of this vibrant region.

Heirloom Art Pieces for Smoky Mountain Souvenirs

Watching and Helping!

The 8-mile loop that follows Hwy 321, Buckhorn Road, and Glades Road is home to over 100 artisans, artists, craftsmen, and cooks. No matter your particular area of interest, you’ll find something that piques your curiosity along the loop. You’ll see traditional artists of every stripe: potters, weavers, carvers, wood-workers, quilters, jewelers, and candle-makers. Every medium is available too: ceramics, stone, wood, fabric, precious metals, leather, glass, paint, photography and more. Many of the artisans work on site, allowing you to view the creative process as it happens. You can follow the progress of a pot from a lump of clay, to the throwing wheel, to the glaze, to the kiln. Or you can watch carvers shape wood into beautiful forms. Seeing the process allows you to better appreciate the skill and technique that goes into making the objects that function in or decorate our homes.

With so many stores to browse and so many artists to appreciate, you’ll certainly want to allow for a whole day to explore. When you get hungry—and you will—stop in one of the many restaurants located along the loop. Get a taste of the local cuisine for a full sit-down meal or just pick up a snack to eat along the way. Eat ribs, wings, or local trout for a fuller dining experience, or just satisfy your need for a sweet snack with some fudge or ice cream or maybe both!

If you don’t want to drive yourself, just take the Gatlinburg Trolley. For $1 you can ride the Yellow Line Trolley all day, making stops all along the loop. The trolley can be boarded at the Gatlinburg Mass Transit Center at Traffic Light #5 and runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

At the end of your day of exploring crafts loop, you’ll be inspired by the work that you’ve seen and find that just-right piece of art that you can claim as the perfect vacation souvenir and family heirloom.

Experience a Chimney Tops Adventure

A Hike, Climb and Mountain Picnic

Chimney Tops Trail Panoramic Mountain View

Chimney Tops Bare Rock Summit

Just a 20-minute drive from Carr’s Cottages, the Chimney Tops Trail is the perfect place to spend the day. Since it is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Chimneys can get pretty crowded during the warm weather months. From Carr’s, you’ll be close enough that getting an early start will avoid big crowds on the trail. Pack a picnic lunch and head out! Wear hiking shoes with good support and take plenty of water to stay hydrated during the 3.8-mile roundtrip hike. You’ll want to allow a few hours to really enjoy your trek up the mountain and to spend some quality time soaking in the panoramic view that makes the steep end of the trail more than worth the effort.

The recent trail rehabilitation project added plenty of stone stairs to the trail and has improved accessibility. Simply put, it’s one of the best hikes around. Keep an eye out for the abundant plant life along the trail. Notably in May and early June, you can spot Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron. When you get to the top, you’ll get to see one of the few bare rock summits in the Smokies. You’ll find plenty of spots to climb around to get the full experience, but do be careful!

The Chimneys Picnic Spot

Everyone Loves a Chimneys Picnic

Once you’ve conquered the Chimney Tops Trail, travel to the Chimneys Picnic Area located a few miles north of the trailhead. This amazing picnic spot is absolutely beautiful and offers charcoal grills and plenty of easily accessible tables. (Park right at the table, so you don’t need to haul your coolers too far!) When listening to the rushing river, you’ll know you’ve found one of the most relaxing spots in the Park. Eat, read a book, or clamber around on the many massive boulders that stud the river. Splash in the cool mountain water and then flop on a nice, flat rock to dry off.

You can easily spend an entire day enjoying all that the Chimney Tops area has to offer. Actually, you may want to pack more than just a picnic lunch because once you arrive at the picnic area after your hike, you may have a hard time leaving. It really is all THAT! So, stay and play as long as you’d like; Carr’s will be waiting for you when you’re ready to call it a day.

Vacation in Gatlinburg

A Destination for the Generations

Honeymoon, Family Vacation or Family Reunion in Gatlinburg

Multi-Generation Family Vacation

Carr’s Northside Cottages & Motel has been offering a quiet getaway in Gatlinburg for over 70 years. In that time, many a couple has started their lives together by enjoying a honeymoon in one of the many cozy and romantic spaces. The location is perfect for newlyweds as it’s close enough to the attractions of town, yet out of the way enough to allow for plenty of time together without ever leaving the property.

Jacuzzi Suites | Romantic Log Cabin

As young couples enter the next phase of life, Carr’s continues to be a top vacation spot for their growing families. With indoor and outdoor activities nearby from mini golf to hiking to wacky attractions, kids enjoy fun-filled days of excitement in downtown Gatlinburg or in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The best part, though, is that families find plenty of things to do right here at Carr’s too. One mother explains that staying at Carr’s is “like sitting in your backyard with all of your family.”

Property Amenities | Creekside Motel Rooms

Carr’s offers all the comforts of home AND the anticipated family vacation fun. Property amenities include a level yard for outdoor games, playground, horseshoes and basketball hoop. And what kid doesn’t love to play in the water? Parents can relax poolside in a lounge chair while the kids swim the day away, or pull up a chair by the creek and watch the kids splash and wade.

Family Suites | Vacation Cottages

Once the kids are grown and have kids of their own, Carr’s is where a family vacation becomes a family reunion. With cottages from 1-3 bedrooms in close proximity, multi-generation families can choose several rentals that keep everyone close, yet provide maximum comfort and privacy. (Toddlers can take an uninterrupted afternoon nap while elders can enjoy their “early to rise, early to bed” routines.) Entire families—grandparents, parents, kids and grandkids—can gather together at the picnic pavilion for a ‘new tradition’ family dinner or cookout, and simply enjoy peaceful, quality together time.

When it comes time to explore the National Park, the whole group can visit the same places the newlywed couple did, the trail where the family first hiked, or find the perfect spot for a family reunion photo and reminisce about everyone’s first introduction to the Smoky Mountains.

The family traditions and time spent together at Carr’s Cottages are memories that will be forever cherished. Whether the first Gatlinburg getaway was as a newlywed or doting grandparent, there are many more memories to be made in the years to come.

Kid-Friendly Hikes

Short, Easy Smoky Mountain Hiking Trail

Kid Friendly Hiking Trails Smoky Mountains

Future AT Hikers and Park Advocates

One of the best hikes for families with young kids or elderly members who cannot walk a great distance is the .5 mile (1 mile round-trip) hike to the waterfall on the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail. This trail is an ideal introduction to hiking. Walking sticks and multiple bottles of water are optional, but a camera and taking your time to appreciate the woodland scenery along the shaded trail are a must! Kids may be tempted to run ahead a little ways, but they’ll easily be within eyesight.

This low impact, outdoor adventure will start at the Sugarlands Welcome Center at the Gatlinburg entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s approximately 2 miles from downtown Gatlinburg traffic light #10 on US-441. There’s plenty of shaded parking, restroom facilities, picnic tables and a museum. There’s also a 20-minute free movie, but little ones with little attention spans may just be ready to get outside.

Before you head out, take a few minutes to look at the 3-D relief map. This will show everyone just how large the park is and how many more hiking trails are available, so that one day when you are feeling more ambitious ya’ll can hike another.

Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail Waterfall

Sugarlands Trail Waterfall

Make use of the restroom facilities and walk right out the door to begin your hike, which actually begins when you step off the Visitor Center sidewalk. The path is wide and level with only a few tree roots to avoid. The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is well traveled, but the waterfall at the end will give everyone a wonderful reward.

While on the trail, be sure to snap a selfie or ask other hikers to trade photography favors. When you arrive back at the Visitor Center, spend as much time as your group will allow. Look at the flora and fauna exhibits, ask a park Ranger about things you saw along the trail, and visit the small gift shop for souvenirs. Besides plenty of books and hiking trail maps, the gift shop has plenty of educational items that will help instill a love of nature and teach your kids to take care of our green space for the future. Every purchase from the gift shop benefits park preservation and is greatly appreciated!