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    Cherokee (Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩ, romanized: Tsalagi) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Swain and Jackson counties in Western North Carolina, United States, within the Qualla Boundary land trust. Cherokee is located in the Oconaluftee River Valley around the intersection of U.S. Routes 19 and 441. As of the 2010 census, the CDP had a population of 2,138. It is the capital of the federally recognized Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, one of three recognized Cherokee tribes and the only one in North Carolina.
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    National ParksBudget Travel Lists

    The Budget Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Great Smoky Mountain National Park (nps.gov/grsm) is America’s most visited national park (with more than 11 million visitors in 2017), in part because of its proximity to large populations of people, but mostly for its sweeping views, great hiking trails, and opportunities to get up close and personal with the most biodiverse park in America. Must-see highlights include hiking to the top of Clingman’s Dome Observatory and the drive through Cades Cove. In late 2016, some of the most trafficked trails of the park, along with the neighboring town of Gatlinburg, were burned when a wildfire met a windstorm. Both the park and the town have rebounded, offering a fascinating opportunity to see how the natural world rebounds after a wildfire GETTING THERE Straddling the states of Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most centrally located national parks and a manageable road trip from many major urban areas in the East, Midwest, and South. The closest regional airports are Mcghee-Tyson in Knoxville Tennessee or the Asheville regional airport in North Carolina. Both airports have rental car options. And remember when renting a vehicle that you do not need a 4WD vehicle to experience this park. ENTERING AND NAVIGATING THE PARK There is no entrance fee for Great Smoky Mountain National Park, because the state of Tennessee would only transfer the land to the National Park Service if they guaranteed no fee would ever be charged to access the mountains. Please consider donating $20 to the Friends of the Smokies instead (friendsofthesmokies.org); this is the admission fee for most of the national parks across the country, and funds go directly to protecting the park’s facilities and wildlife. CAMPING IS A BARGAIN Tent camping is the cheapest way to experience the Smokies . For $20/night, there are 10 different campgrounds in the Smokies. Some of them require reservations and are only open during the high season. You can check the pricing and reservation requirements online (nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/frontcountry-camping.htm). AFFORDABLE LODGING Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee are considered the “gateway to the Smokies” and both have lived up to this moniker by providing ample affordable lodging and a huge variety of activities for families. This area is what I like to call “hillbilly chic” for the way it leans into its heritage. Physical activities like go-karts, mini-golf, and horseback riding abound, but you can also experience museums of the strange and curious - from the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum all the way to the Titanic museum. And you’ll definitely notice a certain affinity for one Dolly Parton. This part of Tennessee is where the singer/songwriter grew up, and Parton has reinvested in the community by opening up several dinner theaters and her own theme park. Dollywood has several of the best roller coasters in the South and provides a great time. Should you decide to do any of these attractions, be sure to do a search for discounted tickets online before you pay full price at the box office. For the cheapest hotel options, you should consider staying in Cherokee, North Carolina (on the other side of the park from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge). This area is the Cherokee indian reservation, and has many hotels that get you more for the price. Cherokee is not as kitschy as Gatlinburg, and you’ll have fewer crowds to deal with. EATING OPTIONS ABOUND There are a plethora of restaurants on the Tennessee side of the park. You can find everything from cheap fast food to mountain pancakes to steak dinners. HIKING & MUST-SEE SIGHTS The Chimneys. The Chimneys is a classic hike in the smokies, a steep climb up to one of the best views in the park. This hike is a bit over four miles round trip, and you should plan on a workout. Bring plenty of water and a walking stick. This trail was part of the burn area in the 2015 wildfires, so it can be muddy in places where the brush was burned away. Because of the fire, you can no longer go the final .25 mile to the summit of the chimneys, but the end of the trail still provides a wonderful view. Alum Cave Bluff Trail. This is a moderate 6.5 mile trail that offers some amazing views and a variety of terrain, concluding at a natural cave in the mountain rock. This hike is really fun and is not as physically taxing as some of the other hikes in the park. This is one of the most popular hikes in the park, so be sure to get there early! Clingman’s Dome Observatory. Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the park, and has an observatory on the top that provides some incredibly views. The hike to the observatory is less than a mile, with minimal elevation gain. The trail is paved, making this an ideal outing for families with children and those who are disabled. Be sure to bring a jacket as this higher elevation is often cold and windy, even in summer. Appalachian Trail. The appalachian trail is a 2,000 mile adventure that goes right through GSMNP. Those with an adventurous spirit can meet up with the Appalachian Trail at the Clingman’s Dome parking lot and hike as much or as little of it as they wish. Keep in mind that all overnight backcountry stays in this park require a permit. IF YOU'RE VISITING WITH KIDS... Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most fun parks to visit with children. Here, two options that’ll keep little ones enchanted, and make them want to return again and again: Creek Stomping. There are several places in the park that are great for kids to play in nature. At the trailhead for the Chimneys trail is a rocky section of the creek that offers a good opportunity for kids to climb and splash in the water. Scenic Drive and Picnic. Cades Cove is in a valley surrounded by mountains and makes for a lovely scenic drive. This is the best spot in the park for picnicking, as well as providing plenty of great photos and opportunities to see wildlife. Cades Cove used to be a small mountain community, and the old structures from the 19th century have been preserved for the public to get a glimpse of life. Bears are not an uncommon sighting in Cades Cove, but don’t be afraid - black bears prefer a lazy lifestyle as long as you don’t get too close! Plan on spending at least an hour driving the Cades Cove loop - which can get crowded on beautiful days and weekends.

    Budget Travel Lists

    The 6 most haunted places in Tennessee

    Tennessee is full of history, country music, BBQ and some haunted tales. For the history buffs, ghost hunters, and those seeking adventure this list is for you. These are five haunted places in Tennessee, full of historical stories and eerie events that may knock your socks off. 1. The Drummond Bridge/Trestle, Briceville Legend has it that Richard Drummond was hung in 1893 by a band of mercenaries. Drummond was hanged from the bridge after killing a young soldier in a rivalry brawl during the Coal Creek War. In 2009, a study was conducted by paranormal experts naming this bridge one of the most haunted places in Tennessee. The bridge is haunted by Drummond after he took his last breath on the train trestle. Some say you can still hear Drummond gasping for his last breath, some see his ghost pacing from one end of the bridge to another at the stroke of midnight, while other residents just see strange behaviors. Including cattle who avoid grazing the field below the bridge and dogs that will never go near or across the bridge. For those courageous enough to explore this bridge the advice given is to be cautious. The land around the bridge is grown which may have hazards, there are no walls around the bridge and there is spacing between the trestle tracks, so it is possible to fall through, 30 feet to the ground when it is dark. The Drummond Bridge is a piece of Tennessee’s haunted history that many may not know of but will pique the interest of those looking for a historically ghostly experience. 2. Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh This national park was home to the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. This battle was during the American Civil War resulting in over 23,000 casualties. Among the many men that died in what is now a national park is also their spirits still lingering. These soldiers who haunted the battlefield let their past come alive. Visitors may hear drumming, voices, footsteps and gunshots. On many accounts’ visitors have seen the pond at Shiloh National Park turn blood red on different occasions throughout the year. Rumors have it that wounded soldiers and horses once cleaned their wounds in the pond, even though there is not solid evidence that this pond did exist in 1862. Shiloh National Park is open year-round from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are special programs held on Memorial Day weekend and the rangers led programs on the battlefield sites from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The park also has a visitor center including artifacts from the battlefield. The visitors center also shows an award-winning interpretive film, “Shiloh: Fiery Trail” every hour from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Visitors will see a lot of history that intertwines in this beautiful park but only the lucky will encounter the souls from the past. 3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg The 5.5-mile drive through the Great Smoky Mountains is full of historic cabins and mills and maybe even a hitch-hiking ghost. Lucy is a young enchanting woman who died in the early 1900’s when her family cabin burned down. Legend says after Lucy died a man named Foster saw her walking barefoot on a cold winter’s night through the dark overgrown forest. Foster offered Lucy a ride home on his horse, which she accepted, but he was enamored by her beauty and couldn’t stop thinking about her. Foster went back to the cabin and asked her parents if Lucy and him could be married. Her parents informed Foster that Lucy had died quite a while ago, causing him to realize that he had encountered a ghost. The fortunate catch sight of Lucy wandering the trail hitch hiking for a ride home. Although, there are places to pull off and explore the forest surrounding the trail. To visit the trail, use the Cherokee Orchard Entrance into the Smoky Mountains National Park, off main street in Gatlinburg, traffic light number eight or take Historic Nature Trail Road to the Cherokee Orchard Entrance. After passing the Rainbow Falls trailhead, will the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail be found. 4. Sensabaugh Tunnel, Kingsport The Sensabaugh Tunnel has a few different legends on how this tunnel became a haunted place. The tunnel was built in the 1920’s and was named after the man who owned the land, Edward Sensabaugh. One rumor is that a homeless man entered the Sensaubaugh’s home to steal money and jewels. Ed Sensabaugh went after the thief who used their baby as a shield to escape from the house. Sensabaugh was unable to catch the thief and the thief drowned the baby in water next to the tunnel, now called Crybaby Pool. Another story goes that Ed Sensabaugh became a mad man one evening and murdered his wife and children while they were in bed. He took the bodies into the tunnel where he took his own life with a gun inside the tunnel’s walls. The third story says a young woman’s car broke down inside the tunnel. She left her car in the tunnel looking for help but it is unclear if she disappeared inside the tunnel itself or was murdered inside the Sensabaugh House. Either way no one ever saw her again. Legend has it if you turn off your car in the middle of the tunnel it won’t turn back on. Some say your car will turn back on when Ed Sensabaugh is seen heading to your car. Others say you will have to manually push the vehicle out of the tunnel before your car starts up again. There are warnings that a woman will be sitting in the backseat, a crying baby can be heard, Ed Sensabaugh will appear in the rear-view mirror, children’s handprints will be found on the car and the sound of footsteps can be heard as Ed is approaching your car. To those daring enough to test this tunnel and the hauntings that may occur it can be found off Big Elm Road in Kingsport filled with graffiti and a creek nearby. 5. Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park and Pigman Bridge, Millington Legend has it that an unknown man, now known as Pigman, haunts the Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park and the Pigman Bridge in Millington. This unknown man used to work at an underground powder and explosives production plant also known as Chickasaw Ordnance Works during WWII. There was an accident in the plant leaving him disfigured, including burning off the tip of his nose, which is how he received the name “Pigman.” He was shunned by coworkers and local residents and took off to haunt the park and the bridge looking for his next victim. The story goes when he finds his next victim, he lets out a blood curling pig scream. Go to the Pigman Bridge on a full moon, park in the middle of the bridge, turn off your engine and lights, roll down your windows and shout “Pigman!” three times while simultaneously flashing the car lights and he will appear. The Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park is open Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7p.m. with a variety of camping opportunities. The park sits on almost 13,000 acres bordering the Mississippi River and includes 49 campsites with a table, grill electrical and water hookups for RVs, a bathhouse with hot showers and six two-bedroom cabins to rent. The Pigman Bridge is located on Shake Rag Road over Jakes Creek. The coordinates to this location are 35.339742, -89.954757 this will bring you straight to the Pigman’s Bridge where the brave can call him and wait for him to arrive. 6. The Bell Witch Cave, Robertson County The Bell Witch is, perhaps, Tennessee's most famous ghost. The Bell Witch is rumored to be the spirit of a woman named Kate Batts. When the Bell family cheated her in a land purchase, she swore on her deathbed that she would haunt them. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. The first evidence of the Bell Witch haunting was in 1817, when she possessed several ghost dogs to chase people off the farm. The animals then turned into a nightmare house of spooky sounds and chains being drug through the house. Rumor has it that President Andrew Jackson spent the night at the Bell Farm, and was quoted as saying "I'd rather face the entire British Army than spend another night with the Bell Witch." Over time, the story of the Bell Witch prompted many visitors, which led to the farmhouse being torn down for safety. Today, you can tour the property, for a small fee, of course.

    Road TripsBudget Travel Lists

    6 Secret American Road Trips to Add to Your Bucket List

    The United States is renowned for its plethora of jaw-droppingly beautiful stretches of highway. In fact, for many travelers, the very word "America" conjures images not of bustling cities or world-class museums (though the US offers no shortage of them) but of iconic roads such as California’s Highway 1, the Southeast’s Blue Ridge Parkway, and Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road. But what about the lesser-known American drives? The ones that aren’t necessarily jam-packed with road trip enthusiasts but nevertheless offer gorgeous scenery, family-friendly fun, education, and even cultural enlightenment? Here, six outstanding “secret” drives that travelers will love to boast about “discovering.” Big Bend, Texas Big Bend National Park, along the Texas border with Mexico, is often overshadowed by its more famous fellow parks like Yosemite and Grand Canyon. But a road trip through this gorgeous environment, with its limestone cliffs, scenic overlooks, and Rio Grande River, is a unique way to experience the American landscape. As with many US national parks, Big Bend includes small “villages” that can serve as handy milestones in planning a drive. One option is the Panther Junction-to-Rio Grande Village drive, about 21 miles (34km) passing ancient limestone, scenic overlooks, and opportunities for stopping for a short hike at Boquillas Canyon or the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. Cherokee Hills, Oklahoma This is a lesser-known road trip that provides a healthy dose of cultural education as well. The Cherokee Hills Scenic Byway, in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in eastern Oklahoma, runs about 84 miles (135km), so set aside at least two hours for the drive. But the best approach is to make many stops along the way. You’ll see some of the oldest buildings west of the Mississippi River, many predating the state of Oklahoma itself; five small towns; the Cherokee Heritage Center, where visitors learn about the painful history of the Trail of Tears but also about the modern-day initiatives of the Cherokee Nation; and natural wonders including Lake Tenkiller and Natural Falls State Park. Door County, Wisconsin The Door County peninsula, sometimes called the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” is a narrow, beautiful stretch of land between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Its Coastal Byway (Highway 42/57) is a Wisconsin Scenic Byway, covering more than 60 miles (97km) passing through the towns of Sturgeon Bay and Northport. Here, visitors discover the natural beauty and relaxing pace of this prized corner of Wisconsin – including farms known for their fresh cherries, a summer theater festival, and charming communities that hug the lakeshore, offering great food (including house-made ice cream), unique shopping, and forests perfect for easy hikes. Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway Sure, Delaware is one of the smallest states in the US, but it packs plenty of history and natural beauty. The Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway, in northern Delaware, takes visitors past sights as diverse as the city of Wilmington and the beautiful countryside. Officially only 12 miles (19km) along the Kennett Pike and Montchanin Road, the byway focuses on the 300-year history of the Brandywine Valley and its role in the industrial revolution and the growth of transportation across the early United States. Consider the byway as your introduction to the larger Brandywine Valley region, which stretches into Pennsylvania and includes an array of important historical homes with great art collections, such as the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library; the Nemours Mansion and Garden; the Brandywine River Museum; and the Delaware Museum of Art. Beartooth Highway, Wyoming & Montana Warning: once you’ve driven the Beartooth Highway, which adjoins Yellowstone National Park and is surrounded by national forests and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, you may be spoiled forever. The highway, a National Scenic Byways All-American Road, is a winding route up into the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains – achieving an elevation over 10,000ft (3,000 meters) at its zenith, it’s the highest highway in the northern Rocky Mountains – with peerless scenic overlooks, glacial lakes, waterfalls, and, before you ascend back down, a high alpine plateau above the treeline. Set aside a few hours to truly enjoy the 67 miles (108km) of highway, and get to know one of the gateway communities such as Cooke City and Red Lodge, Montana, or Cody, Wyoming. Mississippi Blues Trail, Mississippi For an immersion in one of America’s original art forms, the blues, head to Clarksdale, Mississippi, gateway to the Mississippi Blues Trail. Although you’ll see the beautiful sights of the legendary Mississippi Delta along the way, the Blues Trail is not primarily a scenic drive but rather a set of interpretive markers and cultural institutions that visitors can navigate to create their own personalized road trip devoted to Mississippi’s incredible musical legacy. The trip’s mileage and time frame are entirely up to you. Highlights include Clarksdale’s Delta Blues Museum (where you’ll learn about local luminaries Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson) and Ground Zero Blues Cafe; Indianola’s B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center and Club Ebony (for blues music and soul food); and Greenwood’s Blues Heritage Gallery and excellent restaurants in the historic downtown district.

    Inspiration

    Locals Know Best: St. Louis, Missouri

    Ten years ago, if you asked Tamara Keefe where she thought she’d be today, she definitely would not have said St. Louis. In 2008, she moved to the city from California “kicking and screaming,” as she puts it. But her resistance was futile. Within six months, she had fallen under its spell and to this day she declares St. Louis is her one true love. The owner of Clementine’s Creamery, which has two scoop shops in town and a third opening in the spring, joins a number of other culinary entrepreneurs who’ve made the city their home, creating an accidental community of bakers, butchers, brewers, and craftspeople who see to it that locals have fresh baked bread, handmade kombucha, and plenty other delicious eats each day. Add to that the astonishingly low cost of living and a multitude of cultural options, many of them free, and it’s clear that the risk of falling in love with this town is high. (And that’s to say nothing of how Midwesterners are “gloriously friendly people,” Tamara quickly learned.) We checked in with Tamara to learn more. A City of Neighborhoods One of the many things that’s easy to love about St. Louis is its assortment of distinct neighborhoods. And there’s enough to do in each of them that you can spend the day and still leave not having done it all. Tamara has a fondness for Lafayette Square, the city’s oldest and most historic district that’s seen a lively community grow around its historic fixtures and sprawling park. Tamara recommends starting a day there with breakfast at Sqwires (sqwires.com), a secret among locals known for its killer brunches (smoked brisket hash, anyone?) and its bloody mary and mimosa bars on the weekend. Walk it off with a leisurely stroll through the boutiques and galleries along Park Avenue, the main drag. An eatery like Polite Society (politesocietystl.com) is a top pick for lunch, with plates like wild boar ravioli among the many choices. “It’s funky American cuisine and they do it right,” Tamara says. Nearby is one of her scoop shops, so definitely drop in to try one of her boozy creations, like maple bourbon or chocolate milk stout. (Those are the “naughty” options. She’s got “nice” liquor-free ones, too, like gooey butter cake.) Unwind at the end of the day with a drink at Planter's House (plantershousestl.com), which Tamra calls a “sexy little cocktail bar.” Cherokee Street (AKA: Cherokee Antique Row) is another neighborhood that’s worth a wander. With its many antique stores, it’s a Shangri-La for vintage lovers who can easily spend hours sifting through inventories of furniture, home goods, jewelry, clothing and much more. One standout is Dead Wax Records, an overflowing vinyl shop owned by one of the same people that runs the Mud House (themudhousestl.com), a coffee shop nearby that Tamara recommends. Once you’re all shopped out, cap off the day at Chaparritos, Tamara’s go-to for amazing chili verde and mean margaritas. A Hub of Culture If you live in St. Louis, it’s easy to see—and hear—your tax dollars at work. Many museums are free, the zoo is free, there’s an outdoor theater, the Muny (themuny.org), where nearly 1500 seats are offered for free at every performance, and St. Louis is home to one of the country’s most celebrated opera companies, which you can see for as little as $12. “The arts are huge here and it’s really important for them to have access to it—for everyone to have access. It’s not just for the elite,” Tamara says. “Coming from SoCal, where you pay outrageous prices for everything, it’s just awesome.” Every city has a movie theater--or several--for regular entertainment, but St. Louis's main cinema, the independent, old-time-style Chase Park Cinema in the historic Chase Park Plaza hotel, comes with an added delight. His name is Jerry and he plays the vintage organ before every show and sees people off after the movie with a Hershey's Chocolate Kiss. Tamara estimates he's been there for decades. "Everyone knows him, everyone looks forward to it," she says. Nature Calls Should you need a break from the city, there are a few ways for heeding the call of the wild. Castlewood State Park, for one, features walking and running trails that snake along the Merrimack River. There are cliffs that make perfect perches for a picnic lunch. Tamara suggests stopping at Parker’s Table at Oakland and Yale (parkerstable.com) a wine and food market where you can pick up provisions like sandwiches, soups, and the house sausages for the day. For kids, there’s an uncommon nature sanctuary. The Butterfly House at the Missouri Botanical Garden (missouribotanicalgarden.com) is a glass-walled conservatory that’s home to more than a thousand tropical free-wheeling butterflies. “They land on eyelashes, hair, clothes," Tamara says. "It’s so sweet and kinda magical. You feel like you’re in a Disney movie.” Daytripping Everywhere you go these days it seems like you're close to a wine country, and St. Louis is no exception. About 90 minutes west, Hermann (visithermann.com), a village settled by German immigrants, is Missouri’s wine region. A concentration of wineries could certainly keep you entertained for a full day. Break up the wine tastings with a stop at Old Stone Barn (oldstonebarn.com), a working hay farm that doubles as an antique emporium. Another destination if you want to hit the road is Cottleville, and old-timey town with still yet more antique shops and charming B&Bs. Stone Soup Cottage (stonesoupccottage.com), a restaurant in an old house with just enough space for ten tables, is worth the trip alone, says Tamara. Perch yourself on the wraparound porch and start your evening gazing at the stars. Dinner, chef’s choice, consists of whatever’s fresh off the farm that day, so expect a wholesome meal.

    Budget Travel Lists

    The Budget Traveler’s Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Great Smoky Mountain National Park (nps.gov/grsm) is America’s most visited national park (with more than 11 million visitors in 2017), in part because of its proximity to large populations of people, but mostly for its sweeping views, great hiking trails, and opportunities to get up close and personal with the most biodiverse park in America. Must-see highlights include hiking to the top of Clingman’s Dome Observatory and the drive through Cades Cove. In late 2016, some of the most trafficked trails of the park, along with the neighboring town of Gatlinburg, were burned when a wildfire met a windstorm. Both the park and the town have rebounded, offering a fascinating opportunity to see how the natural world rebounds after a wildfire GETTING THERE Straddling the states of Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most centrally located national parks and a manageable road trip from many major urban areas in the East, Midwest, and South. The closest regional airports are Mcghee-Tyson in Knoxville Tennessee or the Asheville regional airport in North Carolina. Both airports have rental car options. And remember when renting a vehicle that you do not need a 4WD vehicle to experience this park. ENTERING AND NAVIGATING THE PARK There is no entrance fee for Great Smoky Mountain National Park, because the state of Tennessee would only transfer the land to the National Park Service if they guaranteed no fee would ever be charged to access the mountains. Please consider donating $20 to the Friends of the Smokies instead (friendsofthesmokies.org); this is the admission fee for most of the national parks across the country, and funds go directly to protecting the park’s facilities and wildlife. CAMPING IS A BARGAIN Tent camping is the cheapest way to experience the Smokies . For $20/night, there are 10 different campgrounds in the Smokies. Some of them require reservations and are only open during the high season. You can check the pricing and reservation requirements online (nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/frontcountry-camping.htm). AFFORDABLE LODGING Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee are considered the “gateway to the Smokies” and both have lived up to this moniker by providing ample affordable lodging and a huge variety of activities for families. This area is what I like to call “hillbilly chic” for the way it leans into its heritage.  Physical activities like go-karts, mini-golf, and horseback riding abound, but you can also experience museums of the strange and curious - from the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum all the way to the Titanic museum. And you’ll definitely notice a certain affinity for one Dolly Parton. This part of Tennessee is where the singer/songwriter grew up, and Parton has reinvested in the community by opening up several dinner theaters and her own theme park. Dollywood has several of the best roller coasters in the South and provides a great time. Should you decide to do any of these attractions, be sure to do a search for discounted tickets online before you pay full price at the box office. For the cheapest hotel options, you should consider staying in Cherokee, North Carolina (on the other side of the park from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge). This area is the Cherokee indian reservation, and has many hotels that get you more for the price. Cherokee is not as kitschy as Gatlinburg, and you’ll have fewer crowds to deal with. EATING OPTIONS ABOUND There are a plethora of restaurants on the Tennessee side of the park. You can find everything from cheap fast food to mountain pancakes to steak dinners. HIKING & MUST-SEE SIGHTS The Chimneys. The Chimneys is a classic hike in the smokies, a steep climb up to one of the best views in the park. This hike is a bit over four miles round trip, and you should plan on a workout. Bring plenty of water and a walking stick. This trail was part of the burn area in the 2015 wildfires, so it can be muddy in places where the brush was burned away. Because of the fire, you can no longer go the final .25 mile to the summit of the chimneys, but the end of the trail still provides a wonderful view. Alum Cave Bluff Trail. This is a moderate 6.5 mile trail that offers some amazing views and a variety of terrain, concluding at a natural cave in the mountain rock. This hike is really fun and is not as physically taxing as some of the other hikes in the park. This is one of the most popular hikes in the park, so be sure to get there early! Clingman’s Dome Observatory. Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the park, and has an observatory on the top that provides some incredibly views. The hike to the observatory is less than a mile, with minimal elevation gain. The trail is paved, making this an ideal outing for families with children and those who are disabled. Be sure to bring a jacket as this higher elevation is often cold and windy, even in summer. Appalachian Trail. The appalachian trail is a 2,000 mile adventure that goes right through GSMNP.  Those with an adventurous spirit can meet up with the Appalachian Trail at the Clingman’s Dome parking lot and hike as much or as little of it as they wish. Keep in mind that all overnight backcountry stays in this park require a permit. IF YOU'RE VISITING WITH KIDS... Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most fun parks to visit with children. Here, two options that’ll keep little ones enchanted, and make them want to return again and again: Creek Stomping. There are several places in the park that are great for kids to play in nature. At the trailhead for the Chimneys trail is a rocky section of the creek that offers a good opportunity for kids to climb and splash in the water. Scenic Drive and Picnic. Cades Cove is in a valley surrounded by mountains and makes for a lovely scenic drive. This is the best spot in the park for picnicking, as well as providing plenty of great photos and opportunities to see wildlife. Cades Cove used to be a small mountain community, and the old structures from the 19th century have been preserved for the public to get a glimpse of life. Bears are not an uncommon sighting in Cades Cove, but don’t be afraid - black bears prefer a lazy lifestyle as long as you don’t get too close! Plan on spending at least an hour driving the Cades Cove loop - which can get crowded on beautiful days and weekends.

    Budget Travel Lists

    10 Best Cars for Budget Travelers

    Love a good road trip? So do we! But we also love to trim our travel costs, which is why we’ve worked with Autotrader.com to find the best cars for Budget Travelers. These 10 vehicles not only earned top marks for fuel efficiency but also boast cool tech features that will enhance your driving experience. Also, each car costs less than $25,000, so you won’t have to break the bank on your new set of wheels.  2017 Ford Fiesta Titanium At just under $20,000, the Fiesta’s Titanium model features keyless entry/start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera with rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, Sony 8-speaker audio system with HD radio,and specially designed 16-inch alloy wheels. Also, Ford’s Sync 3 smart entertainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is standard on the Titanium Fiesta. “As subcompact cars go, the Fiesta is a good one,”says Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader. “It’s fun to drive, has a reasonably nice interior, and sips fuel.” 2017 Honda HR-V EX The base LX model ($20,000) of this new subcompact SUV from Honda features a rearview camera, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls, 160-watt 4-speaker stereo system with USB input, auto-off headlights, and front and rear 12-volt power outlets. The EX bumps the price up to $23,000 but includes a 7-inch touchscreen audio display, Honda’s LaneWatch technology, 180-watt 6-speaker stereo, Pandora radio compatibility, heated front seats, power moonroof, Smart Entry with push-button start, auto on/off headlights, rearview camera, second USB jack, SMS text messaging, and automatic climate control. Plus, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available on every Honda model. 2018 Chevrolet Cruze LS At only $17,850, the base-level, stick-shift-only Cruze L has a backup camera, 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, Bluetooth, power accessories, Teen Driver technology, 4-speaker stereo with Bluetooth, OnStar with a Wi-Fi hotspot, and 7-inch center touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Cruze LS ($19,400), however, allows drivers to order automatic transmission for $1,000 extra. “Add it all up and the result is a car that’s roughly $21,000 and features desirable tech,” Moody says. 2017 Jeep Compass Sport The Sport ($21,000) is the Compass’ base model but it has some compelling features, Moody says. Push-button start, cruise control, USB port, auxiliary audio input, 6-speaker audio system, 5-inch touchscreen, hill-start assist, rearview camera and trailer sway control are all part of the package. “We also like the Compass because it looks like a junior version of the larger, pricier Grand Cherokee,” says Moody. Moreover, the car’s Uconnect system integrates a 5-inch touchscreen display, hands-free calling, voice text reply, voice commands for radio functions, and Bluetooth audio streaming. 2017 VW Jetta SE “The Jetta is a great-looking car with a sporty attitude,”Moody says. It’s also a techie’s dream: in addition to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Jetta SE ($22,000) has blind-spot monitoring, push-button start, satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB port, LED daytime running lights, and 6.3-inch touch screen. 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Standard goodies on >span class="s5"> Elantra GT ($22,000) include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, full power accessories, tilt-telescopic steering wheel with redundant audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera, and remote keyless entry. For an extra $1,000, you can upgrade to theGT Sport, which has lane keep assistance, LED headlights and taillights, and heated leather front seats. 2018 Kia Niro FE You’ll have to stick with the FE base model of Kia’s newest crossover, car-based SUV to keep the price of the Niro under $25,000, Moody says, but this hybrid boasts a whopping 50 miles per gallon on average—making it one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. And, if you’re willing to shell out an extra few hundred dollars, you can add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, and 7-inch touchscreen.  2017 Nissan Altima S The spacious Altima S model ($24,000) is loaded with cool tech features, including forward collision warning with emergency braking, Bluetooth, Siri eyes free, push-button start, and Nissan’s easy-fill tire system, which honks the horn when the car reaches the right level for tire pressure.  2017 Subaru Impreza Sport Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Impreza Sport ($23,000), which has an 8-inch touch screen that includes app integration for services like iHeartRadio and Pandora. The entertainment system is also more user-friendly than many other in-car interface systems, Moody says. However, “the real reason to pick this car is that, for the price, it’s one of the most fun-to-drive small sedans around,” Moody says.  2018 Toyota Camry L While the all-new Camry doesn’t have Apple CarPlay, you still get a lot for your money with the base L trim model, Moody says. Indeed, the car's tech features include automatic LED headlights, highway-speed adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic braking, lane-departure warning, Bluetooth, one USB port, 7-inch touchscreen interface, Scout GPS navigation smartphone app, and 6-speaker sound system with a media player interface. “That's a lot of stuff for a car that comes in at just under $25,000,” Moody says. “We also like the Camry’s new look and driving dynamics, which are far better than any Camry before it.”

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