If you are a member of the middle class / average-income family in the United States and you are making attempts to live on a budget or adamant about being debt-free, you might’ve converted your usual long-distance vacation to a staycation. For us, now being the Mr and me, this still means staying elsewhere and “getting away”. In our search to enjoy our lovely surrounding in the Smokies, we’ve found a gem in Dandridge, TN.
Just 40 minutes from Knoxville, Dandridge epitomizes small town U.S.A. Town exists on approximately a square block next to Douglas Lake, but “Dandridge” covers a wide area around the lake and is adjacent to the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area. Not far off the Interstate-40 (exits 417 or 424), Dandridge isn’t far from the North Carolina border and the Cherokee National Forest.
Our first official staycation in the area was last August, while we just finished a short Memorial Day weekend stay. I’ve compiled our activities from both stays. For both getaways, we’ve stayed at Mountain Harbor Inn, which is about 5 miles from exit 407 (I-40). My review of this bed and more-than-breakfast can be found here.
A quick visit into town can bring several possibilities, but my focus for driving the 10 minute drive was to get a milkshake from Tinsley Bible Drugstore right on the main drag. We parked in front and then settled into a stool to wait for our treats. Mmm, one vanilla and one banana shake. I thought about taking pictures, but well, it was just so YUMMY! For their menu on shakes, breakfast, and lunch see here. The atmosphere is right out of The Andy Griffith Show.
We grabbed dinner one night at Del’s Pizza, which is located off Winfield Dunn Parkway in the stripmall with the first Food City past the interstate. I was puzzled with the placement of a Pizza Hut next door…literally. Not down the complex–right next door. Anyway, Del’s was awesome. I’m a fan of thin pizza and they have 2 types. We got the Chicago thin crust, but they also have regular New York thin pizza. I was so hungry, I didn’t take any pictures (and they don’t have a website), but they are featured on Trip Advisor and Yelp. Of the 10 or so tables, 5 were full with patrons, but apparently they do well in the delivery arena too. They were super friendly and served our garlic knots right away and then we had our piping hot Hawaiian pizza.
For a lovely waterfront dining experience that is right across the lake from downtown Dandridge, try Angelos at the Point. While they have seating inside and out, the patio is definitely most popular when the weather in nice. There is a marina attached, so it’s common for guests to dock their boat for a meal. The view is fantastic and the menu has enough variety for most appetites. We enjoyed the fish n chips and the crabcakes, but what we really loved was the bread–almost like eating a pretzel!
We spend a lot of time in this area at DollyWood since we have season passes (2nd year in a row). Now that our kids are grown, we have the time and money for some fun. Plus, we are both rollercoaster junkies! Prior to this, we shared UT season tickets with my parents, but in perspective DollyWood is way more fun and still less expensive! Keep in mind that, as with most parks, if you arrive at the park after 3 p.m., you can also use your tickets for the following day. Warm weather is high time for this park, so be prepared for long lines and humidity. Towards fall, the lines slack off; and, of course, weekdays are much less crowded compared to weekends.
For the first time ever, we played miniature golf at Hillbilly Golf! Being from the area, it’s amazing the activities we haven’t done. We were talking about that with the operator and he compared it to living in NYC and not visiting the Statue of Liberty. It just so happened that another customer was from Queens and had never been. Wierd! Hillbilly Golf is unique in that it’s on the side of a mountain and you must ride a trolley lift to play. Each hole walks you down the hillside, then you take the lift back down. It’s shaded by the existing trees and a wonderful break from the heat.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to return soon and post more about the things we do in this area. Stay posted!
Check this link out for other local activities to do.