Gatlingburg Honeymoon

Our Honeymoon

Sean and I spent a lot of time deliberating and going back and forth on where we wanted to spend our honeymoon. For months leading up to the wedding, people would keep asking us where we were going and we’d say, “well, we’ll figure it out eventually.” It wasn’t until about a month before the wedding that we took the plunge and booked our Gatlinburg, Tennessee cabin and it was the best decision we could have made. Love what you see? Purchase prints here!

Where We Stayed

We absolutely loved our cabin at Cobbly Nob Cabin Rentals. Our cabin, Little Bear, was secluded from the other cabins, we had a private hot tub on our back porch that overlooked the mountains, and we had everything we needed for just the two of us. We had a huge king sized bed on the upper master bedroom floor, two comfy love seats in the living room, access to WiFi and HGTV (the essentials), and a pool table in the basement.

Also, our cabin was furnished so beautifully. The master bathroom sink was a refurbished antique cabinet with gold hardware and a floral hand painted sink. The kitchen countertops were finished to look like they were covered in bronze and gold fall leaves. The basement walls were painted with a custom woodland mural featuring painted bears, deer, and the owner’s two dogs. Our cabin was only 20 minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg, so it was only a short drive to get to anywhere we wanted.

Views for Miles

If you’re looking to get some of the best mountain views, we loved our drive up to Clingman’s Dome. All along the drive up the mountain are scenic overlooks and places to stop to soak it all in. If you want the most spectacular views and photos, I recommend either making the drive up during sunrise or sunset — you’ll get the best directional sunlight and the best warm light. Sean and I made the drive twice and we both thought the sunrise drive was the best choice.

Clingman’s Dome Sunset

If you’re wanting to reach the top of Clingman’s Dome during the Autumn months, here’s my advice: bring hiking boots and a walking stick, dress warm, and be prepared for a steep upward climb. The climb isn’t for everyone, as it is very steep and there are no scooters, walkers, or strollers allowed on the journey. I ended up turning around and spending some time at the base of the dome while Sean made the adventure, and even he said it was a tough hike and he was glad I turned around for my own sake.

In my opinion, the most spectacular sunset views can be found right in the parking lot of Clingman’s dome, so don’t feel like you’re missing out too much if you can’t make the treck up to the top!

Laurel Falls

So I didn’t realize it until after we got back to Fort Wayne and I was telling my parents about our trip, but Laurel Falls is the same waterfall my family and I saw back in 2010 during our family vacation! Eight years later and these old bones didn’t remember the hike up to the falls being so long and steep.

Just for fun, here’s the photo I took back in 2010 when I thought I was a bee’s knees photographer.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee Honeymoon Vacation, Travel and Nature Photography by Danielle Doepke Photography

Gotta love the old point and shoot

The drive up to the falls trail head was filled with colorful Autumn leaves, a beautiful stream under a bridge, and a black bear cub up in the hills! During the one mile hike up to the falls, we were met with a spectacular mountain view through the red and orange fall leaves. If you want the perfect time to go to Tennessee, Autumn is the best season—you just can’t beat the colors.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

When you go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, it’s almost a requirement to go to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Sean and I both left our big cameras at home and tried out our brand spankin’ new cell phone cameras to capture the adventure.

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

As a part of our Ripley’s package, we visited the Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze. Definitely spend the extra dollar and get the prism glasses—it’s 100% worth it. A great thing about the mirror maze is that once you pay for your ticket, you can get your arm stamped and go through the maze as many times as you want without any additional cost!

  • Round One: Sean and I walked through the maze without the prism glasses—not too hard and a little underwhelming.
  • Round Two: We purchased the prism glasses and walked through again—definitely made it more colorful and challenging.
  • Round Three: We both walked through the maze with our hands behind our backs so we couldn’t cheat and reach out to feel the mirrors—I’m happy to report that we both made it through the entire maze without cheating or running into any dead ends!

Hole-In-One

I’m not normally one for mini golf, but Sean and I both had so much fun doing Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg.

“Ever wondered what it sounds like when a golf ball bounces off the side of a dilapidated tractor before rolling into a moonshine operation? If you’d ever played 18 holes at Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg, you wouldn’t have to wonder anymore. Hillbilly Golf is about as far from the rarified greens at Augusta National or the ocean views at Pebble Beach as it gets — but my guess is, it’s a lot less snooty and a lot more fun!” — Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg: World’s Most Unusual Miniature Golf Course

While playing the course, there were several signs throughout that told some history about the city and the 2016 wildfires. Both Sean and I thought it was so odd to read signs about something so historic that happened just two years ago. Typically the signs we’ve seen of similar caliber are dated hundreds of years ago and the history seems so far away.

Near the end of the course and next to a fallen and uprooted tree, one sign read “This 160+ year old Hemlock tree was here prior to the Civil War and stood proudly over Hillbilly Gold for 45 years. Sadly, it was uprooted during the wildfires on 2016. Due to the efforts of the Hillbilly Golf team, its roots still watch over us.”

Close by, another sign read, “On Nov. 28, 2016, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains experienced a devastating fire that consumed approximately 30,000 acres and destroyed over 2,400 structures. After assessing the damage, in true Hillbilly form, we laced up our boots, took a shot of ‘shine, and got back to work! Thanks to our “Mountain Tough” heritage we were able to recover and opened in March 2017 for our 46th season.” The tree next to the sign had physical remnants of the fire—the tree had been blackened, a golf ball had melted around a nail, and a horseshoe was embedded into the trunk where the fire had melted it into the tree.

The Best Pizza

Sean and I were both obsessed with the Mellow Mushroom, located right in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. We loved it so much that we went twice and brought pizza back to Fort Wayne. The drinks were strong and delicious and the pizza was the best both of us had ever had. We’re talking perfect fluffy crust and fresh ingredients. My personal recommendation: get the Great White without onions and add grilled chicken and bacon OR the equally delicious Kosmic Karma with the garlic olive oil sauce and added grilled chicken.

Cellphone Shmellphone

We both upgraded our phones right before we left for our trip and let me tell you, upgrading from an iPhone 5 camera to an iPhone Xs camera is worth it, my friends. Enjoy some cell phone photos!

An Otterly Perfect Birthday

On October 20th, I got married to the love of my life. On October 27th, I celebrated my 26th birthday at the North Georgia Zoo with my perfect husband who planned our entire day and it was the best. birthday. ever.

From our cabin in Gatlinburg to the North Georgia Zoo was a three hour road trip. So Sean bought me my favorite drink and cake pop from Starbucks, we ate our weight in Arby’s mozzarella sticks, and listed to the S-Town podcast from This American Life.

When we were about 30 minutes out from the zoo, Sean turned to me and said “now this isn’t like the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, it’s a lot different, so don’t be disappointed.”

I don’t know what that boy was talking about, because the North Georgia Zoo was freaking awesome. I got to pet goats and llamas and alpacas and pigs and cows and a big fluffy white dog. I saw a pack of wolves, a zebra, lemurs, kangaroos, and big exotic birds. I got to pet a snake, a chinchilla, and an armadillo.

And to top it all off, I got to meet two otters—Noah and Rainbow. If you know anything about me, you know I’m obsessed with otters, so Sean, my perfect husband, made my dreams come true.

Loved the photos and want some of your own? Purchase prints here!

Gatlinburg Honeymoon | Travel | October 22nd – October 28th, 2018

Location: Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee, North Georgia Zoo

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