Sevierville, Tennessee

Oak Haven Resort and Spa in Sevierville, Tennessee

Girlfriend’s Getaway in Sevierville, Tennessee…By: Christine Wynne

Sevierville1My girlfriends and I wouldn’t trade our kids for anything — most days. But with half a dozen of them between the four of us, we’ve never been able to hold a conversation that lasts more than two minutes when we all get together with our kids. Then, at a play date — in between changing diapers, identifying wailing kids and fishing grapes out of toddlers’ mouths — we crafted a plan for a no-kids, no-husbands escape. Over the years of motherhood, we realized how much we’d missed the talking, laughing and just hanging out that makes up the ingredients of a good friendship. After exchanging phone calls and e-mails for several weeks we chose Sevierville, Tennessee as our destination.

As I rode from the Knoxville airport to my hotel, I felt my stress melting away. I could see families heading over for vacations and I thought “this would be a nice family destination but thank God I don’t have them with me.” Just then my cell phone rings. I look at my caller ID. It’s my husband, ALREADY!!! He just called to make sure I had arrived safely and he says he misses me already. Strangely, I do not miss him as much as I do when he is away on business trips. When I arrived at the hotel, my partners in crime were waiting for me. For the next three days, we would be in spa and shopping heaven!

We didn’t want for anything as we explored this quaint little town. A mere twenty minutes from the entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park, Sevierville has a gentle beauty that defines the region and southern hospitality that warms the heart. It is a perfect combination of small town flavor and upscale shopping, dining and entertainment. We didn’t waste any time taking in some of the local entertainment, our first stop was Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner show.

This high energy show combines the fun of a friendly North/South rivalry showcasing a blend of fast-paced acrobatic horsemanship and country music, with a traditional home-cooked southern meal. The entertainment includes a new and exciting opening act, “Mountain Rukus, a bluegrass and country band,” as well as magnificent horses, ostrich and pig races, comedy, singing, dancing and audience participation. Finger-licking good doesn’t quite seem to describe this four-course country feast consisting of creamy vegetable soup, a whole rotisserie chicken, hickory-smoked barbeque pork, baked potato and fresh buttery corn on the cob, homemade biscuit, and apple turnover for dessert. To add to the character, the meal is served sans utensils.

The next morning, I relished the simple pleasure of being able to sleep in. There were no toddlers crawling into my bed, nor any shouts of “Mommy, can you come wipe my butt?” in the background. There were no meetings to attend, no errands to run and no appointments with the pediatrician. In fact, the only thing on the agenda today was a trip to the Oak Haven Resort and Spa.

Sevierville2The peaceful atmosphere of this spa is sure to restore the most frazzled of moms. Nestled amongst 80-acres of wooded mountainside in a quiet, unhurried corner of Sevierville, the spa offered me a much needed respite. The spa specializes in massages, facials, and “chocolate ice cream pedicures” that are as delicious as they sound. I enjoyed my first facial, which was aptly named “Almost Heaven Facial,” while my friends savored the ice cream pedicures and a massage. When our treatments came to an all-too-soon end, we gathered on the terrace to sip tea and sample cheese and crackers in the shade of king-sized umbrellas. The afternoon passed quickly as we shared stories about our kids, husbands, office gossip, trying to have more children or trying not to have more children. Most importantly we talked about how lucky we were to have all remained friends over the years and that we were able to get together like this.

That evening, we decided to try one of Sevierville’s newest shows, Cirque de Chine. The show, which features the Chinese National Acrobatic Troupe, the number one troupe in China, is a high energy blend of color, costume, music and acrobatics. From contortionists, acrobats, pole climbers and musicians to balancing on chairs stacked to the top of the theatre and five motorcycles roaring around in a circular cage, Cirque de Chine is not only spectacular but the talents of the performers is almost overwhelming. We sat in amazement as we watched acts of balance, strength and contortion that left us wondering how a human body could achieve those positions.

Sevierville3The second day of our getaway began with a leisurely breakfast at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. Nestled within Apple Valley Farms, this restaurant serves apple-themed dishes such as applesauce muffins, apple fritters, homemade apple butter and fried apples. The food is good, the prices are right and the atmosphere is sure to make you feel right at home. The restaurant is part of the Apple Barn Complex, which features a winery, bakery, general store and an old-fashioned candy factory all surrounded by hillside orchards.

After sampling delicious homemade wines and candies, we mosied over to the Utopia Day Spa. Utopia is not a traditional day spa, but rather a rustic retreat for healing and well-being. The goal at Utopia is not only to provide a wonderful spa experience through relaxation, therapeutic touch and holistic healing, but also to educate and inspire guests to take home what they have learned. The signature treatment at Utopia is the nature massage where individuals or couples can enjoy a full body massage outdoors overlooking a spring-fed pond. The soothing sounds of birds and wind blowing through the trees, along with gorgeous mountain views, add an extra element of relaxation to any massage. Feel better, look better, live better; this is the philosophy at Utopia Day Spa and that is exactly what we did!

 Sevierville4Following a calming afternoon of spa treatments, we headed to Tanger Five Oaks Mall for a shopping excursion. One of the reasons we chose Sevierville as our destination was for the plethora of shopping opportunities. With two of the largest outlet malls in Tennessee totaling over 120 name brand outlets, you can find anything here. There are also a variety of galleries, antique shops, boutiques, specialty stores, flea markets, and even the largest scrapbook store in the country. I found some great bargains.  Coach handbags that retail for more than $300 could be found for $50. Children’s designer duds were marked down to $15. We thoroughly enjoyed power-shopping without the kids or hubbies waiting outside the dressing room begging us to hurry up. For the moms with kids in tow, adventure abounds at Ripley’s Old MacDonald Mini Golf course which is located right in the parking lot. Kids and Dads alike will love the three 18-hole miniature golf courses where animated barnyard critters interact with the golfers.

Sevierville5On our third day, we decided to hit the mountains. A visit to Sevierville simply wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park spans both the Tennessee and North Carolina Appalachian Mountain chain and covers more than a half million acres of pristine flora, abundant wildlife and a wealth of hiking and camping opportunities. The park hosts more than 11 millions visitors a year, making it the most visited national park in North America. Despite the millions of visitors, one can find quiet and solace here. The less-frequented hiking trails and high peaks often escape the traffic found in the most popular spots like Cades Cove and Clingmans Dome, which at 6,643 feet is the highest point in the Smokies. I had to hike for a few minutes along the Appalachian Trail, which winds for 70 miles through the Smoky Mountains, for no other reason than to just say I did. I could have spent several days hiking and exploring the mountains, however we were short on time and had to move on.

Sevierville6There is something liberating about going to a theme park without the kids. Perhaps it is being able to sit down and watch a show through its entirety, or maybe it is the rush of being able to ride a roller coaster without doing a child swap. The allure led us to end our trip with a visit to the Dollywood theme park. Inspired by the life of country music legend and Sevierville native Dolly Parton, Dollywood is a beautifully themed, 125-acre family adventure park that captures the heart and soul of the Smoky Mountain region that has inspired the music of its namesake. In addition to hosting concerts featuring some of country music’s favorite artists, including Dolly herself, Dollywood encompasses more than 40 rides and attractions including local artisans, live stage shows and thrilling rides including the popular Mystery Mine.  This thrill coaster which has two vertical lifts, a 95 degree drop, a heartline roll and a dive loop is themed as an old abandoned mine shaft from the 1800’s. When it opened in 2007, it broke records for having the steepest drop of any coaster in North America. Since half of the ride takes place indoors, I had no idea what to expect as I awaited my turn to ride. I was completely surprised to see the various twists and turns the coaster took, it was absolutely amazing.

I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness as our trip came to an end. As moms, we spend the majority of our time caring for others and neglecting ourselves. Even the best of us need a break now and then. This excursion gave us a chance to reconnect as friends and spend some time pampering ourselves. As I waved goodbye to my friends and Sevierville, I felt refreshed and ready to jump back into the game of life.

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