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Resort Report: Getting away from it all at the Dollywood cabins

by Attractions Magazine Staff

Many travelers and families are opting for road trips and getaways that involve less crowds and offer more space – that’s exactly what my family wanted as we tried to come up with a way for our household in Florida to meet up with our family based in Illinois. The idea of driving to the Dollywood area came to mind. It is about equal distance drive from Florida as well as from Illinois. I figured the Dollywood area would have a plethora of wonderful cabins from which to choose and lots of restaurants and stores nearby. Sure enough, our Dollywood cabin was exactly what we needed.

Photos by Dani Dennison Meyering

By Dani Dennison Meyering

Booking Process for Dollywood Cabins

There are plenty of booking sites and management companies if you are looking to book a cabin in the Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge area in Tennessee. I decided to book through Dollywood Cabins for a few reasons:

First, I got the impression that the cabins offered through their booking office are well-curated and meet certain criteria. Second, the website was very user-friendly. I enjoyed being able to “favorite” certain listings so I could curate a small handful of options from which to compare. The booking site also allows you to filter search results using certain features like free Wi-Fi or being pet-friendly.

Finally, the cancellation policy for most cabins in the area is that you cannot cancel and get a refund, but you can reschedule for a different time. I did have to pay an extra $150 to be able to cancel up to 24 hours in advance if needed, but Dollywood Cabins is one of the few cabin booking sites with such an option.

Check-in takes place at the Dollywood Cabins office, which is located on one of the main roads about 10 minutes from Dollywood itself. There we were provided with the full address of the cabin and instructions for getting into the cabin, Wi-Fi information, and check-out information. The cabin we booked is less than 10 minutes from the Dollywood Cabins office, and about 15 minutes from Dollywood.

Starr Ridge Lodge Dollywood Cabin Features and Amenities

We selected Starr Ridge Lodge as our cabin, which is in the Walker Trail area. A variety of cabins are located along Walker Trail. It is a long, narrow, windy, steep road that leads to the top of a peak. Driving on this road is not for the faint of heart, but you are richly rewarded with amazing views.

Starr Ridge Lodge sits with about 10 other cabins of similar structure and appearance at the peak. Each cabin is individually owned. Some are available to book through Dollywood Cabins, but others are through other booking sites.

Entry into the cabin is on the middle level. A small front porch with rocking chairs is at the front door. Upon entering this luxurious, woodsy cabin, there are two bedrooms immediately on your left – each with a king bed and their own bathroom. There is a set of bunk beds in the hallway, and a small back porch.

The top level has a fully equipped kitchen, large dining table, living room with a smart flat TV (we were able to cast from our phones onto the TV), fireplace, and a half bathroom.

A balcony the length of the cabin offers glorious views, and picture windows from the living room and dining area allow you to savor these views while making use of the kitchen, dining area, and living room.

We brought some pots and pans, but we did not need them; the kitchen had lots of cooking ware, serving ware – even plastic plates and other toddler friendly items.

The bottom level has a movie theater room with surround sound and theater seating, two arcade games, a washer and drawer, and a set of bunk beds, all in one room. Then a third bedroom with queen beds and its own bathroom is through a door next to the movie theater room. A back porch with a hot tub is on this bottom level too.

Each bathroom offered modern fixtures and plenty of towels. We selected the front bedroom on the middle level. It was slightly smaller than the other bedroom, which could be considered the master bedroom, and it had a smaller bathroom. But the shower was luxurious, with river stones and two opposing shower heads.

I enjoyed a relaxing pace each morning knowing my toddler son was being taken care of by my in-laws. A few mornings I walked out to the small front porch to read, and enjoy the morning mountain sounds.

We spent six nights in this wonderful cabin. Our party of five adults and one toddler had plenty of space. We cooked most of our meals and enjoyed time together in this well-appointed cabin.

Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Local Area and Attractions

The cabin we rented is located in Sevierville, Tenn., which is right next to Pigeon Forge, home to lots of family-friendly attractions. Dollywood itself is host to lots of rides and entertainment, with beautiful views and landscaping. Discounted tickets are available for cabin guests. We opted to spend most of our time in the cabin as it had been a long time since we had time together, but it is definitely on my list to come back and stay in a cabin again and actually go to Dollywood.

Parkway is one of the main roads in the area and it is flanked by lots of attractions. Small amusement parks with great local attractions and rides line Parkway, as well as multiple entertainment venues, restaurants, dinner shows, and shops. The cabin we rented is located about 15 minutes from Parkway.

One afternoon, my husband and I snuck away to The Island, which is an entertainment, shopping, and dining complex. It is anchored by the Margaritaville Island Pigeon Forge Resort. We headed inside the hotel lobby and over to the Latitude Bar, which is currently walk-up ordering only, no sitting allowed. This suited us just fine. The beautiful glass fireplace roared as guests relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere. We took our drinks to the small outdoor seating area overlooking the babbling river. We savored the view and our drinks.

If you are inclined to stay in your cabin most of your visit and need groceries and other necessities, there are multiple options in the area. We ordered groceries from Wal-Mart via their app and picked them up a few hours later. There is both a Supercenter and a Neighborhood Market, each about 20 minutes from our cabin’s location. There is also Tennessee’s first Publix, which made this Florida girl pretty happy.

Gatlinburg is another popular destination in this area. There are less rides and attractions in this area, but the emphasis is on natural attractions and parks. We ventured to Gatlinburg and ordered sandwiches from Old Dad’s General Store. The staff at Old Dad’s packed up each sandwich nicely, making it easy to enjoy them at the Greenbrier Picnic Area inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Final Thoughts on our Dollywood Cabin

The one drawback of the area in which we stayed was the lack of natural parks nearby. We ventured to a few local parks, but there wasn’t much to them and lacked the space we wanted in order to let our toddler run around and get some energy out. For that, we drove 30 minutes or so to Gatlinburg.

You can find any cabin you can imagine in both the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas. If you are looking for a family getaway, a stay in a Dollywood area cabin is an experience I highly recommend. We made lots of great memories during our stay and we’re already trying to determine when we can do it again.

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