Visiting Clingman’s Dome a Kid-Friendly Hike in the Smoky Mountains

Clingman's Dome

If you’re looking for kid-friendly hike ideas in the Smoky Mountains, you’ve come to the right place. One thing about traveling so often with a family is that most everything I try to do has to be kid-friendly.

Finding kid-friendly hikes are great for families with children of varying ages. In the case of Clingman’s Dome, the trail is paved so it’s easier to keep everyone relatively close by. 

This detail makes them ideal for strollers of course, though I wouldn’t totally recommend a heavy stroller for Clingman’s Dome.  We did use a lightweight travel stroller. It did prove moderately challenging, but if you’ve got a strong teen to help you out, as I did, you should be fine.  

Some of the most incredible views can found atop Clingmans Dome. A short drive from both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Clingman’s Dome makes for a great day trip when visiting the Smoky Mountains. With an elevation of 6644 ft, it is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains as well as the highest point in Tennessee.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Gatlinburg with kids, a visit to Clingman’s Dome should definitely be at the top of your list.

Clingman's Dome

Clingman’s Dome is a Kid-Friendly Hike in the Smoky Mountains

Mainly because it has a paved trail, Clingman’s Dome is a kid-friendly hike in the Smoky Mountains. But, be warned, just because it’s paved doesn’t mean its easy. It’s a very steep incline and while there are stops along the way, it is important to be mindful of that.

There are benches to rest along the way, so don’t let that discourage you. We pushed a jogging stroller up the trail. This was rough but manageable and my youngest 4-years old at the time did want to get out for a bit and try ‘hiking’ himself.

That said, it is one of the easy hiking trails in Tennessee with kids. What’s great about Clingman’s Dome too is that it is totally free to get in. So if you’re looking for free things to do with kids in the Smoky Mountains, this is a great option. 

Clingman’s Dome at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The ride to the beginning of the path that leads to the observation area at Clingmans Dome is a beautiful country road with intermittent pull-off areas, trails, and stops along the way.

Clingman's Dome

To get to the observation tower, you’ll need to navigate to Newfound Gap Road; it’s a 7-mile drive along a windy, steep cliff that snakes through a few tunnels and offers stunning views of the Smoky Mountains.

The hike itself is just a half-mile and there is an ample parking lot and restrooms. The Clingman’s Dome Visitor Center is located at 7078 Clingman’s Dome Road in Cherokee, N.C. The visitor center features exhibits detailing the history of the area. It also offers an in-depth look at the spruce-fir forest ecosystem.

Clingman’s Dome Access Road will also lead you to other trails, including Andrew’s Bald, another kid-friendly hike. When you’re in the Smoky Mountains, be sure to look into the Junior Ranger Program. It’s a great way to keep kids engaged and learning while out in nature. 

How Did Clingman’s Dome Get its Name

Normally, mountains and peaks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were named after the scientists who discovered them. One day soon we’ll delve into the names and history of the indigenous people who called this area home years before. For now, we’ll go with the history written in the textbooks.

Thomas Lanier Clingman was a US Senator and Confederate General from North Carolina. For years he insisted that a particular peak was the tallest in North Carolina. In 1858, geographer named Arnold Guyot measured it and named Clingman’s Dome in his honor. 

Things to do at Clingman’s Dome

I’ve heard great things about the Clingman’s Dome Jeep Tour. This is a self-guided jeep rental tour that allows you to climb to the top of Clingman’s Dome. My husband and I did a similar tour when we were in Puerto Vallarta. We climbed to the top of the Sierra Madre mountains in a TOMCAR.

While it was fun at the time, it was a bit scary for me, so I don’t imagine this is something we’ll likely be doing again. But, I’m certain a more adventurous person would love it! It’s definitely not something I would consider a kid-friendly activity because, in order for me to help my kids enjoy themselves, I’d have to be relaxed and enjoying myself too.

Clingman's Dome

Kid-Friendly Hike Spruce Fir Nature Trail Smoky Mountains

What I will recommend though is the Spruce-Fir Nature Trail as a kid-friendly hike in the Smoky Mountains. This half-mile loop walking trail is great for families of small children. It smells like Christmas as you walk through and take in all of the sights, sounds of the Smokies. 

When is Clingman’s Dome Open 

When I learned that Clingman’s Dome is only open at certain times of the year,  I made sure to add a trip to our itinerary on our last trip but unfortunately, we were unable to make it work.

Clingman’s Dome is closed during inclement weather in the winter. It also closes for the season on the last day of November because the weather and driving up the access road can be treacherous.

It wasn’t raining or snowing when we set out, but it was overcast and a little chilly. As we packed up our hiking bags, I made sure to include some hand warmers along with our snacks and water bottles. The weather report was clear with no sign of precipitation in the site, so I was sure we were good to go.

As we got to the final few miles on our ascent up the access road to Clingman’s Dome though, the overcast weather posed a huge problem. Visibility was significantly difficult as we were essentially trying to drive through clouds on the side of a steep cliff on a windy road.

We made the executive decision to turn around at a pull-off point and make our way back down the road. Unfortunately, it was too treacherous to attempt, and while I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to climb to the top of the dome that day

Clingman’s Dome Hours of Operation

Clingman’s Dome is a must-visit kid-friendly spot to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you’re visiting any time before April however you’re out of luck.

Because of icy roads and snow, Clingman’s Dome closes on the last day of November through the end of March. In April expect the trail to be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

If you’re visiting Clingmans Dome in the Spring and Summer months, it is open from June through August a bit earlier. You can arrive at the trail at 9:30 a.m. and it stays open until 6:30 p.m. In September and October, Clingman’s Dome is open at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. Finally, in November, the trail stays open from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. through the last day of the month. 


Where to Meet Your Child’s Favorite Princesses at Walt Disney World

Meet Favorite Princesses Disney World

When planning a Walt Disney World vacation, part of that planning may include a chance to meet your favorite Disney princesses in the parks.

When you first enter a Walt Disney World pick up a Daily Events Schedule. This will help you better plan your day and course of action. It lists show times, parades and character meet and greets.

While it is a helpful resource to have, many people planning a Disney vacation, like to have their itinerary mapped out before they arrive. This overview of where to meet your favorite princesses at Disney will give you a running start in planning your family Disney vacation.

Meet Favorite Princesses at Disney

Tips To Meet Your Favorite Princesses at Walt Disney World 

When choosing to meet characters and princesses at Disney, making the most of your time with them is important.

The time will go by very quickly, and while Cast Members work hard to ensure your interactions are genuine, thorough and heartfelt, there’s usually a long line for princess meet and greets.

You’ll want to capitalize on your time but still be mindful of others waiting behind you. These four tips will help you when you finally do reach the front of the line.

  • Take advantage of Disney Photopass to ensure everyone gets in the picture (that means you too, mom – get in those photos!
  • Meet and Greet Locations will usually have a PhotoPass photographer on hand to take your pictures
  • Character attendants and Cast Members can also snap a quick photo for you with your cell phone, just ask!
  • For an inexpensive souvenir, consider purchasing a Disney-themed autograph book for characters to sign.

Which Princesses Can You Meet at the Magic Kingdom

Disney’s Magic Kingdom consists of six areas located off of the hub of Cinderella Castle; the focal point of the most popular theme park in the world.

These sections each have their own set of attractions and theming and include Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, Main Street USA, Liberty Square, and Tomorrowland.

In addition to meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, there are plenty of opportunities to meet princesses at the Magic Kingdom. 

The Little Mermaid, Ariel can be found at  Ariel’s Grotto and Merida at Fairytale Gardens. Both are located in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.

Meet Favorite Princesses at Disney

Where to Meet Cinderella at Magic Kingdom

FairyTale Hall at Magic Kindom is the best place to meet princesses at Magic Kingdom. FastPass is available to limit your wait time in the lines to meet both Cinderella and Princess Elena.

You can also meet Tiana and Rapunzel at FairyTale Hall, so if anyone in your party has their heart set on seeing their favorite princess up close and personal, this should be the first thing you add to your Disney itinerary. 

Another way to meet princesses at Magic Kindom is by booking a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table. You can choose from Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner and get to sit and enjoy your meal while the princesses each come to your table.

This is a relaxing and unrushed (for the most part) way of meeting princesses at Disney. 

Ariel, Jasmine, Aurora and Snow White make the rounds through the dining room and stop at each table to interact with guests. You can also meet Cinderella here at the Grand Hall before you make your way to your table. 

Where Can You Meet Princess Tiana at Walt Disney World 

Liberty Square at Magic Kindom features colonial America theming chronicling the history of the 13 Colonies and the lives of the Founding Fathers.

Here, guests can meet Princess Tiana. For this princess meet and greet, its important to check the Daily Events Schedule to get a better idea of times and locations. 

Where Can You Find Disney Princess Belle at the Magic Kingdom 

Fans of Beauty and the Beast may want to head to the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.

This interactive visit puts you front and center at Beast’s castle. Here guests get to act out the story and fully immerse themselves in the fairy tale with Belle. 

As an added bonus, consider a meal at Be Our Guest, while there’s no character dining available at breakfast, dinner guests can meet Beast in his study after they’ve finished their meal. 

Meet Favorite Princesses at Disney

Can you Meet Princesses in EPCOT at Disney 

Disney will be making changes to EPCOT in the coming years. The current setup includes World Showcase and Future World. Soon, Future World will be divided into three areas. 

World Celebration will include a reimagined Spaceship Earth along with a section called Dreamer’s Point of which the new focal point will be a statue of Walt Disney. This area will include experiences that help show us how we connect with one another and the world we live in.

The World Nature section will focus on conservation and preserving nature.

The Land and The Seas pavilions will be included in this world, along with the addition of Journey of Water. Inspired by Moana, Journey of Water may be a place where guests may be able to meet Moana at EPCOT. That remains to be be seen. 

Meet Favorite Princesses Disney World

Where Can You Meet Moana at Walt Disney World?

The debate will surely rage on as to whether Moana is a princess or not, but regardless, she’s a strong character and we love her.

Currently, to meet Moana at Disney, you need to book either the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. You can find Moana at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom during either of the parties.

The final addition to Future World at Epcot is World Discovery. In addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction, a restaurant will be added to the Mission: Space attraction.

Guests will feel as though they’re 220 above the earth on a space station while they dine. Additional character meet and greets will be included in World Discovery. 

Where to Meet Princesses in World Showcase at EPCOT  

World Showcase at EPCOT includes the representation of eleven countries all in one walkable and quite enjoyable area.

Guests can travel to Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morrocco, France, the UK and Canada in one afternoon. 

Where to Meet Elsa and Anna at Walt Disney World 

EPCOT is where you need to go to meet your favorite Arendelle princesses at Disney. Visit Elsa and Anna at EPCOT’s Royal Summerhus in Norway.

Also in the Norway Pavilion, you can meet Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, Belle and Cinderella at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. 

Where to Locate Hard to Find Disney Princesses at Walt Disney World 

You’ll find Mulan at the China Pavilion, again check your Daily Events Schedule. Snow White (and sometimes Dopey) can be found in the Germany Pavilion.

You can meet Princess Jasmine in the Morocco Pavilion. Naturally, Belle will be located in the France Pavilion along with Princess Aurora.  

The Disney Version of Pocahontas – If You Must

She technically isn’t a princess and as a descendant of the Powhatan tribe myself, and as much as I love everything about Disney, they definitely made some mistakes with Pocahontas all those years ago. Pocahontas’ story is not one of fairy tale endings

I intend to expand on the ‘Pocahontas thing’ in future posts to help raise awareness in the future. As far as Disney ‘characters’ go, the character they created named Pocahontas, can be found on the Discovery Island Trails at the Animal Kingdom. 

A visit to Walt Disney World is even more magical when you take time out to meet your favorite princesses at Disney.

Disney princesses can be found all around Walt Disney World and adding these meet and greets to your itinerary is a great way to create an even more magical experience for your entire family. 

The Best AirBnB Experiences in NYC | Things to do in New York City

Best AirBnB Experiences NYC

AirBnB Experiences in NYC highlight some of the best things to do in New York.

AirBnB isn’t just for lodging! The popular tourism website now offers cooking workshops, walking tours, and other fun activities. When you look up a city on AirBnB, you’ll find these unique experiences, along with rooms to rent in that area. If you’re looking for some of the best non touristy things to do in NYC, this list has got you covered.

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As a popular tourist destination, New York City has hundreds of AirBnB experiences to choose from. While some of these activities are overpriced and can be found for cheaper off of AirBnB, while others are special things to do in New York that local businesses don’t offer. These unique AirBnB experiences in New York City can easily become the highlight of your trip. Make room on your itinerary for some incredible opportunities! Additionally, an AirBnB Experience makes a great gift for someone visiting New York. 

A Manhattan Pizza Tour – Yes Please!

Can you really say you’ve been to New York City if you haven’t had a slice of pizza, or four? Head out on a four-stop tour of the Lower East Side/East Village with Bob as he introduces you to some of the best pizza in the city. You’ll stop at some of NYC’s pizza hidden gems and explore with a local.  

NY style pizza

Hasidic Brooklyn – A Unique NYC Experience 

Brooklyn is home to an active Hasidic Jewish community, but many people outside of that community aren’t familiar with its customs. Brooklynite Rabbi Yoni Katz invites locals and tourists into his world by introducing them to Jewish artifacts, people, and food.

Your tour of Hasidic Brooklyn starts at the Hasidic Scribe, where you’ll see how Judaica items are created. Then, you’ll head to a synagogue to witness the daily prayer services.

The tour includes a visit to a Mikvah bathhouse to hear women’s perspectives on marriage and intimacy in the Hasidic community. When time allows, Rabbi Katz even invites tourists into a Hasidic Jewish home!

Shop Harlem with a Fashion Anthropologist

This tour will give you an in-depth look at Harlem’s culture through the eyes of a fashionista. Browse the neighborhood’s clothing racks with your guide, a fashion designer with a PhD in Anthropology.

By the end of your 2-hour tour, you’ll have learned about the evolution of fashion in Harlem, the history of African-American fashion, and how to create a stand-out ensemble. Your AirBnB experience includes personal styling services, so your guide will take you to boutiques that were hand-picked just for you!

Best Airbnb Experiences NYC

Broadway Dancer Teaches Broadway Dance

Dancing on Broadway is a career that most dancers only dream of. Your AirBnB experiences NYC guide, Scott dances in The Book of Mormon, and his past credits include Matilda on Broadway, Miss Saigon, and Cats

You’ll meet Scott at the Ripley Grier Studios, where many Broadway shows hold their auditions. During your Broadway dance class, you’ll learn a routine that Scott himself performed on one of the world’s greatest stages. Don’t worry if you’ve never danced before – this class is for dancers of all skill levels. It’s also a fun thing for couples to do in NYC.

New York Must Eat Street Food Experience

Take this highly-rated street food tour during your trip! You’ll spend 3 hours walking around Queens, where other tourists don’t typically visit. This experience is likely one of the most delicious things to do in the New York State. As you walk through the neighborhoods, you’ll stop at hole-in-the-wall eateries and food carts from a variety of vendors.

Queens is filled with cultural diversity, so you can expect to try all kinds of cuisines! Thankfully, this tour can be modified to meet dietary restrictions, though it’s already vegetarian-friendly.

When you explore New York City with a local, you’ll see parts of the Big Apple that other tourists might miss. These AirBnB experiences dive deeper into the city’s rich culture and history than a run-of-the-mill walking tour. Consider signing up for these fun experiences to add some impact to your trip! 




The Best Family Hiking Trails in Georgia

family hiking trails georgia

If you’re looking for family hiking trails, look no further than Georgia With the rugged Appalachians, the crisp air, the shady creekside and so much more, Georgia has a lot to offer for hiking enthusiasts. So whether you’re here already or planning a trip here anytime soon, here’s some help. Discover the 6 best hikes you can take in Georgia.

Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve Mountain View Trail

Starting off with an easy trail, this one may not be very well known, but is actually a beautiful hike you must consider taking when you’re here. The path takes you through a stretch of granite, a pristine lake, and a lush green forest, taking you right to the junction of the mountain top trail, which is just 0.2 miles up that takes you right to the summit!

Pine Mountain Trail

Consider taking the family hiking at FDR State Park. The Pine Mountain Trail is Georgia’s longest hiking trail and offers dazzling views of Allatoona Lake when you reach the summit. The hike through the serene forest can be a blissful experience, and along your way, you’ll also cross bridges, misty waterfalls, jaw-dropping valleys and a canopy of lush green trees across the forests. FDR State Park is home to over 20 family-friendly hiking trails. 

Sweetwater Creek State Park Trail 

Sweetwater Creek State Park offers plenty of options for family hiking trails in Georgia. Located just 15 miles from Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park has 9 hikes for hiking enthusiasts to choose from. The Sweetwater Creek Red Trail is the best choice when it comes to family hiking trails. Georgia is also home to the New Manchester Mill Ruins. Here you can take in some of the most gorgeous views of the creek filled with white waters. 

Georgia’s Blood Mountain Trail

When you’re in Georgia, don’t miss out on your chance to trek to the Blood Mountain trail, which is in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Blood Mountain, Georgia’s tallest peak on the Appalachian trail provides sweeping views and countless options for a variety of fitness levels. Blood Mountain is an intense hike, but definitely do-able for families At the top of the mountain, be sure to stop for an obligatory selfie at Picnic Rock.