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Thread: Acadia or Smokey Mountains

  1. #1
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    Acadia or Smokey Mountains

    Hi all! We are starting to think about our non-Disney vacation for this year and was seeking opinions for these "new to us" options.

    I am at the very very beginning stages of planning so have little researched yet.

    Any opinions on Acadia vs. Smokey Mountains? Or we would be open to other ideas too.

    Would be DH, me, DD(12), DS (12), DS (6), and the baby who will be 6-9 months depending on when we go.

    I know we really can't go wrong with either choice. Do you think one is more baby friendly than the other? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I have only been to the Smokey Mountains (twice). Here’s a report I did a few years ago.

    https://www.easywdw.com/forums/showt...t=Great+Smokey

    We has a really good time. The trip above was our second trip. The first, our daughter was about 18 months old. We stuck to “easy trails” where we could use a stroller.
    June 2004 ASMO; Dec 2005 POP; Feb 2007 POP; March 2011 POR; March 2014 POR; Feb 2015 BWV; Sept 2015 PVB; Jan 2016 AKV Jambo (kind of); Feb 2016 OKW; Sept 2016 PVB; Feb/March 2017 BWV/PVB; Aug/Sept 2017 BCV; Feb 2018 BLT/CCV

    MY TRIP REPORTS

  3. #3
    Senior Member mgarbowski's Avatar
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    I've done both fairly recently on photo trips, Acadia in 2014 and GSM 2 months ago, but neither with family or kids. My impression is Acadia is more baby friendly in that most of the picturesque locations we visited were very close to the road and did not hiking more than 100 yards, often less, and usually pretty flat ground. But as for the other elements of being baby friendly, or having good activities for kids, I could not say.
    Mark
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    Senior Member ChristineOH's Avatar
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    I hesitate to answer, as it's been many years since I have been to either park. (Maybe 30 years for Smokies and 22 for Acadia.)

    Besides the obvious difference of it being by the ocean, I remember doing pretty intense hiking at Acadia... like ledges and climbing ladder rungs attached to the side of the mountain. I'm sure there's a variety of hikes available, of course. We also rented and rode bikes one day. It's very easy biking on carriage paths built by a Rockefellar, which include a lot of beautiful stone bridges. Bar Harbor is pretty touristy. Much like all of New England, there are tons of good ice cream shops.

    The sun rises SUPER early there in the summer. My mom gets up with the sun, so she was up at 4:00 am. My siblings and I wanted to sleep in... but by 7:00, my mom had been up for three hours and was screaming for us to get out of bed.

    We are within a day's drive of the Smokies, so while I haven't been recently, I have friends who go often. The Gaitlinburg area has tons of non-national park stuff to do. Besides Dollywood, there's your general touristy type things. I think 3Dad outlines some of that type stuff in his report, if I remember.

    Mark can certainly speak more to the scenery, I'm sure, but I think Acadia is more spectacular, with more variety in the types of views. Not that the Smokies aren't gorgeous. But it you google search for images from each park, you can get an idea.
    June 2011 Poly, May 2013 POR, June 2015 CBR, June 2017 POR, March 2018 CSR, June 2018 POR

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    I've never done Acadia, and it's been eons since we went to the Smokies, but I do have 6 children and have made a lot of trips with babies.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd get on a site like VRBO, Airbnb, or whatever and look at houses available when I was considering going and see how much they cost, how updated they appear to be, how close they are to where you'd want to be, and generally how much you'd legitimately like to stay in them. Don't just find one dream home that's wonderful and at a great price because that house may not be available when you want to book, but see which one has lots of houses you'd really like. That location would be the winner.

    With 6 people including a baby, you'll want a house or condo to be comfortable. I know that in the Smokies there are some rental house neighborhoods similar to the ones at WDW where you have access to a community pool and other recreational activities. There's plenty of tourist-y things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (plus a LOT of traffic to go along with it all). There are all kinds of hiking trails, including ones that will take an hour or less and not be too steep that you should be able to do with a baby in carrier like an Ergo or one of the millions of similar carriers. Neither location will likely be sweltering hot, so you should be able comfortably hike with the baby attached, and at 9 months or younger, the baby won't be too big.

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    Thanks all! I'm so excited to start planning... half the fun, right!?

    I really appreciate the trip report link too. At this point I think we are leaning towards the Smokies and we'll wait until the baby is a bit older for Acadia... but who knows!

  7. #7
    living life to its fullest 3Caballeros's Avatar
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    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (and yes, there is no e in smoky) is FREE. It is one of the only (if not the only ?) FREE national park. Living at the base of these mountains and having a view of them from my backyard, I can tell you they are amazing! I do advise, however, that you go off the beaten path to enjoy what this spectacular destination truly has to offer. Like any place that draws tourists, one has to plan and be discerning to get the most out of your trip. I, personally, believe the many, many trails are the biggest draw for our family and the pinnacle of what these beautiful mountains hold.

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    Senior Member Strangeite's Avatar
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    My wife and I rented a cabin last offseason right next to GSMNP for just the two of us to get away. During our visits to Gatlinburg, we coined the term, the "Gatlinburg Dozen" because the town has WAY more of certain things than any town needs. Every tourist town needs an old tyme photo store, but Gatlinburg has like 53. Like fudge shops? They have 81. Pancake houses? 31.

    While I might be exaggerating a bit on the actual numbers, not by much.
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  9. #9
    living life to its fullest 3Caballeros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strangeite View Post
    My wife and I rented a cabin last offseason right next to GSMNP for just the two of us to get away. During our visits to Gatlinburg, we coined the term, the "Gatlinburg Dozen" because the town has WAY more of certain things than any town needs. Every tourist town needs an old tyme photo store, but Gatlinburg has like 53. Like fudge shops? They have 81. Pancake houses? 31.

    While I might be exaggerating a bit on the actual numbers, not by much.

    All you say is correct... thus, why I suggest going off the beaten path.... Gatlinburg is not a favorite place of mine. However, Townsend is quiet and charming while Pigeon Forge is a shopping destination.... with Dollywood as an anchor

  10. #10
    Senior Member nolarookie's Avatar
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    We loved gist glad the Smoky Mountains. The park has a lot of awesome, easy trails with nice payoffs at the end, like waterfalls. We loved driving through and stopping at streams and walking around. We also drove through Cades Cove. There’s an app you can get that’s like a tour and will tell you about all the stops and buildings. Very enjoyable and we saw a bear!
    Brandi

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    Senior Member mgarbowski's Avatar
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    I did a sort of trip report for my recent Smoky Mountain visit to embed on my photo website. I can't figure out a way to embed it here but this is a direct link that should open it up if you're interested.

    https://spark.adobe.com/page/ZixIPEqnibPjU/
    Mark
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    Senior Member Disneyfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgarbowski View Post
    I did a sort of trip report for my recent Smoky Mountain visit to embed on my photo website. I can't figure out a way to embed it here but this is a direct link that should open it up if you're interested.

    https://spark.adobe.com/page/ZixIPEqnibPjU/
    Wow! I have only taken a quick look at the pictures so far. They are so beautiful!

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    Senior Member ChristineOH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgarbowski View Post
    I did a sort of trip report for my recent Smoky Mountain visit to embed on my photo website. I can't figure out a way to embed it here but this is a direct link that should open it up if you're interested.

    https://spark.adobe.com/page/ZixIPEqnibPjU/
    Beautiful... thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your photography and your writing!
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  14. #14
    Senior Member mgarbowski's Avatar
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    thanks for the kind words
    Mark
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    Beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing them!

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    blown away by the spark page, Mark!




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  17. #17
    known as jane elsewhere, but her friends call her meannatasha
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    We did Acadia (camping; tent camping) for the 6th time last August. Big road trip. Lower Alabama to the northernmost tip of Maine, then to Acadia. What we like best is being able to do park stuff, but then still go into town (Bar Harbor) for a nice meal, internet service, etc. Couldn't get enough lobster. What time of year; month are you thinking? That could be a deciding factor.

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