Maryville, TN History: Chilhowee Mountain Retreat

April 30, 2018   -   0 comments

A true Maryville, TN gem closed its doors on December 31, 2017. Chilhowee Mountain Retreat’s owners just announced on Facebook March 8, 2018 that they are retired and the magnificent bed and breakfast home is now for sale. So many folks have replied to this announcement and thanked the owners for providing a breathtaking lodging experience with some of the best hospitality one could find in the Smokies. Since the B&B was located near Tail of the Dragon, it was popular with motorcycle tourists and folks who enjoyed getting outdoors.

Due to the outpouring of replies and good wishes, we thought we’d give our readers a taste of very recent Maryville history: here we offer a glimpse into the peaceful world of Chilhowee Mountain Retreat and its gracious hosts who served Maryville guests for years, providing so many wonderful memories.

The Ultimate Log Cabin Retreat

Visitors looking for a luxurious B&B getaway in the Great Smoky Mountains found a true gem when they stayed at the amazing Chilhowee Mountain Retreat. Listed as one of the 10 Best Southern Mountain Resorts and Inns by USA Today, the Chilhowee Mountain Retreat offered guests a luxurious experience set in the woods.

Chilhowee Mountain Retreat offered a fairytale setting, nestled deep in the woods atop Chilhowee Mountain. So many guests used this B&B as their starting point for incredible outdoor adventures in the Maryville area. It was the perfect launching place for those who came to the region for motorcycle tours and 900 Miler Club hikes.

Inside the rustic log-style cabin, guests were treated to luxurious rooms with rustic-chic interiors and sumptuous bathrooms. The rooms featured wooden interiors, country-style quilts, log furniture, and were decorated in deep neutral tones used to create a warm and welcoming space.

Amazing Hosts

There are many Bed & Breakfasts in the Maryville area to choose from, but owners Jim and Mary at Chilhowee Mountain Retreat went out of their way to make folks feel welcome. They provided an amazing experience, and proved to be a wealth of information to help guests find the various attractions and trails in the area. They even provided guests with maps and any information they needed to make their stay in the area as pleasant as possible.

Breakfast Time

When it came to breakfast, both Jim and Mary offered guests an incredible array of carefully prepared dishes that they cooked themselves. These accomplished chefs even created garnishes with fresh herbs grown in their own garden. While the breakfast menus varied from day to day, every meal was guaranteed to delight their guests.

Many guests used the B&B as their base for outdoor recreation; plus a number of folks enjoyed the reading loft and the rear deck, where they sat in awe of the splendor of the Smoky Mountains. Maryville offers a number of tremendous lodging options, but visitors to Chilhowee Mountain Retreat will miss this extraordinary lodge. It is now a part of Maryville history, having provided fond memories to all who visited.

If you would like to learn more about this renowned former Maryville B&B, and what it meant to the community and travelers, please visit this Facebook post. It provides commentary from the many visitors that have stayed there over the years.

3 Great Ways to Experience Walland, TN

April 27, 2018   -   0 comments

Located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains and close to the Gateway to Smoky Mountain National Park, Walland, TN, is located in Miller’s Cove that is closed off at the northern end by Chilhowee Mountain. As of the last census taken in 2010, the town had a population of just 259, making it the perfect place for those who are looking for a quiet place to relax and enjoy all that this quiet area of Tennessee has to offer. But, if you are going to visit, you should take advantage of it in as many ways as possible.  Here are three great ways to experience all that Walland has to offer.

The Antique Outlet Mall

If one of your favorite activities is antiquing, then the Antique Outlet Mall at 4531 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy may be just what you are looking for. Once you walk in the door, your head might start spinning around as you try to take in the large selection of antiques from just about any era you can think of. The staff is both friendly and knowledgeable, making you visit fun even if you don’t end up buying anything. Just make sure you bring your truck or trailer with you, in case you decide to do a “little” bit of shopping.


Just Get Outdoors

Experiencing all that Mother Nature has blessed the Walland, TN area with is a must when you come here to visit. What better way to do this than on your own two feet and taking a guided tour? Even better than that, what if your guided hiking tour was custom-designed just for you? You could be hiking a ridge top trail enjoying the spectacular view of the Great Smoky Mountains or paddling your way quietly down the streams and watching the fish swimming in the crystal-clear waters. If your interest is hiking, canoeing, or backpacking, Just Get Outdoors can help you reach your goals.

Twin Valley Horse Ranch

Once you pass through the gates to the Twin Valley Horse Ranch, you are entering a completely different experience in comparison to the rest of Walland. What makes this ranch so different? It could be the endless hours you can spend swimming, fishing, or going on one of the many exciting horseback rides you can take. Perhaps it’s the chance to help with the morning and evening chores. Maybe you can help with feeding the many friendly petting critters.

These ideas are just a small sample of the many amazing ways you and your family can experience Walland, TN, and all that it has to offer. Come any time of year and you are sure to find something different. The scenery here is constantly changing, as is the wildlife you are likely to run across. No matter when you come, there will always be a number of amazing ways for you and your family to have an enjoyable time. Be sure to spend some time in Smoky Mountain National Park while you are here, as well!

Get Ready for Spring Angling Adventures in Blount County

April 24, 2018   -   0 comments

Fishing is one of the most popular activities in the Smoky Mountains, and for very good reason. The angling in the springtime results in record catches for fisherman from around the world every year. It’s worth heading to Blount County this year for a great weekend getaway featuring you, the water, and your favorite fishing pole! Here are some things you’ll need to know to have a great time angling this spring.

Free Fishing Day in Blount County

For the rest of the spring, you’ll need to purchase a license to fish in the public waters in Tennessee, which includes the state park waters and any lakes or water owned and operated by agencies, like campgrounds. But if you schedule your visit during the Saturday that falls at the tail end of the first full week of June, you’ll be here for Free Fishing Day! This is the one spring day every year during which anyone can fish for free in Tennessee – visitors and residents, alike. The entire week following Free Fishing Day is Free Fishing Week for kids under the age of 15.

Get Your Fishing License for Other Days

Fishing season starts on April 1 in Tennessee, which means that you can get started much earlier than the crowds if you prefer. If you’re coming to do some great angling after April 1 for any other day other than Free Fishing Day, you’ll need to grab a fishing license. You can get an annual license that lasts all year, or a single day, a 3-day, or 10-day license. If you intend to trout fish, make sure you tell the person behind the counter at the sporting goods store; they’ll need to get you a special license just for that.

Hit the Best Angling Outfitters in Blount County

Next you need to get your gear together! There are multiple angling outfitters in the area, such as Frontier Anglers, located in Maryville, and Little River Outfitters, located in Townsend. Get everything you need, from poles to line to bait, including your licenses. These outfitters also offer classes and guided trips if you’re new to the area. This is a great way to have some fun out in Blount County this spring!

Where to Fish

There are literally dozens of places all over Blount County where the fishing is spectacular. Nearly every campground offers a fishing spot, and you can easily just head into the National Park with your pole until you come across some water! The best angling will be anywhere the water is moving, such as at the mouth of streams, but you can have a great day of fishing on calmer lakes, as well, if that’s your style. Be sure to ask at the outfitters where the best fishing is, or book a stay at one of the many cabin rentals and campsites that are right by the water in the area.

Great Places in Blount County to Bring Kids This Spring

April 20, 2018   -   0 comments

Visiting the peaceful side of the Smokies is fun for the whole family, but it can be a real blast for kids. If you don’t plan to go to the amusement parks nearby, there are still plenty of spring activities for kids that you can enjoy together.

Quick and Casual Indoor Activities for the Kids

If you want to escape a lingering chill in early spring, or you just need a break after a long day of exploring the beautiful Smokies, there are many ways that you can have fun indoors in Blount County, including:

  • Enjoying story time for preschool-aged children and younger at the Blount County Library 
  • Climbing around the play place at the Foothills Mall 
  • Checking out the free Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus 
  • Going roller skating at Roller Arena Party Zone 
  • Trying bowling at Crest Bowling Lanes 
  • Catching a family fun event at the Smoky Mountain Heritage Center 
  • Exploring the Tuckaleechee Caverns (technically, an outdoor activity, although you’ll feel as if you’re inside while exploring the deep caves and caverns!) 
  • Taking a look around the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum

These are some excellent options for kids of all ages if you want to have some indoor fun in Blount County this spring. But heading to the Smokies means that you are surrounded by tons of outdoor adventure, as well.

Outdoor Fun for Kids in Blount County

If you want to try some outdoor activities this spring in Blount County, there are tons of great options for kids. Try out some of the following:

  • Enjoy the live music and fresh produce at the Maryville Farmers Market 
  • Feed the ducks at the Blount County Greenways or at Springbrook Park and Duck Pond 
  • Have playtime at any of the parks in the county, such as Sandy Springs Park or John Sevier Park 
  • Check out the Dark Island Swinging Bridge in Townsend, or go bike riding on the Shadows of the Past Trail 
  • Take a drive through Cades Cove 
  • Pet some adorable animals at The Friendly Farm 
  • Tube down the river in Townsend

Those are just a few ideas for getting outdoors around the Blount County area with kids if you want something quick and fun for a spring afternoon. But what if you’re trying to plan an entire day of adventure? Here is one special thing you can do in Blount County if you have kids and a full spring day at your disposal.

Special Fun for the Kids This Spring

If you and your kids are up for an adventure, head to Foothills Parkway. Just a half mile hike brings you to Look Rock and the amazing observation tower! Your kids will love climbing up the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, where you’ll all get a panoramic view of the mountains. This is an excellent way to spend a day, and the area is not as crowded as many other hiking trails nearby, making it perfect for a fun family day together. Bring a picnic and have some fun at Look Rock in Blount County!

Exciting Townsend, TN Camping Adventures: Part 3 of 3

April 17, 2018   -   0 comments

We’ve been excited to introduce you to six of the best campgrounds in the Townsend, TN area over the past two installments of this series. Today, we’ve got two more great places to pitch your tent for an exciting stay on the peaceful side of the Smokies. In this last installment of our favorite places to camp in 2018, we’re taking you to a riverside campground and an RV park right in the Smoky Mountain foothills.

Relax in Nature at the Great Smokies KOA Kampground

Nestled right by the Little River, and perfectly situated near Townsend, TN, KOA Kampground is an ideal place for getting back into nature with the family. This campground offers a great mix of seclusion and modern amenities, so you can still have a camping experience without giving up every little comfort. This is ideal for beginner campers, or campers with small children.

Every site at KOA has picnic tables and fire rings, and there are also full hookup sites for RVs. The campground offers free cable TV at the clubhouse, as well as paved patios at the water/electric sites. However, if you want something a bit more rustic, you can also reserve a secluded, wooded tent site for the true outdoor experience.

During your stay, you have access to laundry facilities, a swimming pool, two bathhouses, a basketball court, several horseshoe pits, an awesome playground for the kids, and more. The clubhouse also has a few arcade games, wireless Internet, and bicycle rentals so you can explore the local area without needing your car. The Townsend Bike Trail is just across the road, offering a delightful five-mile bike ride with stunning views. The stocked river nearby is great for fishers, and the campground also rents out tubes for floating!

Full Service RV Campground Whispering River Offers Great Variety

Next, if you want to be near both Townsend, as well as the fun hotspots of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, try Whispering River RV Resort. Located in Walland, this campground is nestled up in the foothills, and offers easy access to the river, recreational land, the Tail of the Dragon, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and more. At the campground itself, you’ve got everything you need to hook up an RV and relax in your rolling hotel. The location also offers bath houses and over 40 acres of land for events, recreation, and other uses.

These hot spots in and around Townsend are the perfect way to truly enjoy the majestic Smoky Mountains. You can get as close to nature – or not – as you prefer, with these great locations. Camping in Townsend, TN, is also perfect for the budget traveler, who wants to save their vacation dollars for experiencing all the great entertainment in the area. See you soon!

Relax with a Cup of Joe: Best Coffee Shops in Maryville, TN

April 13, 2018   -   0 comments

When you’re visiting Maryville, TN, you’ll have no end of things to do and see during your stay. From having adventures in the great outdoors, to exploring the many historic sites and fun activities in the area, we’ve got it all. But first, you need to gear up for your day! Here are the best places to grab a coffee in Maryville, TN while you visit the peaceful side of the Smokies.

Get a Relaxing Cup at The Artistic Bean

Do you like your coffee to look like a work of art? Want to relax in a cool, stylish hotspot while you sip on a honeysuckle latte, or an all-organic iced mocha? The Artistic Bean is the place for you. From the hand-thrown pottery mugs made by local artists, to the delicious drinks made with organic local ingredients, this is a great spot for relaxing between shopping stops or while exploring the town.

Get Live Music with Your Coffee at Vienna Coffee House

Want a coffee house with a more robust menu? You can grab a delicious cup of joe while the family chows down on the signature red pepper gouda soup at this local hot spot. They have live music on many nights, so be sure to watch for that! This is one of the best places to hang out for a relaxing evening in downtown Maryville if you love that cool, coffeehouse vibe.

Classic Donut Shop Coffee in Maryville, TN

If you prefer your coffee in a more classic atmosphere, head to Over the Top Donut Shop. You can grab a homemade donut and a perfectly-brewed coffee in the mornings, or grab a sandwich and tea in the afternoons. This spot is a local favorite, and you’ll want to snap a photo of the cute donut sign out front. No need to display the business name when everyone around knows what that sprinkle-covered donut means!

Get a Sweeter Treat at Capitol Coffee and Ice Cream Parlour

You’d think we’d be out of coffee places by now, but we’re just getting started. Want to treat the kids to something delicious while you get a relaxing cup of coffee? Capitol Coffee is an old-time ice cream parlour that is perfect for getting out of the sun on a hot afternoon. Enjoy your favorite pick-me-up in this fun hot spot in downtown Maryville.

Quick Coffee for the Visitor on the Go!

If you’re just in the mood to grab and go, Maryville also has a Starbucks and a Dunkin’ Donuts where you can get a great cup of coffee in a flash. In other words, there’s no end to the places where you can find a fresh-brewed cup of coffee to get your day started. Relax or rejuvenate – or both! – with these great hot spots for coffee in Maryville, TN.

Explore Spruce Flats Falls in Townsend, TN

April 10, 2018   -   0 comments

Spruce Flats Falls may be one of the lesser-visited falls in the Great Smoky Mountains, yet if you take the time to hike up to it, you might be surprised. These falls are among the most picturesque falls in the area. The hike itself is approximately 2 miles round trip, but every step is more than worth it as the scenery leading up to the falls is nothing short of spectacular.

Your Starting Point

The trailhead for the trail that takes you up to Spruce Flats Falls can be found at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute in Tremont, TN. The trail itself is listed as being moderate in difficulty as there are some steep rocky spots in the trail, especially on the final stretch that leads to the falls. To access the trailhead, you need to park your car in the visitor’s center parking lot.

From here, take the gravel road marked “Restricted Access to Unrestricted Traffic.” As you walk up the road, you can see the sign that marks the trailhead on your left. Take the trail up into the woods following the trail as it turns left and goes uphill. When you get to the next trail junction, take the trail that goes to the right if you want to go on to the Spruce Flats Falls. (The path going straight takes you to the Lumber Ridge Trail.) As the trail starts to climb, you can enjoy a spectacular view of Thunderhead Mountain off to the right. Finally, the trail will start to descend rapidly as it takes you to Spruce Flats Falls.

Hikers Take Care

This is the part of the trail where you really need to put your best foot forward. The descent is filled with loose rocks, rocky outcroppings, and an endless supply of tree roots that can make getting down safely a bit of a challenge. But, with care and as long as you take your time, there is no reason you should not be able to get down and get back up the trail. The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you take your time, you can avoid injury and enjoy this splendid waterfall.

The Falls

The falls themselves are only 30 feet tall, but they cascade over rocky outcroppings that break the stream up into multiple mini-streams going over the falls and ending in the pool at the bottom. (From here, the water feeds into the Spruce Flats Branch and then into the Middle Prong down in the valley below.) The falls consist of four tiers and there is ample room for you to walk around them to get better pictures, or just to enjoy the refreshing spray and intense beauty. However, keep in mind that many of the rocks are very slippery because they are wet.

While Spruce Flats Falls might be a bit of a hike for the inexperienced, the resulting view is more than worth the small amount of effort it takes to get here. Be sure to come early with a good camera and tripod. The falls remain in the dark until midday when the sun finally starts to shine its light on them and bring them to life.

Discover the Unique Educational Programs at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

April 6, 2018   -   0 comments

For more than 45 years, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont has been hosting groups for an incredibly diverse range of topics. The Institute is a residential facility with courses that run from 3 to 10 days, where students spend their time learning and living in what the Institute likes to call “The world’s greatest classroom.” It is the Institute’s firm opinion that all of their guests can and will benefit from spending time in the great outdoors, communing with all that Mother Nature has to offer.

Fun for Kids of All Ages

Schools from anywhere in the country can send their students to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont for courses that let them spend 3 to 5 days throughout the school year. While they are here, the student will live on the campus located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Activities including numerous nature hikes, Discovery camps that let kids collect bugs, salamanders, and more as they get down and dirty with Mother Nature. What could be more fun? How about jumping in the swimming hole to cool off?

The Institute offers 7 core courses that are part of the Southern Appalachian Naturalist Certification Program. These include Reptiles and Amphibians, Aquatic Natural History, Ecology, Birds, Plants, and Mammals. Each course is held at a different time of year, so be sure to book your places early as the spaces in each class are limited and fill fast.

The Girls in Science Class

During this class, girls will have their chance to get up close and personal with the many plants and critters that call the Smokies their home. Students will investigate salamanders, rushing streams, and more, working hand-in-hand with scientists. Meet new friends, make new discoveries, and learn about nature up close in the greatest classroom in the world, the great outdoors.

Not Just for the Kids

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is not just for kids! Teachers deserve a break from time to time. During weekend courses, teachers get a chance to relax, meet with other educators, share ideas, and learn about the newest offerings from Tremont. The best part, if your students attend one of the three or five-day programs, you get to come to one of these courses for free.

For the Photographer

Spring is the best time of the year for both professional and amateur photographers, and Tremont offers a great Springtime in the Smokies photography workshop. The cost of this photography workshop includes lodging, meals, and instruction by one of the top teams of photography instructors in the nation. The programs can be tailored to individual interests and include things like landscape and macro photography.

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is more than just a few day classes; the Institute is a residential facility offering 3- and 5-day classes. There are programs and workshops for every age group, from grade school all the way up to Road Scholars. There are special courses and programs for teachers, as well. What a great way to boost your teaching skills, all while getting to enjoy the majesty and fresh air of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Don’t Go Home Without Checking out the Gift & Specialty Shops in Maryville, TN

March 30, 2018   -   0 comments

If you are going to visit as a tourist in Maryville, TN, then you should spend at least one entire day checking out the local gift and specialty shops. With a wonderful history that dates back to the earliest days of our nation, the town is dotted with shops selling an incredible selection of handcrafted items, gifts, and can’t go home “withouts.”  Many also offer an amazing collection of antiques from around the area that would look great in your home. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the many shops in town.

The Village Tinker

The Village Tinker is located at 417 W Broadway Ave, Maryville, TN. It’s the perfect spot to go gift shopping for that special friend. Not only does this store have an amazing selection of gift items, collectibles, knickknacks, and more, it has one of the most courteous staffs you are ever likely to come across. Be sure to have those special gifts wrapped while you are in the store.

Dandy Lions Unique Gifts and Stationery

Located at 300 E Church Ave, in the Harper Memorial Library in Maryville’s Historic District, Dandy Lions started out as an in-home stationery business. Since then Joy Forster Carver, owner, and stay-at-home mom has watched her business become one of the best gift and stationery stores in town.  Inside you will find a carefully chosen selection of gifts and stationery for sale. At the same time, you will meet their friendly staff, whose only goal is to provide the finest customer service possible. At Dandy Lions, you’re not just a customer, you are a friend.

The Shoppes at Homespun

The Shoppes at Homespun is located at 1410 Sevierville Rd, Maryville, TN, 37804, in the Old Cherokee Lumber Company building. It opened its doors in 2014. Inside, the building continues to display the original beams, angles, and open plan layout from its original design. Owned by Beverly Sellers and husband Will, the store offers a wide selection of vintage and country primitives, boutique clothing, and creative décor for you to choose from.


Razzberries, the “Chic Boutique”, is located at 220 Court St, Maryville, TN, 37804. It’s the perfect place to find that special someone a unique gift. Inside you can find brands like Frank Lyman, Vera Bradley, TRIBAL, Tyler Candle Company, Bling – Bling! and more. Ladies! For the hottest fashions from the top names in the business, there is only one place to go gift shopping just for yourself; Razzberries on Court St.

This is just a small selection of the many gift and specialty shops in Maryville, TN. Some offer handmade items on consignment from local craftsmen and women. These are still made today in the same manner as they were in days gone by. With so many places to shop and so many items to browse, be prepared to spend a full day wandering them all. Just make sure you leave enough room in your suitcase for your clothes when the time comes to go home!

Even More Motorcycle Touring in East Tennessee: Rent a Bike or Explore with a Group

March 27, 2018   -   0 comments

Recently we covered some of the best motorcycle routes through the Blount County area. Two great ways to enjoy a good bike ride are to rent a bike, or go with a group that offers guided tours, such as Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson. Here are even more great ride ideas for you to enjoy this spring and summer.

And before we get started, here’s a bonus tip: We recommend you take a look at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson’s home page. Their Project Ridemore is for bikers of all skill levels. Their trips leave from Maryville to many exciting points, and they promise adventure and fun exploration. Definitely looks like this is worth checking out!

Why Bikers Love Touring in the Smokies

If ever there was a place to go for a motorcycle ride once spring rolls around, it has to be the Great Smoky Mountains.  There are hundreds of miles of open road for you to explore, offering you spectacular views of the Smokies, rides through dense, lush forests, and along cascading rivers. The best part is that you don’t even need to bring your own bike. You can rent one from a rental shop, such as 411 Biker Depot. Rent by the day, by the week, or any combination to ensure you have a great time.  

Plenty of Places to Ride

In addition to what we covered last time, there are several more amazing rides in the area that are well worth taking, especially when spring weather starts to warm up and the mountains are literally alive with fresh wildflowers. Each ride seems to have something different to offer. Here are a two more you may wish to try:

Cherohala Skyway

About an hour or so southwest of Blount County (in Tellico Plains, Monroe County, TN) can be found one of the most desirable motorcycle routes in the Southeast, the Cherohala Skyway. This 40 mile, two lane, paved stretch gets its name because it takes you through parts of the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests. Go with a group or explore this National Scenic Byway on your own. Opened in 1996, it offers many scenic and historic stops along the way. Check out this photo gallery which lets you see what this scenic ride offers throughout each season.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles, running through some of the most majestic scenery to be found in Southern Appalachia. Even if you don’t have enough time to ride the whole parkway, the Cherokee stretch is the perfect place to enjoy a nice relaxing ride through the spectacular Smokies in the heart of spring.

Instead of hauling your personal bike here or if you don’t currently have one, renting or riding with a tour group can get you to some of the best biking routes around. Definitely leave some time on your vacation to try out some of these great motorcycle rides. You can be sure you’ll get to explore some of the best countryside in the Southeast.

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