Smokie mountains road trippin

Scenic Outdoors in Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge and The Great Smokey Mountains

At the end of April this Year, my best friend Josh, and I headed from southern Wisconsin to Pigeon Forge at the mouth of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing adventure with my best bud and was more fun than I’ve had in a long time. We enjoyed daily sightseeing around the Smokies, tasting new food, cooking outdoors, late night swims and lot of hot tubs! Below is a collection of my favorite highlights from the trip and at the bottom of the post, find my short directions from Wisconsin as well as a funny list of things I did not want to forget to bring along!

Louisville and Pigeon Forge here we come!

Leaving Wisconsin josh and matt


We arrived in Louisville, KY! We lucked out and found an indoor overnight public parking garage across the street from our Airbnb, checked in, wondered down the first alley which had overhead string lights and colorful graffiti that brought us to t Black Jockey’s Lounge where we enjoyed dinner with amazing new company and some bourbon and live music!

The 2nd roadtrip day, we drove 5 hours from Louisville, KY to Pigeon Forge, TN and checked into our timeshare. Upon arrival, we napped until midnight and recouped from our fun night before! Day 3, we woke and spent the rest of the week exploring Gatlinburg and the Smokey Mountains National Park! Did you know, the Smokey Mountains NP is unique in that it’s the only National Park with free entrance fees!

Pigeon Forge, TN to Lafayette, IN to Wisconsin

On the way home, we traveled from Pigeon Forge to Lafayette, Indiana, hometown of Purdue University, engineering mega-school! We loved our Airbnb in downtown Lafayette, which was a few blocks from fun pubs and fancy dark bars with friendly bartenders.

PIGEON FORGE DIRECTIONS (Wisconsin to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)

Mineral Point to Gratiot = WI-23 south to WI-11
Gratiot = WI-11 east to HWY 78 South
78 south to 20 EAST
20 East to US 39/51 (rockford)
39/51 south to Bloomington, IL 55/74
74 east to US-465 Indianapolis
US-465 to US-65 south
65 south to LOUISVILLE
***DAY 2 From Louisville**
US-64 to US-75 at Lexington, KY
US-75 south to US-40 in Knoxville, TN
US=40 to TN-66
66 to 2813 Rolling Hills Drive Pigeon Forge (Mountain Meadows Resort)

Road trip packing

Josh and I traveled in my 2008 Honda Ridgeline (200k miles on the odometer!) and here’s some of the supplied I brought…

Don’t forget
– boombox tattoo artwork
– razor
– Pack cooler
– Beer in garage

– frisbee & yo ring
– flat top grill
– *Bacon, eggs, cheese & bread and oil (for airbnb & on the road)
– Spatchula
– small gas grill (for picnic grilling at a park in the smokies)
– coffee & **creamer
– %%laundry detergent
– %%Beach towels
– ##bug spray
– ##sun screen
– ##wide brimmed hat and *ball cap
– Umbrellas
– flip flops and crocs
– spare keys
– backpack for hiking

– Check windshield wiper fluid
– travel neck pillow
– ##Kleenex for the truck
– sparkling waters for the truckill
– snacks: crackers, ##cheese, ##meat sticks/summer sausage, ##almonds
– small cooler for the truck
– cash for tolls
– ##maps including foldout maps of TN, KY and Indiana
– porta potty

Other Notable Gatliingurg and Pigeon Forge, TN Vacation Fun Spots


Runs daily from 8am to midnight – ]rides start and end on 5 routes from Trolley Station. The station is located in the Old Mill District on Old Mill Drive.

Pigeon Forge party fun

  • Arcade that’s free play w wristband – there is NONE
  • Enjoy dinner at the BAR AT THE TOP OF THE WORKLD at ANAKEESTA –
  • Forbidden cave –
  • Hillbilly golf –
  • Cataract Falls – Located just 10 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center, this short ¾ mile hike is ideal for all ages and endurance levels.
  • Gourley’s Pond in Cades Cove – Cades Cove is full of charming places, but Gourley’s Pond is perhaps one of the most overlooked destinations. – To get to Gourley’s Pond, you’ll need to park your car at LeQuire Cemetery located at the end of Sparks Lane. Walk down the loop road for 200 feet, then turn right and continue for about 100 feet. You’ll see the pond afterward.
  • Elkmont Troll Bridge – Before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, the Elkmont area was a pioneer community, then a logging town, then a resort town for wealthy vacationers. When the park was established in 1934, Elkmont residents could choose to sell their homes for full value and relocate or sell their properties to the National Park Service for a discounted price in return for a lifetime lease. Once the National Park Service took over, Elkmont slowly started turning into a ghost town. One structure that’s still standing is the Troll Bridge. It spans a small creek a little ways off trail. If you want to see the Troll Bridge, take one of the side trails to the right about 100 feet into the Little River Trail. You’ll follow the side trail through the forest until you reach the bridge. All you have to do is follow the path parallel to the stone walls!
  • Rich Mountain Road
  • Riverwalk Greenway – Begins at Patriot Park, 186 Old Mill Ave., Pigeon Forge, TN
  • Lodge Factory Store

Fishing Gift Ideas and Family Card Game Giveaway


The great outdoors offer so many family adventures like camping, hiking, boating, biking and fishing! Sounds like a fun trip! In our southwest Wisconsin hometown, we’re surrounded by beautiful opportunities for outdoor activities. Recently, we’ve been doing more fishing. The Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers have many public lands which are accessible using, or These public spaces include fishing piers, boat launches, picnic pavilions and campgrounds for tent or RV’s.

I’ve really taken as many opportunities this year, to go camping, walk more (thank you HCA) and I continue to look for fun, kid accessible fishing nooks. I’ve let my family know that if they do not give my holiday gift ideas, I will be buying them outdoor gear, like fishing gifts! 😉 Below are some of fishing gifts that I’ll be putting under our Christmas tree for my family and friends who love fishing!

This post contains affiliate links which I use to keep the office lights on (and coffee.) Read the Disclosure, Terms and Privacy fine print here, learn about the giveaway rules and note, no product samples were provided for this review and the opinions expressed here are original, unique and my ideas solely.

family card game by TREND enterprises – ENDS 12/8/21

(Lower 48 USA States only)


Enter the Giveaway

Best Fishing Gifts 2021

Fun Fishing Gifts for Kids

Travel-Freindly Product

GONE FISH’n—The Legend of Leech Lake Card Game – ONLY! $9.99

We LOVE this card Game! I broke out our GONE FISH’n family card game to play with my boys and we played over and over. I asked the boys, “Do you want to try playing GONE FISH’n more?” and they replied, “YES!, this is so fun, let’s keep playing!”

Gone Fish’n by TREND enterprises is a fun family card game designed for 2-4 players ages 6 and up. Setting up and playing this card game is very easy and exciting! We noticed that even when the Game Warden took away our fishing licenses, and we had to put all our fish back in the water, we were still able to catch up to other players! We also loved how there was not only a Big Eddie “Island” card but also, a Shovel and Gold Fish card worth many points. We will continue to play GONE FISH’n through the holidays and in the future as a family too. Please enter our Gone Fish’n card game giveaway to win one of your own! Ends 12/8/21.


Download the instructions to learn how to play GONE FISH’n by TREND enterprises.

Travel-Freindly Product

Oceans & Unicorns Magic Reveal Pads – $18.99

Bright-Stripes-Oceans-and-Unicorns - Magic Reveal Pads-MRP-B01As a youngster, I used to LOVE playing with magic reveal pads! This time-honored bundle brings beautiful artwork and fun to each notebook. Each pack includes 5 pages and a refillable water brush. Other Magic Reveal Bundles by manufacturer Bright Stripes Co include STEM Learning; Animals and Space and; Jungle Friends.


WaterGame Board Game by Adventerra Games

Adventerra Games manufactures games which help teach kids and adults how to respect the environment. WaterGame is a cooperative board game which is really fun and teaches kids and families tips on how to save water. In this educational game, players move down the river and use the community water tank to work together to save water for each of the board game players. We love how this game encourages each other to work together with the water saving or water wasting cards and answering quiz cards.


We also walk the talk; we select environmentally-friendly materials and components, and our games are aligned with many of the “Sustainable development goals” promoted by the UN Agenda 2030.


How to Play WaterGame

Fishing Gifts for Kids & Adults

Travel-Freindly Product

Fishing Rod & Reel

There are many inexpensive, high-quality fishing poles to choose from on Amazon. Some fishing poles come with tackle boxes for kids, some are telescopic, some come with carrying bags and some include extra lures. The push button casting reels make these fishing poles wonderful for beginners and experienced anglers. Don’t forget to buy a fishing accessories set including bobbers, sinkers and hooks.


Travel-Freindly Product

Fish Drinking Glasses

If you’ve ever dropped your glass outside, you will appreciate these stainless steel pint-size drinking glasses. These Magic Pine brand pint cups are fun, useful glasses which are available in six styles: fish, camping, farm animals, bugs, vegis and golf. Made of food grade stainless steel, these make the perfect novelty gift and are eco-friendly too!


Fishing Gifts for Mom & Dad

Travel-Freindly Product

Intex 2-Person Kayak

The 10-foot long Intex Explorer K2 Kayak comes with lots of accessories including: 2 adjustable seats with backrests; 2 paddles; a removable rudder (Skeg); front and back handles and grab-lines for portaging; carrying bag; high-output hand pump with quick deflate/inflate valves; it’s big enough for two adults and; has a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds!

2-person inflatable Kayak

Buy on Amazon

Travel-Freindly Product

Stainless Steel Multi-Tool

Every fisherman’s tackle-box should include a good set of pliers for removing a hook from a fish or for setting bait. The Kilimanjaro Magnus Multi-Tool is a combination-knife tool with 10 essential components, is highly rated and arrives quickly on Amazon. Shop for more products by Kilimanjaro Gear or visit them on Facebook or @kilimanjarogear on Instagram.

Kilimanjaro Magnus Multi-Tool

Buy on Amazon

Travel-Freindly Product

High-Speed Wifi from Anywhere with Skyroam

Are you looking for high-speed Internet for your cell phone, tablet or mobile device while on the road or while on the fishing boat? Try out Skyroam! We’ve used Skyroam while on a family vacation in the mountains in New Mexico and while traveling remote roads across the country! Finding high-speed Internet while in the woods or on the water can be challenging. A great solution to get high-speed data in a remote location with no wifi is Skyroam! There are multiple pricing plans for different budgets and a selection of Skyroam products to choose from. To sign up for Skyroam, visit and enter your travel details and they’ll ship the device directly to you in time for your travel trip.

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Fishing Anchor

Fishing AnchorWhether you’re fishing on the lake or river, this handy 3.5 pound marine anchor is perfect for small boats, kayaks, canoes or paddle boards. Anchors are best used to float in place without moving. This anchor includes a 30 foot rope, float, carrying bag and it folds up for easy storage. Ideal of sand, weed or rock bottoms, this small fishing anchor is the ideal accessory for relaxing on the water.


GONE-FISHn-TREND-ENTERPRISESDon’t forget to enter our giveaway for a GONE FISH’n family card game by TREND enterprises – Ends 12/8/21


Enter the Giveaway

Check out all these fishing gifts and more on our Amazon Wish ListI’m happy to have the chance to share these fun family adventure fishing gift ideas with you and don’t forget to enter the GONE FISH’n card game giveaway!

If you’ve made it this far, you’re a fishing gifts shopping rockstar! Check out these and more awesome fishing gift ideas for the whole family in our Amazon Wishlist!

Outdoor activities for kids & adults

Do you need other ideas, besides fishing, of other fun outdoor family activities for big or little kids? Whether you’re camping, fishing or just looking to get outside to have fun with toddlers, little or big kids, or other adults, here’s a few fun outdoor family activities to rile up some fun!

  • Hiking
  • Rock hound
  • Float in an inflatable on the waters edge
  • Nature themed scavenger hunt
  • Skip rocks
  • Build a lean-to fort in nature
  • Paper airplane building and flying
  • Swimming
  • Rock or shell painting
  • Goof around at a playground
  • Make hot cocoa or tea
  • Bring a guitar, songbook and have a singalong
  • Boccé ball, wring toss, frisbee, bean bags with corn hole and catch with a favorite ball
  • Build a campfire and roast marshmallows or sausages
  • Buckets, small shovels and toys to play in the sand or mud
  • Bike ride
  • Play a fun card or board game like go-fish, blackjack, Gemz by Trend Entertainment or Uno
  • Visit a nature center
  • Picnic

fishing gift guide 2021 - reshare me on Pinterest

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