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When my birthday rolled around in July, we were ready to get out of town for a few days. After examining a few possibilities, we settled on Nashville. Besides a quick stroll downtown a few years ago, I hadn’t been since I was a teenager. When I discovered that I could get tickets to the Grand Ole Opry on my birthday, I knew what I had to do: We’d be launching my next trip around the sun with Nashville’s historic show. Country Music and Me I won’t lie; I’m not a huge country music fan. I can look at some acts in the past with nostalgia; I remember road trips with my family as Johnny Cash, Elvis, or the Everly Brothers played on the radio. And I love some of the big names over the years–Dolly, Patsy, Loretta, The Judds, and Alabama. If you’re my age, you lived through the…

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the park we’ve visited the most in the U.S., and Clingmans Dome within the park is one of our favorite places we’ve visited. Named for U. S. Senator and explorer Thomas Lanier Clingman from Ashville, North Carolina, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park, and this mountain provides gorgeous views from 6,643 feet. Not only are the views stunning, but this outing also provided us with one of our longest in-person bear sightings in the Smokies. Of course, you should obviously keep your distance from all wildlife. The general recommendation from authorities is to maintain a distance of 100 yards from black bears. Do not call out to wildlife to entice it to come closer, and certainly don’t offer food. And though your instinct may be to run, that is also a bad idea. Sometimes, though, you may just be hiking along…

Memphis may not be the first place you think of when you think of “family fun,” but our daughter had a great time. When we visit Walt Disney World in Florida, we often drive from our home in Joplin, Missouri.  We try to find some fun stops along the way, and Memphis has become one of our favorites.  Since we are on a road trip to another destination, we don’t spend more than a night here.  We make the most of the time we do have, and here are some of our favorite activities–perfect if you have a weekend or a couple of days.  Or do it the way we do–a couple of activities here and there. Explore Beale Street This historic street is a must-do in Memphis.  While it may not be as family-friendly later at night, we’ve never had any problems strolling along in the late-afternoon to evening.…

If you’re spending time in Memphis, you simply must try some barbecue while you’re in town, and Central BBQ is a great place to do it.  We love to sample different barbecue on our trips, and several locals mentioned trying Central.  Central BBQ is also across the street from the National Civil Rights Museum, so if you’re planning to visit the museum, Central BBQ is quite convenient! We arrived in Memphis a few minutes before lunchtime.  We decided to head straight there, and then we would check out the museum.  Of course, if you’d read our post about our visit to the museum, you’d know that we planned to visit on a day it wasn’t open.  I am usually more organized, but mistakes happen.  Click here to read more about our experience. Central BBQ: The Restaurant I’m glad we got there when we did.  We were one of the first…

I originally wrote this trip report for the 1branson.com forum. I am writing this trip report so you can plan your own trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennesse.  We just got back yesterday from a trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Tennessee. We were always hungry for information, so I thought I would report. I’ll do this in installments. We are a family of three: my husband, me, and a nine-year-old daughter. We live in Joplin, so our trip begins there. . . Day One: Heading to Tennesse We left home on Saturday, June 2 at 4:30 in the morning. My husband works overnights, so we decided to leave when he woke up and couldn’t sleep anymore. I was just like that Disney commercial anyway: I’m too excited to sleep! We decided to go the southern Missouri route instead of going to St. Louis. The roads are better than we…

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