Shop, Sip, Spa: A Great Girls’ Getaway In Sevierville And The Smokies

Disclosure: The Sevierville Chamber of Commerce invited me to experience a great girls’ getaway. Accommodations, food and entertainment costs were paid for by the Chamber. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

Despite being a native Nashvillian I haven’t gotten out of my Middle Tennessee bubble and explored much of east Tennessee. Sometimes a girl just wants to escape for a weekend with her friends or daughters and the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce invited me, as well as Nyssa from The Cultureur, to experience local activities ideally suited for a girls’ getaway. It was the perfect break this busy working mama needed after the craziness of the holidays! Scroll down to the end of this post for my idea of a perfect day in Sevierville.

Day one of arrival I woke up in my own king-size bed in a gorgeous cozy cabin on the Oak Haven Resort property and there was nary a dog in sight or any shouts of “MOM, where’s my (fill in the blank!)” Ahhh yes! Conveniently located just off the main Sevierville exit, the resort is tucked away off a winding side road but still extremely close to all there is to do in Sevierville. And there is a LOT to do, trust me!

Breakfast was courtesy of Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin and it was just the fuel we needed for shopping at Tanger Outlet. But first we met with local stylist Donna Jean Roland from Faithfully Fashionable. I loved Donna’s advice on what colors are most flattering on me and realized that although I love, love wearing black, I need softer colors around my face. I also really enjoyed hearing Donna’s story about her career path that led her from the corporate ladder to her dream job of helping inspire women and aiding them in the discovery of their own unique style. We had a blast shopping and I scored a pair of pants on clearance at Banana Republic Outlet for less than $10!

dining Sevierville Tennessee

This was a big highlight of the trip…food!

smokies river

I’ve only seen the Smokies in the fall so I enjoyed seeing the beauty of winter.

Shopping not only makes you hungry, but thirsty, so of course the Rocky Top Wine Trail tour was a welcome way to wile away a chilly afternoon after lunch at The Chop House. I had no idea there were so many wineries in Sevierville. Although I’m a fan of reds (cabs and merlot or a blend) there were a few of the sweet sparkling wines that Sevierville is known for that I really enjoyed, especially the blueberry-lemon Indian Summer from Eagle Springs. That night we had a fun family style 50s dinner at The Diner located on the main Winfield Dunn Highway and known for burgers, fries, and banana splits. We enjoyed chatting with owner who recommended told us the inspiration behind The Diner’s Philly steak sandwich and how he and his wife ended up relocating to Sevierville.

The morning of day two was devoted to learning more about the rich history of the Smokies after a hearty country breakfast at Applewood Farmhouse. No trip to east Tennessee is complete without a pilgrimage to the great outdoors. We woke up to extremely cold temps (I think it was a whopping 5 degrees windchill) so our “hike” ended up being more of a car tour of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but I was completely delighted to have our guide be none other than historian Carroll McMahan, who has written numerous books about the history of Sevier County. Our afternoon concluded with a much-needed massage and facial at Oak Haven Spa.

Although we had our share of country cooking while in Sevierville, an extremely pleasant and elegant surprise came in the form of Bistro 109, just off the square. There’s a movement to revitalize this area and this warm and welcoming, but upscale, bistro is a welcome addition. Our entrees were fantastic and the wine and dessert list was amazing. It’s definitely a nice change of pace and would be perfect for a nicer dinner out with girlfriends or a special date night.

Bistro 109 Sevierville Fine Dining

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Nashville Fall Family Fun

Nashville country pumpkin patch

Growing up in Middle Tennessee, fall was and is my favorite time of year. As a kid there were always hayrides, pumpkin patches, and carnivals to enjoy. There is no shortage of family fun to be found today (not to mention zombies) so get ready to mark your calendars! I’ve partnered with Expedia to share some of my fave ghoulishly Nashville fall family fun activities to check out for kids of all ages.


Located just a short drive north of downtown in Whites Creek, Fontanel (former home of country music great Barbara Mandrell) is hosting several fun activities for the entire family October 24-26. The 4th annual Whites Creek Fall Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. October 25. Festival craftsmen will be offering tips and displaying their wares among dozens of booths including burnt wood designers, antique restorations, hand made soaps, black smith artists, jewelry designers, wood carvers, photographers and leather artists re purposed art and painters. There will also be plenty of live music and food. FREE admission.


Alright a good old fashioned hayride is my speed. This is a 2-mile ride through the dusky woods on the Fontanel property led by a costumed guide. Tailored for families and younger children, who are encouraged to arrive in their Halloween costumes. Upon arrival at the mansion, guests will trick-or-treat before the second part of the hayride begins. There will also be live music, food, and beverages. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Monroe Harding Children’s Home. You can also buy your pumpkins, corn stalks, and other fall decor from The Pumpkin Patch at Fontanel, also benefiting the Monroe Harding Children’s Home.


On the spookier end of the spectrum, Fontanel transforms into Hauntenel featuring a new “SIDESHOW” outdoor walking haunt over the greenway and into the woods. This is not for the faint of heart (I hear there’s a Wolfman on the loose) so it’s better for older tweens, teens, and adults. October 24-26 from 6-11 p.m.


Nashville’s littlest ghosts, goblins and monsters are invited to don their favorite costume and head to the Zoo for Ghouls at Grassmere. This annual Nashville Halloween tradition is ideal for kids ages 12 and younger and is open to the entire public (not just zoo members). Activities include trick-or-treat stations, games at the Carn-evil tent, and the newly designed Howl-o-ween Hayride. Other activities include rides on the scary-go-round, a dance party at Monster Mash, animal shows at Monsterpiece Theater, shows featuring Mr. Bond the Science Guy, a corn pit, and a new vortex optical illusion experience at Festival Field. Children ages 2 and younger are free while zoo member admission is $12; zoo non-member admission is $15. October 17 – 19 & 23 – 26 from 5-9 p.m.


I’ve been dying to do this (get it, dying?) Historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee, is one of my favorite places to take and recommend to out of town visitors. This quaint little town is not only filled with fantastic shops and eateries, but lingering spirits with unfinished business as well. From socialites to soldiers, this hour and a half tour will introduce you to ghosts who call downtown Franklin home. The tour covers about six city blocks and most of the tour is wheelchair accessible. Tours sell out so reserve early by calling 615-400-3808. Cost: $18 adults; $10 teens; $5 children.


This was a family tradition with our girls when they were younger (as well as a traditional school fall field trip.) There are plenty of activities, from a 4-acre corn maze that pays homage this year to historic Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee, to a pumpkin patch. Open Saturdays 9-5, Sundays 1-5 p.m. and Mondays 9-noon through October 27. Admission is $7 for ages 2 through 102.


Hosted by the Adventure Science Museum, this is the perfect educational outing for kids and a celebration of all things bubbly, oozy and creepy. There will be, of course, mad science experiments guaranteed to amaze and excite. Kids and adults are also encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes and enter the costume contest. All activities included with general admission and include: oozing pumpkins, slime, disappearing ghost eggs, a spooky handprint station, and The Science of Fear, a 1:30 presentation by Jenni Blackford, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, who’ll discuss how our bodies respond to fear, what makes us afraid and the psychological effects of fear. General admission for adults and teens, $13; kids ages 2 through 12, $11; children ages 2 and younger, free. Planetarium admission is an additional fee.


The marionette shows at the beautiful downtown Nashville library are truly a family tradition you can’t must experience at least once. I remember going to see these shows as a child. The Halloween special production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the perfect family activity. Production dates: October 24, 25, and 31 from 4-5 p.m. FREE admission!

TENNESSEE STATE MUSEUM Haunted Museum (October 25)

If you’re headed downtown to the library October 25, make a day of it and schedule a stop at the Tennessee State Museum. Kids of all ages are invited to arrive in their costumes and hit the “ghost trail” throughout the museum to pick up prizes as well enjoy raft projects along the way. At certain stops, you can hear ghost stories from Tennessee’s past, including those of the Bell Witch (from my neck of the woods in Robertson County), the Cherokee spirit Spearfinger and John Murrell’s thumb. Kids will most likely want a photo op on the mezzanine where a 3,500-year-old mummy — along with its mummified cat — rests in peace. October 25, 11-4 p.m. FREE admission!


This day-long festival kicks off at 10 a.m. and will feature fun for the entire family.  Produced by the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County, Pumpkinfest will offer a full day of free family fun along Main Street from First to Fifth Ave., and on portions of Third and Fourth Avenues, including a free children’s activities for younger kids, activities for older kids such as a mechanical bull and a spider web mountain, costume contests for people and pets, and a chili cookoff.

Whew! What fall activities are you going to enjoy this month my fellow Nashvillians? I’m going to need an extra pumpkin spice latte or five to keep up with the fun.

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Carmel Limo Car Service: Tips For Stress-Free Transportation During Travel

Disclosure: Carmel Limo provided me with a voucher for one free airport to hotel transportation in exchange for my honest review.

I love flying but sometimes air travel logistics can be stressful. That’s why airport bars are soooo popular (ba-dum-bum). I’ve recently discovered an option I’m definitely adding to my stress-free transportation tips.

While planning my recent trip to New York for my niece’s wedding, I needed to arrange for transportation from LaGuardia Airport to our hotel, located about 35 miles outside the city. My brother-in-law suggested that I contact his favorite car service, Carmel Limo. He lives in Tampa and frequently travels to New York on business. Since I was traveling solo with my 9-year-old I really wanted to streamline everything as much as possible.

I’ve never used a car service before but now that I have I will definitely be incorporating it into my travel itinerary from now on when traveling to a large city and when I’m not in need of a rental car.

5 tips for stress free transporation

Here are 5 reasons to consider using a car service on your next trip:

1. Punctuality

Trying to hail a cab in an unfamiliar city during rush hour can add unnecessary stress to a work trip or family vacation.. Carmel Limo also has the highest on-time record in the business. I’ve missed a flight and had a near-miss before and it’s not a great way to start (or end) a trip!

2. Safety

Car service companies regularly service their fleet of vehicles, meaning you can rest at ease knowing you’re using reliable and safe transportation.

3. Dependability

Our driver was waiting for us when we arrived at LaGuardia and it was such a seamless process to schedule a pick up. Carmel Limo Service has been in business for more than 25 years so I knew they were a reputable company I could trust.

4. Relaxation

Being able to kick back and relax, check voice mail and email, and enjoy talking with your travel companions is possible if someone else is doing the driving. Car service vehicles are clean and pleasant.

5. Pricing

You can view Carmel Limo’s pricing online, taking the guess work out of that portion of your travel budget. We used the most economical choice, the four-door sedan, and it was perfect for me and my daughter.

I was impressed with Carmel Limo’s service area and glad to see they service BNA here in Nashville as well as several major metropolitan cities on the west coast and the east coast.

If you’ve ever experienced the edge of your seat thrill ride known as a New York taxi ride, then Carmel Limo is a much smoother, and relaxing mode of transportation which was just what I was looking for for my daughter and I (although riding in a yellow cab in New York City is on her travel bucket list.)

Carmel Limo offers a full range of vehicles, from full-size sedans all the way up to super stretch limos if you’re feeling a little more Lady Gaga.

The best part about Carmel Limo, however, is their free mobile app. After downloading the app you’ll earn $66 worth of Car Cash applicable toward your next ride using the Carmel Limo App and anyone who enters your referral code upon downloading the app will also earn $66 Car Cash as well. Suh-weet! Once they book a ride, they’ll get an additional $6 Car Cash and you will, too. You can also share your code directly through the app via text messaging, email, Facebook or Twitter. My referral code is 1015969 and you’ll bet I’ll be sharing it with family and friends who travel. You will also earn airline miles for every dollar you spend with Carmel Limo.

You can book rides directly through the app, viewing available cars and scheduling pick ups. You can also scroll through the many airports serviced by Carmel Limo, such as Nashville. Just enter your airline, flight #, and name of city you’re arriving from.

Carmel Limo App Nashville


Planning a trip to New York this year? I’d highly recommend Carmel Limo. Follow them on Facebook and check out their app and all the cities they service!


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