Wed, May 10: Depart Indianapolis by deluxe motorcoach and drive to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Check into the Bearskin Lodge on the River. Take the aerial tram at Ober Gatlinburg for spectacular views and dinner overlooking the Smoky Mountains. The remainder of evening is on your own. A town shuttle is available to help you explore Gatlinburg. (Meal: Dinner)
Thu, May 11: Enter America’s most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for a mountaintop tour. Travel the scenic mountain road around the famous “Loop” by way of the high-rising Chimney Tops. Travel through a variety of forest ecosystems and stop at Newfound Gap, which is the lowest drivable pass through the park and marks the Tennessee/North Carolina state border. Cross the Appalachian Trail and view the Rockefeller Memorial that honors a $5 million donation from the Rockefeller Foundation to help complete the reality of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Back in town, you’ll have free time to explore Gatlinburg before a unique visit to the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery to see authentic working moonshine stills, learn the process of making distilled alcohol products, and sample homegrown moonshine, many with seasonal and special flavors. Later in the afternoon, explore Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and marvel at 12-foot sharks, giant sea turtles, thousands of exotic sea creatures and playful penguins from state-of-the-art clear underwater tunnels. Dinner and rest of evening on own in Gatlinburg. (B)
Fri, May 12: Morning is at leisure. Just before lunchtime, take a quick drive to Pigeon Forge where you’ll be given time to explore The Island in Pigeon Forge for lunch, shopping, water shows, and more. Next, discover the world’s largest Titanic Museum Attraction and see more than 400 artifacts from the ship and its passengers, touch a real iceberg, learn how to send an SOS distress signal, and so much more. Enjoy dinner at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant before transferring to the Smoky Mountain Opry Theater for an amazing variety show featuring singers, dancers, comedians, magicians, jugglers and aerialists. (B, D)
Sat, May 13: Return to Indianapolis. (B)
Bearskin Lodge, Gatlinburg Tennessee
Located at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the lodge promises unique mountain charm with state-of-the-art amenities among traditional mountain craft decor and massive log beams. Downtown Gatlinburg shops, restaurants, and attractions are just steps away. Highlights: rooms with private balconies overlooking a mountain stream (when available) • in-room refrigerators, whirlpool tubs and gas fireplaces • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • outdoor heated pool and lazy river • outdoor fire pits • fitness center • lodge is on the trolley route.