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Imagine a peaceful weekend in a cozy cabin, soaking in a jacuzzi with a wooded mountain view. The kids are roasting s’mores over the fire pit after a day of swimming, horseback riding, and putt-putt golf. The only decision is which of the several locally-owned restaurants to choose for dinner. Nestled under the Smoky Mountains just outside of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is a place that offers it all. Here, we share why Little Valley Mountain Resort should be your next family vacation destination.
Picture Perfect is the name of the log cabin where my husband, John; adult son, Michael, and I spent a blissful few days in early summer. And this 2-bedroom, 2-bath cottage at Little Valley Mountain Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee, certainly lived up to its name. The two covered decks and hot tub with a wooded mountain view added to our bliss.
There are about 90 upscale and modern log cabin rentals at this Smoky Mountain resort, ranging in size from 1 bedroom to 4+, sleeping up to 16 people. Some are pet friendly, some are handicapped accessible and it seems all have Jacuzzis on covered decks.
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All these options made me think how perfect this east Tennessee resort would be for a multi-generational trip, grandparent family getaway or family reunion. There’s even a newly renovated club house that can be reserved for big gatherings.
Where is the Little Valley Mountain Resort?
This beautiful place is smack in the middle of Tennessee’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s 20 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And only 10 miles from Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s namesake theme park. It’s 15 miles from downtown Gatlinburg and about 5 miles from Pigeon Forge.
In 2020, the year of Covid, Smoky Mountains National Park was the most visited park in the country with 12 million visitors. (For comparison, the next most-visited park last year was Yellowstone, with just 3.8 million.)
That kind of success comes at a price. Crowds, traffic and wait times can add up to a frustrating visit. That makes the return for relaxation time to a peaceful, uncrowded little village in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains all the more satisfying.
TravelingMom Tip: This isn’t really a place you can navigate without a car. We drove the nine hours from our home in Chicago, but if you don’t want to travel the distance from your home by car, fly into Knoxville, Tennessee, and rent a car there for the 30-mile drive to the resort.
At the Resort
We even needed the car to get around our resort! Our Little Valley Mountain Resort cabin was about a mile’s drive from the registration building, up into the hills along a winding road past the swimming pool, one of the fishing ponds and the miniature golf course.
We unloaded our stuff and headed right back to the outdoor pool. Late afternoon on a June day in Tennessee was hot, and the pool was a fine way to settle into our home for the next few days. There was lots of seating around the pool, a couple of comfy shaded cabanas and a small, shallow kids pool for toddlers.
The whole place has a kind of quiet, small-town vibe, where kids could happily spend a long summer afternoon lazily walking from the pool, to the fishing pond to the basketball court and back, stopping in at the office, maybe, to buy an ice cream bar before jumping back in the pool.
All the cabins have wifi, and you can get it outdoors at some places near the office.
Picture Perfect had a great mountain view through the woods. At the end of our check-in day, and after a dip in the pool and some carry-out food, I settled into the hot tub for some relaxation. When a heavy downpour began, I turned off the hot tub jets to hear the rain drumming on the roof. It was magical.
The cabin has two levels with one bedroom and en suite bath on each. The king-sized beds were comfortable and the bathrooms spacious. But you should note that the en suite toilet is the only one on the first floor. The second-floor bedroom had a sweet, private deck that my son used for yoga, and a loft space with twin bunk beds and a pool table, that went unused on our visit.
The kitchen was fully stocked with cooking items and dishware. We saved some money by making breakfast in the morning that we ate outside at a table on the deck.
Two small things bothered me about the cabin: the first-floor bedroom needs a shelf or something next to the bed, and the outdoor grill that came with this cabin seemed way too small. Some cabins had larger charcoal grills, or gas versions. If that’s an important feature to you, check ahead of time.
Our place also had a washer and dryer near the kitchen, which was extra nice for drying those bathing suits.
Is Little Valley Mountain Resort All Inclusive?
The resort bills itself as all-inclusive, which in this case means there are no charges for any of the on-site activities, including:
- Catch-and-release fishing without a license at one of four stocked fishing ponds
- Putt putt mini golf course
- Hiking trails—one goes past a small waterfall
- Tennis courts
- Basketball courts
- Badminton courts
- A small golf course for 9-hole practice play, where disc golf is also allowed.
Golf clubs, rackets, fishing poles and tackle, balls and more sports equipment are available for check out at the front desk. But you need to bring your own towels for the pool. They’re not provided.
Just across the road from the pool and office, there’s a large fire pit surrounded by chairs, stacked wood nearby, ready for anyone who wants to drop by and prep some S’mores.
Horseback riding is not an included activity, but the resort offers discounts for rides at a nearby riding stable.
How Much Does It Cost?
It’s not inexpensive, but we felt it was worth the money. Because there are one-time cleaning and resort fees, the per-night rate is less expensive the longer you stay.
Our three-night stay in June for the two-bedroom was $1,274, or a little more than $400 a night with taxes and other charges included. The website is very user-friendly and shows the varying rates per cabin and per dates.
Where to Eat at Little Valley Mountain Resort
There’s no food service on-site, though sometimes food trucks will arrive around dinnertime. Check with the front desk if you’re interested in that.
Kroger and Publix grocery stores are just a few miles away. If you don’t want to do the shopping yourself, the resort has partnered with Smoky Mountain Grocery to deliver to your cabin during your stay or on arrival day for a $35 fee, more for delivery on Sunday or holidays. You order the food online for pickup from Wal-Mart or Kroger, then fill out a delivery form with Smoky Mountain Grocery.
TravelingMom Tip: Feel like staying in and cozy? Have DoorDash bring food to your hotel or vacation rental.
But, this being a major tourist destination, there’s no shortage of restaurants nearby. Fast-food chains are omnipresent, so your picky eaters could be indulged. But we tried several non-chain eateries that I would recommend.
The Local Goat
This Pigeon Forge spot is a large, full-service restaurant and bar that bills itself as a “scratch-made kitchen specializing in locally sourced and sustainable menu items.” The restaurant also serves craft beer and cocktails.
A wide menu features lots of burgers, but also steaks, chicken, fish and pasta options and a variety of salads.
We enjoyed the local craft beer, burgers and pasta, but the biggest hit at our table was the deep-fried deviled eggs. The whites are breaded in panko crumbs and fried while the yolk filling is mixed with candied bacon, green onions and a bit of sriracha for a kick. They were so surprisingly good. There’s a small kids menu with cheeseburger, chicken tenders, mac and cheese, hot dog and grilled cheese, at $5 each.
Boss Hogg’s BBQ Shack
Also in Pigeon Forge, Boss Hogg’s is a super casual spot that’s off the main drag close to the resort. It offers hearty ribs, brisket and pulled pork sandwiches at decent prices. We got carry-out from there, but there’s an outdoor covered deck. A small kids menu offers pork sandwiches, chicken tenders and mac and cheese, with fries and a drink for $7.49.
Red Oak Bistro
The foodies in your group might appreciate this Gatlinburg restaurant. It’s about a 40-minute drive from the resort and well worth the trip!
We had our favorite meal of the trip here. Offering a variety of small, shareable plates, the restaurant is only open Thursday through Sunday evenings, with an extensive wine and cocktail list.
We reveled in the smoked salmon bruschetta, chicken pate and kebapche, a Bulgarian-style pork sausage served hot with potato salad and cabbage slaw. The charcuterie board ordered by the next table looked amazing.
TravelingMom Tip: There’s an outdoor patio where some parents with young kids were dining when we arrived, but Red Oak generally is not a kids’ place. And you’ll need to make reservations.
Fun Food Options
There are dozens of pancake restaurants on the main drag that runs through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, but the parking and traffic is much better in Pigeon Forge.
Also, the whole area is known for its fun and family friendly dinner theater entertainment with places like Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show and Biblical Times Dinner Theater. We didn’t visit one of these, but many are very popular. And people who have been say the food is surprisingly good!
TravelingMom Tip: If you want to experience one of those shows, consider booking ahead of time. Digital signs outside some of them when we visited in June told us they were sold out on given days.
Cinnamon Bread from Dollywood
Little Valley Mountain Resort is an easy drive away from Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s award-winning theme park. There are rides, of course, and an adjacent water park, as well as a host of small theaters that provide short sets of music and comedy, a naturalist exhibit on American eagles, and some actual shopping, and the Dolly Museum area that pays tribute to one of America’s most beloved musicians.
But the big draw for us was the cinnamon bread. We ordered one loaf with icing and apple butter to eat shortly after we arrived, and another to take home, or should I say back to the resort, for breakfast on our deck the next day.
Is Little Valley Mountain Resort Worth the Money?
Yes! I would definitely return to Little Valley Mountain Resort.
I loved the location for getting around the Gatlinburg area, all the workers were very friendly, the cabin was spotlessly clean and the relaxation factor was top notch.