8 Unusual Places to Stay in the Smoky Mountains

Set your Smoky Mountain vacation apart by staying at unusual lodging options along the way.
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You can stay in a yurt, a family farm, or in Oz. Here are our top eight places to stay in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area, if you are seeking unforgettable, adventurous experiences.

1. Roll out of Bed for a Naturally-hot Soak.

Sign outside of Hot Springs, N.C. It was a health resort since 1800, changed its name from Warm Springs in 1886, and was an internment camp for German prisoners during WWI. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

Sign outside of Hot Springs, N.C. It was a health resort since 1800, changed its name from Warm Springs in 1886, and was an internment camp for German prisoners during WWI. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

For literally hundreds of years, people have visited Hot Springs to sit in the mineral waters that sit right at the confluence of the French Broad River and Spring Creek. Managed by The Hot Springs Resort Spa, the springs are the only naturally-hot mineral springs in North Carolina.

Lodging at the resort includes tent and RV camping, cabins, vacation rentals, and suites that have their own private mineral tubs. There are 12 outdoor mineral baths in modern Jacuzzi-type pools, each offering some privacy. Baths range in temperature from 100F to 104F and every pool is drained, sanitized and refilled after each use. Massage therapy is also offered.

For more information:
Hot Springs Resort and Spa
315 Bridge St, Hot Springs, NC 28743

2. Hike to a Remote Mountain Cabin

LeConte Lodge on Mt. Le Conte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Courtesy photo

LeConte Lodge on Mt. Le Conte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Courtesy photo

LeConte Lodge is the only lodging facility inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it doesn't have a parking lot. That's because the only way to get there is a steep hiking trail - choose from five routes. Stocking the kitchen requires a llama train.

The mountain cabins have no electricity or running water. Never-the-less, LeConte Lodge is so popular that they do a lottery each year in the fall. After that, the only way to book a room is to wait for someone to cancel. A treat is in store for those that get a reservation since points for sunset and sunrise watching are east and west of the cabins.

For more information:
LeConte Lodge

3. Sleep in a Pullman Train Car

The Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel delivers on a theme straight from the song of the same title. Stay in a train-car hotel room restored to the railroad's heyday in the early 20th century, yet with modern conveniences and queen-sized beds.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo 20-acre entertainment complex features two hotel buildings, indoor and outdoor pools, an arcade, many restaurants, shops, galleries, live music venues, and a comedy club.

For more information:
Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel
1400 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402

4. Glamp in a Yurt

The nearby communities of Bryson City and Asheville have more than a dozen tent-houses called yurts for rent on your Smoky Mountain vacation. These octagon-shaped structures showcase "open concept" living at its true meaning. Each yurt has one to three beds, cooking facilities, nearby bathroom facilities, and some have electricity. Check with the owners before you bring your pet - many are pet-friendly.

For more information:
704-701-5696, www.facebook.com/Sky-Ridge-Yurts-178634705539816/
828-658-8012, www.campfirelodgings.com

5. A House Built Into the Side of a Cliff

Outside of Asheville lies Cliff House, a 3,000-square-foot vacation rental home with walls of huge boulders and cathedral ceilings with old shipyard beams. Cozy up to the fireplace or relax on its large decks that overlook the Smokies. The home sleeps six, has three bathrooms, a kitchen, laundry, and TV.

For more information:
Campfire Lodgings
116 Appalachian Village Rd, Asheville, NC 28804

6. Stay on a Farm and Take Home Produce

Do you want the family farm experience without being assigned chores? The East Fork Farm has three quaint cottages that the Robertson family rents to vacationers.

You'll relax with views of sheep in the fields, poultry by the hen house, and rabbits in their hutches. Explore the farm's water grist mill where they stone-grind their own Hickory King White Dent Corn. Then soak in the outdoor cedar soaker tub.

What's to eat? Each cottage stay includes farm-fresh foods such as eggs, cornmeal, honey, and jelly. Even the soap is locally made. Visit the farm store to take some home.

For more information:
East Fork Farm
215 Meadow Branch Road, Marshall, NC 28753

7. Dorothy's House Welcomes You to Oz

Classic movie fans will love a stay at Dorothy's house, a classic farm cottage decorated with Aunt Em's old-fashioned sensibilities, movie memorabilia, and a yellow-brick road outside. The later is a favorite spot for weddings. Available from June through October.

Dorothy's House sits inside the infamous Land of Oz Amusement Park. The park had a rough start as its developer passed away six months before it opened in 1970. The Land of OZ entertained families for a decade before closing but is now a private garden available for events and the annual fall festival.

For more information:
Emerald Realty and Rentals
2669 South Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, NC 28604

8. Celebrate Christmas Every Day

The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. doesn't pay much attention to the calendar. You'll feel the spirit of the holidays all year long with its Christmas tree, holiday garland, and singing Santa. Stop by the glockenspiel installation in the lobby. It's made of wood from Germany's Black Forest and has hand-cast bells which ring out carols and strike the time each hour.

For more information:
The Inn at Christmas Place
119 Christmas Tree Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN 37868