Bryson City and Dollywood Vacation-{NC and TN New Years Trip 2022}


Deep Creek Trails in Bryson City

-This was my favorite thing we did in Bryson City. The trails were so beautiful with options to make your route long or short. We did the Three Waterfalls Loop and I enjoyed every waterfall. There’s rushing water along the way, you can sit out on the rocks and just enjoy the serene vibes.

Swain County Heritage Museum

– We did the museum on our rainy morning and they had a fun scavenger hunt for the kids and they loved it. Hallie said it was her favorite thing. Before we left, the kids were offered cookies and cocoa. There’s a huge gift shop to explore before you leave.

Downtown Shopping

-Simply walk the shops of downtown Bryson City. There’s beef jerky, sweet shops, clothing, souvenirs, shoes and clothing!

Train Ride

-We didn’t take a ride b/c of how long our trip there was plus the drive to Dollywood, but Bryson City is well known for the Polar Express Train Rides starting in November as well as other train ride experiences.


From our cabin, it should have been about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to Dollywood, but the quickest route was closed due to the low temp conditions they recently had in the area. We had to take interstate 40 so it took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes but the drive was not that bad at all, but may be a lot for some people. To me, it was worth it to be that close to Dollywood and get to go. We drove right by the Bush’s baked beans plant and that was pretty cool to see. We also had to take a tunnel through the mountain and the kids loved that.

-At Dollywood we first rode the Mystery Mine. It was a super thrilling and intense coaster that took us upside down a few times, rode us through the dark, there was fire at one point, and then it laid us back 90 degrees TWICE to climb a hill. I was literally shaking when it ended. I haven’t been on a roller coaster quite like that ever in my life. It was so unique, but I’m not sure I’d ever do it again. HA! It was the first upside down coaster for both of my kids and they both enjoyed the ride.

From there, all of the wait times were over an hour so we did simpler rides like the Train(which is a must for Dollywood), the bumper cars(so much fun), and Blazing Fury, another coaster in the dark. It tricks you by being slow at first as you roll through different scenes until all of a sudden, it takes you on this wild ride in the dark. We loved it.

The kids also rode a kid coaster by themselves.

We ate at Aunt Granny’s and I think we picked a winner. It was table service and we had so much good country style food like Mac and cheese, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, fried catfish. We all left happy and so full.

We also got some of the Dollywood famous Cinnamon bread before we left and had that for about 2 days after for breakfast. It was just as good as you’ve heard and worth the long line to get some. Just go ahead and stock up b/c it’s good leftover.

I grabbed some chili cheese fries before we hit the road back to Bryson City from RED’s and the portion was so small, but so delicious.

Overall, we left for the day feeling so fulfilled but certainly feeling like we missed so much! I would probably need about 3 full days there to really feel like I experienced it all. We  didn’t have time for any shows and with the wait times, we missed out on some of the bigger rides. I’m glad we started with mystery mine though as I still think about that ride about every day and how it made me feel after!



Everette Street Diner(Bryson City)-

We dined in for breakfast one morning and I’m still thinking about those fried chicken biscuits and gravy I had. They were so incredible. The service here is also excellent and you will leave feeling full and like you had an experience at the same time.

The cupcake place-

next door to Everettes is also worth a stop. We got the Yin and Yang which was chocolate and buttercream. Superb!

We had a few other dining experiences that I just wouldn’t quite recommend so I won’t even mention them. Stick with Everettes and you’re golden. They also serve lunch.

Nantahala Brewing has excellent food, but you have to fight for a table and I HATE that! If I’m paying $15 for a burger, please have a table available for me to eat it at comfortably! I only suggest this place as a to-go option if you’re going just for food. The beer cheese Brussel sprouts were surprisingly so good and I don’t usually go for that sort of choice.

Balsam Falls Brewery-

We found this one in the cutest town of Sylva which was about a 25 min. drive from our cabin in Bryson City. Everything here including the service was wonderful!

There is also apparently a wonderful BBQ place in the next town over from Sylva. The town is called Dillsboro, but were weren’t able to check that out.

Aunt Granny’s(Dollywood)-

Listed above. A must eat at place if you go to Dollywood! The kids thought it was hilarious that the wait staff were all dressed like ‘grandmas’

We also made our annual chili for New Years Day and though I intended to cook one more meal, that was all I ended up making this trip. We found an Ingles nearby that had all we needed.

Bryson City is a great place in the winter, but there seemed to be SO Much more to do there in the warmer months like water tubing, horseback riding, & rafting.
Overall it was a wonderful trip and a great place to ring in the new year.

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