4 Great Activities Near Jellystone Park in Marion, NC

August 18, 2015

Jellystone Marion is an action-packed family campground that keeps the kids busy from morning to night. Whether you are sliding down the Super Duper Triple Looper for the fiftieth time or just canoeing on the lake, it is pretty much impossible to be bored there. Once you set up camp you really don’t need to leave. But the area around Marion is beautiful and has many options for good food and adventure. Here are our top recommendations for hiking, driving, eating and rainy day fun!


Tom’s Creek Falls

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Tom’s Creek Falls is a relatively short and easy one mile roundtrip hike to an 80 foot waterfall. It is located about 15 minutes from the campground in Pisgah National Forest. Pack a picnic lunch and relax at the bottom of the falls where your kids can splash and play. Watch out for swallowtails and black snakes! Looking for a more challenging hike? Ask Mama Bear or Running Bear back at the campground. They have this area wired.


The Blue Ridge Parkway

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The Blue Ridge Parkway is a classic American drive that stretches for 469 miles from Southern Virginia to Western North Carolina. It is easily accessed near Jellystone Marion and its hiking trails, wildflowers, and stunning mountain vistas are well worth a long, relaxing drive. Bring comfortable shoes and consider a short hike to stretch your legs.


The Little Switzerland Inn

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After a long afternoon exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway there is no better place for dinner than the Little Switzerland Inn. The views of the mountains are stunning and the prime rib is the best we have ever had. The upscale dining room does not look family friendly, but the entire staff made us feel welcome. Save room for desert. You won’t regret it.


KidSenses Children’s Interactive Museum

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We had one rainy day while we were camping at Jellystone Marion, so we headed over to KidSenses in charming downtown Rutherfordton. This children’s museum was awesome and it kept our boys busy for hours. They loved the kid-sized grocery store and television studios along with the big climber and creation station. There’s a good coffee shop around the corner—so grab a cup and relax while your kids play. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Jellystone Marion, and we spent most of it at the campground having fun. But we also loved this gorgeous and quiet part of Western North Carolina. We think you will too.


Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the founders of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast and blog. They spend over 40 nights a year in their RV traveling with their three young sons, sharing their experiences as they explore the new golden age of RVing.

Tent Camping vs Cabin Rental: Which is Better?

August 18, 2015

Camping vacations are one of the most popular choices for family vacations in the United States. A 2011 report showed that 42.5 million U.S. people went camping, spending a total of 534.9 million days on a campground. A recent study shows that the most popular form of camping is by tent, with 86% of people who responded stating they used a tent when camping. Cabin camping immediately follows this with 33% of participants. But what is the difference? If you’re looking to go camping for your next family vacation, here are a few tips on how to choose between pitching a tent and renting a cabin.

Tent Camping

When you think about camping, you almost always imagine a tent in the woods. Tent campsites are the most widely used form of camping, and many campers think tent camping is the best way to experience the outdoors. Camping in a tent gives you the feeling of being in the middle of nature, allowing you and your family to get away from all the stress of modern life. However, being in nature also makes you susceptible to bugs, animals, and inclement weather. Due to the variable nature of tent camping sites, it’s best to plan shorter stays. Tent camping is great for a quick getaway weekend trip!

Cabin Rentals

Cabin rentals offer many of the modern conveniences American families have grown accustomed to. This includes a bed, electricity, running water, and even heating and cooling systems. Many cabins have multiple bedrooms, so the kids can have their own room. Cabins also provide you with extra security from any bugs, animals, or harsh weather conditions. However, many argue that cabin rentals are not the ‘real’ camping experience. Cabin rentals are best for longer trips, or for a large family. Take a week off of work and get some quality time with your family!

National S'mores Day!

August 10, 2015

It’s National S’mores Day! We have decided to put some of our favorite s’more recipes together so that next time you are around a bonfire (hopefully tonight when you’re celebrating), you have some tasty treats to try out!

  1. Chocolate Covered Strawberry S’mores
    – These are perfect for a summer night! It’s your classic s’more with a twist- strawberries!
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookie S’mores
    – Toss out the graham crackers for your next bonfire and use chocolate chip cookies instead. You won’t regret it!
  3. S’mores Campfire Cones
    – A fun twist that’s super easy to make and easy to eat!
  4. Cinnamon Caramel S’more 
    – The combination of these flavors will make it hard to stop eating!
  5. Reese’s S’more
    – Ditch the Hershey’s chocolate and spice it up with Reese’s peanut butter cups. Regular s’mores will not be as exciting once you try these.
  6. Chocolate Lovers S’more
    – Love chocolate? This s’more might be the one for you! You can never have too much chocolate.


Try out these delicious s’more recipes and let us know what you think! Are you more traditional or like to switch it up?


Why Millennials Might Just Be the Greatest Generation to Go Camping

July 30, 2015

Summertime is prime camping season, with endless opportunities for hiking, fishing, swimming and much more.

And across the country, a growing number of campgrounds are beginning to notice an interesting trend: the millennial generation is quickly becoming the greatest camping generation.

According to a July 5 Provo Daily Herald article, a recent study has found that an amazing 60% of young adults born between 1980 and 2000 plan to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors this year. That’s compared to just 40% of the Baby Boomer generation.

This is because camping isn’t just a fantastic way to stay active by partaking in unique outdoor activities — many millennials love to go camping for its social aspects, as well. In fact, today’s campers will bring friends along about 70% of the time, making it a great opportunity for groups of friends to spend time together.

And when an unbelievable 42.5 million Americans went camping in 2011, it’s clear that any campground is a fantastic place to meet new people with similar interests, as well.

With millennials flocking to camping sites across the country, the very concept of camping is beginning to evolve, as well. With about 70% of camping taking place at public campgrounds, a growing number of people are looking for ways to avoid the disappointment of arriving at a camping ground that’s already filled to capacity.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, this has given rise to something called “dispersed camping,” which can essentially be translated to “roughing it.” Dispersed camping is camping at a location where there are no cabins, picnic tables, fire pits or even drinkable water. Campers must rely on their own survival skills and literally live off the land. With the right skills and equipment, dispersed camping can be easier than you think — and it’s how many millennials are bypassing the disappointment of being unable to find a spot at a camping ground.

Knowing all this, it might be safe to say that the millennial generation has taken America’s love for camping to a whole new level — and are worthy of being called the greatest camping generation.

5 Things You Have to Do When Camping Near Nashville

July 30, 2015

Camping has long been a favorite type of vacation for American families. In 2011, they spent a total of 534.9million days camping together. Often, those family camping adventures involve plenty of outdoor time. Hiking is enjoyed by about 92% of campers, and 87% of campers say they like to participate in more than one outdoor activity. But camping vacations don’t have to be all about the great outdoors. There are campgrounds quite near to some of the United States’ greatest cities — meaning you can see all a city has to offer while still returning to a comfortable, relaxing camp resort when you’re tired of the hustle and bustle.


Tennessee campgrounds are one great example of this opportunity. In fact, there are Tennessee campgrounds just outside of Nashville. Here are a few ideas of what you could do in Music City besides enjoying the amenities of your camp:



    1. The Country Music Hall of Fame
      It doesn’t get more Nashville than the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s been around since 1961, but in 2001 moved to a stunning new building a few block outside downtown. Plus, the exhibits are always changing, so there will be something new to see even if you’ve been in the past. The attraction also offers tasty dining options and retail space, so it’s a good place to spend the day and pick up your souvenirs.


    1. Grand Ole Opry
      This legendary radio and stage show has hosted some of the greatest stars of country music over the more than 90 years it’s been around. Its stars still perform several nights a week, and often bring in guest artists. Be sure to arrange for tickets and tours in advance.


    1. Music Row
      Music Row is a country music history buff’s dream. RCA Studio B is where Elvis recorded more than 200 songs — and Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins and more have also recorded nearby. You can grab a tour starting from the Hall of Fame.


    1. General Jackson Showboat
      General Jackson is a riverboat that offers cruisers the experience of 18th-century showboats. Country music is typically featured (no surprises there), but you might also get a variety of musicals or gospel music. There are normally two cruises each day.


    1. The Parthenon
      The world’s only full-scale reproduction of the ancient Greek Parthenon is situated in Nashville’s Centennial Park. You may have seen pictures, but you have to visit in person to fully grasp the scale of Athena Parthenos, the sculpture by Alan LeQuire that dominates the interior. In fact, she is 42 feet tall, making her the tallest indoor sculpture in the West. There’s also an art gallery and museum to enjoy.

Camping Is Literally Good For You: 3 Health Benefits of Going Camping

July 30, 2015

Every year, millions of people go camping. According to the most recent report from the Outdoor Foundation, 40.1 million Americans camped in 2013; 39.7 million Americans camped in 2012; 42.5 million people camped in 2011, and 40 million people went camping in 2010 — and for good reason, too. There are some pretty amazing benefits of camping.


Here are just a few.


It’s Literally Good For You.


Believe it or not, getting away from it all and having a nice stay in nature is actually good for you. A recent study suggests that the increasing prevalence of conditions like obesity, attention disorders, and depression is partly caused by a decrease of time being spent in nature. Researchers even noted that nature can help relieve stress, restore mental faculties, and improve mood. What’s more, since camping can increase a person’s oxygen intake, it can also increase Serotonin levels, making a person feel happier.


It Gets You Active.


When you camp, you get active. A recent poll showed that hiking is the most popular activity among campers, as 92% of campers reported that they like to go hiking when they camp. Plus, you’re also going to set up the tent, haul your gear, gather wood, and maybe fish or swim, too. Best of all, you’ll be having too much fun to think about the fact that you’re exercising.


It Helps You Eat Healthier.


As much as people might try to eat healthier, McDonald’s is just so alluring. Luckily, going camping removes that temptation, and limits your meal options to healthier, more natural ones, thereby allowing you to possibly jumpstart a diet, or at least take a break from less healthy foods.


Camping doesn’t have to be intense, either. Who said you had to find camping grounds out in the wilderness? If you want to camp, but don’t want the most intense of outdoor experiences, then you’ll be happy to know that there are vacation cabin rentals available, which are pretty easy camping experiences. Other vacation cabins provide rustic accommodations so that you don’t have to worry about hassling with setting up a tent or figuring out how to cook over an open fire. You can just show up, and begin enjoying nature as soon as you get situated.

7 Tips for Camping on the Beach

July 23, 2015

Camping is one of the most popular pastimes for American families, most likely due to the relative cheapness of it and the quality time spent away from screens and distractions. In 2011, American families spent an astounding total of 534 million camping days together. There are as many different ways to camp as there are places to camp and structures to camp in, but the most popular is tent camping — in a survey, 86% of people said they preferred this type of camping vacation.

While the word camping tends to draw up visions of wooded forests and leaf-carpeted ground, many people opt for something a little more off the beaten path — the beach. Many find the sounds of water a more peaceful background than the sounds of the woods, and bug populations are much, much lower there.

However, making your campgrounds on the beach requires a little bit more planning, and a slightly different approach. Some tips and tricks for camping on the beach —


  • About 70% of camping is done on public campgrounds, and you should never ever just go set up your tent in a strange environment, especially if you don’t know if you are trespassing or not. Make sure you are authorized to be there. You’re better off choosing public campgrounds on the beach than striking off on your own.


  • If you are near the ocean, make sure you are set up well above the high tide line so your belongings don’t get flooded.


  • Stay away from dunes. They are a fragile part of a marine ecosystem and you can easily damage the vegetation, in addition to being hurt if the sand and rocks slide down on you.


  • Invest in sand stakes, which are designed to stay down in loose material.


  • Bring extra water, water purification methods, and extra water on top of that. Don’t trust any water directly from nature.


  • Bring shelter from the hot sun, even if you have sunscreen.


  • It gets cold and foggy on the beach at night. Bring supplies to keep you warm and to keep your belongings dry.


7 Things People Always Forget When They're Camping

July 23, 2015

Camping TipsCamping is one of the most popular family pastimes in America. In 2010, a reported 40 million people went on a camping trip. In 2011, this number was up to 42.5 million. Tent camping is the most popular form of camping, with 86% of people who camp identifying this as their preference. However, tent camping is the most labor intensive form of camping, with the most moving pieces and parts. The big elements, like the tent, cooler, and grill are the easiest to remember, but often lots of little things are forgotten in the preparation process. Here is a list of the most frequently forgotten items at campsites:

    1. Wood
      Some campsites forbid you from bringing in outside wood, while others forbid you from foraging around the campground for wood. Know the policies ahead of time and either way, don’t get caught in the cold and dark with no fuel for the fire!
    2. Batteries
      You got your lanterns and flashlights, but what’s your back up plan if one of them dies? Make sure you have some spare batteries on hand.
    3. Wet Wipes
      These little powerhouses have dozens of uses on a camping trip that you won’t realize until you’re looking for one. Don’t miss them!
    4. Duct Tape
      From fixing tent tears to holding down table cloths on a windy day, you do not want to forget this multipurpose tape.
    5. Ice
      So you packed all your food in the cooler to bring to the campsite, but did you remember to get ice to keep it fresh? Remembering this essential could be the difference between fresh food and granola bars your whole trip.
    6. Trash bags
      Most campgrounds are carry in/ carry out, and carrying all the waste from your trip out by hand would be a real drag! This item is essential to a clean, tidy, campsite.
    7. Hatchet or hammer
      Often overlooked, this tool is usually needed to chop more wood and can double as a hammer when driving the spikes for your tent.

Summer Magic at the Great Smoky Mountain Jellystone Park

July 15, 2015

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We fell in love with the Great Smoky Mountain Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at check-in.  A hospitable camp worker named Whitney got us settled in and told us about the campground’s activities, amenities, and its very own hiking trails.  Then she handed us off to Adam and Mark Landry, two of the owners and “Park Rangers” at the campground, who escorted us to our streamside site and backed us in with precision and style. Getting off the road and setting up at a new campground can be a bit stressful, especially with three energetic boys in the back seat.  But Whitney, Adam, and Mark immediately made us feel like we were camping with family.

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As we set up camp we could hear the water rushing over the rocks behind our site, and we could hear our boys laughing as they explored the stream.  As soon as camp chores were done, we kicked off our shoes and joined them.  We quickly realized that our site and the sites around us were simply magical.  The stream was crystal clear and heavily shaded by trees, but the sunlight that made its way through made the water sparkle and shine. Can you say, best campsite ever? The fire pit also overlooked the stream for long, peaceful campfires after the kids are put to bed.

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We spent a fair amount of time just relaxing at our site.  Our six year-old twin boys both love playing checkers and they beat their dad on a regular basis.  One afternoon they decided that if they beat him he would have to dunk himself in the stream. He agreed.  He spent a lot of time in the stream that day.

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So the sites are amazing, but how about the rest of the campground? Close to perfect.  It is a small and cozy campground but it packs in the action and amenities of a much larger resort-type property. There is a movie every evening at 6:30 for the kids in the covered outdoor “Jellystone Theatre,” free mini golf,  gem mining, horseshoes, basketball, corn-hole, and a full slate of events at the Yogi Bear Pavilion.  They even had a puppet and clown show one night.

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They call the upstairs game room a “clubhouse” and rightfully so. It had air hockey, pool, arcade games, and Yogi building blocks.  It was a spacious and comfortable place to spend a rainy day.

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Lucky for us, we had great weather during our stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and were able to hike almost every morning and then head back to the campground for a refreshing dip in the afternoon.  Our boys loved the heated pool at this Jellystone Park, and they usually asked to go swimming after dinner as well.

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In addition to some of the most beautiful streamside sites ever, this campground also has the most beautiful ice cream parlor we have ever seen at a campground.

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Our boys loved, Loved, LOVED heading into the ice cream shop every night and pulling up a chair at the counter for a scoop of rocky road or chocolate chip mint.  I recommend the Mountain Mud dish. It comes complete with crushed Oreo crumbs, hot fudge, and gummy worms.  If you can, ask Mark to fix it up for you.  He goes generous with the mud.


The Landry’s sure know how to run a great family campground.  We talked to so many guests who come back year after year, and we look forward to joining their ranks.


The amazing beauty of America’s most visited National Park and the excitement of Dollywood and Gatlinburg surround the Great Smoky Mountain Jellystone Park Camp-Resort.  Stay tuned for our next post about activities near the campground.



Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the founders of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast and blog. They spend over 40 nights a year in their RV traveling with their three young sons, sharing their experiences as they explore the new golden age of RVing.





Beat the Heat with Christmas in July!

July 8, 2015

It seems a little silly.. Christmas in July? Well believe it or not, we are over half-way to Christmas! It’s crazy to think about winter in the middle of summer but Christmas in July is a fun way to cool down during the hot months. Here are some great ideas to help bring the atmosphere of Christmas!

  1. Summer “Snowball” Fight (via rebeccamealey)
    – Make your own “snowballs”! Fill up white balloons with water and let the kids have a water balloon fight. It’ll bring the spirit even in the hot weather.
  2. Candy Cane Pool Noodles (via poolgear)
    – These noodles are much more fun to swim in the pool with than regular noodles. Find out how to make them for your Christmas in July celebration!
  3. Santa Strawberries (via tislstyle)
    -What’s better than refreshing fruit on a hot, summer day? Santa inspired strawberries!
  4. S’more Snowman (via thepartyanimal-blog)
    – There’s nothing better than s’mores around a campfire. Spice up your s’more for Christmas in July with these snowmen!
  5. Twig Reindeer (via happyhooligans)
    – This one is a fun decoration for the kids to make while camping! Have them go search for twigs and make them into cute reindeer to decorate your campsite!
  6. Melted Snowman (via hwtm)
    – A simple and fun party favor that will keep everyone hydrated, too!
  7. Green Grinch (via babble)
    – An ice cream soda, Grinch style!
  8. Watermelon Christmas Trees (via eatingvibrantly)
    – A summery twist on a Christmas tree!