But of course at the end of a long day I got confused. We ended up at Applewood Farms instead of the Apple Barn. :-p Fortunately, it worked out fine, for everyone except Nick (sorry, Nick!). He did not enjoy his meal at all. :( But the rest of us had a good dining experience. Applewood Farms has some really good apple fritters. I think they were really good anyway--I only managed to eat two before Sarah got a hold of the basket and finished off every last one of them! :) They also had delicious homemade apple butter and a unique beverage called apple julep. I remember to ask about ingredients this time, and Tara and I both sampled the restaurant's chicken and dumplings. Sadly, they were not as good as Old Mill's, but they were good. So at least our little mishap didn't end too badly. Nelson and I will try to eat at the Apple Barn one of these days; we never actually made it there on our trip. I do think I vaguely remember eating there as a little girl though.
Sarah in one of the rocking chairs outside of the restaurant.
Okay, moving on to Day 6 now. We wanted to head back to Gatlinburg for three very important reasons: 1) Ripley's Aquarium is there. 2) I love shopping in the Village. I also love the doughnut shop that is there. :) 3) We needed to eat at the Pancake Pantry! Like Bennett's and the Old Mill, this restaurant showed up everywhere I did research. People raved about the incredible pancakes this place offered. Who could resist checking it out? :)
YUM. It really was delicious. I had these fantastic blueberry pancakes. Sarah ordered an adorable dish called "bears in the snow": bear-shaped pancakes dusted with powdered sugar. Nelson got a combo plate of pancakes, bacon, and eggs. ALL of us were happy with our selections!
Then it was on to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. What a fascinating place to visit! They have some really great exhibits. Sarah especially loved seeing a diver go into a tank and swim with the fish. We rode a moving sidewalk through the shark tunnel (which also had swordfish, sawfish, and other large ocean critters). We spent time in the interactive area. We browsed the incubation area. They had so many interesting tidbits to share and beautiful ocean creatures to see. We all really enjoyed our visit.
Unfortunately, Nelson left our camera in the car that day, so I don't have any pictures to share! But don't fret; just head over to Tara's website and look at her pictures. They're definitely worth seeing! :)
After the aquarium, we headed over to the Village to do some shopping. I have always loved this part of Gatlinburg. It seems so quaint and old-world. As a little girl, I used to pretend I lived in some long-ago time when we visited Gatlinburg and walked through the shops. (Okay, now I've really embarrassed myself!)
We hit the doughnut shop first. I think the Donut Friar has been in Gatlinburg for as long as I can remember. I wouldn't say they were the best doughnuts I've ever had, but I have such strong childhood associations with the shop that I can't go to Gatlinburg without stopping in for one of their pastries. :) I'm so nostalgic.
We also visited this fabulous little cheese shop (there's a restaurant upstairs; one day I shall have to eat there!). I chose some delectable smoked gouda and smoked cheddar. Tara picked out some chocolate for Nick and also a treat for herself. What was it? Well, it was a pickle. A big, fat, homemade pickle. I'll confess that I will probably never choose a pickle over cheese--or chocolate. But she shared a bite, and it was a darn good pickle. :) Gotta give the pickle maker credit. But my cheese was better. ;)
Finally, after another long day, we headed back to our cabin home. Only one day left in our vacation!