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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

It's Christmastime In The City - Week 2

It was time to head west after checking out Wilmington, NC, Charleston, SC and Myrtle Beach, SC. on our quest to find "Christmastime in the city."  The first week of our adventure was so much fun and we were excited about Week 2.

We were offered a free room at Harrah's Cherokee Hotel in Cherokee, NC.  We take these offers even though we know it will cost us something after we visit their casino.  It definitely costs us less than if we had to pay for the room though.  We were frequent guests for many years of the Harrah's chain when my mom was around and soon got these offers.  Now that Mom has passed we don't go that often but we will take advantage of the free room as long as they keep offering them to us.  This gorgeous hotel is in a perfect location to enable us to get to Tennessee which is someplace I knew we could find some of the best holiday displays.  It takes just a little more than one hour over the Great Smoky Mountains to get there from Cherokee.

Week 2

We have been to Cherokee, NC and know that it is a touristy area, similar to Gatlinburg, TN, but on a much smaller scale.  Both cities have many shops that sell beautiful Native American created goods, the ice cream parlors and the zip line adventures.  I wasn't sure what to expect in Cherokee but was hoping for the town tree.  The city did have a few nice light displays but I couldn't find the town tree.  To tell you the truth we were so impressed with and really enjoyed the hotel's holiday displays that I decided to highlight the hotel.  (Although Cherokee didn't have enough to highlight their city, they did have my favorite light display!)

Harrah's Cherokee, NC

Harrah's Cherokee Hotel is so huge that it is almost a small city in itself.  There is a bowling alley  along with the spa, hairdressers, game room for the kids, one indoor pool and one outdoor pool, many restaurants and lots of shops ranging from high-end to gift shops.  Almost every shop and restaurant decorated for the holidays and there were Christmas trees everywhere!

This huge, beautiful tree was the first one we saw when we first walked into the hotel.

We found this one on the second floor near the high-end stores.

This tree was smaller to fit into one of the many lounge areas throughout the hotel.

Many of the shops at the hotel made room to put a tree in their store.  This one decorated their tree with the ornaments they were selling.

This store had an upside-down tree.  I have seen a couple of these type of trees this year, but I really don't understand them at all!  Somebody please tell me why we want to turn our Christmas tree upside down.  Does it have anything to do with Stranger Things?

I have also been seeing lots of these, the snowman tree!  We found this one behind the hostess stand at one of the restaurants.  I love these trees...

and this display!

Which tree did these giant balls fall off of we wondered?

We really had a great time on our Christmas tree hunt at the hotel.  I think we probably counted at least 15.  Now it was time to venture out of the hotel and into the cities.

Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg was the city I was the most excited about seeing this second week.  We were just there in September and the fall displays around the city were some of the best I've ever seen.  I was sure that the scarecrows, haystacks and pumpkins would be replaced by snowmen, snow and poinsettias.  

We were not disappointed.  There were displays around every corner, decorations around every storefront  and "a feeling of Christmas" everywhere.

The entranceway into each small shopping area off the main street were so festive and inviting that we had to go into each and every one of them.

The downtown shops in this very touristy area are so charming and at Christmastime they are even more so.

I just had to sit for a picture at one of the many photo ops that were scattered all over the town.  I helped an adorable family of 7 take their picture here.  

We love Gatlinburg, TN because of this fun downtown area and the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains.  We will definitely be back one day soon.  On our way out of this wonderful city, we saw their gorgeous, gigantic town tree.

Our next stop was the city of Pigeon Forge.  I had heard that their light show was not to be missed.  We had to see if all the hype was true.

Pigeon Forge, TN

The city was so lit up with more than 4 million lights that I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they could be seen by the passengers in the airplanes flying above.  This festival of lights was called Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights.  There were light displays on the sides of roads that you could enjoy as you drove by them and then there were clusters of themed light displays in outdoor malls and parks where you got out of your car to view the displays.  

We went to Patriot Park where there were light displays with an Americana theme.  We loved the armed forces displays.

Most of the buildings in the city were all decked out and covered with thousands of lights including the Smoky Mountain Opry and the Pigeon Forge Information Center.

There were many displays scattered around the city that celebrated Pigeon Forge.  This one was a tribute to their southern charm.

Something I read said to look for the critters who live in the Smoky Mountains to be wandering around the city.  We found the bear family.

And also to look out for the many pigeons around town.

Are these pigeons?  I'm not sure but they were the only birds I saw so I hope they were!

Murphy, NC

Murphy is a city we discovered in the western part of NC on one of our vacations in the area.  We were looking for a place to eat and it brought us here.  It is one of those small town, USA spots for sure.  The whole town spans about 6 blocks and you can walk from the post office to the court house, to city hall, the library and police station, church and to anywhere else you need to go in a matter of a few minutes.  We were curious to see how festive this area would be for the holidays.   

The first thing we noticed when we drove into the city of Murphy was their Christmas tree.  It was placed perfectly in the center of town.  This was a good place to park the car.  We weren't going to need it to get around this tiny, adorable city.

The church and other buildings were decorated simply but you knew they were celebrating Christmas in this city.

Every lamppost was decorated and most of the storefronts were too.


We love this small town.  Besides for being able to walk around the entire town in less than 30 minutes, there is a shop that sells the best olive oil in every flavor imaginable.  We grabbed a couple of last minute stocking stuffers there.  And the people here are so friendly.  Not only do you get a smile and nod, you also get a "How y'all doing today" as you pass them on the street!

We had lots of fun exploring all of the cities and we felt the joy of Christmas everywhere!  I mentioned that Cherokee, NC didn't have much but they did have my favorite.

The real reason for the season.

Wishing you the very merriest Christmas and a happy and healthy new year!


We had such a fun time finding Christmas in the city in a few amazing cities last year.  This year we had a chance to visit Savannah, Georgia and have made an update to this post by adding our visit to yet another amazing city!

Christmas 2018

We had so much fun joining our grandson on his first road trip last week.  It was a big trip for a 7 month old but he seemed to be having a great time.  His trip started with his first ride in an airplane.  That got him and his family to our home in NC.  From there me and Soko joined them on a road trip that included a stop in Savannah, Georgia.  We had been wanting to visit Savannah for a long time and we were excited that we would be there in time to enjoy their holiday decorations.

We checked into The Kimpton Brice Hotel and in the middle of the lobby we watched as someone was putting up a hanging Christmas tree.  I love those trees!  I couldn't wait to see what it would look like once it got hung and decorated.  When we came down to the lobby the next morning for coffee and tea, the tree was done.

After enjoying the coffee and tea, we headed out to have brunch on Savannah's Riverfront.  The Kimpton was in a great location and we were able to walk a couple of blocks from there to get to River Street.  This street is lined with shops and restaurants and plazas and plenty of benches to relax on.  There were many festive decorations to enjoy on this street.

We knew we would find a Christmas tree somewhere along the Riverfront and we did.

We also found a really cute Gingerbread House.

Nicole found a yummy drink at River House Seafood and...

Me and Shea found Santa Claus!

After our walk on the Riverfront, it was time to see Savannah's Historic District.  We walked along streets that were lined with beautifully decorated lampposts.  

On our must-see in Savannah list was City Market.  We were sure we would find holiday cheer here and we did!

The City Market's Christmas tree was gorgeous.

Our favorite Christmas decoration in this city, though, was the beautiful Christmas tree in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

We found so much holiday cheer here in Savannah, Georgia and we had fun finding it.  We really enjoyed our visit here.

Stay tuned for our blog post on the many other sights we found and enjoyed in this special city!

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Monday, December 2, 2019

Discovering The Southern Charm Of Savannah, Georgia

I was really happy when our son, Joe, asked us if we wanted to join him and his little family on the baby's first road trip which included a two night stop in Savannah, Georgia.  I had been wanting to visit Savannah for a long time and, as a matter of fact, it was very near the top of our bucket list.  The trip would take place after Thanksgiving so I was excited that we would be able to see the city all decorated for Christmas.

I added all the festive sights we enjoyed in Savannah to our post, It's Christmastime In The City - Week 2 and you can read all about it here.  I wanted to write a separate post on everything else we did and saw in this beautiful city, so here it is, a year later!


The first thing we did when we got to Savannah was to check into The Kimpton Brice Hotel.  Me, Soko and Shea checked out the hotel while his Mom and Dad checked in.   We liked the rows and rows of books throughout the lobby, Shea thought their couches were comfy but the hot cocoa bar was the best!

After we unpacked, it was time to go out and discover Savannah.  The picture I always envisioned when I dreamed about visiting Savannah, was of the buildings that rise up from the river front to the city level and the walkways, known as Factors Walk, that connect these buildings to the upper level streets.  It was so cool to be actually seeing it.


The hotel was conveniently located only a couple of blocks, and within walking distance, from Savannah's Riverfront.  It was above River Street, though, so we had to find a way down that didn't involve using these stairs.  Yikes!  It would have been nearly impossible with the stroller anyway!

We found one of a couple of ramps to use to get down to River Street.  (There is also an elevator next to the Hyatt Regency Savannah available to use to get down to the riverfront.)   River Street is one of the busiest in Savannah because of all the restaurants, bars and shops available here.   Many annual events and festivals are held here throughout the year also.

We found a few really nice sculptures as we walked along Savannah's Riverfront.

African-American Monument

Waving Girl Statue

Since Shea was still happily relaxing in his stroller, we headed to Savannah's Historic District.  We passed square after square as we made our way over to the City Market.  There are 22 squares in Savannah that provide greenery to enjoy and a place to relax amid all the businesses and historic homes.

We made it to City Market (title picture) and did some window shopping but Shea was finally having enough of sightseeing for one day so it was time to head back to the hotel.   We passed many homes,with their grand staircases, on our walk back.   Another vision I've always had when thinking of Savannah.

We brought back light sandwiches to eat at the hotel thinking it would be easier than trying to take a tired baby out to eat.  We were also thinking about the incredible snacks the Kimpton sent to Joe and Nicole's hotel room.   We didn't want to overeat and not have room for them!!

After plowing through almost all of the snacks, we called it a day.

In the morning, Joe found a place for us to enjoy a southern breakfast.  Huey's Southern Cafe serves up authentic New Orleans cuisine and had an amazing brunch menu that included classics like fried green tomatoes, red beans and rice and shrimp and grits.

Crab Cake Benedict

We took a short walk with the kids, then Joe and Nicole headed back to the hotel so Shea could nap and left me and Soko to enjoy the afternoon sightseeing.  We had an idea of all we wanted to see and left them but agreed that we would babysit so they could enjoy the evening out by themselves.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

City Hall

Forsyth Park

Monument to Francis Bartow in front of Confederate Monument

Colonial Park Cemetery

Savannah was all we imagined it would be, very southern and very charming.  We had a wonderful time especially because we had great company with us.  Now it was time to pack up and head to our next destination, our snowbird home in Florida.  

There is a lot to pack up when you are traveling with one tiny little baby!