How to Spend a Weekend with Your Church Group in Gatlinburg Tennessee By: Bob Foster Weekend trips to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains are a great retreat choice for any church group. Among the many different wholesome attractions and activities, every member of your group will find something that appeals to their tastes. To plan the perfect youth group or family retreat weekend, check out some of these popular, regional activities. With more than 500,000 acres of forest and 800 miles of trails, every weekend in Gatlinburg demands a Saturday hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. Your group could easily spend an entire Saturday here. Try packing a lunch and enjoying the long trails of varying difficulties for a group with mixed age participants. Don?t forget your binoculars, as the Smokies are home to more than 200 species of birds. To keep enjoying the beauty of God?s creation, take the group to the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort and Amusement Park and ride high above the Smokies. The Ober?s 120-passenger gondola will give you and your group the lift you need on trip that covers two miles in 10 minutes, and that will take you to the top of the mountain where your group can indoor skate year-round and ski or snowboard in the winter. Summer also offers an alpine slide, black bear habitat, bungee fun, and miniature golf at Ober. Be sure to have lunch up there, too?you?ll want to spend as much time catching the mountain air as you can. If outdoor adventures don?t appeal to the group, don?t worry; plenty of museums and indoor attractions await to keep everyone entertained. How about Ripley?s Aquarium of the Smokies? Ripley?s is one of Gatlinburg?s most attended attractions?and when you stop in you will understand exactly why. This fully stocked aquarium has more than eight different exhibits to explore, from Shark Lagoon to their Lethal Weapons exhibit to their new Penguin Playhouse. Get up close and personal with some of the world?s most interesting sea creatures in the Discovery Center, where you and your group can touch the oddly fantastic horseshoe crabs. Best of all, Ripley?s offers group rates on admission, making it an affordable stop for your group. To take a break or to end your day, check out some of the delicious restaurants in Gatlinburg. The Parkway, Gatlinburg?s main street, offers food choices ranging from Tennessee?s famous barbeque to seafood to pizza. Your church can go to one of the area?s many family-dining establishments to find cuisine that offer enough varieties to please a large group. And don?t forget about church on Sunday morning. No matter your church?s denomination, a house of worship door?s open for your group. There are also revivals every day of the week in Sevier County. Gatlinburg is a great place for group worship, as the natural beauty of the mountains commands a strong spiritual quality. These are just a few of the many options for your group to choose when planning a Great Smoky Mountain vacation. Make sure to ask wherever you plan to visit if they offer group discounts, a huge perk of traveling together. Regardless of what you pick, the family fun that eastern Tennessee offers tourists is custom-made for any church group. Learn more about things to do in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge at our website: www.PatriotGetaways.com website. Just click through to the blog when you get there.