As autumn fast approaches--there's a nip of fall in the air today, as a matter of fact--we're all thinking about the kinds of getaways that will maximize the best part of fall.

Yep...the weather and the colors. And while we can never be sure what kind of weather we're going to get, we always know we'll get beautiful fall foliage. So take those two factors and load up whatever you need to load up and head to east Tennessee. There's not many more beautiful locales that naturally take advantage of the best season of the year like the Great Smoky Mountains.

And, of course, there will be plenty to do.

Dollywood Harvest Festival & Great Pumpkin LumiNights

One of the greatest entertainers in the HISTORY of entertainment has always brought that innate sensibility to her Pigeon Forge theme park. And each year, when the air chills and the colors arrive, Dolly and her team are ready for the masses. Well, they're ALWAYS ready for the masses, because Dollywood doesn't close seasonally and it's always packed with visitors. And that is the case each year when the popular attraction unveils its Harvest Festival which features the park's Great Pumpkin LumiNights:

And don't forget--I'm sure you won't--to take full advantage of some amazing autumn air on the all-new Big Bear Mountain:

Dollywood's Harvest Festival begins September 20th and will wrap up on October 30th.

The Island in Pigeon Forge

There's always so much to do in the Smokies that you might have to plan an extended stay or just split up your trip. "We didn't get to THAT this time, so we'll do it next time." It's a tough call, I know. But if you're going in the fall, you have to make time for The Island in Pigeon Forge.

A self-described family fun center, there are rides, great food, entertainment, and plenty of shopping opportunities at The Island. Sounds like a terrific component of a Smokies fall getaway.

Astra Lumina at Anakeesta

Gatlinburg's enormous theme park has been a huge hit ever since it opened, and last fall saw the introduction of Astra Lumina, a spectacular "add-on" attraction at Anakeesta. Here's what you can expect.

Astra Lumina is a night walk experience that features lighting, projection and sound. The walk consists of a one-mile, unpaved nature trail with lighting effects, fog, lasers and more. The idea of the experience is to “connect visitors with the stars” as they begin exploration through a Smoky Mountain forest.

Astra Lumina is available throughout most of the year, but, for me, it has FALL written all over it. Just breathtaking.

Gatlinburg Sky Park

If you want great views during your Smoky Mountain getaway, you can never go wrong at the Gatlinburg Sky Park. As you can imagine, it's the perfect spot for amazing fall foliage photo ops.

If you've ever been to east Tennessee and the Smokies, you already know I'm barely scratching the surface. Hey, if you just went to walk up and down the streets of Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge during the fall months, who could blame you? But I bet you take far more advantage of those surroundings than that when you go.

Enjoy your fall getaway, and don't forget...because you're in Gatlinburg, ENJOY THOSE PANCAKES.

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