When many people think of Spring Break, they picture sandy beaches and warm sunshine, with endless parties as a way to escape the reality of the stressful school environment.

What students may not consider for a quick retreat that can be just as refreshing, is the Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee.

This is a great place for fun and adventure for the whole family, or even a small group of friends.

I just spent a few days in this very scenic part of the state with my family, including my daughter who is also an APSU student. We were also joined by one of her friends, yet another student of Austin Peay, along with her family as well.

There are many reasons for adults, and families with children to explore this secluded part of the “Volunteer State”.

It isn’t just the breathtaking views from the top of the mountains or walking across the SkyBridge (the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America) that draws people to this place. There are so many activities and sites to behold, people could spend over a week in this area and not experience everything.

We have been to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg on several occasions, and we experience something new with each visit.

From the various dinner shows to the countless museums, mini golf courses, and numerous activities in between, it is difficult to know where to begin when you first arrive in the region.

One of the most famous attractions of the region, Dollywood Theme Park has just now reopened again, and although we missed the opportunity to experience the thrills of the rides at the location, it is on our list to visit during our next Smoky Mountain getaway.

We have only experienced a couple of the dinner shows thus far, but those alone almost make it worth the entire trip.

Even the options for places to stay seem endless. People can stay in a secluded cabin overlooking the spectacular mountain views or in a resort type hotel with its own indoor waterpark, so inclement weather wouldn’t be an issue.

Of course, pretty much everything is kid friendly in these resort towns since they cater to the family experience.

Animals are a big part of that experience with many, if not all, of the dinner shows incorporating them into their acts. You can even eat breakfast while listening to singing chickens. (Animatronics)

One of the largest aquariums in the country is located here, and it is quite an experience walking under a glass tunnel and seeing sharks swim overhead.

Even the short, scenic drive between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg enhances the experience of this vacation destination.

The Great Smoky Mountains is a fantastic location to get away from everything any time of the year, but it is also a great escape destination for that spring break fever.