By Cari Tretina

It seemed like just a mystical place. No one ever complained, had a negative comment or told a sad tale about Gatlinburg. With so many exciting and interesting attractions to visit and experience, I knew I had to vacation there before I graduated.
Now, most of these wonderful stories I have been told about Gatlinburg have come from my fellow college peers. Needless to say the most popular aspect of Gatlinburg is the common mindset among the vacation goers: Get drunk.
When my friends started to toss around the idea of taking a fall retreat to Gatlinburg a few months ago all I could hope was that my liver would survive the long weekend.
As any college road trip, the first stop the carpool makes is to the liquor store. We are lucky here in Richmond because of the plethora of liquor establishments that provide many different categories of spirits. Liquor World is far superior to any other store, though, so naturally we spent about 20 minutes admiring the vast selection of beverages.
After four people purchase almost every kind of alcohol and liquor in the store, we decide to begin our trip. It was the music video perfect road trip: Beautiful scenery, gas station snacks and 90s jam session, meaning Mariah Carey.
Once the road turned into a barely one-lane road with every curve becoming sharper and scarier, our cabin appeared on a majestic mountainside. The only downside there was a road constructed on the mountainside above our cabin, which was literally two arms length away from our front porch.
Kobe Bryant could have reached out from our porch and palmed the road. Nonetheless, our home for the next few days was more than sufficient. The décor was a classic-country Christmas with a hot tub on the wrap-around porch. We started off with two-full bathrooms, but ended with one functioning shower.
The funny part of that story was everyone was sober, yet a hole was kicked in the side of the tub. I guess someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
My coworkers and I spent Friday night, Saturday and Sunday morning in Tennessee, so we spent the majority of the day in downtown Gatlinburg on Saturday. Even though my group came down with intentions of partying like its 1999, my favorite part of the trip was exploring this cool little town.
Since a few of the group members had never been to Gatlinburg, the veterans chose Ober Gatlinburg as our main attraction. This was quite the wise decision because not only did we get to see the town in its entirety, but my inner-child enjoyed the Saturday afternoon, as well.
A tram transported us to and from the mountaintop of fun. The mini-golf course was constructed by a caveman, the scenic view had a Bluegrass band that needed subtitles and the Mexican restaurant was a step below Taco Bell, which says a lot: Trust me.
 Surprisingly, our completely sober selves thoroughly enjoyed every minute we were on that mountaintop. It was well worth the questioning looks from parents while we are on the carousel.
Though Gatlinburg has the reputation of being a solely alcoholic heaven, it has so much more to offer. Instead of making memories on foggy recollections, create another major chapter in your life.
This town brings families and friends together in a historical, Swedish skate rink in the country. Sight-seeing, ghost tours, shopping, dining, bars and so much more can be enjoyed with no “pre-gaming” involved. Plus, it comes with a hangover-free guarantee.