This is a very late post; I originally posted in the GSMNP forum, but decided that the Townsend forum might be a good location for it as well since much of our time was spent in the Townsend area. Perhaps some readers who wander onto this board for information about "The Peaceful Side" will find some ideas and information that will be helpful as they plan their vacations.
First, Townsend is always my preferred destination in the Smokies. I visit twice a year. In the Summer, with my family (3 generations, 15 people), we always rent a cabin in Wears Valley. In the Fall, my boyfriend and I always stay in Townsend at Riverstone Lodge. It's the closest hotel you'll find to Cades Cove and the entrance to the park. I'm a big supporter of the small, mom and pop businesses in the smaller communities that depend on the visitors to the national park, so you'll find that we seldom eat at chain restaurants or stay in chain hotels when we visit.
Here's my blog with all the details and some pictures from our October trip. It was a rainy week, but we didn't let the rain keep us from enjoying every day that we were there.