Exploring the Best of Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Top 10 Places to Visit

Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is a charming town in Tennessee that offers you an array of exciting activities and stunning natural beauty in USA. This small town is a popular destination for tourists from all around the world who come to experience its unique blend of southern hospitality, adventure, and natural beauty. Gatlinburg is home to some of the best hiking trails, scenic drives, and outdoor activities in the country, making it the perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Beautiful Gatlinburg

Top 10 Places to Visit in Gatlinburg

There are many places to explore in Gatlinburg. Here are some of the top attractions in Gatlinburg.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Gatlinburg with great smoky mountain National park

Gatlinburg is also famous as the “Gateway of the Smoky Mountains”. As one of the most visited national parks in the country, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-see destination in Gatlinburg sharing its borders with Tennessee and North Carolina established in 1934.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to an array of natural wonders, including cascading waterfalls, rugged mountain peaks, and dense forests. The park is also home to over 1,500 species of plants, including a variety of wildflowers that bloom in the spring and summer.

You can enjoy lots of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing here. The park has over 800 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry hikes. You can also enjoy camping at one of the park’s ten campgrounds, or fishing in one of the park’s streams or rivers.

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is a ski resort and amusement park located in the heart of the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It is a popular destination for visitors looking to experience the beauty and adventure of the mountains year-round. The resort offers a range of activities, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to wildlife encounters and scenic chairlift rides in the summer.

Ober Gatlinburg is known for its winter activities, with skiing and snowboarding being the most popular, and it is the only best ski area in Tennessee. The resort has ten trails ranging from beginner to advanced, and its ski school offers lessons for all skill levels. Snow tubing is also available for those who prefer a more laid-back snow experience.

The Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park is a favorite among families and the park has a carousel, a Ferris wheel, a rock-climbing wall, and an arcade. You can also enjoy the Water Raft Rides, a thrilling water ride that takes riders on a simulated white-water adventure. Ober Gatlinburg also offers you a range of shopping and dining options.

Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway is very popular with a capacity of 120 passengers and delivers a thrilling experience with panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Gatlinburg Space Needle

Ober Gatlinburg ski resort

The Gatlinburg Space Needle is an iconic observation tower in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. With a height of 407 feet, it offers you a stunning panoramic view of the Great Smoky Mountains and the surrounding areas.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

This popular aquarium is home to thousands of marine animals and features an underwater tunnel that allows you to get up close and personal with sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and other sea creatures.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is divided into various zones that feature different aquatic habitats and animals. The Tropical Rainforest exhibit allows you to experience the vibrant colors and sounds of the rainforest, complete with a 40-foot waterfall and a variety of animals such as poison dart frogs and piranhas. Another is the Ocean Realm exhibit which features a 340-foot-long moving walkway that takes you through an underwater tunnel where you can see giant sea turtles, stingrays, and various species of sharks up close.

The Aquarium also offers a range of interactive experiences for visitors. The Penguin Encounter allows you to get up close and personal with these fascinating birds and learn about their behavior and habitat. This Aquarium also hosts a variety of shows and events throughout the year. The Shark Lagoon Dive Show features a diver who interacts with the sharks and other marine animals while providing educational information about them. The Mermaid Show is also popular here.

Gatlinburg SkyBridge

Gatlinburg aerial view with space needle
Gatlinburg aerial view

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is one of the most popular attractions in Gatlinburg. With a length of 680 feet, it is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. The SkyBridge offers you breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the surrounding areas, and it is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a unique and unforgettable experience of nature uniquely.

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge spans across a deep valley and is made of sturdy steel cables and is suspended 140 feet above the ground at its highest point. You can also explore the SkyDeck, which features a glass floor in the middle of the bridge that allows you to look down at the valley below for an incredible experience.

Sugarlands Distilling Company

The Sugarlands Distilling Company is a popular distillery located in Gatlinburg known for its handcrafted spirits, including moonshine, whiskey, rum, and liqueurs. You can take a guided tour of the distillery, taste the spirits, and learn about the history of moonshining in the Smoky Mountains.

You can try a variety of samples and purchase bottles to take home as souvenirs. The Sugarlands Distilling Company also hosts live music events throughout the year. These events feature local musicians playing a range of genres, from bluegrass to country to rock.

Anakeesta

Anakeesta is a popular premier theme park located in Gatlinburg that offers a wide range of activities and experiences for visitors of all ages, from ziplining, a mountain coaster, and a tree canopy walk to shopping and dining. Anakeesta is situated on a 70-acre mountaintop and provides stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

One of the main attractions of Anakeesta is its stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains by taking the scenic Chondola ride to the top of the mountain, which provides breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The park also features observation decks and seating areas where you can relax and take in the views.

Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community

beautiful Gatlinburg space Needle view

This 8-mile loop features over 100 artists and craftsmen who create and sell their handmade goods such as pottery, paintings, woodcarvings, quilts, leather goods, and jewelry. The Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community is a unique and vibrant community established in the early 1900s and is the largest group of independent artisans in the country. The community is known for its rich history and traditional Appalachian crafts, and many of the artisans have passed down their skills and techniques from generation to generation.

You can also educate yourself here as potters shape clay on a wheel, woodworkers carve intricate designs, and weavers create intricate textiles. These demonstrations allow you to see the skill and artistry that goes into each piece.

The Village Shops

The Village Shops is a charming shopping and dining destination that offers you a unique and delightful experience located just a few steps away from the Gatlinburg Space Needle and other popular attractions. With its European-inspired architecture, brick walkways, and quaint storefronts, The Village Shops is a popular attraction for visitors looking to shop, dine, and relax in a charming and picturesque setting.

The Village Shops features over 30 specialty shops, offering a wide range of unique and high-quality products, including clothing, jewelry, home decor, toys, and more. In addition to shopping, The Village Shops is home to a variety of dining options, from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. You can enjoy a cup of coffee at the Coffee & Company, grab a quick bite at the Donut Friar, or indulge in a gourmet meal at The Peddler Steakhouse. The Village Shops also features a range of entertainment options, including live music performances, seasonal events, and holiday celebrations.

Cades Cove

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, Cades Cover is a historic valley that features an 11-mile loop road that takes you through a picturesque landscape of fields, streams, and historic buildings.

One of the main draws of Cades Cove is its stunning natural beauty. You can explore the valley by car or bike, taking in breathtaking views of the mountains, forests, meadows, and a diverse range of wildlife and plants.

Cades Cove is also home to a number of historic sites that offer you a glimpse into the history and culture of the region. The valley was settled by European immigrants in the 1800s, and many of the original buildings, churches, and cemeteries still stand today. You can do lots of recreational activities here including hiking, biking, fishing, and camping.

Least explored vacation attractions in USA

Top 5 luxury stays in Gatlinburg

For those seeking the ultimate luxurious experience during their stay, Gatlinburg offers some of the most opulent accommodations in the region. Here are some of the luxurious accommodations in Gatlinburg that promise an unforgettable vacation experience.

The Lodge at Buckberry Creek

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, The Lodge at Buckberry Creek spread over 26 acres is a luxurious mountain retreat that offers breathtaking views, upscale amenities, and world-class service. The lodge features spacious suites, private cabins, and gourmet dining, making it the perfect destination for a romantic getaway or a family vacation.

The Park Vista

The Park Vista is a luxury hotel located at Cherokee Orchard Road in the heart of Gatlinburg, just minutes away from the town’s top attractions. The hotel offers stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains, upscale amenities, and spacious 300 guest rooms and suites. The Park Vista is an ideal choice for families or groups looking for a luxurious and convenient stay in Gatlinburg with a beautiful garden.

Baskins Creek Condos

Baskins Creek Condos are luxury accommodations located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg just 800 meters away from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and 3 km from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These spacious and stylish condos offer guests a range of amenities, including private balconies, full kitchens, and access to an on-site fitness center and spa. With its prime location and luxurious amenities, Baskins Creek Condos is a perfect choice for travelers looking for the ultimate luxury experience.

Chalet Village

Chalet Village is a collection of luxury mountain cabins located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. These rustic yet upscale cabins offer guests a range of amenities, including hot tubs, fireplaces, stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and on-site amenities such as saunas and tennis courts. Chalet Village is the perfect choice for those seeking a secluded and intimate retreat in the heart of nature.

The Lodge at Gatlinburg Falls

The Lodge at Gatlinburg Falls is a luxury mountain lodge located just minutes from downtown Gatlinburg. This upscale lodge features spacious rooms and suites, private balconies, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. With its convenient location and luxurious amenities, The Lodge at Gatlinburg Falls is a perfect choice for travelers looking for the ultimate luxury experience in Gatlinburg.

Top 5 restaurants in Gatlinburg

From classic southern comfort food to modern twists on regional cuisine, Gatlinburg offers a variety of dining options to satisfy any palate. Here are some of the best restaurants in Gatlinburg for families that you must try for a memorable dining experience.

The Peddler Steakhouse

Located on 820 River Road in Gatlinburg just steps from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, The Peddler Steakhouse offers a cozy, rustic atmosphere and mouth-watering steaks grilled to perfection. The restaurant’s menu also includes a variety of seafood, chicken, and vegetarian options.

Cherokee Grill

Located on 1002 Parkway, Cherokee Grill is a local favorite, known for its upscale yet casual atmosphere and excellent cuisine. The restaurant features an extensive wine list and a menu that includes classic American dishes with a modern twist. Don’t miss the signature grilled pork chops and the mouth-watering mac and cheese.

The Park Grill

Located at 1110 Parkway, The Park Grill is a popular dining spot in the heart of Gatlinburg. The restaurant’s rustic, lodge-inspired decor sets the stage for a memorable dining experience, with menu highlights including prime rib, grilled salmon, and southern fried chicken. The Park Grill is also known for its extensive dessert menu.

The Wild Plum Tea Room

For a more unique dining experience, head to The Wild Plum Tea Room which is located at 555 Buckhorn Road along Arts & Crafts Community Trail. This charming eatery offers a selection of delicious soups, sandwiches, and salads, as well as a variety of teas and baked goods. Don’t miss the quiche of the day or the famous homemade chicken salad.

Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que

No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without trying some of the famous Tennessee barbecues, and Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que is the perfect place to indulge that is located at 714 River Road. This family-owned restaurant has been serving up mouth-watering barbecue for over 25 years, with menu highlights including pulled pork, baby back ribs, and brisket.

Activities to do in Gatlinburg

There are lots of activities to do in Gatlinburg for the age group.

Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This park is one of the most visited national parks in the country and offers plenty of hiking trails, scenic drives, and picnic areas. You can enjoy the natural beauty of the park, relax here and do lots of activities.

Shop and dine in downtown Gatlinburg

The downtown area is full of shops, restaurants, and attractions, including the Gatlinburg Space Needle and the Village Shops. You can enjoy your meals, do shopping and walk around downtown.

Adventure activity at Anakeesta

This mountaintop park offers zipline tours, a treetop canopy walk, a mountain coaster, and a scenic chairlift ride. Your desire for adventure activity will be fulfilled here.

Go moonshine tasting

This tourist destination is home to some of the best moonshine distilleries in Gatlinburg, where you can taste and learn about the history of this traditional Southern spirit. You can purchase the same.

Take a scenic drive

Gatlinburg is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery, and there are several scenic drives that offer breathtaking views, such as the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and the Newfound Gap Road.

Attend a festival or event

Gatlinburg hosts many festivals and events throughout the year, including the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, the Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales, and the Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights.

Gatlinburg art galleries and studios visit

Gatlinburg is a hub for local artists and craftsmen, with several art galleries and studios you can explore. Here are a few of the top art galleries and studios that may be considered to be visited such as Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, The Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Loop, Paul Murray Gallery, Historic Ogle Log Cabin, Jim Gray Gallery, The Thomas Kinkade Gallery, Alewine Pottery, Trentham Pottery, Little River Gallery, and Cliff Dwellers Gallery.

Indoor activities in Gatlinburg for rainy days

While Gatlinburg is known for its outdoor activities, there are also plenty of indoor activities to enjoy on rainy days such as you can visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to enjoy thousands of aquatic animals, including sharks, rays, and sea turtles, or visiting Ober Gatlinburg for indoor ice skating rink and ice bumper cars. Likewise, Anakeesta also offers plenty of indoor activities to enjoy as well.

Gatlin’s Fun Center is another indoor entertainment complex that includes laser tag, mini-golf, bumper cars, and an arcade. It’s a great place to spend a few hours on a rainy day.

Hollywood Star Cars Museum is another option for car enthusiasts which features iconic cars from movies and TV shows. See the Batmobile, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.

Gatlinburg Pinball Museum features vintage pinball machines from the 1950s to the 1990s. You can play unlimited games at the price of admission.

In the same way, you can also visit Gatlinburg Space Needle to take a ride to the top of the Space Needle for a bird’s eye view of the town and the Smoky Mountains. The observation deck is enclosed and offers 360-degree views.

Camping near Gatlinburg

Camping near Gatlinburg is a popular way to enjoy the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here are some of the best camping options including Elkmont Campground, Cades Cove Campground, Cosby Campground, Smoky Bear Campground, Twin Creek RV Resort, Greenbrier Campground, and Up the Creek RV Camp.

Skiing and snowboarding in Gatlinburg

While Gatlinburg may not be the first destination that comes to mind for skiing and snowboarding, there are some great options for winter sports enthusiasts in the area. Here are some of the top places to enjoy skiing and snowboarding in Gatlinburg such as Ober Gatlinburg, Cataloochee Ski Area, Ski Sapphire Valley, Smoky Mountain Ski Club, and Snow tubing at Pigeon Forge Snow. Some of these places are located outside Gatlinburg about an hour of drive.

Summer hiking trails in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a great destination for hiking, with plenty of trails that offer beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here are some of the popular summer hiking trails in Gatlinburg to check out including Laurel Falls Trail (2.6-mile round-trip), Chimney Tops Trail (4-mile round-trip), Alum Cave Trail (4.4-mile round-trip), Rainbow Falls Trail (5.4-mile round-trip), Grotto Falls Trail (2.6-mile round-trip), Ramsey Cascades Trail (8-mile round-trip) and many more.

Christmas events in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a popular destination for Christmas events, with plenty of holiday cheer to go around. Some of the top Christmas events include Gatlinburg Winter Magic in which Gatlinburg is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with millions of twinkling lights adorning the streets. Festival of Trees is an annual event that takes place at the Gatlinburg Convention Center and features dozens of beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, and other holiday decorations. The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is another annual parade featuring floats, marching bands, and of course, Santa Claus. The parade takes place in downtown Gatlinburg and is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show is a four-day event that takes place at the Gatlinburg Convention Center and features over 200 artisans showcasing their handmade crafts and gifts. Admission is free.

Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede is a popular dinner show that transforms into a holiday extravaganza during the Christmas season.

Anakeesta and Ober Gatlinburg’s Ski Resort and Amusement Park are transformed into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with festive decorations, holiday lights, and special events. These are just a few of the many Christmas events in Gatlinburg.

Romantic Gatlinburg honeymoon ideas

Gatlinburg is a beautiful and romantic destination for honeymooners. There are plenty of ideas for a romantic Gatlinburg honeymoon such as you can stay in a cozy cabin with beautiful mountain views, Taking a romantic scenic drive of the surrounding area offering breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains, Visiting a winery for a sip of some wine and enjoy a romantic afternoon, Take a hike at one of the hiking trails with stunning views of the mountains and wildlife, Have a spa day as several spas in Gatlinburg offer romantic packages for couples, Go on a hot air balloon ride to see the mountains from a different perspective, Enjoy a romantic dinner, or you can also go for horseback riding.

Gatlinburg wedding venues

Gatlinburg is a picturesque mountain town that offers a variety of wedding venues for couples looking to tie the knot in a stunning natural setting. Some of the top Gatlinburg wedding venues to be considered include Chapel in the Glen, Gatlinburg SkyBridge, The Lodge at Buckberry Creek, Bluff Mountain Inn, The Barn Event Center of the Smokies, The Park Vista, The Lodge at Gatlinburg Falls. These are just a few examples and there are also more wedding venues in Gatlinburg according to your choice and budget.

How to reach Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and can be easily accessed by car, plane, or bus once you have decided to enjoy this scenic vacation destination this year.

By Car

Gatlinburg is easily accessible by car and is located just off Interstate 40. From the east, take Exit 407 and follow Highway 66 south to Gatlinburg. From the west, take Exit 435 and follow Highway 321 to Gatlinburg. The town is also just a short drive from major cities like Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta.

By Air

The closest major airport to Gatlinburg is McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, which is approximately 45 minutes away by car. The airport is served by several major airlines, including Delta, American, and United. From the airport, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service to Gatlinburg.

By Bus

Greyhound offers daily bus service to Knoxville, which is approximately 45 minutes from Gatlinburg. From Knoxville, you can take a local bus service or rent a car to reach Gatlinburg.

FAQs about Gatlinburg

  1. What is the best time of year to visit Gatlinburg?

    The best time to visit Gatlinburg depends on personal preferences. Summer is the busiest season, with warm weather and a variety of outdoor activities available. Fall is a popular time to visit for colorful foliage and festivals. Winter offers skiing and other winter sports, as well as holiday events and decorations. Spring is a quieter time to visit, with mild temperatures and blooming flowers.

  2. Is Gatlinburg a good place for families?

    Yes, Gatlinburg is a great place for families. There are many family-friendly attractions and activities, including amusement parks, museums, and outdoor recreation options.

  3. Can you hike in Gatlinburg?

    Yes, there are many hiking trails in and around Gatlinburg. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers over 800 miles of trails, ranging from easy walks to strenuous hikes.

  4. What is the weather like in Gatlinburg?

    Gatlinburg has a moderate climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and humid, while winters are cool and occasionally snowy. Spring and fall offer mild temperatures and are popular times to visit for outdoor activities and events.

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