Gatlinburg is the gateway to the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a popular destination for both tourists and nature enthusiasts. Although this beautiful town only has about 4000 locals, it’s always crammed with tourists. Twelve million nature lovers a year, to be exact.
People love Gatlinburg for its convenient location and unparalleled natural beauty. But there are plenty of adventures here too. You can zipline through the lush greens, explore ancient caves, or hike to stunning mountain views.
So, if you’re ready to make the most of your trip, hold onto your hats. Gatlinburg is a wilderness paradise waiting to be explored.
1. Choose Where to Stay
Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are only minutes away from each other, but they offer distinct lodging options. It is why tourists are often indecisive about where to stay.
But if you’re hoping to spend days enjoying the Smokys National Park, Gatlinburg is your best bet. You’ll be centrally located in all of the park’s major attractions.
Although there are plenty of lodging options, hotels in Gatlinburg fill up fast. It is because the town is a year-round destination. The hotels offer all the amenities you might need for a comfortable stay. If you’re on a romantic getaway, choose a hotel that offers amenities like a Jacuzzi, all you need to do is look up jacuzzi room hotels Gatlinburg TN, and explore options that fit your budget and offer privacy.
You can also find family-friendly hotels and resorts that offer kids’ activities and supervised child care.
We suggest you book in advance to avoid the hassle of finding a hotel room. That way, you can focus on enjoying your trip.
2. When to Visit Gatlinburg
The best time to visit Gatlinburg is from late April to early May. The weather is breezy, and the crowds are manageable. Plus, the wildflowers are in bloom, making the hikes even more beautiful.
Fall is a beautiful time to be in Gatlinburg. The leaves are changing, and the temperatures are cooler. But be warned, the town gets bustling during the peak fall season. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit during the shoulder season.
Winter is also magical in Gatlinburg. The snow-capped mountains make for a picturesque backdrop, and the town is decked out in holiday lights. Plus, you can enjoy winter activities like skiing and snow tubing. Just pack your warmest clothes.
3. Schedule Your Visit According to Festivals and Events
There’s no better way to enjoy a destination than by experiencing its culture. Gatlinburg has a few annual festivals and events you won’t miss.
The Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales is a summer-long event that features musical performances and storytelling in the streets. You’ll witness street performers in historical costumes as they bring the mountains to life.
The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is another must-see event. It takes place in early November and features over 150 best craftsmen across the country. You can find everything from woodwork to jewelry to pottery.
If you wish to meet Santa, visit Gatlinburg during the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival. The town transforms into a magical wonderland with millions of lights and festive decorations. Santa even makes an appearance at the Gatlinburg Space Needle.
4. Know Your Options to Get Around Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg is a small town, so it’s easy to get around on foot. But if you’re planning to visit the national park or hike, you’ll need to take the Gatlinburg Trolley. It’s an affordable and convenient way to see the area.
The trolley has several routes that will take you to all the major attractions. Plus, it’s a great way to avoid traffic and parking.
If you’re planning to visit the national park, we recommend taking the Gatlinburg Trolley to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. You can also catch the park shuttle to various trails and attractions.
Of course, you can always drive your car. But be warned, traffic can be heavy during peak season. And parking can be challenging to find, especially in the national park.
5. Never Miss a Pancake Breakfast
Every destination has its must-eat food; in Gatlinburg, it’s pancakes. The town is known for its pancake houses, and there are a few that you won’t want to miss.
The Pancake Pantry is one of the most popular spots for breakfast in Gatlinburg. They’ve been serving up pancakes for over 60 years, so you know they’re doing something right. Try their classic pancakes or creative flavors, like blueberry cheesecake or pecan pie.
Another local favorite is the Log Cabin Pancake House. Their butterscotch chip pancakes are to die for. They come with various toppings, like chocolate chips, bananas, and pecans. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try the skillet pancakes.
Of course, no pancake breakfast is complete without real maple syrup. And you can find it at the Ole Smoky Mountain Candy Kitchen. They make their syrup the old-fashioned way, and you can watch them make it in the store.
6. Sample the Shine
Moonshine is a big part of Gatlinburg’s history. And today, you can find several distilleries making their shine. So, if you’re not against alcohol indulgence on vacation, be sure to sample the local moonshine.
Ole Smoky is the most famous distillery in Gatlinburg. They offer distillery tours; you can even try their moonshine for free. Some winner flavors include watermelon, honey, and apple pie.
Suppose you’re looking for something a little stronger, head to the Sugarlands Distilling Company. They offer a variety of moonshine and whiskey, and you can create your custom blend.
No matter which distillery you visit, be sure to drink responsibly. Gatlinburg is a small town, and there’s no need to cause any trouble.
7. Don’t forget to Ride a Chairlift
Gatlinburg rests in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. So, it’s only fitting that you ride a chairlift to the top of one of the mountains. It’ll give you a breathtaking view of the area.
There are several chairlifts in Gatlinburg, so if you’ve got time, try all.
Anakeesta is the newest attraction in Gatlinburg. And it includes a chondola ride to the top of the mountain. Once you’re at the top, you can explore the Anakeesta Forest, shop at local boutiques, or dine with a view.
If you’re looking for a longer ride, take the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. It’s been around for over 50 years and will give you a steady ride to the top. Since it was just recently revamped, so it’s nicer than ever.
Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway is another option, and it’s the only way to get to Ober Gatlinburg, a popular ski resort. The ride is short, but it’s a great way to avoid traffic and parking.
We hope you agree that Gatlinburg is perfect for a week-long vacation. With so much to do and see, you’ll never be bored. Make sure you plan well, so you’re not left without a hotel room. If you plan on attending any events, always get hold of the tickets as early as possible. And most importantly, bring your best mood and your sense of adventure. Gatlinburg is a place that’s meant to be enjoyed.