Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a town located right next to one of the entrances to Smoky Mountain National Park. We had originally planned to camp while in the Smoky Mountains, but because we went during August (and planned kinda late) there ended up not being any camping sites left. Instead, we stayed at a small, cheap hotel in Gatlinburg. This ended up being a good option considering that was a decent amount of rain and storms while we were there.
What to do in Gatlinburg?
– If this isn’t obvious enough, go explore the Smokey Mountains! Rainbow Falls Trail and The Laurel Fall Trail are great trails that both bring you to amazing waterfall sites. Cade’s Cove makes for a scenic drive through the Smokies and to some historic buildings. Clingmans Dome has the highest elevation in the Smoky Mountains. It is a bit of a drive into the park, and once parked there is a short (completely up-hill) hike to an observation tower. From the photos I have seen the view is amazing, but sadly enough the day we choose to go all we could see was fog.
– Shop at The Village, a small shopping area off the main road with “27 unique shops.” There is a variety of very well, unique shops. Specific stores that stand out include a sock shop, olive oil shop, and an outdoor gear shop. The outdoor shop, The Day Hiker, had extremely good prices for last minute backpacking or camping needs. Plus, they had a fun collection of shirts with mountains sayings.
– Taste some moonshine! I mean really, where other than Tennessee is a better place to get some real moonshine? There are plenty of varieties – my favorite being Appalachian Apple Pie by Sugarland Distilling Company. Davy Crockett’s Tennessee Whiskey and Moonshine also had some fun flavors, my favorite there being the cinnamon whiskey and the salty carmel whiskey. Ole Smokey Distillery is also a very popular moonshine distillery in Gatlinburg, but we didn’t quite make it that far.
– Grab a Brew. Smoky Mountain Brewery has a selection of beer, my favorite was the Cherokee Red Ale. It is also a full service restaurant, and we all choose some pizza to go with our brews.
-Taste some wine. Sugarland Cellars offers FREE wine tasting and FREE tours until 5 pm daily.
– Get sucked into the many tourist traps of Gatlinburg. The town of Gatlinburg has become very touristy with places such as Rippely’s Believe It or Not!, Rippely’s Mirror Maze & Candy Factory, Mini Golf, Dick’s Last Resort, Guinness World of Records Museum, and Hauntings: A Live Ghost Show. These are generally the places I try to avoid while traveling (and in general), but they are there if you would like.
All of these locations are located right along the main drive through Gatlinburg, making it very easy to walk anywhere (which is especially good if you are tasting wine, beer, moonshine, and whiskey).