Filled with endless activities, shows, restaurants, and of course, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s no wonder Gatlinburg is such a popular vacation destination. While visiting Gatlinburg will provide you with lifelong travel memories, there are a few things you need to know before you go.
Gatlinburg Has Something for Everyone
Whether you’re on your honeymoon or traveling to the Smoky Mountains for a vacation with the kids, everyone will love spending time in Gatlinburg. Be sure to enjoy one or more of these iconic activities and attractions while visiting Gatlinburg:
Outdoor Activities in Gatlinburg
If you love the great outdoors, then a vacation in Gatlinburg is exactly what you need. When planning your Smoky Mountains vacation, make sure these outdoor activities are part of your plans:
- Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains
- White Water Rafting
- Horseback Riding
Of course, this is only a handful of the exciting outdoor adventures that await you in Gatlinburg!
Shopping in Gatlinburg
Those visiting Gatlinburg for the first time need to take advantage of the prime shopping opportunities. Browse through these shopping malls during your trip to the Smokies:
- The Village Shops in Downtown Gatlinburg
- Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway Mall
- Mountain Mall
- Shops at Carousel Gardens
If you’re looking for a handcrafted gift or work of art, head over to the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community where you’ll find shops such as:
When visiting Gatlinburg, there are specific attractions that you must experience in order to have a true Smoky Mountain vacation. In addition to exploring the magnificent national park, make sure these top-rated Gatlinburg attractions are part of your itinerary:
- Ripley’s Aquarium
- Ober Gatlinburg
- Gatlinburg Space Needle
- Guinness World Records Museum
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not
- Fort Fun
Whether you want to see the Gatlinburg landscape from high in the sky or your children want to play mini golf, there’s something for everyone in Gatlinburg.
Shows in Gatlinburg
Lastly, you have to reserve seats for one of the many jaw-dropping shows. From the mesmerizing production quality to the side-splitting humor, the shows in Gatlinburg and just next door in Pigeon Forge are a must-see. Get your tickets for one of these phenomenal shows:
- Impossibilities – Magic, Mindreading and Mayhem!
- Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show
- Smoky Mountain Opry
- Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure & Dinner Show
- Dixie Stampede
- The Comedy Barn
- And More
From the great outdoors to show-stopping performances, Gatlinburg has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg offers visitors a wide range of lodging options. Visiting Gatlinburg is a breeze when you stay at one of the many hotels, cabins, resorts, or camping sites.
The hotels in Gatlinburg are second to none. With luxurious amenities and comfortable rooms, every type of traveler will enjoy staying at one of these top hotels:
- Bearskin Lodge on the River
- Old Creek Lodge
- River Terrace Resort
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations Smoky Mountains
For those who want a more laid-back vacation when visiting Gatlinburg, consider staying at one of the premium cabins available. Cozy cabins are located all over the Smoky Mountain region, so you can find one near the specific attractions and activities you’d like to experience. Reserve a cabin for your family with one of these cabin companies in Gatlinburg:
- Eden Crest Vacation Rentals
- Hearthside at the Preserve
- Bluff Mountain Rentals
- Hearthside Cabin Rentals
Perhaps you prefer the all-inclusive route when on vacation. The Smoky Mountain region offers several different resorts to choose from, including the Resort at Governor’s Crossing and RiverStone Resort and Spa.
Of course, if you want to rough it in the wilderness, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers plenty of campsites. Follow all rules, regulations, and guidelines laid out by Park Rangers and the National Park Service. Also, be on the lookout for wild animals such as bears. Should you choose to go camping when visiting Gatlinburg, make sure you understand what to do if you encounter a bear!
Where to Eat in Gatlinburg
Now to the most important part of any vacation — the food. Gatlinburg is home to a wide assortment of restaurants, distilleries, breweries, cafes and so much more. Trust me, you won’t regret visiting or dining at any of Gatlinburg’s top food and drink spots:
- Ole Smoky Distillery
- Pancake Pantry
- Donut Friar
- The Peddler Steakhouse
- Smoky Mountain Brewery
- Three Jimmy’s Restaurant
From a home cooked meal to sampling moonshine, you won’t be disappointed with the food choices when visiting Gatlinburg on vacation!
Tips for Visiting Gatlinburg for the First Time
Once you know what to do, where to stay, and where to eat, it’s time to answer your Gatlinburg vacation questions
When Should I Visit?
As you might have guessed, the Gatlinburg area can become extremely congested during the peak seasons, which are:
- Early January
- June through August
For fewer crowds, visiting Gatlinburg during the months of February, March, April, May, September, and November is your best bet.
How Bad is the Traffic?
Brace yourself for the infamous Gatlinburg traffic. No matter when you decide to travel to Gatlinburg, you will encounter traffic. One way to avoid this is to utilize the Gatlinburg Trolley. Not only is it a great way to see the area, it also eliminates parking fees and pesky traffic.
Also, driving through Gatlinburg at off-peak times of the day will help you combat traffic. Try driving in the middle of the morning or afternoon, rather than at typical rush hour times.
What Should I Pack?
The Gatlinburg area experiences all four seasons, so pack accordingly! Even if you plan on visiting Gatlinburg in the summer, you’ll want to have a sweatshirt or two on hand. It tends to be chilly during the evening and early mornings in the mountains.
In addition, don’t forget to bring:
- Hiking Boots
- A Swim Suit
- A Camera
- Bug Spray
- Weather Appropriate Clothing
Will Visiting Gatlinburg Break the Bank?
With so many activities, attractions, and shows, it may feel as though visiting Gatlinburg will break your vacation budget. Not true! Thanks to discounted tickets and lodging rates at Reserve Gatlinburg, and free activities such as hiking in the Smoky Mountains, visiting Gatlinburg is incredibly affordable.
Now that you know everything about visiting Gatlinburg for the first time, start planning your vacation!