Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is more than just a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains; this charming and vibrant destination invites travelers worldwide to experience its must-see attractions.
From skiing to exploring the national park, the city has so much to offer. As a first-time visitor, creating an itinerary that helps you make the most of the city can be overwhelming. Luckily, you’re at the right place.
Here’s a complete guide on how to make the most of Gatlinburg during your trip.
Planning Your Trip
Spontaneity is all fun and games, but the only way to make the most of any trip is by planning ahead. With so much to see and do, having a well-thought-out itinerary ensures you don’t miss out on the city’s highlights. Before you pack, research all the things you can do in Gatlinburg. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone has over 800 miles of hiking trails. We recommend exploring Clingmans Dome, Alum Cave, or Laurel Falls if you’re into nature. Meanwhile, the downtown area will give you a glimpse into the small-town charm you’ve been looking for
Gatlinburg has a long list of must-see attractions. From the Smoky Mountains to the SkyPark, the city has a lot to see. Before you visit, don’t forget to check out a Gatlinburg webcam to see if the area is crowded. Here’s what to expect from the most popular attractions:
- Ober Mountain offers everything a winter lover needs and more! That includes snow tubing opportunities, ice skating, snowboarding, and skiing. You can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Mt. Harrison slopes alongside the endless activities.
- Moonshine Mountain Coaster is one of the most popular attractions in the state, so your trip will be incomplete without it. The Smokies rollercoaster is undoubtedly the best part of this experience, taking you through zips and plunges at 30 mph.
- Shopping is the one thing we always swear we won’t do on our trips but end up doing anyway. If you’re looking for a different shopping experience than the one back home, don’t forget to visit Mountain Mall.
Of course, your trip to Gatlinburg is incomplete without visiting the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park has scenic views, adventurous hiking trails, fascinating wildlife sightings, and educational tours. We recommend visiting this place in the fall when the mountain’s foliage changes colors. If you’re a fan of hiking, trails like the Alum Cave Trail, Clingmans Dome Trail, and Laurel Falls Trail are must-visits.
Dining and Cuisine
Located in the heart of Tennessee, there’s no doubt that Gatlinburg is home to rich Southern cuisine. If you’re looking for a trip full of comfort food, it’s the place to go. Southern fried chicken is a must-try, often served with coleslaw, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and gravy. You’ll also find delicious BBQ in this city, with many restaurants serving pulled pork, beef brisket, or smoked chicken. If you’re seeking comfort in a plate, don’t forget to try out the meatloaf, country-fried steak, and macaroni and cheese. The city’s homemade fudge and taffy are also a must for those with a sweet tooth.
Shopping and Souvenirs
Many come to Gatlinburg for its classic charm, best found in the city’s downtown area. It’s a bustling hub of activity and a must-visit destination during your trip. You’ll find endless shops, boutiques, and artisanal stores to keep you occupied during your visit! From handcrafted jewelry and artwork to specialty goods and clothing, there’s a lot you can take home to your friends and family. The street performers, musicians, and various entertainers add even more to the lively downtown vibe. Downtown Gatlinburg is also the best spot to find delicious homemade fudge in any flavor.
Gatlinburg is the ideal spot for a fun-filled family vacation! There are so many awesome attractions that both kids and adults will love. One of the must-visit places is Dollywood, a super cool amusement park. They have crazy rides that’ll make your heart race and live shows that will amaze you. If you’re into marine life, you’ve got to check out Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. It’s like stepping into an underwater wonderland! You’ll see colorful fish, playful penguins, and even sharks. It’s an adventure you won’t want to miss. But that’s not all! Other family-friendly attractions in Gatlinburg include mini-golfing, go-karts, and a scenic chairlift ride.
Safety and Responsible Tourism
Most importantly, you must remember to respect Gatlinburg’s nature and wildlife. It’s the only way to preserve the natural beauty of the city and its surrounding mountains. That means you can’t feed the wildlife as it can severely impact their health and behavior. Also, you must stay on marked trails, dispose of trash properly, and never get too close to the wildlife.
Gatlinburg offers a delightful escape into the lap of nature. If you want to make the most of this trip, there’s a lot you need to know about its activities, downtown area, local cuisine, wildlife, and accommodations. If you’ve read our guide, you’re prepared to make the most of Gatlinburg.