If you’re new to the area and looking to get away for the weekend, or go on a day trip, you’re in luck! Gatlinburg is just a mere hour away. With all it’s Appalachian tradition and history, a smoky mountain town is a popular place for Knoxville residents to escape the city. If you’re wanting to stay overnight, you can either hole up in a cabin in the woods or get a place within walking distance of downtown. Whether you’re taking the whole family on a mini vacation or just wanting to soak up a slower pace of life, here’s how to get the most out of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Where to Eat
If there’s anything cuisine wise that Gatlinburg does right, it’s breakfast. The Pancake Pantry is Tennessee’s first pancake restaurant and it is so cozy you’ll think you’re in an old cottage deep in the Swiss Alps. The Pantry has long since been a staple of this mountain town. Just don’t be deterred by the neverending line that wraps around the building in the wee hours of the morning. These aren’t your everyday pancakes. Everything is fresh, made from scratch, and oozing decadency. Another must stop, is Crockett’s Breakfast Camp where all the best meals are served in a piping hot skillet. Inside you’ll be taken back to the pioneer days and treated like a true frontiersman.
What to Drink
Moonshine and Whiskey run deep within the Appalachian culture of the Smoky Mountains. Distilleries and tastings are aplenty, with Ole Smoky Whiskey and Moonshine, Doc Collier Moonshine, and Sugarlands Distilling all within walking distance of each other. No matter where you go, $5 will get you samples of the tried and true flavors as well as seasonal specialties. If you’re going with a group of friends, these make for affordable stops along the main drag of downtown Gatlinburg and will most certainly bring about a rowdy good time. The tasting guides themselves are always a hoot, making it perhaps the most popular attraction for adults. Each tasting is even followed up with a coupon so you can bring home souvenirs your friends and family will actually want.
What to Do
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is no doubt the main attraction in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. When it comes to enjoying the scenery in America’s most visited national park, you just can’t go wrong. Whether you’re winding up the side of the mountain via car or horseback, you can take in the sights year round. Amidst the natural wildlife, there are many hiking trails known for their waterfalls, and in the fall, colors pop throughout the valley.
Dubbed “the best seat in Gatlinburg” the Sky Lift is an open ride that allows you to take in all the mountain air around you as well as the lush trees below. It’s perfectly slow and smooth so you can relax on your way to the top of Crockett Mountain.
The Village is a European themed shopper’s hideaway nestled in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg. It’s 27 whimsical little shops provide a nice escape to the bustling activity nearby. Chances are you’ll find yourself there more than once during your stay. Make a point to stop inside The Donut Friar for freshly made treats, stroll through The Lazy One for a new set of fun mountain themed pajamas, and get your caffeine fix from Coffee & Company.
The Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area, sits at the top of the mountain and is packed full of family-friendly activities. From a mountain coaster and wildlife encounter, to an alpine slide, you can practically spend the whole day exploring. When there’s snow on the ground, Ober is the place to be for skiing, snowboarding and tubing. During the summer months, Saturday evenings can be spent by riding the tram or taking a drive up Ski Mountain Road to enjoy local & live music with a view.
It’s just not a vacation if you didn’t play a little putt-putt, and when it comes to mini golf, Gatlinburg offers up a multitude of courses. None however, compare to Hillbilly Golf. Before you can play, you have to ride up an incline to the top of the mountain. You then putt your way back down what is one of the most unique mini-golf courses in the country.
If you don’t fit it all into one weekend, don’t fret! With this short of a commute, residents of Knoxville can visit the mountain town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee again and again.