If you're looking for the perfect relaxing getaway, look no further than the gorgeous Appalachian city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gatlinburg, located in East Tennessee, is just minutes away from the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge (and Dolly Parton's hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee). Gatlinburg offers something for everyone — and I do mean everyone. Just last month, the Gatlinburg Convention Center hosted a massive Bigfoot convention for Sasquatch superfans. Attention, cryptozoologists!
Whether you're a moonshine swigging thrill-seeker or just want to spend some quality time in nature searching for legends of folklore, the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains should be on your travel bucket list.
Wide Open Country recently visited Gatlinburg and compiled a list of must-see sites and must-do activities. Here's your travel guide to Gatlinburg attractions:
Ripley's Believe it or Not
The Gatlinburg Ripley's Believe it or Not features eight unique attractions, including Ripley's Haunted Adventure and Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. There are even two mini-golf courses. If you're looking for family fun, this is a great place to start.
Shop For Handmade Crafts
Gatlinburg has a strong crafts community, which is well represented on the Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail, a historic eight-mile loop where independent artisans, from painters to basket weavers, make and sell their wares.
Sweet Fanny Adams Theater
If you're looking for laughs on your Gatlinburg trip, check out the Sweet Fanny Adams Theater. Opened in 1977, the theater is known for its musical comedies. It's a timeless Gatlinburg experience that everyone should experience at least once.
Ole Smoky Moonshine
If you want to (legally) sip a little White Lightnin' or just some good Tennessee whiskey, Ole Smoky's downtown Gatlinburg Holler is paradise. I tried the $5 moonshine and whiskey tasting with the hilarious and informative J.J., who kept us laughing as we sampled an assortment of samples from the company's offerings (the Ole Smoky Salty Caramel Whiskey was a highlight).
Sugarlands Distilling Co.
If you're not tired of moonshine yet (and if you're like me, you won't be), stop in Sugarlands Distilling Co. for another tasting (the Blockader's Blackberry moonshine is to die for) and a private tour of the still house with Connie.
Want to see Gatlinburg in real style? Hop aboard Ober Gatlinburg's aerial tramway, which travels 11,000 feet above the city, providing spectacular views. The tramway will drop you off at the Ober Gatlinburg amusement park and ski area.
Gatlinburg Space Needle
The Gatlinburg Space Needle, a 407 foot tall observation tower, overlooks the Smoky Mountains. The glass elevators and observation deck provide a 360 degree view of the breathtaking Tennessee city.
The Gatlinburg SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian bridge in the United States, opened in May of 2019. Ride the chairlift, known as the SkyLift, to the top of Crockett Mountain and step out onto the nearly 700-foot long, 140-foot high bridge for a truly unforgettable mountain view. I faced my fear of heights to walk across the bridge and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
What kind of Gatlinburg travel guide would this be without a recommendation for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Gatlinburg is known as the gateway to the Smokies — and for good reason. The town is just a short drive from popular park sites such as Rainbow Falls, Clingmans Dome and more. If camping isn't your scene (or if you just want to be extra cozy on your trip), there are plenty of options for cabin rentals.
A travel guidebook is always helpful. It's entertainment for the shotgun rider, so feel free to tell the driver where the next stop is.
A charged phone on a road trip is crucial. Consider buying a portable charger.
You can never go wrong with a hat. When it's time to get out of the car and sightsee, you'll be happy you had a moisture-wicking hat on.
This post was originally published on August 15, 2019.
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