Maybe it’s the serene visage from the ground below, or perhaps a primal yearning to climb to the top. Nonetheless, wherever mountains are, people will follow. And although some cities have managed to capitalize on a seemingly mountain-based tourism economy, other areas of the country have still remained small. Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one such area.
Gatlinburg is dwarfed by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park located right at the town’s border. However, the town’s population is nowhere near the sprawling city of Memphis. Even local tourist hub Pigeon Forge has at least a thousand more residents than Gatlinburg.
As is the case in many sleepy towns, you can’t always judge a community by its size. The lingering morning fog rising up from the woods gives the town a mystical quality. While the surrounding picturesque forests and wildlife would easily inspire a painting by Thomas Kinkade. Hints the painting there is one of the artist’s stores in the area.
Because of the natural call of the wild, Tennessee is no stranger to tourist attractions. Although it may seem a bit overboard in areas of Pigeon Forge, it is much more subdued in Gatlinburg. The Gatlinburg Space Needle is the most obvious attraction, rising over 400 feet into the air. Despite the main draw to a Tennessee getaway as being able to unplug, the Space Needle is a more glitzy touch to the town. It is home to two stories of dining and entertainment. It’s a slice of the big city that offers some of the best views around.
Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook, on the other hand, provides some of the most stunning views around. Located on the Gatlinburg Bypass, is the ideal spot to look at fall foliage. The drive alone is worth the stopping at this spot.
The Village also referred to as the Village Shoppes and the Shops at the Village is a unique shopping destination. Not just because it has three different names, but because it was constructed to look like a traditional German village. Despite being originally constructed back in 1970, this outdoor mall has been lovingly kept up, rivaling any theme park storybook village. Home to nearly 30 unique stores, this mall is a fun day out, even if all you plan on doing is window shopping.
The Mountain Mall is located between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, across from Ripley’s Aquarium. This shopping complex features six levels of unique offerings. It includes local vendors with tourist knickknacks, dining, home goods, music and entertainment shops, and more. You’ll find something for everyone, and you’ll be close to many area attractions in the process.
The Great Smoky Mountains is an obvious top spot to visit. This is the most visited national park in the country, and with good reason. With a plethora of wildlife, mountain views, hiking and camping, and acres to explore, this park is stunning any time of year. And considering the park and its famous mountains extend all the way to North Carolina, you may never run out of areas to explore.
The Gatlinburg Trail is one of the main trails that runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is for walking, hiking, and dog walking only. However, the other main trail, the Oconaluftee River Trail, does allow biking. Traveling through the forest, guests can see rivers, quaint walking bridges, and the ruins of old homes that were built long before the park was established.
Closer to town, the upper portion of the Pigeon River features white water rafting that is as challenging as it is thrilling. The lower section offers less strenuous activities such as floating down the river, as well as peaceful fishing.
From serene hiking and camping to fun tourist attractions, you will find Gatlinburg to be a great destination for any trip.