RedWeek Travel Guide: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

published on April 14, 2022 by

Located in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg blends outdoor adventure, southern charm, and rustic elegance into one scenic package. The stunning Great Smoky Mountains National Park may be the main draw — but there’s much more to Gatlinburg to discover. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

You might think that Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or Rocky Mountain might be the most popular national park in the U.S. But think again. It’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, which attracts more than 12 million visitors every year. Don’t worry, though — at more than 500,000 acres, there’s more than enough room for everyone. Here are a few Great Smoky must-dos while you’re in Gatlinburg. 

  • Newfound Gap: This 31-mile roadway (the only fully paved road in the park) delivers some of the most spectacular views in U.S. — maybe even the world! You’ll climb to over 5,000 feet above sea level and venture to Clingman’s Dome, one of the Smokies’ most iconic sights. 
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: Another great drive, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail takes you through old-growth forests and historic buildings from centuries back. Extend the trip by taking a hike to Rainbow Falls, which leads to a gorgeous waterfall. 
  • Cades Cove Loop Road: More fascinating Tennessee history can be found here. Cades Cove Loop Road travels through a verdant valley (often filled with white-tailed deer), where you’ll see some of the earliest structures built by European settlers in the area. 

Things To Do In Gatlinburg

Beyond the National Park, Gatlinburg is packed with family friendly fun and unique attractions. 

  • Space Needle Observation Tower: No, you’re not in Seattle. Gatlinburg has its own Space Needle, which rises 400 feet above town. Take the glass elevator to the top, soaking in amazing panoramas. 
  • Gatlinburg Skybridge: Another way to get above it all in Gatlinburg. The Skybridge is the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America, stretching 700 feet across a lush valley. 
  • Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area & Amusement Park: A mountaintop full of fun, Ober Gatlinburg is a ski area by winter and an amusement park the rest of the year, with waterslides, roller coaster, and much more. 
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies: Visit an underwater wonderland, where you’ll see more than 10,000 sea creatures in 10 themed galleries. Penguins, sharks, manta rays — they’re all here! 
  • Anakeesta: Located high above Gatlinburg, Anakeesta is a theme park that blends perfectly with its scenic surroundings. Visit the botanic garden, go ziplining, stroll the 16-bridge skywalk and climb to Gatlinburg’s highest point on the Anavista Tower. 

Where To Eat & Drink In Gatlinburg

Classic Tennessee food and beverage abounds in Gatlinburg.  

  • Buckhorn Inn: A Gatlinburg institution since 1938, the Buckhorn boasts grand Smoky Mountain views accompanied by perfectly prepared three-course meals. The menu is ever-changing, but it is guaranteed to be delicious. 
  • The Peddler Steakhouse: If you’re in the mood for a classic steak dinner, look no further than the Peddler. Here, the steaks are grilled over Tennessee hickory charcoal, bringing authentic flavor to every bite. 
  • Sugarlands Distilling Company: Located in a charming, converted barn, Sugarlands creates some of the U.S.’s most beloved spirits. A tour takes you behind the scenes, followed by a sampling of the distillery’s very best whiskey, vodka and more. 
  • Ole Smoky Moonshine: Moonshine is a time-honored Tennessee tradition, and Gatlinburg’s Ole Smoky is one of the best places to experience this uniquely southern beverage. 

Where To Stay In Gatlinburg

  • Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort at Gatlinburg: Located at the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this rustic retreat features wonderfully appointed cabins with either creek or mountain views. 
  • Wyndham Vacation Resorts Great Smokies Lodge: The Wyndham brand brings its signature style and service to the greater Gatlinburg area, with a location that is adjacent to both the national park and the championship Eagles Landing Golf Course. 

Start planning your Gatlinburg vacation with RedWeek now. 

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