This is a post that I’ve been meaning to post for a while now, but never actually got around to unfortunately. As of now, I am taking a break from studying and decided to write rather than take a nap. I’m sure most of you have heard of the devastating fires that affected Georgia, South and North Carolina, and Tennessee. Gatlinburg was one of the cities that was horribly affected, and is a city that I have been visiting for years now. It may be far different than some other news that you’ve been seeing; but I wanted to share the enjoyable parts of Gatlinburg to lighten the mood, and to show how beautiful the area was before the fires.
My friend Alex and I took a short trip to Gatlinburg this summer. The little mountain city known as “The Gateway to the Smoky Mountains” has so much to offer. Although it has exponentially grown, especially in the past few years, there is still plenty to do besides the typical “tourist” attractions on the main strip.
The first sight of the mountains that you will get is driving to Gatlinburg! You will venture through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the views can be incredible! Make sure to pull off and take some pictures!
If you want to see the mountains, but aren’t a fan of hiking – head over to the skylift! It’s not hard to spot, as it is bright yellow against the mountain behind it! It is a good way to see Gatlinburg without expending too much energy.
Another fun way to see the mountains without hiking is to go on a horseback tour through the mountains! As some of you know, I love horses and have been riding since I was young, so seeing new places on horseback is always one of my favorite ways to see the world!
Of course, you should consider hiking while you’re in town! It is a way to meet new friends, work off some of the great food that you’ll be eating, and a way to see some really neat sights that you can’t see driving or closer to town. Alex and I did a few 0.5 mile hikes in a row – on which we saw a deer super close, lots of other woodland creatures, and a few historic structures. We then discovered the Rainbow Falls hike and decided to give it a go, since the sign said 2.5 miles to the falls! We figured we had plenty of time to complete the hike before dinner, and that it would be really cool to see some awesome waterfalls! Be Warned: the hike is NOT 2.5 miles – that is probably the direct route to the falls (which is not hikable in a straight line). The trail winds back and forth up the mountain. Both our Fitbits and my Runkeeper app tracked the trail closer to 8 miles! Make sure if you’re going to do this hike, you bring lots of snacks and water, and are prepared for a tough hike! Luckily, we met some nice people who gave us some snacks, and we were able to cool off in a few
freezing small waterfalls along the way. Unfortunately, our phones died before we got to the actual falls, so I don’t have any pictures of it. But it was a really beautiful waterfall, and probably the tallest one that I have ever seen!
Of course, you can’t forget about the actual town of Gatlinburg! There are plenty of places to eat, all of which have not disappointed! My personal favorite breakfast place is the Log Cabin Pancake House off of Airport Road. Their breakfast [and pancakes] are incredible, it boasts a family atmosphere, and has great home cooking. They also have numerous collegiate flags hanging all over the restaurant [so of course here’s their Clemson flag.]
For lunch or dinner, there are many options. Most of them are chains, but I felt I could include my favorites!
I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post about Dick’s Last Resort in Orlando – there is a location in Gatlinburg as well! This location seems to pull off the sarcasm and mess-making better than the Orlando location. I found out that managers are sent to the Gatlinburg location for training, so it makes sense that their location is top-notch sarcastic.
A new place that we tried was Crawdaddy’s. We got lunch and ate on their balcony overlooking the main street in Gatlinburg. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was fun and we got lucky with beautiful weather as well!
Of course, another favorite of mine is the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Themed around the movie Forrest Gump, you can’t go wrong with any kind of shrimp dish they have to offer. The restaurant is surrounded with movie memorabilia, and your waiter or waitress will quiz your Forrest Gump movie trivia knowledge! It is a family friendly atmosphere with great food, and a fun environment. There are multiple locations throughout the country – another one is in Orlando as well!
For dessert, stop at any one of the small stands on the side of the road. Most of them are great, and I have yet to be disappointed! We decided to get ice cream, since it was the middle of summer and pretty warm. You may want to try something a little warmer this time of year though!
-Moonshine & Brews-
Of course, being in the mountains of Tennessee, you can’t forego the moonshine tastings. There are multiple locations that you can taste, including Ole Smoky Mountain Moonshine and Sugarland Moonshine [these are probably the two most popular ones]. You are given a flight of mini-shots of moonshine; some will put some hair on your chest, others are sweet like apple pie. Tread carefully, one tasting is more than you’d think! They are free though, and tasting some moonshine is part of the [adult] Gatlinburg fun!
There are multiple wine tasting locations – each boasting numerous types of wine. Most of them are sweet wines [muscadine is pretty popular], but you can find some drier wines if you ask around! Most of the wine shops have cute T-Shirts and knick-knacks as well, so be sure to stop in and see some of their stuff!
There aren’t many breweries in town, but we did find the Smoky Mountain Brewery. They offer a flight of small beers for around $10, all of which are made in-house. They also double as a restaurant and have great food and appetizers!
-The Town of Gatlinburg-
If you have the chance to visit, be sure to do some of the goofy touristy things like all of the Ripley’s locations, or the millions of miniature golf options that they have. While goofy, they are fun to do every now and again. Dollywood, a theme park in Pigeon Forge [the next town over] is another fun touristy thing to do, if you have the time!
Don’t forget to walk around off the beaten path a bit either, you can find some neat locations just a short drive from town! [Like this little gorgeous church – great photo op!]
Enjoy Gatlinburg for all it has to offer, and make a fun trip out of it! I hope that this post will help in your travels. I hope that this gives you a little idea of what the town is like, especially before the destruction from the fires. Remember to pray for a speedy recovery for the town and the mountains after these devastating fires.