This past week I finally got the chance to head back to one of my favorite places. It’s always a mix of adventure, relaxation and great memories. Gatlinburg, Tennessee sits perfectly surrounded by the Great Smokey Mountains. There are so many adventures to be had here. Personally I love just being in the mountains and being able to look out at the world below. We stayed at my families lodge nestled in the mountains that has the best overlooking view of the entire town of Gatlinburg. This is where I just sat in the early morning taking in the beautiful view and breathing in the fresh, crisp mountain air. The clouds seem to linger between the mountains like a blanket.
In town there are many places to visit and great places to chow down or grab some drinks. Make sure you go to No Way Jose’s and The Burro Loco if you’re in the mood for some Mexican flair. These are two of my favorite restaurants with some of the most lively atmosphere around. If you like seafood, make sure you check out Crawdaddy’s. They also have the funniest t shirts around. There is also a huge variety of other food places from Shoney’s to the Melting Pot and Dicks Last Resort. There are a few local barbeque joints that really hit the spot as well including Bennet’s! If you’re looking for breakfast the old pancake house is the best in town. The antique looking building has old rocking chairs lining the giant front porch. Also in town you have to visit Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler with free tastings and a great gift shop. Recently, they have added Bootlegger’s Homemade Wine and Davy Crockett’s Tennessee Whiskey which also have free tastings for most of their flavors. There are plenty of candy shops for your sweet tooth. Fudge, giant caramel and candy covered apples and taffy are just a few tasty treats. Off the beaten path is Rocky Top Cinnamon Rolls, which has the yummiest cinnamon rolls that are also the size of my face.
Once you’ve had your fill you’ll need something to do, and there is no shortage of exciting adventures. For something new, I decided to get an an old time photo taken with my friend who came down with me. We had a great time playing dress up and now have a picture to go along with the memories. Also the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is great even for those who don’t prefer hiking since it’s a drive through nature loop. There are sites and original houses here from the 1800’s when the first families settled here. Also in the National Forest is Cades Cove which is another driving loop. There are plenty of hiking trails some of which lead to beautiful waterfalls. However, we opted out of these since they go through the back country and we could not bring our dog.. park rules. The Gatlinburg Sky Needle is cool to get a view from above, however the cabin we stay at has a much better view! I have also been to the riding stables and white water rafting, both of which I would highly recommend. We ventured up to Ober Gatlinburg which is a large scenic overlook complete with an ice skating rink, water slides, mini golf and a chair lift to the top of the mountain. This is a must for anyone who is visiting Gatlinburg for the first time. There are also zip lines, helicopter tours, and zorbs which are giant clear blow up balls that they put you inside then roll you down the mountain. I saved these adventures for another time because my vacations are always on a budget. We also went to the Gatlinburg Mysterious Mansion which was great for the $10 price. There are also too many mini golf places to count! My favorite is Hillbilly Golf down the side of a mountain as well as Lost Treasure Golf in Pigeon Forge. Speaking of Pigeon Forge, there are many dinner shows and fun museums to visit in this area one town away from Gatlinburg! There is also the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, Haunted House and Aquarium if you are willing to spend big bucks.
There are so many great things to do in Gatlinburg and the Smokey Mountains. The feel of the South just seems a little different than here in Ohio. This is a tourist town that never lost it’s hometown feel. But don’t take my word for it, head over and find out for yourself.