This small mountain town gives families a taste of Appalachian Tennessee with gorgeous views of the Great Smoky Mountains and fun for the whole family.
With the only ski resort in Tennessee and a glass elevator offering 360-degree views of the Smokies, Gatlinburg offers a taste of nature and downtown traditions filled with country breakfasts and barbecue.
Each season of the year, families have their fill of activities from which to choose, from bustling summer excitement to the changing colors of the fall to cold-weather fun as snow blankets the tips of the mountaintops in the winter.
A SETTLER’S BREAKFAST
Try one of Gatlinburg’s newest country breakfast spots, Crockett’s 1875 Breakfast Camp. Named after the famous frontiersman Davy Crockett, the restaurant is made from reclaimed barn wood.
This breakfast hot-spot set near the Smokies offers hearty breakfast choices every day from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Look for the giant frying pan out front.
Some of the restaurant’s most-boasted dishes are Jake’s Creek Skillet, a pecan-crusted rainbow trout served with two eggs, and the Black Bear Camp Skillet, which features pecan-smoked bacon, country ham, sausage and two eggs.
* Where: 1103 Parkway
* More info: 865-325-1403
Source: Cabins USA Gatlinburg
ABOVE THE CLOUDS
Gatlinburg’s Space Needle offers the highest seat in town.
Get a 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains and see the tip of the tallest mountain in the east, Mount LeConte, in the daytime or with the light of the stars and moon.
The glass elevator takes you more than 400 feet in the air and gives viewers beautiful sights during all four seasons. The fall is especially exquisite with red, gold and orange bursts of foliage.
Tickets can be purchased online with a special package for two adults and two children at gatlinburgspaceneedle.com.
>On the same site as the Space Needle is a two-story arcade that features over 100 games, simulators and activities for the whole family.
Source: Gatlinburg Space Needle and Arcadia
*From markets to festivals to fairs, Gatlinburg offers activities for the whole family.
- For local produce, baked goods and local arts and crafts, visit the Gatlinburg Farmers Market at 705 E. Parkway from 8:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday, May 14-Sept. 17. Free.
- The Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival celebrates Tennessee’s Appalachian roots through musical performances and a songwriter’s contest around downtown Gatlinburg Aug. 24-28.
- Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair offers 200 booths with handmade arts and crafts vendors, food and live country and bluegrass music. It happens twice a year, in the summer (July 14-17) and fall (Oct. 6-23), at the Convention Center. Admission is $7; kids under age 12 are free.
- The Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff on Nov. 9 from 5-8 p.m. in the downtown Parkway features the lighting of more than 3 million lights for the Christmas season and the popular chili cooking contest. Contestants get to vote for their favorite chili and get a chance to warm up with the hot-chili eating contest.
- The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. lights up downtown with bright floats, giant balloons and marching bands.
*Source: Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau
*TAKE A HIKE
*Gatlinburg offers 800 miles of nature trails and hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Want to backpack or take a short family-friendly hike that leads to a waterfall? The choices for hiking are endless.
- Gatlinburg Trail is a popular 1.9-mile hike that starts at Sugarlands Visitor Center and travels along Little Pigeon River. This trail welcomes cyclists and dogs.
- Laurel Falls is an easy 2.6-mile hike along a paved trail that leads to this 80-foot cascade.
- Chimney Tops Trail is a popular 3.8-mile trek in the Smoky Mountains located on Newfound Gap Road. This steep hike crosses several footbridges, follows a stream along one of the oldest trails in the Smokies and then leads up a narrow pathway, ending at a 4,800-foot bare-rock summit.
*Source: Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau; hikinginthesmokys.com
From carved pipes to handmade fruitwood stools, birdhouses and Native American pottery, this town offers an array of crafts.
Arrowcraft Shop has been recognized since 1930 for pottery, wood, glass and weaving craftsmanship.
The Gatlin-Burlier Tobacconist makes award-winning, custom blended tobacco, locally carved pipes and homemade chewing tobacco.
The Lollipop Guild offers unique gifts for kids. Parents can order videos with characters that sing their child’s name and storybooks where their child is the hero of the tale.
Ely’s Mill Crafts & Antiques was built in the 1920s and is one of the few remaining buildings of Old Gatlinburg that still sells antiques and crafts.
* Arrowcraft Shop: 576 Parkway; 865-436-4604
* Gatlin-Burlier Tobacconist: 601 Parkway; 865-436-4412
* The Lollipop Guild: 631 Parkway, Suite B3; 865-430-3113
* Ely’s Mill Crafts & Antiques: 393 Roaring Fork Road; 865-719-4078
Source: Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau’s guide; elysmill.com
*GATLINBURG AT A GLANCE
*Gatlinburg was originally called White Oak Flats.
- Date founded: The area was settled in 1806, but wasn’t known as Gatlinburg until 1856.
- History: The accepted version of how the city got its name is that Radford C. Gatlin, a flamboyant preacher, established his own “Gatlinite” Baptist Church around the same time a new post office was established inside his general store, and the surrounding town’s name was changed to Gatlinburg in 1956.
- Population: 4,184
- Geographic landmarks: Great Smoky Mountains National Park; Mount LeConte; Sugarland Mountain
- Famous residents: Elijah Lawson Reagan established a woodworking business there in 1910 and made simple hand tools for many years. John Henniger Reagan was in Jefferson Davis’ cabinet.
- Fun fact: Gatlinburg hosts more weddings than any other American city except Las Vegas.
*Source: Gatlinburg Department of Tourism & Convention Center; gatlinburgspaceneedle.com; auntbugs.com; smokymountainnavigator.com; gatlinburg.com