Ride Through Gatlinburg Tennessee
This video takes you on a tour of the bustling tourist destination of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It is populated with visitors that come from all over the United States to see the beautiful scenery of the Smoky Mountains and take in all the excitement of the downtown area--which is full of great eateries, attractions, and arcades to keep everyone in your family more than satisfied. If you’ve never been to Gatlinburg, you may want to read about what you’re actually seeing in the video: it will be taking you from the National Park all the way through Gatlinburg and onto the spur which leads into Pigeon Forge.
As the video begins, you will find yourself entering Gatlinburg after driving on Newfound Gap Road through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park--an essential part of your visit. Some notable places you may want to check out on your vacation appear on the left at the beginning. The first is Sugarlands Cellars: it is one of a few wineries in town and offers wine tastings and bottles of wine that are crafted on site and made from grapes right here in the Smokies by generations of farmers. The elaborate bottle designs--and names of the different wines--showcase the fine local history and the inspiration for these fine wines. Right beside Sugarlands Cellars is Old Dad’s General Store. It serves as a convenience store with a working grill featuring a wide selection of quick and tasty breakfast and lunch items for someone who doesn’t want to do the sit down casual restaurant; or someone who wants to take a picnic lunch with them on their way into the mountains for a nice day of hiking. Just a bit further ahead will lead you to the giant skillet in front that invites you into one of the best breakfast spots in town: Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. The skillets inside are not much smaller and could potentially feed a family of 3 by itself. They are only open until 1 p.m., so if have a morning to try them, it is highly recommended by tourists and locals.
The first thing you will notice coming into town on the right side is the sporting goods behemoth that is the Nantahala Outdoor center, or simply, NOC. This 18,000 square foot store offers a dizzying selection of outdoor apparel, gear, and footwear--everything you could possibly need for either your vacation, or your active lifestyle. Kids will appreciate the swinging rope bridge on the second level and the bear cave carved into one of the walls. Traveling a bit more up the road takes you to Calhoun’s Village, which features the Copper Cellar restaurants’ big three: Calhoun’s, Smoky Mountain Brewery, and Cherokee Grill. At each location you can enjoy a refreshing craft beer that’s brewed on-site at the Brewery. Each restaurant offers some nuance to their menus: Smoky Mountain Brewery offers pub-style foods with great pizzas; Cherokee Grill is a bit fancier, but casual, with its seafood and steaks; Calhoun’s is known for their ribs and barbecue, but also has steaks and excellent side dishes. The Gatlinburg Convention Center--also on the right--is home to many different events during the year; most of which you will not want to miss: concerts and the seasonal arts and crafts shows that feature exhibits from the many artisans and crafters from the Arts and Crafts Community on Glades Road (not featured in the video because they are located off the beaten path).
Just before stoplight #8 in Gatlinburg, you will begin to see why Gatlinburg is such a hit with the family. The Star Cars Museum is great for the car, movie, and TV show enthusiast, since it features famous cars in some of your favorite Hollywood and small screen shows. Next door you can find the first two of seven total Ripley’s attractions in Gatlinburg: Ripley’s Haunted Adventure and the 5D Moving Theater--each one is an entertainingly fun experience that even the adults might find worthwhile.
The iconic Gatlinburg Space Needle--a symbol of the town since 1969--is located just off the Parkway and rises 407 above the mountain resort. For about $10 a person you can ride the elevator to the top to gaze at spectacular views of Mt. LeConte and a 360 degree perspective of the entire area. If the first trip up wasn’t enough--and you weren’t too frightened by the experience--you can ride again at night for free and take in a beautiful Smoky Mountain sunset.
After light #8 ahead on the left is one of the working distilleries that have appeared since it became legal to sell moonshine: Sugarlands Distilling Company. They’ve risen in popularity as one of the top attractions in Gatlinburg due in part to the experience: a tastemaker will crack jokes after stepping up to a bar-in-the-round as he (or she) will tell you about each one of their flavors of moonshine--and for $5 you can sample their lineup for the day, and you will get a voucher for that amount to purchase anything in the store. Ole Smoky is another favorite in town, and even if you aren’t a fan of alcohol drinking, there is live music nearly every day in at least one of the locations from very talented musicians trying to earn a living doing what they love. Also, be sure to check out their broad merchandise selection, which includes sauces and jams.
The two locations that follow have been traditions for Gatlinburg visitors for decades, and they are the Sky Lift and The Gatlinburg Inn. The Sky Lift takes guests up Crockett Mountain for an amazing view of Gatlinburg and the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, the gift shop at the top was destroyed in the fires of 2016, but the recently refurbished Sky Lift will still live on and continue to delight first time and old time riders. The Gatlinburg Inn has been accommodating guests since 1937, and it’s a popular draw due to the number of famous guests who have stayed here throughout the years; most notably, the songwriting duo of Felice and Boudleaux, who wrote the song, “Rocky Top” in Room 388 here.
Looking to your right as you head further down the Parkway in Gatlinburg there are a few gems here that many proclaim as their all-time favorites. As you walk through the awning of The Village Shops, you will feel like you are stepping into a quaint, European village adorned with little shops that almost make you forget you are in Tennessee. There are 27 such shops in this little village that sell everything from toys and boots to coffee and donuts. The Day Hiker is like a miniature version of NOC with its hiking supplies, but its small-scale nature ensures that you will be able to find an employee easily and help you with any questions. The Donut Friar has been here since The Village’s humble beginnings, and its only considered by almost everyone as having the best donuts in the Smokies. If your morning has to begin with a cup of joe, The Donut Friar can give you a caffeine fix, or you can hang a left into a little nook to find Coffee and Company where the owners--who took over the shop in the early 1990’s--will expertly craft your favorite coffee brew, hot, iced, or with their various cappuccino flavors.
Outside and next to The Village are two Gatlinburg visitor’s favorites: Pancake Pantry and Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. Everyone’s favorite breakfast splurge is pancakes and few can say they’ve done it as long--and as well--as Pancake Pantry has been doing with pancakes. The lines can be long at this Gatlinburg tradition, but it never deters the die-hard pancake and breakfast fan from making a trip to this throwback business--and by throwback, expect to be treated to hand-written order tickets and cash only pay methods. Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen’s beginnings in Gatlinburg stretch all the way back to 1952--and despite a myriad of candy options in downtown Gatlinburg, they have proven that if you make a good treat, there will always be a market for a candy shop in a tourist destination.
After passing this section of town, you are now getting to the northern edge of Gatlinburg, where the foot traffic gets a little lighter; however, that could be changing with a few new attractions that have either recently opened, or will be open soon. The new Anakeesta development opened in September 2017 and offers two options for a ride atop the mountain: chondola or open-air chair lift similar to the Sky Lift. Once you reach the top, you’ll be greeted with views never before seen by visitors of Gatlinburg. It’s an amazing sight, and there are plenty of activities for you to make a day of it here. There is a Children’s Playground, a few eateries and shops, a zipline for the thrill-seeker, and an amphitheater that is under construction and should be ready by next summer.
Margaritaville is the newest hotel resort coming to Gatlinburg in 2018 and will be located just past the famed Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies--another one of Gatlinburg’s family favorites, and one of the best aquariums in the country. This resort will dwarf the Twin Islands hotel that unfortunately had to be torn down to make way for the giant seven story, 174 room hotel that will soon be accommodating guests with its island themes smack dab in the mountain resort of Gatlinburg.
Even as you are heading out of Gatlinburg, there are a few more attractions that should catch your eye on the right. There are two fairly new mountain coasters that have opened in Gatlinburg--one of which opened this past summer: Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster. The other coaster was the first of its kind to appear in Gatlinburg a few years ago, simply named Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. Each of them takes you on a fun ride down the mountain after the slow climb builds the excitement for the last part of the ride. Another long-time business in town is Hillbilly Golf. Here, you actually get to ride in a moving car that takes you up to two 18 hole miniature courses which are perched on the mountainside, offering a truly unique experience.There are so many different things to do in Gatlinburg, many of which are not included in this article. It is important to spend a little time downtown to visit the various shops and say hello to the friendly people that work hard to maintain Gatlinburg’s reputation as one of the most hospitable--and popular--vacation destinations in the country. It is hard to argue that Gatlinburg certainly has more than enough activities to keep the enjoyment from fading, and you just might want to keep coming back, because chances are good that you didn’t have enough time to experience everything that Gatlinburg has to offer visitors.