Today’s topics for discussion may seem like total polar opposites, but considering they both center around the same breathtakingly awesome town, they both share the one common element sure to make them the vacation of a life-time, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Whether you are planning an all out massive family reunion with screaming kids and crazy uncles, or just a quiet romantic getaway for two, this bustling mountain town has it all. With a full time population of less than 4,100 people living in the town year round, this small town should not be underestimated when it comes to outdoor activities, entertainment, and pure southern charm.
Just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg has access to hundreds of miles of prime hiking, fishing, boating, and camping, while the town itself supplies a taste of “Music City” and all the local food and entertainment that is found in the heart of the beautiful Tennessee countryside. So skip Florida, the South of France, and the Caribbean Islands and instead take a look at some of the unique and fabulous vacation opportunities and adventures awaiting you right here in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
Join me now as we take a look at some of the local attractions and activities that can be found in and around Gatlinburg. Many of these activities can be enjoyed by both large groups and by those looking to spend some quiet time alone together. No matter your party size you are sure to find many exciting and wonderful things to do in Gatlinburg, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains.
Let’s start by finding a place to stay. There are many places to choose from in Gatlinburg. You can chose from one of our many original owner rented cabins, beautiful Gatlinburg cabins, large Chalets, Lodges or downtown condos for your one-of-a-kind mountain vacation. From tiny one bedroom romantic getaway cabins tucked into dreamy little forest vales, to huge seven plus bedroom cabins with wrap around porches large enough to support the biggest, wildest family reunions, with amenities ranging from quite rustic (ever use an out house?) to completely modern (hot tubs and media rooms). The cabins are cleaned, maintained and have 24 hour emergency service available throughout your stay for added peace of mind and convenience. Some cabins are even ‘pet friendly’ and cater to your four-legged “furballs”. In Gatlinburg you can customize your stay to guarantee that you have the vacation of a life time and the good news is that there are prices for every budget, as little or as much as you want to pay, the choice is always yours. Try getting that kind of deal on a cruise or trip to Spain. Your time is important to us and we want you to feel as at peace here as you do in your own homes. Come check out the local cabins and other locations for rent and let us treat you to a memorable time.
Outdoor activities including boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking are all popular with nature enthusiasts and with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park so close, these are daily activities routinely enjoyed by millions of visitors each year. With trail names like: Charlies Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs, Andrews Bald, Rainbow Falls, and Chimney Tops, is it any wonder that hikers seek out these popular destinations throughout the year to enjoy the varied scenery offered during the changing seasons? During the winter months the leaves and foliage are all gone opening a clear view to the stone walls, chimneys, ridges and other reminders of the wildness of nature and of those who came before us. Spring brings a constantly changing palette of brightly colored wildflowers, a multitude of various greens, and acres of fragrant flowering trees, while summer provides hikers with an excuse to seek out the cool shade of the spruce-fir forest and to relax along the splashing mountain streams and the roaring, tumbling waterfalls and cascades, where one hopes to catch just a bit of that misty, refreshingly, cool spray.
Autumn hikers are treated to the turning of the leaves. The golds, reds, browns, and oranges compete to win your eye, while the crisp, dry air tries to steal your breath away. Think about what you want to see; waterfalls, old over grown forests, wildlife, or spectacular views; then choose a trail that meets your distance requirements. If you haven’t hiked in awhile a five mile round trip is a perfect start. Shorter trips are perfect for larger groups traveling together, such as family reunions that have a lot of children with them. Little ones tire out quickly so long trips can leave you with a sore back from packing them home so be prepared and take plenty of water.
Now short hikes are also perfect for the romantically inclined as well. What’s better than a slow walk through beautiful country just to find that perfect log where two people can sit and hold hands and just watch as the day goes by, completely undisturbed by any of the pressures of their normal day-to-day life? Swimming, boating, fishing, and water sports can be enjoyed on many of the local lakes including Tellico Lake, Norman Lake, Melton Lake and Douglas Lake. Millions of vacationers turn out each year to enjoy these crystal clear lakes nestled in the rolling foothills and mountains of East Tennessee.
Douglas Lake has been rated one of the top 5 Crappie and top 10 Largemouth Bass fishing lakes in the nation. The Douglas Dam was built in 1942 of reinforced concrete and was completed in an amazing 12 months and 17 days, an almost unheard of record time for a facility of this size. Melton Lake has a Championship Rowing Course for canoes and kayaks. The lakes are the perfect place to hold a large family reunion. With plenty of swimming, fishing, boat rentals, picnic areas and access to all kinds of water sports how could you possibly go wrong? And with all the secluded spots along the miles shorelines two people are bound to be able to find at least one romantic spot to sit and watch the sun as it lowers dramatically behind the craggy tops of the smoky mountains.
OK, so you’re having this huge family reunion, the kids don’t know each other and are bored and fighting and the adults are about ready to pull their hair out. Who’s idea was this, anyway? Don’t worry Gatlinburg has your back. Take the party up a notch and head for “Ober Gatlinburg” a large amusement park accessed by a 120 passenger Aerial Tramway leaving from downtown Gatlinburg every twenty minutes. With the exception of ski season one ticket will get you unlimited rides for two days. The original tramway was constructed in 1972 and in November 2006 after 34 years of service the tram cars were replaced with modern versions brought in from Olten, Switzerland. Let’s take a brief look at some of the activities you will find at the amusement park:
SKI MOUNTAIN COASTER
5.5 minutes/3750 feet
The ride begins with a relaxing 1000 foot tow to the top. Check out the views! The riders are now in charge of their speed for the next 2750 feet of turns, dips, zig-zags, corkscrews and exciting G-force adventure. Built for the comfort of two riders with higher backrests and shorter brake levers, this coaster can go as slow or as fast as you like, reaching speeds up to 25 miles hour.
1800 feet weather permitting
This thrilling ride combines a scenic chairlift ride with a fun-filled weaving, twisting, dipping, wandering descent on one of two 1800 foot slides through woods and ski trails.
3 hour sessions-all ages
Relax and enjoy year-round ice skating on Ober Gatlinburg’s huge indoor ice rink. The 140’ x75’ indoor ice rink is the stunning centerpiece of the large enclosed mall.
Designed for two, how romantic is that? Relax, hold hands and enjoy these awe-inspiring views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
WATER RAFT RIDES
Prepare for wet and wild fun! No swim suit required, just the desire to get wet and have fun. With names like: Blue Cyclone, Shoot-the-Chute, and Lightnin’ one of these rides is sure to give you the ride of a life time.
Meet our animal friends
Come meet Minnie and BJ our black bear family and their now grown 5 year old cubs, Holly and Chief. We are very proud to share them with our many visitors, but please remember that they are bears and they do sleep during the winter months. River otters can be seen splashing and playing in the underwater viewing area. Checkout our beautiful bobcats and visit the visit the enclosed aviary for a look at the birds of prey. Our nocturnal house includes such night time critters as the raccoon, skunks, flying squirrels, turtles and snakes.
CHAIR SWING/MAZE/ ARCADE/MINI GOLF
Zoom through the air on a four minute ride and experience the near sensation of flight. Challenge your senses and your instincts in this one-of-a-kind giant maze.
Open daily, rain or shine. This arcade is every kid’s dream come true.
Who doesn’t love min golf? Try and shave a few strokes off you handicap!
KIDDIE LAND AND KIDDIE RIDES
Wow! so much to do. Tunnels to explore, swinging bridges to make it across, webs for climbing, ladders for scaling and finally chutes and slides for going down. Plus Kiddie Rides (trains, cars,ect..)
Don’t forget to take a ride on the giant indoor carousel. This is a great place for kids and we don’t just mean the young ones. This ride is perfect for persons of all ages.
Now that we’ve satisfied the screaming kids and saved the over worked parents, let’s move on to our other topic, romantic getaways. We’ve already looked at cabin rentals, romantic hikes and outdoor activities, so what about food, dancing and nightlife? What options are available in Gatlinburg for those looking to spend some time together? For a small mountain town Gatlinburg has a healthy and lively nightlife. So when you are ready to venture fourth from that secluded cabin there are a number of hot spots both family friendly and over twenty-one that are just waiting to be explored.
SHERLOCK HOLMES PUB
Live music, beer, and a great time!
A new addition to the Gatlinburg bar scene this family friendly pub offers the finest in draft beers, Irish and American cuisine, such as fish and chips, and live music on the patio every week.
SMOKY MOUNTAIN BREWERY
Ski lodge meets Bavarian beer hall
This micro-brewery and restaurant is the perfect place to take the family. Enjoy a pint and relax while listening to live music and playing pub trivia.
HOGS AND HONEY’S SALOON
Sports bar by day/hot spot at night
This popular sports bar becomes a rowdy wild west saloon at night. Known for their award winning ribs and wings this bar features a balcony where guests can enjoy the downtown sights.
HARD ROCK CAFÉ GATLINBURG
Rock out with friends while eating good food
The World’s only Hard Rock Café with a wedding chapel. This café dishes up family fun and late night entertainment with homemade food and live music and the rock memorabilia that has deep roots in Tennessee will remind you where it all got its start.
BLAINE’S GRILL AND BAR
Locally owned and operated
Owned and operated by one the descendents of Gatlinburg’s first families this three story building designed in the New Orleans style is a popular sports bar. Guests can relax and enjoy a drink while relishing the views of the mountains and the downtown area from their beautiful balcony.
Open every Friday and Saturday Night
Located Just above Blaine’s Bar and Grill, this place should be your first stop if you are looking to dance.This club features the largest dance floor in Gatlinburg and live DJs spin top 40 hits while specialty drinks are created by top-of-the-line bartenders. Come dance the night away!
Whether you are coming for a reunion or a romantic getaway, one day or a week, the activities and nightlife described above are just a small sample of the wonderful adventures and sights awaiting you in the beautiful, quaint, mountain town of Gatlinburg, in East Tennessee.