If you haven’t been to Gatlinburg, you are missing out! I’ll never forget my first trip to Gatlinburg. I traveled with my college boyfriend on our way to Daytona (wooooooo!!!). It was my first ever evening tent camping at a mostly empty campground. That night, we held the tent down with our body weight as (certainly to my parent’s horror), 83 tornados swept through Tennessee and its surrounding states. While definitely leaving an unforgettable impression, we’ve found reasons to come back almost every year since. We just wrapped up our 11th Annual group trip and it inspired me to share with you why you should head to the Smokies!
- Year Round Treasure – While we typically love to visit at the peak of fall colors, Gatlinburg is definitely a year round destination. Tubing and camping in the summer, enjoying the new life that breaks through in the spring, and cozying up in a chalet in the winter make Gatlinburg a popular spot no matter what time of year.
- Something for Everyone – A huge reason Gatlinburg is so popular is the variety of things to do. Some folks love to hike and explore all the wildlife in the mountains. For hiking, we love Laurel Falls, Andrew’s Bald, and Cade’s Cove to name a few. Others hit up the streets of downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for shopping, games, and tours. My favorite spot is a set of shops in the center of downtown Gatlinburg called “The Village.” Stores I visit every time are the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen, Zi Olive, and Alewine Pottery for some beautiful pieces to take back home!
- Friendly to All Budgets – Another ideal thing about Gatlinburg is the huge range of lodging for all budgets. Campers can find sites for as little as $20/night (Elkmont is our go to), hotels have competitive rates (we love the Fairfield Inn), and chalets range from low budget to large group locales with all of the amenities included.
4. Location, location, location – This year we had 35 people from 6 states join in on our group trip. Gatlinburg’s central location makes it ideal for those who are able to drive up in a day, get in a long week and, and make it back home before the workweek begins. Don’t forget the marshmallows 😉
5. It’s Beauty is Unmatched – There is nothing more peaceful than being able to remove yourself from everyday life and technology and appreciate the beauty around you. Whether it be a bear sighting (which in reality will more likely be a turkey or deer sighting), listening to one of many waterfalls or creeks, or just breathing in the fresh mountain air, Gatlinburg is a spot to reconnect and re-energize. There are many reasons the Great Smoky Mountains are the most visited national park in the United States!
Happy tip – One thing to keep in mind when visited Gatlinburg is that traffic can be verrrrrry congested getting in and out for the weekend. Many years ago, we stopped driving in and out of Pigeon Forge to get to Gatlinburg simply because it could add an hour (or several) of drive time. Be sure to plan carefully depending on what time of year you visit!