Discover Gatlinburg

Located at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. From its humble beginnings as White Oak Flats in the 19th Century, Gatlinburg has grown into a beloved resort town with a colorful history.

Gatlinburg is a playground for outdoor activities and unique experiences. Nature lovers can explore the scenic Rainbow Falls Trail, venture onto the longest pedestrian suspension bridge at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, or hit the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg. For a more leisurely experience, the town offers a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as local moonshine distilleries.

The town also boasts a rich array of cultural events and festivals. The Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival and Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair highlight local arts and crafts, while Gatlinburg Winter Magic brings the town to life with dazzling light displays and festive activities. Plus, with its array of vacation rentals, from cozy cabins to luxurious lodges, Gatlinburg is your perfect place to experience the magic of the mountains, the warmth of Southern hospitality, and the thrill of endless adventures.


Top 3 Facts About Gatlinburg in Tennessee


A Fishy Population

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has over 10,000 sea creatures, while Gatlinburg only has about 4,000 permanent residents. So, yes, there are more fish than people in Gatlinburg!


Moonshine Legalized

Moonshine was legalized in Gatlinburg in 2009, and there are now several distilleries in the area where visitors can learn about the history of moonshine and sample different flavors.


Celebrity Hotspot

Gatlinburg is a popular destination for celebrities; many have homes in the area. Some famous residents have included Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire.

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Must-See Attractions

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Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Family Friendly Activity

Immerse yourself in an aquatic wonderland at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, where over 10,000 exotic sea creatures await to dazzle you. Journey through state-of-the-art underwater tunnels, marvel at massive sharks and watch penguins parade. This underwater adventure offers a feast for the eyes and educational insights into the marine world, making it a perfect outing for families and animal-loving adults alike.

Sugarlands Distilling Company


For a taste of local culture and craftsmanship, Sugarlands Distilling Company is a must-visit in downtown Gatlinburg. Here, you can delve into the art of distilling with a behind-the-scenes tour, savor authentic Sugarlands spirits at a guided tasting, and enjoy the lively atmosphere with free music shows on the Back Porch stage.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

Adrenaline Activity

Experience breathtaking views and thrilling heights at the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. The bridge’s transparent floor section offers a unique perspective of the stunning Smoky Mountains and the lush valley below. This might not be for the faint of heart, but it’s undoubtedly a walk you’ll remember forever.

Annual Events and Festivals

September to November 2024

Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival

The Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, lasting from mid-September through late November, celebrates fall and its many splendors. During this 12-week festival, you can admire the town’s loveable decorations, join special culinary events, attend car shows, dress up for the thrilling Sheriff’s Halloween Spooktacular, and more.

October 2024

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

For those who appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of handmade crafts, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is a must-visit. Taking place from October 3-20, 2024, at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, this fair features over 200 artisans from across the nation, showcasing their talents through a wide variety of crafts. You can explore booths filled with unique and one-of-a-kind handmade products, including pottery, leather, copper art, and local candies.

November to February 2024

Gatlinburg Winter Magic

Gatlinburg transforms into a magical wonderland during the winter months with the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Festival. This event features various seasonal activities, including ice skating and a lights display. The town is illuminated with millions of twinkling lights, creating a festive and enchanting environment. Additionally, a holiday parade adds to the celebratory mood, offering a delightful experience for visitors of all ages to enjoy the winter festivities in Gatlinburg.

Top Hiking Trails

Rainbow Falls Trail

Baskins Creek Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

For a memorable hike through the lush Tennesse forest to one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, set aside a day to hike the Rainbow Falls Trail. Starting from the Bullhead Parking Area, you’ll slowly go uphill, crossing bridges and encountering smaller cascades before reaching the mighty Rainbow Falls. Expect the journey to take three to four hours, but if you have the time and energy, continue past the waterfall for more beautiful scenery and solitude.

Laurel Falls Trail

Old State Hwy 73 Scenic, Sevierville, TN 37862

Laurel Falls Trail is an excellent choice within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a family-friendly hike. This historic trail, paved to prevent erosion, leads you on a 2.3-mile roundtrip journey through beautiful forest landscapes to the photogenic Laurel Falls. If you’re visiting in May, watch for the waterfall’s namesake—the mountain laurel—which will be in bloom.

Chimney Tops Trail

Chimney Tops Trail Trailhead, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Are you curious where the best views of the Smokey Mountains are hiding? That’d be the Chimney Tops trail, a relatively short but steep hike that leads to an observation platform showcasing breathtaking vistas of Mount LeConte and Sugarland Mountain. Along the way, enjoy a fun trail featuring numerous bridges and small waterfalls–when you’re not huffing and puffing from the altitude gain.

Best Golf Courses

Gatlinburg Golf Course

520 Dollywood Ln, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States

Nestled just five miles from downtown Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Golf Course offers a superb golfing experience against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains. Designed by William Langford and later renovated by Bob Cupp & Associates, this picturesque 18-hole course offers challenges for all skill levels. From its stunning mountain views to its meticulously maintained fairways and greens, a day here promises to be one for the memory books.

Bent Creek Golf Course

3919 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

The Bent Creek Golf Course, crafted by the legendary Gary Player, is a par 72 gem that has captivated golfers since 1972. The course beautifully splits between a valley floor on the front nine and a mountainous landscape on the back nine, offering a blend of scenic tranquility and golfing challenge. It’s even been celebrated by Southern Living Travel Guide as one of the “Top Fifty Golf Courses in the South!”

Hillbilly Golf

340 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

While this one might be a mini golf course, we couldn’t help but include it. First, you’ll reach the course via an incline tram to the top of a mountain. Then, you’ll navigate unique rustic obstacles like outhouses and stills while winding down the mountainside. Every hole promises a new surprise, and we promise it’ll be a game that goes down as one of your all-time favorites.

Water Sports

SMO Rafting

Rafting Excursions

SMO Rafting provides a thrilling experience on the Pigeon River and is the perfect adventure for those looking to experience the Smoky Mountains from a unique perspective. With options like a scenic float suitable for young children and more challenging Class III-IV Whitewater Trips, SMO Rafting has the perfect adventure to suit your travel group. And if that’s not convincing enough, they’ve also earned themselves the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award​​​​​​.

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Rafting & More

Nantahala Outdoor Center, hailed as “#1 Vacation with a Splash!” by Good Morning America, offers an unforgettable rafting experience on the Pigeon River. With a range of options, including the family-friendly Lower Pigeon trip and the more adventurous Upper Pigeon River rafting filled with Class II-IV rapids, this center caters to various skill levels and age groups. The center’s location allows for beautiful views into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it a must-do activity for those visiting the area.

Smoky Mountain Angler

Fishing Excursion

Smoky Mountain Angler offers a unique opportunity for novice and experienced anglers to enjoy fishing in the streams of the Great Smoky Mountains. As the region’s premier outfitter and guide service, they provide everything needed for a successful fishing trip, including equipment and expert guidance. Their experienced guides, boasting over 70 years of combined experience, offer wade and float trips, ensuring an immersive fishing experience in some of Tennessee’s finest trout fishing spots.

Winter Activities

Play at Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is a renowned winter sports destination that offers a variety of activities suitable for all ages. This mountain-top resort transforms into a winter playground where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. Besides these thrilling snow sports, Ober Gatlinburg offers indoor activities like ice skating and ice bumper cars, making it a perfect spot for family fun. We should also mention that the journey to the resort is an experience, with the aerial tramway providing stunning winter views​​​​​​.

Ski on Clingmans Dome Road

During the winter months, Clingmans Dome Road closes to vehicles but opens up an excellent opportunity for cross-country skiing. Skiers here can enjoy the abundant snow and the spectacular views from this high vantage point in the Great Smoky Mountains. Keep in mind that this road is best conquered by those with experience in cross-country skiing, as it can get tricky in parts.

Hike Old Sugarlands Trail

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t go hiking! Dress warm and in layers, and head out on the Old Sugarlands trail. Just a short drive from Gatlinburg, this trail offers a tranquil escape into nature, away from the busy city life. Winter hikers can enjoy the scenic beauty sans bugs and crowds, and the nearby Sugarlands Visitor Center provides a wealth of information, restrooms, and exhibits, making it a well-rounded hiking experience.

Where to Eat

Calhoun’s in Gatlinburg

$$ – $$$ • Southern BBQ

The Park Grill

$$ – $$$ • Classic American

No Way Jose’s Mexican Cantina

$ – $$ • Mexican

Where to Shop

Ranger Bob’s Trading Post

Gift Shop

The Smoky Mountain Mercantile

Gift Shop

Gatlinburg Elegance

Boutique Clothing store

Where to Sleep

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Tips on Renting a Vacation Home in Gatlinburg

Choose Your Ideal Location

Gatlinburg is divided into various areas, each offering distinct experiences. You might prefer a secluded mountain retreat or a cabin close to downtown Gatlinburg for easy access to restaurants, shops, and attractions. Nearby Pigeon Forge is another excellent location, especially if you want to visit Dollywood​​.

Compare Different Rental Options Online

Take the time to compare various rental options, their locations, and the amenities they offer. This will help you find a cabin that fits your needs and enhances your experience of Gatlinburg’s natural beauty and attractions​​.

Read Reviews and Research

Before finalizing your choice, read reviews from previous guests to gain insights into the property’s condition, cleanliness, and the rental management company’s service. Also, research the cabin’s location to ensure it meets your preferences for outdoor activities and nearby attractions​​.

Set a Budget

It’s crucial to establish a budget for your cabin rental, considering that options range from economical to luxurious. Remember to account for additional expenses like taxes, cleaning, and pet fees, if applicable​​.

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Going Deeper on Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, often called the “Gateway to the Smoky Mountains,” is rich in history and natural beauty. Its story began in the early 19th century when Martha Jane Huskey Ogle and her seven children journeyed from South Carolina to the area then known as White Oaks Flats. The settlement was named for the abundant white oak trees that dotted the landscape, and Ogle’s cabin still stands today at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in downtown Gatlinburg.

However, the town’s name change from White Oaks Flats to Gatlinburg brings some drama. The story goes that Noah Ogle, the first merchant of record in Gatlinburg, established a store in 1850, which later became the Riverside Hotel. His son and subsequent generations continued the family tradition, expanding the store to cater to growing needs.

As for that name change, well, that’s attributed to Radford C. Gatlin, a controversial figure who opened the town’s second general store in 1854. The town was renamed Gatlinburg after establishing a post office in his store in 1856. Despite his contentious nature and eventual banishment from the community, Gatlin’s impact on the town’s identity remains a significant chapter in its history.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a year-round destination, with each season offering unique experiences. Summer is popular for outdoor activities and events, fall brings stunning foliage, winter is ideal for enjoying the nearby ski resorts, and spring offers beautiful blooms and mild weather.

Absolutely! Gatlinburg is known for its family-friendly attractions, including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area, and various outdoor activities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Gatlinburg is located at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it an ideal base for exploring the park. The entrance to the park is just a few minutes drive from downtown Gatlinburg.

Gatlinburg offers a wide range of accommodations, including hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. Many accommodations provide scenic views of the mountains and easy access to local attractions.

Wildlife sightings are common in and around Gatlinburg, especially in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors may see animals like black bears, deer, and various bird species. However, it’s important to observe wildlife from a safe distance.

Gatlinburg has a diverse dining scene, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining restaurants. The area is known for its Southern cuisine, including barbecue and homemade fudge, along with a variety of international food options.

Muskoka is known for its picturesque towns and charming villages. Some popular towns you can visit include Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, and Port Carling. Each town offers its unique attractions, shops, and restaurants, making them perfect stopovers during your exploration of the Muskoka region.

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