Thinking of Visiting Tennessee?
Don’t Miss Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
With the awe-inspiring Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a background, the picturesque resort cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are the very essence of Tennessee’s Sevier County.
After a week exploring this amazing corner of Tennessee, I feel like writing down how our romantic getaway went. The eastern region is more than staggering views, outdoor experiences and comfort food; people here are known for their hospitality, meaning you’ll feel right at home. The perfect getaway destinations for history buffs, adventurers, foodies and lovers of the good life, this part of Tennessee has it all.
To get you started, you might want to begin your adventure visiting Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, small-town Tennessee at its greatest expression. Here’s how our recent getaway to the region played out, our favorite holidays ever.
Gatlinburg, the White Oak Flats
Previously known as White Oak, Gatlinburg has an immersive history. Land of Cherokees for ages, and later a hotspot for European and early American settlers. The logging city is home to a diverse culture that has evolved into what it is today, a magical place with lots to see and do.
If you’re into skiing, you’ll love Gatlinburg. We visited the Ober Gatlinburg ski resort and outdoor amusement park, which are heaven for thrill-seekers but also wildlife watchers. We took the easier routs, but there’s a challenge for every skill level. ‘The Mountains are Calling’ is the city’s motto, and it’s easy to see why: everything is built around the astounding views and massive ridges.
Miles of hiking trails await. We spent most our mornings walking up and down the Smoky Mountains — you don’t get tired of them. Expect nothing less than world-class dining waiting for you after your long walk, we loved lunch at the Smith & Son Corner Kitchen and started our days at the Pancake house.
The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, supported by the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community, is a must visit. We shopped for authentic works of art and chatted with the locals that made them. You might also want to check out the Ripley’s Aquarium and Museum, they’re fun, and family-friendly activities, but this is just the peak of the iceberg. We wish we had more time! You just can’t see it all.
Talking about peaks, don’t leave the city without walking to the Gatlinburg Space Needle, a 407-foot observation tower with a lovely 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains. We took awesome Instagram-worthy pictures there, and you should too, you’ll want to remember this magical spot.
Pigeon Forge, A big small town
Pigeon Forge is not only a pleasant Smoky Mountain town; it thrives with energy. The city’s name comes from the Little Pigeon River that runs through the area and the flocks of wild pigeons that visited the region every year. Also, part of the ‘Indian Gap Trail’, history goes deep here.
Isolated for centuries, without any major road until recently, it’s no surprise the small town has strong traditions. They’re reflected in the comforting food and the vibrant mountain lifestyle that visitors from all around the country now enjoy every year.
We could have stayed at a chick hotel, or rent a cabin, which we have done before, but this time we went glamping in the city’s green campgrounds, Pigeon Forge has accommodations for everyone. As for things to do, you better get ready for quite a ride.
One day we went rafting the Pigeon River, that very same evening you could see us flying down Pigeon Forge zip lines. In the mornings, we loved to go hiking the Smokies, they’re all stirring emotions; if these adventures aren’t hair-raising enough for you, check out the First Mountain Glider in the world, it’s a sight to behold, one neither my hobby nor I dared to try, but lots of people do, so don’t be a chicken like us!
Then again, after an evening enjoying nature, the folks at Pigeon Forge always welcomed us with open arms for a nice evening downtown. Theater shows, museums, original local dining experiences, and heartwarming drinks. What’s not to love? We’re coming back next year, and we hope to see you there!