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On The Road Again
N. Carolina
S. Carolina

Las Vegas in the Smokies!

View of Gatlinburg from above.


One of my favorite vacation spots is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It’s like a mini Las Vegas minus the casinos. You can shop, dine, and get married all in the same day. If that’s not for you then you can just rest and relax in a peaceful atmosphere.

Gatlinburg is nestled in the Smokey Mountains. One of East Tennessee’s most beautiful places, Gatlinburg has so much to do and see that you can’t do it in one day. It’s surrounded by mountains and streams. The most popular is Little Pigeon River. The river runs all through the area and has waterfalls and cool places to wade in. The water is clean and pure. Just looking at the scenic stuff will keep you busy for hours.

When you’re done looking at the scenery, be sure to check out Gatlinburg’s main drag. Highway 441 runs straight through Gatlinburg. The best way to do it, is to park and walk. The streets are lined with shops, restaurants, and attractions. Ripley’s Museum has four attractions, miniature golf, games, go-carts, shows, and even a ski resort. There’s a winery, a space needle, and horseback riding, way too much to list here. For you Dukes of Hazzard fans, Cooter has his own garage there where you can see original props from the show and buy memorabilia. Sometimes during the year you can get his autograph!

While you're playing, don’t forget to eat. I suggest first buying some salt water taffy. It is some of the best in the U.S. and you can watch it being pulled! Whatever your pallet desires, you can find. Chinese, Mexican, cafe’s, and there is a Hard Rock Caf. Everything is within walking distance. I love the Mexican restaurant where I got some wonderful fajitas. Prices are really reasonable which is good for my family of five!

With all this fun and food, you’re going to need a place to rest your head. Believe me, you will get tired. That problem is solved too. You can stay right on the main drag if you like. You won’t have to use your car at all unless you want to visit surrounding towns and you might. Prices range from $69 to over $200, depending on where you stay and what time of year it is. All the hotels run room specials all the time so be sure to check first and see if you can get a deal. I’ve never paid $200 or more for a room and I’ve stayed in some pretty nice places. If you prefer to stay away from the action check Seveirville, or Townsend.

Be sure to venture off the main drag to the side streets. More shops and restaurants await you. Arts and crafts by master craftsmen and women abound everywhere. You can find anything your heart desires. I even found a clothing store for my dog! There is even sidewalk entertainment. Gospel, bluegrass, and country entertainers play right on the sidewalk. Toss some money in their cases. They work hard.

Gatlinburg is a destination for any season. In the fall, enjoy the multi-colored leaves. The mountainsides are painted in reds, yellows, and greens. The weather is perfect for afternoon strolls. In the winter, you can rent a mountain cabin or chalet and enjoy a warm drink by roaring fireplace. A perfect time to visit the ski resort.

Now we’ve had a great time but is that it? No way, Jose! Those surrounding towns I talked about have many, many things to do as well. Pigeon Forge, Townsend, Seveirville, Cherokee, NC and more just waiting to be explored by you. I don’t suggest trying to do it all in one weekend or even one week. This is a place you can go back to over and over and still find stuff to do.

If you’re a history and nature bug, go to Cades Cove. A drive through the Cove and you’ll learn about the area’s history, see wild animals, and old log homes and churches. A community founded in the 1800's, this place is worth the trip by itself!

For you who will miss the casinos, you can take the short drive over to Cherokee, NC. Harrah’s Casino resides in Cherokee. The drive over there is one of a kind. It goes over the top of the mountain and at the top is the NC/TN border. You can honestly go from one state to the other in two steps. While you're up there stop over at Pike’s Peak for the most beautiful views you have ever seen.

See my other reviews of Pigeon Forge and surrounding areas including the Great Smokey Mountians National Park, another Gatlinburg favorite.

For more information visit

Gatlinburg is close to I-40 and I-75. Directions are given at the site above.


Pictures Copyright 2003 Carlene Reed

Text Copyright 2004 Carlene Reed

All pictures are taken by me unless otherwise noted.