Gatlinburg, Tennessee Fast Facts Travel Guide

A view of a city at night

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is one of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s principal gateways to the park. Over nine million people visit the park annually. There is much to do and see in this mountain hamlet from shopping to mountain arts. Here is a fast tips travel guide to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Lodging in Gatlinburg

You can enjoy a night away no matter what your budget and taste level. Gatlinburg has over 60 hotels. In addition, there are more than 1,500 lodging opportunities in the ways of chalets, condominiums and cabins. They range from one bed room hideaways to multi-bedroom, multi-level log cabin mansions that will accommodate more than thirty people. Rooms do book up during the peak seasons of summer and the early fall. Make a reservation early to secure your desired location for your desired time to visit.

Dining in Gatlinburg

There are more than eighty restaurants in Gatlinburg. Here you can find everything from down home Southern cooking to top notch gourmet dinners that will satisfy any foodie’s appetite. Some restaurants specialize in seafood, prime rib or wild game. 

Gatlinburg is a southern town in the Deep South, so you will be able to find country ham and red eye gravy, southern fried chicken, biscuits and gravy as well as fresh mountain trout. Some favorites of the city specialize in breakfast. Keep in mind that Gatlinburg is a fun and casual sort of town. You can dress up if you like but you can certainly be comfortable and casual.

Entertainment in Gatlinburg

There are attractions on every corner of Gatlinburg. One of the most popular attractions is Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, which is one of the ‘must-sees’ when in Gatlinburg. With over 1.3 million gallons of saltwater and home to thousands of exotic fish, the aquarium features a long see-through tunnel which makes the visitor feel as if he is suspended in the water with the fish.

Other attractions await adventure above Gatlinburg to the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort and Amusement Park. America’s largest tram takes 120 passengers to the top of Mount Harrison for fun above the city. There are also live performances galore.

Getting Around Gatlinburg

Park the car and hop aboard the trolley service, which travels throughout Gatlinburg. It also reaches to the Smoky Mountains National Park entrance at Sugarlands Visitor Center and to the Laurel Falls trailhead, which is one of ten popular hikes in the Smokies. For around $2.00 per day per person, you can purchase the All Day Trolley Pass, which provides unlimited access on the trolley of city routes. Parking will cost you more if you take the car into Gatlinburg, if you can find a parking spot. Parking is very limited in the most popular areas of the city.

Annual Events in Gatlinburg

There is something going on in Gatlinburg every month of the year. In the spring, look for the Gatlinburg Scottish Festival and Scottish Parade. Another spring event is the Gatlinburg Fine Arts Festival. One of the most fun events occurs in the summer beginning in June and lasting through August of each year. Throughout the summer, the Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales present musical acts, characters and storytellers all around the Parkway, which is the main street through Gatlinburg. The July 4th Midnight Parade pulls in thousands of visitors. This actually occurs on 4th of July Eve, at the stroke of midnight. There are activities all day, concluding with a fireworks display on the night of the 4th of July.

There is a Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival in the fall as well as a Taste of Autumn in September. Each November, the city of Gatlinburg lights up the Smokies with a Winter Magic Celebration that lasts through February. Millions of lights twinkle on the Parkway. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are very special times in Gatlinburg.

All ages love Gatlinburg from the smallest child mesmerized by Christmas lights to the young couple marrying in what is often called the “Las Vegas of the South.” Whether you stay in a small hotel directly on the Parkway or a rustic chalet on the mountain, you will find Gatlinburg delightful. There are small treasures in the many gift shops, original art in the artisan’s loop and every kind of fun food imaginable.

Gatlinburg is often like a carnival, but still has that fresh charm and air that only the tallest peaks of the Appalachians can provide. Catch a waterfall and watch a vaudeville comedy show while eating a funnel cake before a gourmet meal. You can do all of this in one day, a weekend or a week. There is always something to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.