On my travels into America’s great tourist spots, nothing has stood out more that Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gatlinburg offers some of the most exciting and unique activities in the entire United States while being smack dab in the middle of Appalachia. They have everything a kid and a kid at heart could ever want to do: go-karts, theme-parks, shopping, restaurants, and a serene national park. Finding time to do all of these things can be a challenge, but a couple of days spent sampling is better than not getting to experience it at all.
Most big cities do not offer the type of family-filled attractions that Gatlinburg offers for a family vacation. Sites like Las Vegas and Atlantic City have fun things planned, but are cities geared towards more adult themes like gambling. Branson, MO has some fun things to offer, but can seem watered down and too preachy at times. Gatlinburg offers the perfect blend of wholesome, exciting, and unique without a minute of boredom.
One of the most charming aspects about visiting Gatlinburg is its unique location in the heart of The Great Smoky Mountains. Everything about the city is lush and green with a slight haze from the mountain fog surrounding it. It is almost a surreal experience looking up from the strip and seeing rows of buildings almost stacked onto the mountain side. You can plan a day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and view what life was like for pioneers who wanted to settle in the west.
The main strip in Gatlinburg offers virtually everything you could desire. There are hundreds of novelty shops to purchase souvenirs and other off-beat gadgets. There are also several unique attractions like theaters, psychics, and even a Ripley’s Believe it or Not. If you venture just a little bit outside of the city, you will find a large outlet mall and a couple of specialty malls that provide everything from clothing to freshly prepared fudge.
Just outside of Gatlinburg, in Pigeon Forge, lies Dollywood, a theme park based on and inspired by country mega-star Dolly Parton’s life and work. There are also several go-kart tracks and mini-golf courses which look like they were ripped straight from comic books. For super thrill seekers, there are even places to kayak and mountain bike through the Smoky Mountains.
A couple of days spent in Gatlinburg are just enough to make your family want to come back for next year’s vacation. You can be sure the kind-hearted mountain folk will be ready for you next time.