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Architectural Digest magazine recently released its picks for “The 25 Best Small Towns in America,” and we’re pleased to report that Gatlinburg, TN made the list! Our Smoky Mountain city took the #16 spot, beating out well-known destinations like Mystic, CT, Breckenridge, CO, and Hot Springs, AR. Although it attracts over 11 million visitors each year, Gatlinburg is indeed a small town, with only around 4,206 permanent residents.
Unsurprisingly, Architectural Digest was particularly interested in small towns with interesting architecture – a qualification that Gatlinburg certainly meets! To help you plan your next vacation, Visit My Smokies has put together a guide to seven of the most unique buildings and landmarks in Gatlinburg.
Unique Buildings and Landmarks in Gatlinburg
1. Gatlinburg Space Needle
The Space Needle is the most famous fixture of Gatlinburg’s skyline! Standing at 407 feet tall, this striking observation tower is equipped with two glass elevators. When you reach the top of the needle, you will enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the city and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2. Historic Ogle Cabin
The Historic Ogle Cabin was the first log home built in Gatlinburg. The cabin was constructed in 1807 by Martha Jane Ogle, her brother Peter Huskey, and her children. Four years earlier, Martha’s late husband William had scouted the location for the cabin and fashioned logs out of local timber for the home. The Ogle Cabin is located at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center.
3. The Village Shops
Tucked away behind the Pancake Pantry in downtown Gatlinburg, The Village Shops boast some of the area’s most distinctive architecture. Featuring a brick walkway, a lovely fountain, and German-style buildings, this popular shopping area truly does look like a quaint European village. For a handy guide to shopping at The Village, check out our five store tour.
4. Emerts Cove Covered Bridge
Situated minutes away from the heart of Gatlinburg, Emerts Cove Covered Bridge is one of just a handful of covered bridges in the state of Tennessee. This unique structure is named after Revolutionary War veteran Frederick Emert, who settled a Smoky Mountain community known as Emerts Cove (modern-day Pittman Center) around 1785. With its beautiful natural wood design, Emerts Cove Covered Bridge is a popular spot for family photos and wedding/engagement pictures.
5. Noah “Bud” Ogle Place
Not to be confused with the Ogle Cabin at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center, the Noah “Bud” Ogle Place is a historic homestead near the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Built in the late 1880s and early 1890s, this farm consists of a log cabin, barn, and tub mill. Noah “Bud” Ogle was the great-grandson of William and Martha Ogle, Gatlinburg’s first Euro-American settlers.
6. Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre
The Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre has been a can’t-miss Gatlinburg landmark since 1977. Recognized as a National Historical Treasure by the state of Tennessee, this old-fashioned theater is inspired by the music halls of the 1890s. For the full Sweet Fanny Adams experience, you’ll need to attend one of the theater’s hilarious shows!
7. Elkmont Ghost Town
In 1910, Elkmont was the largest town in Sevier County. However, this vacation community was absorbed into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and residents were ultimately forced to abandon their properties. Today, visitors to Elkmont can see a number of historic buildings in this one-of-a-kind “ghost town.”
For a complete guide to all of the best places to visit during your getaway, check out our listing of Things to Do in Gatlinburg!