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One of our favorite Smoky Mountain towns recently received some major love from TripAdvisor! The world’s most popular travel website compiled a list of 24 of America’s best “beautiful little mountain towns” and invited its users to vote for their favorite destination. We are pleased to report that Gatlinburg placed second on the list! Here is a look at the top five towns:
1. Bryson City, NC
2. Gatlinburg, TN
3. Red Lodge, MT
4. Telluride, CO
5. Taos, NM
It’s safe to say that the Smoky Mountains dominated the list, as Bryson City is located just an hour and 20 minutes from Gatlinburg, on the other side of the national park.
What is it about Gatlinburg that sets it apart from the other mountain towns across America? Here just a few things that people love about vacationing in Gatlinburg:
Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Gatlinburg boasts an incredible location minutes away from the entrance to the most visited national park in the United States! With over 800 miles of pristine wilderness, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is paradise for nature lovers. Hikers of every age and ability will find a trail that is right for them, whether it’s a one mile stroll or an 11 mile trek through the backcountry.
If hiking isn’t your thing, you can admire the area’s breathtaking landscapes from the comfort of your car on one of the park’s scenic drives, or you can dine alfresco at a National Park maintained picnic area. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park does not charge an entrance fee, so all of this incredible beauty is free for everyone to enjoy.
Endless Outdoor Adventures
In addition to all of the fun in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Gatlinburg area offers a number of other excellent outdoor activities. The region is home to a number of excellent zipline courses that offer thrilling rides through the mountains. At CLIMB Works, visitors will find both exhilarating canopy tours and awesome mountain bike trails.
White water rafting is another one of the area’s most popular activities. Gatlinburg is just a short drive away from the Pigeon River, which is the third most rafted river in the nation. Whether you choose to conquer the Class 3 and 4 rapids on the upper section of the river or you prefer the serene Class 1 and 2 rapids of the lower river, you will love this wet and wild activity.
Gatlinburg also offers something you won’t find anywhere else in the state: a ski resort! Ober Gatlinburg is Tennessee’s only destination for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. With some of the most advanced snow machines in the nation, Ober’s slopes are always covered with plenty of fresh powder during the ski season.
Excellent Shopping and Entertainment
Unlike some of the other mountain towns on the list, Gatlinburg is far from sleepy! Despite it’s small size, Gatlinburg is absolutely jam packed with things to see and do. The downtown area in particular is loaded with fun family attractions, award winning restaurants, and some of the area’s best boutiques and shops.
Located right next door to the famous Pancake Pantry, The Village is a superb shopping area with a unique collection of stores that offer speciality foods, clothing, pottery, and so much more. If you travel east of the downtown, you will find the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, the largest collection of independent artisans in North America. This 8 mile loop is lined with galleries and shops where you can find beautiful handcrafted souvenirs and works of art.
Gatlinburg is also home to a number of excellent distilleries where you can pick up a jar of authentic Tennessee moonshine, the area’s signature drink. Moonshine comes in a variety of flavors, with everything from apple pie to blackberry, and for a small fee, you can sample some white lightning right at the store. Even if you’re not a drinker, Gatlinburg’s distilleries are worth visiting, since they frequently host free bluegrass and country music concerts.
Lodging in Gatlinburg
Few mountain towns have as many places to stay as Gatlinburg! The Gatlinburg area is famous for its log cabin rentals. Tucked away in the foothills of the Smokies, these beautiful cabins combine an authentic mountain atmosphere with luxurious amenities, such as hot tubs, home theater rooms, and decks with breathtaking views. In addition to cabins, Gatlinburg also offers a number of gorgeous condos, chalets, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds to call home during your vacation. To browse nearly 700 properties, check out our Where to Stay in Gatlinburg page!