Gatlinburg TN - too touristy?

Jan 9th, 2007, 04:35 AM
  #1  
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Gatlinburg TN - too touristy?

Looking at cabin rentals in the Gatlinburg area. Don't want a tacky, touristy environment. Will I be happy with Gatlinburg, and if so what specific areas?
Thanks!
gillybrit is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 04:58 AM
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I think it is an individual thing and depends on what time of year.

IMO - it is tacky, but there is an allure to it as well not to mention the beautiful back drop of the Smoky Mountains. If you are there to hike and experience nature there are wonderful places off the beaaten path.

My husband and I stayed a great B&B years ago about 30 min outside of Gatlinburg so we could hike and see the Fall leaves, etc.. When we went in to Gatlinburg we found there were so many ticky-tacky tourist shops and really no nice restauarnts. Maybe that part has changed.
In the summer there will be tons of people there.
annesherrod is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 05:11 AM
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Don't stay in the town of Gatlinburg, and you'll be fine. That way, you can go into Gatlinburg at the times of your choosing and not be in the middle of it all the time.
HonestAbe is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 05:11 AM
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It is tacky, but there you can get a nice cabin in the woods and still have a good time. I was there once a couple of years ago and we really enjoyed the aquarium. I posted on this board looking for restaurant suggestions (because there are a ton of restaurants so it helps to have some decent ones picked out ahead of time) and we were pretty happy w/all of the places we ate.
snowrooster is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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bc
 
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Well, I realize I am a minority (on this board) but I love Gatlinburg. It may be tacky and touristy but then I guess I am a tacky tourist! We rent a chalet or cabin in the mountains and can either spend the day either shopping in Gatlinburg, relaxing at the cabin, or enjoying the National Park. I do not care for the Pigeon Forge area, which is too tacky for even me.
bc is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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Can anybody recommend somewhere in that area that is close to the touristy stuff (I do have an 8 year old and a 13 year old, so they'll probably enjoy the "tacky" stuff), but in a nicer area. For example, bc suggested avoiding Pigeon Forge. What areas are the nicest?
gillybrit is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 08:42 AM
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iceeu2
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gillybrit, the 8 year old and 13 year old will love Pigeon Forge.

Dollywood is a great theme park for all ages. For shows all ages will also love The Comedy Barn. So, don't rule out Pigeon Forge.

 
Jan 9th, 2007, 08:52 AM
  #8  
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Thanks. Wouldn't mind being close enough to Pigeon Forge to do the touristy stuff, but the adults prefer something more laid back.
Any ideas?
gillybrit is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 09:26 AM
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I have to go to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area once a year for work. While I don't think I'd go there "intentionally" the mountains are beautiful and there are places to get away from the tacky stuff. Sorry I have no recommendations for accomodations but there is a restaurant called Park something (close to the park entrance on the main street in Gatlinburg) that we go to every year and the food is very good. Wonderful creme brulee especially.
SharonG is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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I personally didn't like the area. We stayed in a b&b a few years back. The b&b was absolutely lovely and about 10 minutes from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, in the mountains. Gatlinburg is certainly better than Pigeon Forge, which is beyond tacky, but Gatlinburg was pretty tacky as well. If you can look past all of the Ripley's museums and mini-golf courses the town has a quaint look to it, but overall we just didn't like it. We went mostly for the mountains and spent most of our time in the national park.

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 11:36 PM
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I have a lot of childhood vacation memories tied to trips to Gatlinburg so I am not so objective on the tacky factor, but if you are looking for something less touristy, you may want to check for cabins, B&B's, etc. in the neighboring areas like Townsend, Cosby, or Newport TN and only drive into Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge when your kids need a civilization fix. These tiny towns are on the "backside" of Gatlinburg, so to speak. Is there a reason you are looking at going to this area? Is it for the mountains? What time of year are you traveling?
bethmac is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 03:37 AM
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Gatlinburg we found last year is awful.What they have done what could have been a nice mountain village is unbelievable.We stayed at the Sidney James mountain lodge near the Roaring fork trail so we were out of the way. Only for dinner we went down, had our dinner , and went back to our hotel.Paul
tovarich is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 05:32 AM
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Looking at this area for a trip in June. Running out of places to go that are driving distance from Pennsylvania, and my hubby doesn't want to go to the shore. Def. open to other suggestions! I thought the Gatlinburg area may be a combination of "fun" (to some = tacky) things for the kids, plus some beautiful scenery, not too strenuous hiking, and a nice cabin somewhere to just chill out. Am I off the mark?
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Jan 10th, 2007, 05:50 AM
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iceeu2
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gillybrit, you are not off base at all. The Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Townsend area is beautiful. Good place for a family vacation. There are literally tons of cabins. I think I gave you a link on another post, but just in case....try gatlinburg.com

Fyi, I'm not sure you will get a cabin in June for the $1,000 you want to spend, but you just might. Just shop shop shop and keep asking questions.

What dates in June do you want to go?
 
Jan 10th, 2007, 08:50 AM
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I visited Gatlinburg as a child in the late 60's, then as a college student in the late 70's. Since 1989, I have probably been six or seven times. The first three or four visits were great -- we balanced hiking and being in the National Park with walking around Gatlinburg and shopping in Pigeon Forge. The last few times I visited Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, I was not impressed. Once you have seen the little shops a few times, it all starts to seem so tacky. I guess what I am trying to say is that if this is your first visit, you will probably enjoy it, regardless of the tourist traps and tacky shops.
gracie is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 03:11 PM
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Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge is not where you go if you want a vacation steeped in high culture. It is extremely touristy. However, it can be a fun get-away spot, if you know what you're getting into and know how to avoid the worst of it. I hate "tacky-touristy" areas, too, but I have had some fun trips to Gatlinburg in recent years. We spent very little time on the main strip in Gatlinburg and a lot of time in the GSMNP hiking and biking Cades Cove. We actually stayed over in Townsend, which is like a completely different world from the commercial, tourist-driven environment of Gatlinburg. We did have a fun evening strolling down the main street of Gatlinburg, poking in all the little shops, just cause sometimes you need to go in a store that sells nothing but magnets or fudge or "as seen on tv" products. Pigeon Forge is fun for teenagers and kids, because it is full of go-kart tracks, putt-putt golf, arcade type game places, and other teenagers! Pigeon Forge and Sevierville also have several good outlet centers, if you are in the mood to shop. The beauty of renting a cabin, though, is that if you hate the crowds and "tacky" stuff, you can always stay at the cabin or go hiking, etc. and just chill.
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Jan 10th, 2007, 07:41 PM
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gillybrit,

BetsyinKY has summed it up quite nicely. We are actually planning our own family vacation in Smokies in June. Gatlinburg might not satisfy the cultural demands of the snooty traveler, but for a regular person (and I sense you are) who is looking for an enjoyable vacation that's affordable, in your driving distance contraints, and family-friendly, I think you could do worse than a trip to Gburg. Particularly when you have so many choices in such easy proximity. Cades Cove is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in the country, and GSMNP has great hiking and scenic overlooks. If you don't want to go to a tacky comedy/magic show or watch a machine make taffy, don't. You will truly have unlimited choices of how to spend your time and money. And with the amount of accomodation choices available in this area, you are certain to find something you'll like. Check Southern Living's website or if you have a copy of the magazine, look in the travel pages or classifieds in the back.
bethmac is offline  
Jan 11th, 2007, 02:59 AM
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We stayed in Pigeon Forge a couple of years back. Some of the cabins that are in the mountains are nicer than my own home. It's funny they call them cabins. There are tons of sites online. they all have pictures. Even though it might be tacky my kids had a blast. we did all the touristy stuff including the shows. your kids will love it.
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Jan 11th, 2007, 04:24 AM
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iceeu2
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And definitely go thru the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Beautiful.

There's enough beauty in the land of The Great Smoke that you don't even have to go into Gatlinburg proper if you don't want to go there.

 
Jan 11th, 2007, 05:53 AM
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Hmmm...I really don't consider myself a "snooty" traveler and that certainly isn't why I dislike Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. I just found that its immense tackiness takes away some of the natural beauty of GSMNP.

Probably off topic, but I read an article in a travel magazine last year (don't remember which one) that placed GSMNP at the very bottom of its ranking of endangered national parks, stating that it was in great danger mostly because of the commotion, traffic and tourists that go to Gatlinburg, which has one of the main entrances into the park.

Many people love the area, and I guess I can see why, but the OP was asking if its tacky and touristy and in my opinion those descriptions sum it up perfectly. I don't think I'm snooty because I have that opinion. If you are looking for a peaceful mountain getaway I would head to the NC mountains, just a few minutes away. If you are looking for a place where you can go bungy jumping, watch shows, play mini golf and eat at one of the dozens of pancake houses, then head to Gatlinburg. Kids would probably love it.

Tracy
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