Gatlinburg TN - too touristy?

Jan 11th, 2007, 08:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 147
Me again. When we were in Gatlinburg in November we stayed at a cabin in the mountains at the very entrance of Gatlinburg. We were within 10 minutes of Pigeon Forge (which, although I do not care for, your children would probably love). Ten minutes the other way was the entrance to the National Park. You were just a short trip down the mountain to the shopping and restaurants of Gatlinburg. And the cabins are perfect...secluded, hot tub, big screen tv's--anything you need to just chill out as a family and enjoy the beauty of the area. We have always rented from Auntie Belham's Rentals, but there any many in the area to choose from.
bc is offline  
Jan 12th, 2007, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 5
Hi there, We have been to Gatlinburg 3x and have always rented a cabin from Patriot Getaways. We have always been VERY happy. Clean, every amenity,as close or as far away as you want. Going back this August again for Nascar.Hope this might help. P.S.dont stay in pigeon forge
KTPDOOS is offline  
Jan 12th, 2007, 09:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 927
Hubby and I much prefer the National Forests in East Tennessee and W. NC. over the National Park. There is very little traffic and the same kind of scenery and hiking opportunities, except the mountain peaks aren't as tall.

If you want to be near the Gatlinburg/Smokey Mountains area, I agree that you should check Townsend Tenn., or maybe Maggie Valley NC (though still a little touristy).
xrae is offline  
Jan 12th, 2007, 09:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 288
Even though there are tons of responses to this already I can't help myself.

Smokey Mtn National Park is a beautiful place and Gatlinburg is surrounded by gorgeous scenery. It is definitely worth going to visit if you are into hiking, etc even if you don't want a touristy area. It is possible to rent a cabin and avoid Gatlinburg altogether but plan on finding bypass roads to take and cook at your cabin.

That said, Gatlinburg is a very touristy spot crammed within a couple of miles.

Traffic backs up horribly down the main drag and it can actually take more than an hour to go 2 miles. I've found that there area always a lot of big motorcycles in the area which causes a lot of VERY loud noises (observation only, not judgement to their owners).
Restaurants frequently have 2 hour wait times. It is touristy in a way that is just like every other touristy area but then different at the same time. The streets are filled with one shop after another selling the cheapest crap you've ever seen. The area plays on the fact it is in the heart of the Appalachians and uses it to poke fun at themselves which can be entertaining but also distracting from the natural beauty of the area at the same time. For example, there is a fake outhouse in a town square kind of area. The most popular mini-golf is the "hillbilly golf" course.

The summary of it is that it is worth going if you are interested in the park but if you are not into visiting the park and you are trying to avoid a touristy spot, then I think you would want to avoid it.
npurpleh2 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 410
My main interests are short hikes in the park (son is only 8), maybe some bike riding, horseback riding, whitewater rafting. Chilling in a cabin. Touristy stuff that the 8 year old will enjoy - mini golf, go karts etc. That is really what is making me consider the area - a mix of natural beauty and laid back, with touristy stuff for the kids. My kids enjoy boardwalks, but we don't want to go the shore, where that's about all there is to do, other than the beach (which are generally very crowded if you to to an area with a boardwalk!)
gillybrit is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 08:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1
I grew up in Knoxville, TN and have to say that as someone that is a native to the area I try to stay away from Gatlinburg in the summer because of tons of tourist that come into town. I no longer live in the area but once in a while when intown my family and I do go into Gatlinburg for dinner. That is not to say that the Smokey Mountains are not worth the time because it is beautiful there. Cades Cove and Townsend are other places that you should consider at least driving through while in the area. Cades Cove is a neat place to ride bikes or just drive the cirle and hope that you see bears, deer or other native wildlife.
My family used to own a condo up in the mountains overlooking downtown Gatlinburg and it was beautiful. Although it can be tacky it can also be a wonderful place to hike, eat and be entertained. My suggestion if it is in the budget to stay in the Highland condos or if that isn't you should have no problem finding something within your budget. If you can't then you should be able to find something in Carson City which is not far from Gatlinburg. The drive into Pigeon Forge is not bad so staying in Gatlinburg is your best choice because Pigeon Forge is not nice to stay in at all. Although Carson City or Townsend would also be nice to stay in but a little further away from all the entertainment.
Try the Dixie Stampede, Dolly Wood and at least walk the strip and find out for yourself if it is too tacky for you. At least you can say you experienced it and if you don't like it then don't go back.
Places to eat that are some of my favorites is The Peddler ( known for their steaks), Calhouns (actually started in Knoxville but very good and responsibly priced). Another great place is Smokey Mountain brewery ( great pizza and beer).
The summer and spring are great times to go but just expect heavy traffic downtown Gatlinburg and on the drive through the mountains. The are ways to bypass the traffic you would just need to get a map and find them. I understand that you are from PA but try coming into town through Maryville and going through Townsend. By doing that you should bypass a lot of the traffic into Galinburg but make sure you do it during the day because you have to go through the mountains and it is hard to navigate at night.

Just remember there is a reason why so many people travel to the Smokies every year and it can't be just because of all the tacky stores!!!! LOL
TN is a beautiful state to visit!

Hope the info isn't to overwhelming!

Good Luck!!!!
Rhi is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 10:05 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 410
Thanks everybody!
Have narrowed down our choices to 3 cabins by cove mountain realty ( in the Wears Valley area. If anybody wants to check them out they are Storyteller, Hickory Ridge and A Dream's View.
Any comments? Any votes on one vs. the others - we're torn!
gillybrit is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 02:37 PM
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You will like the Wears Valley Area. Good decision.
Jan 15th, 2007, 04:00 PM
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Posts: 410
thanks iceeu2. Now I just have to decide which cabin, which is really hard. They all look nice!
gillybrit is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 122
Cades Cove should provide a pleasant day for everyone in your group. The ride in from Gatlinburg does not take long, and I highly recommend it. Cades Cove has an eleven mile loop road that runs through it. Aside from seeing lots of wildlife (especially around dusk when they come out to feed), there are historic cabins and churches all along the way. You can park near each of them, get out and walk around and go inside the buildings. They also have a gift shop, an old working mill and beautiful views of the mountains all around.

At times, they close the roads to vehicles and allow bikes to have the place all to themselves.

Also....can't believe nobody has mentioned this yet....if you are there during the second or third week in June (usually...depending on weather)....treat yourself to an absolutely delightful experience. The city of Gatlinburg runs trackless trollies out of the main ranger station near town....just inside the park....and they will take you to the Elkmont Campground, which is on the way into Cades Cove. They'll drop you off and pick you up.

For just two weeks each year, there is a fantastic "synchronized" firelfly display that is absolutely wondrous to behold.

You stroll up a path in the woods and sit in a little grove as the sun sets. When darkness falls, you will see the fireflies begin to light up. As soon as it is dark, they put on a show unlike anything you've ever seen before.

Hundreds of thousands of them are all around you in the trees. The ones to your left will begin to flash their tiny lights, and this will spread up into the treetops and the sky above. Then, it ripples out in waves, going around in front of you and then off to the right.

As soon as the ones on the right go black again, the ones on the left start up and the process just continues over and over for hours.

A friend's little daughter, on the way out after viewing this, turned to me and said, "Well....someone certainly had to ORGANIZE that. They couldn't have just done it on their own. I'm sure it was a ladybug....because a man never could have done it!"

stevebarr is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 02:58 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 122
There are also stables at Cades Cove. You can arrange horseback riding through the woods, and I think carriage rides are also available.

As for short hikes, Cades Cove has many. Stop in at the main ranger station or the office at the campground and ask the rangers for their advice. They can direct you to some beautiful out of the way waterfalls and lots of great scenery.
stevebarr is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 05:39 PM
Posts: n/a
If you decide you want to try your hand at flyfishing, go see the people at Little River Outfitters in Townsend. They are super nice and provide an enjoyable time. I have take fly fishing classes from them and the DH has done fly tying classes.

Those trout just have the most amazing homes!!!!!!!!
Jan 18th, 2007, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8
definitely give a peek a We stayed in a chalet there with hot tub on porch, pool table, satellite. Was a great trip and reasonably price.
symills is offline  

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