The iconic Space Needle overlooks Gatlinburg’s skyline and the Great Smokies
Gatlinburg is synonymous with the Great Smoky Mountains. For miles, forested ridges drape themselves around the resort town like a verdant velvety blanket. Tucked away in these thicketed hills lie action-packed parks, hiking trails, and nature reserves – a dream for those who love the outdoors.
For widescreen mountain vistas, head to Space Needle Tower, which also hosts laid-back diners and family shows. Alternatively, there’s an old-school chairlift that dangles 500 metres above ground on the way up Crockett Mountain – named after famous 19th-century frontiersman Davy C. While there, you can scoff down a hearty brunch at a camp that bears his name.
Halloween in Gatlinburg: even the Ole Smoky Moonshine distillery dresses up
Then, in the sprawling Great Smoky Mountains National Park, set off on your own wilderness adventure. The reserve boasts dozens of trails that take in gorgeous scenery, from Rainbow Falls’ tumbling cascades to the Appalachian trail’s array of delicate wildflowers.
Elsewhere, a cable car brings visitors to Ober Gatlinburg, a popular winter resort and year-round recreation park. On top of skiing and snowboarding, the centre offers mountain coaster rides, alpine slides and close – but safe – encounters with black bears.
And if you’re more of an indoors enthusiast, Ripley’s Aquarium features award-winning marine-themed exhibits, while the Ole Smoky Distillery promises tours, foot-tapping bluegrass tunes and a true taste of Tennessee – some good ol’ moonshine. Yee-haw!
Autumnal forests line Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
When to go?
Gatlinburg’s temperate mountain climate makes it a pleasant place to visit at any time of year. May and October are ideal for hiking, when temperatures are mild, and the wildflowers and foliage take on new hues. For winter sports and snow-sprinkled scenery, mid-December to March is peak season.
Old-time charm at the Gatlinburg Inn
Where to stay?
Gatlinburg Inn – Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA
From front-porch rocking chairs to historical portraits in reception, this lodge oozes old-time charm. Rooms are adorned with patterned wallpaper and vintage furniture (plus modern bathrooms and flat-screen TVs), while the down-home vibes extend to breakfast, with hearty waffles and pancakes rustled up daily. Booking.com guests simply adore this pristine inn.
The fabulously-located Gatlinburg Town Square
Gatlinburg Town Square by Exploria Resorts – Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA
Backing onto the woods of the Great Smoky Mountains, yet 10 minutes’ walk from downtown, this resort gets high praise for its location. Spacious, tidy rooms and apartments make for a comfortable self-catering stay, while the playground, gym, and indoor and outdoor pools ensure that Booking.com guests rave about the value for money.
Enjoy views of the creek from Baymont Inn and Suites
Baymont Inn and Suites - Gatlinburg on the River – Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA
Prized by visitors for its proximity to Ober Gatlinburg recreation park, this hotel also overlooks a picturesque creek. Each room has a balcony and coffee maker, letting you admire the view over a steaming cup before you tuck into the breakfast spread downstairs. An indoor pool, gym, and games room also get the thumbs up from Booking.com guests.