So funny story. I’ve thought for YEARS that I’ve been to Gatlinburg. When I was in High School, my Mom, Brother, and I went on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. The trip is actually quite vivid in my memory even after all these years. It was on this trip I fell in love with Harry Potter. I had bought a box set of the first 4 book in the series (at the time they were the only 4 released) and proceed to read all 4 books on the trip. There are little details from the trip that stick in my mind, like the condo we stayed in that overlooked the pool (and how it was too cool in June to use it).
As we were driving into Gatlinburg, I begin to see some of the sights I remember from that trip such as the Dixie Stampede, a dinner show we went to during my visit in High School. That night as we walked around Gatlinburg after dinner, I quickly noticed that nothing looked familiar. That is when I realized…I had never actually been to Gatlinburg. We had only gone as far as Pigeon Forge (the town next to Gatlinburg). It was a strange realization that I had never actually been to a city I thought I had for 15 years.
So now the actual trip. Gatlinburg itself is a cute little country town. Walking around the downtown, it reminded me of a family-friendly version of Vegas. My favorite area to walk around was The Village, a small boutique shopping area designed to look like a European Village.
Where To Eat
We only ate a few meals in Gatlinburg but would highly recommend two of the restaurants we visited. For dinner, we went to The Peddler, a traditional Steakhouse which is hard to find anymore. All entrees include the Salad Bar, a Side, and Bread.
Let’s stop at the Salad Bar. When was the last time you’ve been to a restaurant with a salad bar? Not many of them exist anymore. The only other restaurants I can think of that still have them are Brazilan Steakhouses, such as Texas de Brazil. It also was one of the best Salad Bars I’ve seen with pretty much any ingredient you could think of. Then came the steak. It was honestly one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. It was tender, juicy, and the outside seared to keep the flavors inside. Let’s just say we walked away stuffed.
For Brunch, the Pancake Pantry is a well-known favorite and for a good reason. Even with a line out the door, we were seated in under 15 minutes. As you can expect, the pancakes are some of the best I’ve ever had. Not only are the light and fluffy, you can get a pancake to suit almost any taste.
Where to Explore
A must while in Gatlinburg is Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The motor trail is an 11-mile loop with a large section of the trail one way. The views are incredible and there are tons of pull offs for you to take a step outside our car. The trail gives you various views of the Smoky Mountains and sadly you can see first hand the devastating effects of the forest fire last year.
On Saturday morning we decided to venture a little further outside of the city and head up to Clingmans Dome, which is on the border of Tennesse and North Carolina. We arrived early enough to take in the sunrise, which was a breathtaking experience. We knew it was going to be hit or miss since the fog was quite heavy but as the sun hit the horizon, it broke up enough of the fog to put on an amazing show. The fog moved back in, so, unfortunately, we weren’t able to take in the view from the top of the observations tower but I can imagine how breathtaking it is on a clear day. Another highlight of visiting Clingmans Dome is that part of the Appalachian Trail crosses through this area, so take advantage and take some time hiking this scenic trail!
After having lunch at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, we took a cruise down the Blue Ridge Parkway. This drive is one of the most breathtaking drives, with hundreds of overlooks to take in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We finished the day taking in the sunset from Waterrock Knob.
While we were only there for the weekend, there is so much to see and explore in this area it would a great place to go for a longer trip as well. If you are into kayaking, hiking, white water rafting, zip lining, or horse back riding, this would be a fantastic place to visit. There are so many places to see and explore. I can’t wait to take another trip back!