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Gatlinburg News, Opinion, and Wonder


November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! Gatlinburg Food and Drink Edition

There are many things we should be thankful for. Many of us just don’t stop and appreciate what we have nowadays. I am sometimes guilty of this myself. As I write in this blog, the first thing that comes to mind is the appreciation of what I already have, and the things I must continue to do to ensure my family leads a happy and fulfilling life. I am also thankful that we have the ability and opportunity to be able to travel to The Smoky Mountains every year. This posting is going to spotlight the things I am thankful for when we reach our destination. There is so much to love about Gatlinburg, so since we will be stuffing our faces with some good home cooking today, I will tell you what I am thankful for in terms of food and drink in the city.


Teriyaki steak at Cherokee Grill- Brown sugar, honey, and pineapple on a 10 oz. sirloin. Does it get much better? I don’t think so.


Helles Lager at Smoky Mountain Brewery- Plenty of good craft beers to be found here and this one is my favorite.


Apple Pancake at Atrium- This might be the best breakfast item on the menu at any restaurant in town. Don’t try to eat this without help.


Neva’s Potatoes at Cherokee Grill- One of our favorite restaurants in town also has one of the best side items you’ll find.


Kilwin’s- This is one of our favorite sweet spots in town. They are somewhat national but they have excellent fudge and ice cream.


Fannie Farkle’s- An arcade on the Parkway with some addicting games and some fantastic corn dogs.


Ultimate Super Duper Brisket Burger- I admit I’ve never had this before, but it is on the menu at Bennett’s Pit BBQ, a frequently visited restaurant.


Lemonade Moonshine at Sugarlands Distillery- This is just one of many good flavors of shine they’ve created here.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!




Live Music Scene Flourishing in Gatlinburg

For many years Gatlinburg was a sleepy little tourist town that had a small contingent of travelers setting foot here, mostly during the summer months. Now it is a much different town, and while some don’t like the commercial wonderland it has become, most tourists and locals alike can agree that the one change that is universally welcome is the emergence of live music to the area.

Smoky Mountain Brewery is the scene for a select group of artists that are booked for their designated music nights: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. These musicians are either up and coming local acts, or established bands with a small feverish following. These performers include Ben Shuster, Autumn Reflection, Sunburned Willy, Jason Ellis, and The Griffins. For a more complete listing of artists, check out the events page on their website here.

Crystelle Creek is another restaurant that features live music inside their dining and bar area. They welcome guests here by providing music acts and specialty performers seven days a week. Every Wednesday through  Saturday features Neesee on the keyboard for five hours each evening. She plays uplifting hits from as far back as the 30’s to now. Also, currently playing on Mondays is Ben Stroupe, and Tuesdays is Matt Keller’s stage. On the second Monday of every month, a surprise guest takes the stage, so be on the lookout for the possible next big thing on this night.

Ole Smoky Moonshine should be credited with bringing national music acts into the Burg on a regular basis in their outdoor “hollar.” The first legal moonshine distillery in East Tennessee gives the customer a show almost every day with announced and sometimes unexpected guests on the stage. The music is varied but has a heavy emphasis on bluegrass that harkens back to stories of old moonshine glory that most never talked about, but legalization has brought these stories to the forefront in today’s times.

Sugarlands Distilling Co. is another legal moonshine distillery bringing its own stamp to the moonshine industry and the presentation of its musical guests. They have a smaller venue for their musical performers, as they stage them behind the distillery on their “back porch” outdoor setting. The acts they attract are also national coming from all across the country. Genres featured at Sugarlands is a little more varied than Ole Smoky and feature blues, folk, rock and roll, and straight up country, as well as bluegrass. Artists usually take the stage around 7 p.m. There are performances at the distillery around 4-5 times a week so check out their website.

Finally, one should not miss the Smoky Mountain Songwriter’s Festival that is a fairly new annual event held in late August. Gatlinburg is the destination for singer-songwriters that have written hits for major country acts past and present. The entertainment is free, of course, as is with all of the other locations with live music in town, and provides guests with live entertainment all over the Burg. There are also workshops and a song competition that gives the amateur a chance to show they are worthy of being the next big songwriter.

I can’t emphasize the importance of live music here in Gatlinburg enough. The distilleries have brought the music outdoors on a more frequent basis and the restaurants with the indoor acts have stuck with their guns in providing the tourists and the locals with something to keep them coming back. With all of this excitement in town, I expect the music scene in town to keep growing, and this will help Gatlinburg continue to broaden its reach with people.


Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show in Gatlinburg

If you’re a fan of the work of the artists in the Arts and Crafts Community, you will be happy to know of the upcoming Thanksgiving themed arts and crafts show at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Many of these artisans will be gathering up some of their best work and will be setting up shop in the Convention Center from November 24 through November 29. As members of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, they will be selling their wares using techniques that have been handed down for generations. Some of the items that you will find include: quilts, straw brooms, woven baskets, scented candles, ceramic pitchers, pottery, and stuffed bears. Some of these handmade items are pieces that you won’t find anywhere else, as they are specific to the Smoky Mountains region. This is clearly evident with painters. They are perfectly suited for capturing the landscapes and natural beauty that is mountain life. Potters are a favorite as well with their mesmerizing work with clay and cloth.

You will find a little bit of everything from the Arts and Crafts Community, so if you have a Thanksgiving trip planned for Gatlinburg, the Convention Center will be an excellent place to convene without even getting in the car to travel the Arts and Crafts loop. With the unpredictable nature of the weather during this time of year, this just expands the options available for the traveler downtown. Have fun and happy shopping!

5 Things That Are “Great” About Gatlinburg: Part 5

“The mountains are calling, and I must go”


I don’t know of any one person that I have either talked to or read their opinions on the Smokies that has said they only go to Gatlinburg to shop. If such a person does in fact exist, then they are ignoring what is right on the doorstep, and quite frankly all around.

1 The Great Smoky Mountains

Gatlinburg is a tourist mecca, and it has the surrounding Smoky Mountains to thank for this. There is no shortage of places in town where you can have a great spot to view the mountains.

The first spot, which is a must do for the new visitor, is the Space Needle. Not to be confused with the Seattle Space Needle, this can be accessed by entering the Arcadia fun center. Inside you can find a pizzeria and an arcade with plenty of games for kids and adults. At the front desk you can purchase tickets and you will be led into a glass enclosed elevator that will take you 407 feet to the observation deck. It can be a bit scary if you are afraid of heights, so you are warned. Once you reach the top, you are treated to a 360 degree view of the mountains. There are several view finders which you can look into without putting in any money, and there are signs that explain what you are looking at in every direction and describe some neat facts about the area.

The most impressive sight from the Space Needle is clearly Mt. LeConte. Facing east from the Needle, Mt. LeConte is the third highest peak in the Park, and the highest in the state of Tennessee. While this is a notable fact, even more so is that it’s home to the LeConte lodge, which is the highest lodge in the entire eastern United States.

You do not need to visit the Space Needle to truly appreciate the beauty Gatlinburg has to offer. There are plenty of downtown lodging that provide visitors with some awe-inspiring views. I can’t possibly list them all in this post; you’ll just have to trust me on this one. Do some research on the area. I will add that is a great place to begin your research. You can also check out some of the review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and even Google can give the traveler many helpful tips on the best places for the best views. Of course, you can always stop by my blog and see what else I choose to discuss. Remember, I am here to help, and until next time, happy travels

5 Things That Are “Great” About Gatlinburg: Part 4

Sure it’s nice to stay in the middle of it all and get a “taste” of everything Gatlinburg has to offer, but one truly does not soak in the entire experience unless you venture inside the National Park and check out number two on my list.

2. Waterfalls

There are dozens of waterfalls and cascades within the National Park boundary; each of them with its own features and setting that stands apart from the others. I will focus on two such phenomenal creations that we have been privileged to have seen up close.

Grotto Falls


We decided to take our son to see Grotto for the first time this year, since we already knew what to expect seeing it previously without him, so we thought he would enjoy it as much as we did. Grotto Falls is located off of the Roaring Fork Nature Trail, which is a 5.5 mile one-way drive that takes you past homesteads, hiking trails, and tons of scenery that begs visitors to take loads of photos.

Grotto Falls is a relatively easy trek located on the Trillium Gap Trail. It is 1.3 miles to the Falls, but most of the hike is a steady uphill climb that can be a bit challenging for the novice. The payoff is getting there and having the opportunity to walk behind the Falls, which makes for some unexpected fun, since you are guaranteed to at least have a thin mist of water hit your clothing. We were a bit disappointed the Falls wasn’t as wet the second time, but that didn’t at all take away from the experience. Overall, it’s an excellent hiking choice, and a popular one, especially with children.

The Sinks


We visited this impresssive cascade last year, even though we weren’t sure what we had come across. This cascade is a roadside falls, but it has a parking area, due to the size and volume of water that flows through it. It is located off Little River Road, which is the same road that connects the Sugarlands Visitors Center to the specatacular Cades Cove.

This is a somewhat popular cascade to visit, but it can be a bit dangerous since there are dropoffs, and there are a few ledges below the main viewing location that can be, but maybe shouldn’t be accessed. Still, this may be the most impressive cascade in the park, as many of the others are just pulloffs that are quiet streams, but those same ones can be ideal for family photographs or just standing and admiring nature in its most serene state. Words fail to express what one experiences when in these environments where life slows to a crawl. Take it in if you don’t get the opportunity often.

This concludes part four of my great things series. I hope you will stick around to find out my greatest thing about Gatlinburg. You shouldn’t have to think too long to guess what is number one on the list.

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