Gatlinburg NOW

Gatlinburg News, Opinion, and Wonder


April 2016

A Sample One Day Itinerary in Gatlinburg

I have thought about this for awhile, and I want you all to know that this post links together my favorite things about Gatlinburg and places them within the confines of a single day. These are the things that I would do if I had just one day in town. Now I could make several dozen of these, and every one would be different; there really are that many things to do in Gatlinburg. If you have been here before, you may disagree with me, but I strongly recommend the visitor to at least try these activities at least once during his/her stay — hopefully for longer than one day.

7 a.m.

It’s a little early, I know, but we are spending a whole day in Gatlinburg, and we don’t have time to twiddle our thumbs or sleep in. This is why I would get up early and visit the amazing Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. This restaurant I’ve already raved about in earlier posts, and it is consistently rated as the top restaurant in Gatlinburg. Come see for yourself what all the hype is about; they back it up, trust me.

8 a.m.

Yes, it should only take one hour at Crockett’s; the food comes fast. Now you need to head out to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail just a few miles down the road from the Gatlinburg Space Needle. You may even have time enough to work off your breakfast by hiking Grotto Falls, which is off the Trail. Also there are old log cabins where the Bales family lived, the Alfred Reagan Place, and the Place of a Thousand Drips. There are an abundance of photo opportunites here with trees and mountain streams, in addition to the lovely flowers that provide a natural decoration for this nice 5 and a half mile driving trail.

12 p.m.

By this time you should have worked up an appetite despite devouring the beauty of this stretch of the National Park. I can find no better place for lunch than Bennett’s Pit Barbeque on River Road. They provide a variety of smoked meats served with awesome platters consisting of tasty side dishes. A favorite of mine is their house sauce that they bring out with your meal. It is delightfully sweet!

1 p.m.

Once again, you need not sit and let your food digest. Put on your walking shoes and take a stroll down the 1-2 mile Parkway. You can dive into an endless array of specialty shops, arcades, and attractions that rival a carnival atmosphere. You may be stuffed from lunch, but I recommend you sample the different foods, dips, and sauces that appear in various stores on the main drag. Hint: You won’t be able to avoid the fudge. They are everywhere — and tasty.

5 p.m.

I debated this one for quite some time, but I think Smoky Mountain Brewery is a good final restaurant to visit for your one day in town. It is a Bavarian lodge replica that serves craft beer on the premises (You won’t find any Budweiser here). The pizza is memorable with its crust and sauce leaving you dreaming about it long after you leave. Truly an experience with special nights devoted to live performers and trivia as well. Cheers!

7 p.m.

Hey, I hope you’re not tired yet! We need to head to Sugarlands Distilling Company to sample their moonshine and catch a live performance from a nationwide traveling band on their back porch (behind the distillery…get it). If they don’t have a band that night, Ole Smoky Moonshine farther down the Parkway is sure to have someone playing as well. You can sample their shine too.

9 p.m.

Ok, I know you’re exhausted, but that was fun wasn’t it? I agree, so walk back to your downtown hotel… um, the tower part of Quality Inn Creekside, and enjoy your view off the balcony of the setting sun and the lit up Space Needle. I hope you enjoyed yourself enough to come back and stay in Gatlinburg for longer than a day and experience more than what I feel is the best use of your day. There’s so much more!


Gatlinburg Traveler Advice: Take A Morning Walk

Maybe I am a little too sentimental when it comes to Gatlinburg and The Great Smoky Mountains. I like to come here every year to slow things down and stop to smell the air and realize all that I miss out on every day that I am not here. After all, life is like that; the constant avalanche of responsibilities that take its toll, not just on our sanity, but of our well-being. I like to take advantage of this vacation that I am grateful to experience, and do things that very few people should do when they have the opportunity to come to this increasingly popular destination.

On the days we don’t have plans to go into the National Park, I still get up bright and early and start my trek from our downtown hotel and take a walk down the Parkway. Now I know what your thinking:

But what can you do at 7 in the morning. I mean, none of the stores and shops are open. There’s nothing else to do. 

Well, you’re wrong on both counts, actually. I get the rare opportunity to take photographs of businesses on the Parkway without having to worry about getting scores of people in the shot; not that I am — by any stretch— a professional, but it is nice to not have to fight that battle. The only people I have to dodge are delivery drivers making their early morning rounds before the real crowds hit.

My morning walk also takes me to a place that fully awakens my senses, just as the cool morning air does, and that place is the Donut Friar. I swear I can smell those doughnuts as soon as I start my walk a half mile away. I know I seem to mention it on every post, but they are that good. Also open early is Coffee and Company — who unseated Burg Coffees as my new favorite coffee in town. They open at 7:30, which is perfect timing for my next stop after the Friar.

The Chocolate Chipper from The Donut Friar

It is just so peaceful to get to walk the Parkway by 7 each time I get the chance. It is a shame that more people don’t engage in this activity…well, OK maybe I have mixed feelings about this, because if more tourists were involved, then I may have to get up even earlier. Oh well, I guess most people figure they get enough exercise during the day, and nix an early walk for this very reason. I would argue though that they are missing out on the one thing that gives me a clear mind and reinforces my love for this place. I will now end this so I don’t go off on an emotional rant about how much I miss it here. I will see you all again soon in Gatlinburg…in June…in the morning.

New Ripley’s Exhibit

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