As I mentioned in previous blog posts, the one thing I find a bit tacky in the beautiful town of Gatlinburg is the number of t-shirt shops that line the Parkway downtown. I have entered them a few times on our trip but have never bought anything. My wife, on the other hand, has found some decent hooded sweat-shirts that she wears on an almost daily basis during the winter. Still, we find that even for the cheap price they advertise, it really isn’t worthwhile enough for me to spend my money on them. There are, however, a couple shops downtown that sell T-shirts around the $20 price that are actually better quality and just plain look nicer. I will highlight these shops that I’m sure you want to hear about.
The first store that I found worthy of a T-shirt purchase is American Traditions. This shop is located between Star Cars and the Gatlinburg Convention Center. It is not solely a shirt store, as it has many different collectibles and souvenirs that are Smoky Mountain themed. The shirts are not thin, and while most probably aren’t made in the U.S., they still should last longer. Many have mountain sayings and some have bears on them that feature them in humorous situations with humans. Then, there are some (most) that feature a bold but not bright color that doesn’t scream “Hey, I went to Gatlinburg, and here is the shirt I bought to show for it.”
The next shop on my must-go-to list is Ranger Bob’s Trading Post. Located just before the Pancake Pantry and equally fabulous shopping area called The Village, this is a large gift shop that also has many souvenir items ranging from cowboy hats, key chains, and stuffed black bears. Ranger Bob’s has some nice hot and cold weather shirts that feature some of the same graphics and themes as those from American Traditions, but don’t be scared off by the $20 shirts here; they are of good quality and are the ultimate souvenir, in my book, to bring back home without too much flair.
I highly recommend visiting these places first on your vacation so you’re not tempted by all the $5-$7 shops that are located smack dab in the middle of the Parkway. I almost think this is strategic on the owners’ part, because this is typically the busiest section of the Parkway, and it gives people a break from the crowds, especially during the hot summer months. Thank you for reading, and I hope you will consider my advice when you are shopping for items in Gatlinburg, since you know you will want to do some shopping here.