Visiting the Great Smoky Mountains can be a wonderful experience whether you only have two days to spend in the area or an entire week. The people are friendly and the area is blessed with natural features that you really can’t see anywhere else. Whether you’re staying in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville or somewhere in between, you’re sure to feel at home in the Smoky Mountains. If you only have the weekend to see the area, there are a few places that you really should visit to truly experience what the mountains have to offer.
When in the Smokies, there are two things to remember. Breakfast is a big deal and often involves pancakes, bacon or sausage, fried potatoes and the local favorite biscuits and gravy, and when it comes to dinner, BBQ is best. The area is full of local breakfast favorites and those who are only staying a short while should take a morning to have a full Smoky Mountain breakfast at one of the local pancake houses. The Pancake Pantry in downtown Gatlinburg has been a favorite for many years. If you venture a little further out of town on East Parkway, you can visit Mountain Lodge Restaurant for breakfast or lunch. They’re a favorite of the locals for their simple country cooking. For BBQ, there are many places to try including Bennett’s Pit BBQ which has been a staple in the area for many years. They have locations in both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
What to See
When you visit Sevier County, the mountains are a must see. There is a good reason that The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the nation. There are many hikes for both the amateur and experienced hiker. If you want to stay in your car, the drive through Cades Cove is amazing and offers chances to see deer, turkey and even the elusive black bear. If you’re heading to Cades Cove from Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley has some wonderful antique shops and other fun places to stop to see locally made crafts and other products like furniture and chainsaw carvings. Clingman’s Dome, a short drive from the town of Gatlinburg, offers amazing views, and on a clear day you can see seven states from the highest point in the Smoky Mountains.
Where to Take the Kids
The Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area is the perfect family friendly destination. Children will enjoy riding go karts in Pigeon Forge and the entire family can have a friendly competition at one of the many local mini-golf courses. Take the kids for an evening stroll through downtown Gatlinburg for ice-cream, candy and other sweet treats. The Ripley’s Aquarium is one of the nation’s most visited aquariums and offers a nice way to spend a few hours looking at unique ocean life. There are also some local rock shops, toys stores and child-centered attractions.
Those who visit the Smoky Mountains almost always leave wanting more. It’s not uncommon for visitors to be planning their next trip before they even reach home. Whether you’re a first time visitor, or have been coming to the area for many years, the mountains are always calling you back.