We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

Which Gatlinburg hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Dixon, Illinois
Level Contributor
39 posts
13 reviews
Save Topic
first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

My husband and I are considering staying here late June. What are some things that are a must to do here or in the surrounding areas? Also is the Ripley's aquarium kid friendly only or can adults enjoy it too? We don't have kids .

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
9,486 posts
63 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

Spend as much time as you can in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park--it's free and fabulous. We also enjoyed shopping along the Arts & Crafts Loop. To us, the rest of Gatlinburg was awful--the epitome of a tacky tourist trap.

Paris, Tn
Destination Expert
for Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge
Level Contributor
2,698 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

In my opinion Gatlinburg is NOT tacky. There are a lot of great little shops & stores to browse and shop. There's also some fine restaurants to dine in. The bulk of my time, I'd spend inside the national park....many beautiful self-guided auto tours, such as Cades Cove, a few fine examples of pre-cival war homesteads, churches, and cemetaries. Also Roaring Fork nature tour. Another great community to visit is the native American town of Cherokee North Carolina. No matter where you venture in the S.M.N.P., you're sure to find beauty.

Ray

Level Contributor
1,257 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

I agree. I don't really think of Gatlinburg as tacky, although there are plenty of absurd attractions that just want to take your money. These places are obvious and easy to avoid.

The thing most people don't realize is that when the National Park was formed, one of the big motivators was bringing revenue and jobs to a very depressed region of the country. They envisioned that there would be motels and restaurants popping up all over the gateway communities. Now they probably didn't expect things like Lumberjack Feud, but I don't really mind a lot of the development that people get upset about.

That being said, I would try to spend a lot of your time exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I think you will find it a gratifying experience. Visit the Sugarlands and Oconaluftee Visitor Centers. Gather maps and pamphlets on waterfalls, hiking trails, homesteads etc...

Maybe camp for a night at Elkmont or Cosby.

Visit Cade's Cove early in the morning.

Have a picnic at Chinneys.

Hike to Alum Cave Bluffs or all the way to Mt. LeConte.

Buy some cornmeal at Mingus Mill.

Drive the Foothills Parkway and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

There are just tons of things to do in the Park.

Level Contributor
1,257 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

By the way, that was have a picnic at CHIMNEYS Picnic Area, not "Chinney's. Just to clarify.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
294 posts
63 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

The aquarium is good for all ages. We go every summer and we'd go even if we didn't have a child. LOL

Dixon, Illinois
Level Contributor
39 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

Thanks everyone for the ininformation! Getting very excited!

Dallas, TX
Level Contributor
1 post
23 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

Depends on whether you're wanting to go hiking and enjoy the Park, or if you enjoy shopping and touristy things like outlet malls or Ripley's Believe It or Not. My wife and I spent several days in Townsend, which is a very quiet town and their nickname is the "peaceful side of the Smokies." We rented a fully furnished 1/1 cabin through Dogwood Cabins in Townsend and our cabin was located near the Laurel Valley CC (with gated security). Some cabins there have unbelievable views of the Smokies. We live in Dallas and have plenty of good restaurants here to eat, so when we travel, we enjoy using our time sight-seeing rather than eating, and we opt to cook on our own when we can. What the cabin didn't have, we bought at the local gorcery store. Each morning we enjoyed breakfast on the deck, and each evening after a long day of sight-seeing we would relax on the porch without any man-made light or sound around (which is opposite of Gatlinburg).

What to see - Cades Cove! 1 person recommend early morning, but we went each day about an hour before sunset to watch the deer go to the fields and the bears move about. The Chimneys picnic area is a neat place to eat and walk on the river boulders, and if you enjoy hiking, the Chimneys can be fun. Laurel Falls is also beautiful and an easier walk/hike.

8. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum posting guidelines with prohibiting self-promotional advertising or solicitation.

We ask all of our members to keep their forum messages free of self-promoting advertisements or solicitation of any kind - members affiliated with any tourism-related business should not include commercial contact information or URLs in their forum messages.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 9:30 am, January 15, 2014
Okeechobee, Florida
Level Contributor
163 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

Ray nails it 100% and as Bryan stated, the traps are easy to spot.

The aquarium is amazing and IMHO a must see. Don't know where else you could get the same feeling while in a glass tunnel with sharks all around you.

The Chimneys picnic is amazing. Can't miss this if you have the time.

Nashville, Tennessee
Level Contributor
59 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: first time traveling to gatlinburg, any suggestions?

I would repeat a lot of what has already been suggested, Chimney picnic area, Roaring Fork, Clingman's Dome, Cades Cove, Laurel Falls and also we enjoy getting a daily pass for the chair lift in Gatlinburg.

My personal preference would be to rent a cabin/chalet instead of a hotel but both have their pros and cons.

Also, the aquarium is good for all ages.