The Great Smoky Mountains have long been a popular vacation destination throughout the year. With beautiful scenery, a mild climate and a surprising number of attractions, you can find mountain cabins, chalets, condos and hotel rooms that are suitable for any budget. The small cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Tennessee are the center of activity in the Smokies, and you can find literally thousands of rental possibilities in this area.
In spring and summer, you can enjoy spending time outdoors. Summers can be warm, so you might want to find a place that has a pool or access to one nearby (which is the case with some cabin rentals). Fall you can appreciate the amazing foliage of the mountains. The holiday seasons is extremely festive in the Smokies, with towns such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge lit up with millions of LED lights for the entire winter (so you can catch some lingering holiday spirit even if you come in January or February). Winters are also fairly mild, with typical highs well into the 40s.
Nature and Outdoor Activities
The Smoky Mountains draws thousands of visitors for its unique beauty and the wide range of outdoor activities it offers. Whether you want to go hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, fish in one of the areas pristine rivers, go skiing in winter or photograph wildlife (to name just a few of the possibilities), there is always plenty to do.
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have several zip lining facilities, which is a fun and exciting way to view the scenery. If you're a golfer, the region has several world class courses. Ober Gatlinburg, the area's premier ski resort, is a place where you can stay or just visit. Skiing and snowboarding are available in the winter months. There's also an amusement park and petting zoo that is popular with families. If you visit the area in the spring or summer, you might want to go whitewater rafting or kayaking in the Upper or Lower Pigeon Forge River.
Interesting Attractions in the Smokies
One of the fun things about the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area is that you can find a number of fun, reasonable and unique attractions. There are all kinds of specialty museums and family activities, all within a very concentrated area. Here are just a few examples.
- Dollywood -This theme park and entertainment center is named after country singer Dolly Parton, who is one of the owners. You can find rides, a water park, year-round entertainment and lots of other activities. During the holiday season, there are special holiday shows, lights and kid's activities.
- Titanic Museum -You can find genuine artifacts and a variety of exhibits from the Titanic.
- Ripley's -Ripley's has several museums in the area, including Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum and Ripley's Odditorium.
- WonderWorks -an interactive museum that has science exhibits as well as physical challenges, natural disaster simulators and a Far Out Art Gallery.
Dining and Nightlife
The Smoky Mountains is also a great place for dining out and entertainment. A variety of restaurants, dinner theaters and nightclubs will ensure you have plenty to do at night. One tip to keep in mind if you're budget conscious, though, is to rent a cabin with a kitchen so you can do some cooking of your own when you want!
Popular restaurants include Mel's Classic Diner, The Old Mill Restaurant, Smokies Cuban Cafe, Poynor's Pomme Frites and Texas Roadhouse, just to name a few.
If you're in the area, you should go out at least one night and check out the local dinner theater scene. Some favorites include Lumberjack Feud, Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, Murder Mystery Theater and Dixie Stampede.
Where to Stay
There's certainly no shortage of accommodations in the Smoky Mountains. You can find everything from modest hotels and motels to luxury chalets, and everything in between. A good choice if you want the experience of living in the mountains -yet still very close to civilization- is a cabin.
The nice thing about cabins is that you can find them in all sizes and styles. If you want a cozy cabin for one or two people, there are plenty of those. You can find spacious cabins for large families, and huge ones for family reunions and group events. Popular cabin rental companies in the area include Hearthside Cabin Rentals, Alpine Chalet Rentals and Diamond Mountain Rentals.
Some people prefer to be right in the main drag rather than in the woods. If this is you, you can find many condo and hotel rentals right on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. This is convenient if you want to be within a very short drive (or, in some cases, walk) to many attractions. Places such as Cherokee Lodge Condos and Whispering Pines Condos offer many choices.