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How to Spend a Weekend in Gatlinburg
Whether you want to hit the trails, dig into some killer Southern BBQ, or catch a live show, Gatlinburg’s got you covered
If you’re wondering what to do in Gatlinburg, this guide will show you how to pack the most into your stay and have a one-of-a-kind weekend in Gatlinburg.
Start your 72 hours in Gatlinburg by checking into the Old Creek Lodge, a boutique hotel offering country-style quarters. The Old Creek Lodge not only has fantastic views and an outdoor pool, it’s conveniently situated on the trolley route, and within walking distance of some of the area’s premier attractions.
After checking in, head out on foot for a mouth-watering meal at Bennett’s Pit BBQ, a local landmark that’s just a 2-minute stroll from your hotel. Bennett’s has been slinging authentic Tennessee-style dishes for over 25 years, and their slow-smoked pork shoulder and deep-fried pickle chips provide a classic taste of the South.
After dinner, kick back and take in some local nightlife. The Smoky Mountain Brewery is just a 5-minute walk up the road, and its lodge-style vibe and mountain backdrop make it the perfect spot to sample some suds. The brewery offers a range of flagship beers, as well as karaoke and trivia nights.
Kickstart your Saturday morning with a cup of fresh java at Coffee & Company, a cheerful café offering one-of-a-kind flavors like Snickerdoodle Cookie and Crème Brulee. Once you’re wide awake, take a 12-minute stroll over to Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, a frontier-inspired restaurant serving buckwheat griddle-cakes and zesty huevos rancheros.
After fueling up with a hearty breakfast, explore the wonders of Smoky Mountain National Park, the country’s most-visited national park. A drive along Newfound Gap Road will offer plenty of jaw-dropping scenery and photo-worthy vistas, but if you want to get up close and personal with nature, trek to the impressive falls at Ramsey Cascades, or plan a wildflower walk along the Oconaluftee River Trail.
Lunchtime calls for a change of pace, and the Austrian-inspired Wild Plum Tea Room offers just that. Although the funky lunchtime restaurant can be quite busy, their lobster pie, wild plum tea, and charming al fresco dining area are worth the wait.
No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a dive into its local lore, and Ghost & Haunt Tours of Gatlinburg serves up history with a supernatural twist: tag along to get the lowdown on the infamous Witch of Gatlinburg. Or, if you prefer the shaking of tail feathers to the rattling of chains, then bust a move to Hogg’s Upstairs Taverne. Ostensibly a sports bar, Hogg’s has a lively happy hour and dancing on the bar has become something of a tradition.
After showing off your best moves on Hogg’s bar, keep the Saturday night fun going with a breezy dinner and margaritas on the roof patio at Loco Burro, a Tex-Mex restaurant with a bucking bronco, DJs, and live music. Not only does Loco Burro make a great taco pizza, it’s perfect for people watching.
Sunday morning is no time to sleep in, as you only have 24 hours in Gatlinburg left. The city doesn’t do breakfast in half-measures, so go all-in on your opening meal with a full stack of pecan or peanut butter pancakes at Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin.
You can walk off your bodacious breakfast with a shopping trip around the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, an 8-mile loop that’s home to the largest collection of independent artists in America. Pick up the perfect handmade souvenir, and then make your way to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Ripley’s will bring you face to face with a 12-foot shark, and you can even swim with the stingrays.
Parton’s Deli has been beloved by locals for over 42 years, so swing by for lunch to see what the hubbub’s all about. It’s an old school, family-run place with a simple menu, but behind its unassuming exterior you’ll discover some of the best chilli dogs and steamed sandwiches around.
On Sunday night, wrap up your Gatlinburg trip with a bang by catching one of its legendary shows. Once the domain of kitschy comedy and country crooners, Gatlinburg’s stages are now home to a wide range of eclectic entertainment. Musical lovers can waltz on over to the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, while those seeking a more magical experience should head to the Iris Theater, a downtown locale offering shows full of “magic, mindreading & mayhem”. The Iris is located in the Gatlinburg Space Needle, so you can head to the top for some breathtaking views of the city lights.
If you’re looking to keep the entertainment going over dinner, stop by Crystelle Creek Restaurant & Grille, a romantic venue offering first-class Italian dishes and melt-in-your-mouth smoked ribs. Crystelle Creek hosts nightly live entertainment, and you can enjoy a romantic creek-side meal with views of the beautiful gardens, koi pond, and illuminated tree.
With its fascinating mix of old timey Americana, Appalachian history, and stunning natural beauty, Gatlinburg is a must-visit destination. Book a weekend in Gatlinburg today!
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