What to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Located on the eastern border of Tennessee is the delightful mountain town of Gatlinburg. Supplied with its 5,000 residents and thousands of tourists who cannot resist the Appalachian charm of this must-visit treasure of the south, Gatlinburg is the perfect summer spot for anyone seeking remarkable experiences in nature, culture, and more. So check out this handy travel guide from Southern Living before hitting the road so that you can get the most out of “the Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains,” Gatlinburg, TN.

Due to the fact that this mountain resort city is so besieged by ever-changing fall foliage, vibrantly-blossoming springtime flowers, and mythical morning fog in the summer, it’s no wonder why tourists and locals alike attribute a sort of magic quality to this destination’s ever-growing list of attributes. So, if you’re interested in experiencing Gatlinburg first-hand in order to see what wonders are in store for you, then look no further than this list of attractions, experiences, and opportunities that will showcase the best of the mountain town just for you.

Peaking at the top of nearly every visitor’s guide to Gatlinburg is arguably the best chance to see literally everything going on in the town and the surrounding area. Of course, this is in reference to the 680-foot SkyPark, otherwise known as the longest pedestrian suspension bridge on the continent of North America. Honestly, if you want to take in a survey of the mountainous areas, trails, and bodies of water to explore during your stay, there’s really no better vantage point than SkyBridge or the Gatlinburg Space Needle, which stands at a height of 400 feet in the air and accessible via a glass elevator.

If you’re allured by the miles-long legend of the feuding Hatfields and McCoys, then you might want to seek out a trip to Pigeon Forge and take in a Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show so that you can be entertained by a dramatized version of the conflict. While it’s not the most historically accurate representation of this iconic feud, the performers are enthusiastic in their retelling, the country cuisine is enticing, and the atmosphere in the rustic barn-style theater is guaranteed to add some family-fun entertainment to your trip.

Alternatively, if you want more of a nature-fueled adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then consider embarking on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a 5.4 round trip hike leading you to winding pathways, each to their own waterfall. Make an effort to embark on a hike that’s practically mythical: the Rainbow Falls hike, which leads you to a massive 80-foot tall waterfall that is the highest single drop of cascading water to be found in the entire park. If one waterfall isn’t enough for you, then you can venture out to the Place of A Thousand Drips to see dozens upon dozens of tiny cascading waterfalls. Otherwise, if you’re seeing more of an experience, you can take another pathway, the Trillium Gap Trail, that takes you to the impressive, 25-foot high Grotto Falls, a breathtakingly beautiful spot that lets you walk in the quiet secrecy that is the backside of a waterfall. This is the only spot in the entire National Park where you can experience the behind-the-waterfall perspective.

On the more commercial side of things, Gatlinburg is flush with opportunities to be entertained in all things spectacular, curious, and imaginative. Namely, Gatlinburg is home to several event centers that are an essential part of the “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” franchise. For instance, if you need a high-quality, family-fun arcade to pass the time in, there’s Ripley’s Super Fun Zone, Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse, and (perhaps most-notably) Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium.

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2021 Fall Hikes For Your Next Trip

One of the best times to experience a hike is in a season where the weather conditions are not overbearingly hot, humid, or otherwise terrible, making fall the perfect time to lace up your backpack, grab your water bottle, and lace up your hiking boots. And now, it’s never been easier to take advantage of the season and the beautiful landscapes across the continent with Travel + Leisure’s curated list of the best 2021 North American fall hikes to be experienced.

Port Townsend, Washington

One of the greatest ways to discover all that the waterfront town of Port Townsend, which is located on the Olympic Peninsula, has to offer is to trek on foot across its hikes of varying views, lengths, and difficulties. What makes this location perfect for an outdoor excursion is that in the background of your hike are the distant white-capped mountains, and gasp-worthy fall foliage is in the foreground. Prepare to be inundated with history and Port Townsend’s “true” residents, including deer, eagles,  hawks, seals, and sometimes whales as you traverse the Fort Worden Trail. Though, making it up to the summit of Mt. Walker is an absolutely stunning experience that you must consider, as it’s difficult to put into words due to the immense amount of plant life and sheer natural beauty that is to be observed at its great height.

Nashville, Indiana

This town is far too special to be left behind in the shadow of its Tennessee counterpart. The tiny town of Nashville, Indiana is considered by many to be a best-kept secret due to the transformative vision that is attained each year between late September and early November when the leaves change color. Explore “Indiana’s Stonehenge” or Browning Mountain when you hike through a deep set of woods to find a baffling circle of sandstone slabs, a quaint pool, and an old gilding foundation on this superb hike. Additionally, one of the area’s best fall hike trails is the 160-mile Knobstone Hiking Trail that shows those who seek it out a rugged, scenic look at one of the more interesting areas of the South Central Midwestern United States.

Lake Placid, New York

Located in the Adirondack Mountains is the lakeside village of Lake Placid, which is home to the largest trail system in the nation. The region’s marked hiking trails cover over 2,000 miles, so it’s no wonder why the locals love the outdoors so much. One of the more notorious trails in this area is the region’s system of trails that lead up to the breathtaking views of the 46 High Peaks, an area of over 4,000 feet that has to be seen to be believed. If you’re in a time crunch, the Lake Placid website separates its trail suggestions by their allotted time, allowing you to plan a 1-2 hour hike or a 2-4 hour hike at your leisure.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The city of Gatlinburg has been known by those on the East Coast to provide a plethora of outdoor activities to keep you entertained year-round, but the autumn season truly sets this location apart from the others. Plan your visit to experience amazing fall hikes. Traverse some of the over 800 miles of hiking trails that can be experienced along the Great Smoky Mountains and its valleys can range from a leisurely walk beside wildflowers to a challenging, yet rewarding trek through the backwoods.  Some standout hiking routes to seek out include watching a sunrise or sunset from the 6,600 feet height of the LeConte Lodge that rests atop Mt. LeConte and the five-mile round trip along Abrams Creek to the gorgeously deep Cades Cove Valley.

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