Winter doesn't officially arrive until December 21, but as far as the folks in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are concerned, that season might as well already be here. That's because these communities have already kicked off Winterfest in the Smokies, the annual festival that celebrates Christmas, the new year and everything that's great about winter in the mountains.
Downtown Gatlinburg has an awful lot going for it – attractions, shops, restaurants and cool special events, not to mention the awesomely spectacular backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Folks have been coming from all over the world to see the Great Smoky Mountains since the early decades of the 20th century. The formation of the national park made this area an even more popular destination. But did you know that besides the mountains themselves, arts and crafts became the foundation for what is pretty much the oldest tourism industry around here?
If you missed traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains this summer, there's still plenty of year left to take advantage of all the beauty and adventure that our area has to offer. And now that fall is just about officially here, there's even more going on around here thanks to Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, which got under way on November 7.
Some visitors associate Gatlinburg with inaccessibility due to the city's small footprint and tight mountain-valley setting. And this is true to some extent, but this week, we're going to make a case for why Gatlinburg is the best place to base yourself for the day if you're wanting to easily access the entire Smokies area.
One of our favorite holidays is coming up – one that exists solely for the purpose of enjoying an extra day off from work. Labor Day is September 3 this year, and for a lot of you, that means a bonus free day or possibly even a three-day weekend.
Kids throughout the country are heading back to the classroom, and within a couple of weeks, there will hardly be a school system within a day's drive of the Great Smoky Mountains that won't be back to school. For parents who have been tending to restless, squabbling kids during these last few weeks of summer break, the return to the school-year routine is a welcome event.
In addition to the mountains themselves, one of the top reasons that people visit the Smokies region is the abundance of arts and crafts. It makes sense when you consider that the natural proliferation of arts and crafts was partially responsible for helping launch the tourism industry here in the first place.
We're smack dab in the middle of summer, which means this is peak season for folks coming to the Great Smoky Mountains and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle this area has to offer. Between the neighboring national park, a nearby national forest, whitewater-filled rivers and TVA reservoirs that occupy so much of our region, opportunities abound for families to get outside and play this summer.
When it comes to being a vacation destination, Gatlinburg sure has a whole lot going for it. But parking availability at individual businesses isn't one of those assets. Gatlinburg is a fairly small town, wedged into the crevices of a scenic mountain valley, so real estate is at a premium. There are dozens and dozens of attractions, shops and restaurants that simply have very few to zero on-site parking spaces.