By Leif Palmer
Posted on February 8, 2018
Let's face it: Spending time behind the wheel of a car is not everyone's idea of a great way to spend vacation time. Why sit stuck in traffic when you can be out doing all the fun stuff that you and the family had planned to do in the first place, right?
Next time you come to the Smokies, we've got a great strategy for you. Take advantage of one of the many options for public parking Gatlinburg has to offer, and from there, you can easily walk to tons of cool places and sites in the downtown area.
Gatlinburg is not a huge town, geographically speaking, but we certainly do pack a lot of fun into that small package. As a result, hoofing it from spot to spot or even taking one of the city's trolleys is a smart alternative to waiting in peak-season traffic and trying to find parking spaces at businesses where parking is scarce to begin with.
Here are just a few of the places to consider working into your car-free Gatlinburg outing:
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Located in the heart of downtown, this popular world-class attraction showcases creatures from all the world's oceans, including sharks, octopi, stingrays and more. The interactive nature of this self-guided tour makes it ideal for all ages, whether you're petting one of the stingrays or getting up-close views of the sharks inside the aquarium's see-through underwater tunnel.
Christ in the Smokies
This attraction (previously known as Christus Gardens) has been attracting visitors for decades with its realistic scenes depicting the life and times of Jesus Christ. Featuring detailed life-size figures and historically accurate clothing and props, the tour offers up scene after scene from the story of Christ, complete with professional lighting, music and narration.
Got some shopping to do while you're in Gatlinburg? You'll find dozens and dozens of stores along the Parkway running through downtown. And at Mountain Mall, across from Ripley's Aquarium, you'll discover an eclectic selection of retail stores on multiple levels and under one roof. It's a great place to shop – rain or shine!
The Space Needle
This iconic symbol of Gatlinburg rises more than 400 feet above its base at the corner of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail. From the top, you'll enjoy panoramic views of the city and nearby mountains. Inside, at the bottom, look for food vendors, an arcade and even a theater that's home to a live magic show.
Food, Food, Food
You can't throw a rock in downtown Gatlinburg without hitting a good restaurant. (By the way, please don't throw rocks in downtown Gatlinburg. You'll hurt someone, plus it will get you arrested.) From breakfast to dinner, inexpensive to upscale, American to foreign, you'll find your hunger solution in or near the Parkway. A few dining spots to look for include The Park Grill, The Peddler, Crockett's Breakfast Camp, T.G.I. Friday's and The Melting Pot.
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.