Getting out of town and making the most of a well-deserved vacation is an important part of everyone’s annual calendar. For all the hard work you put in, it’s just as vital to take time to relax, unwind, and enjoy life to the fullest somewhere scenic and exciting. That’s where a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee comes into the picture! This beloved locale is popular amongst travelers from near and far year-round with good reason. It’s frequently named one of the top US travel destinations thanks to its picturesque scenery, amazing food scene and eclectic lineup of attractions that’s perfect for just about everyone.
On average, Gatlinburg welcomes more than 11 million visitors a year and a single visit this direction makes it easy to see why. Its location offers up three distinct entrances to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, providing outdoor enthusiasts or those with a heart for savoring an amazing view in a perfect place to indulge their senses and style. In addition, Gatlinburg is known for its diverse animal and plant life as well as it’s wonderful hiking trails, in-town entertainment and family-friendly stops that can be customized according to whoever may be in your traveling crew.
In reality, Gatlinburg is a great place to visit no matter when your schedule allows for some much-needed time away from the hustle and bustle of life. If you’re lucky enough to have time in the winter or spring, you’ll find there’s no shortage of options for fun waiting for you. The following are many reasons to enjoy spring and winter in Gatlinburg and help you maximize every moment of your stay here. Happy travels!
Winter Seasonal Highlights
Yes, the winter temperatures in Gatlinburg may take a turn for the chilly, but that doesn’t mean the fun isn’t in full swing. In fact, for those willing to bundle up, Gatlinburg is chock-full of options for getting out and exploring the great outdoors in winter style. When snow and ice can’t cramp your style, you’ll find that Gatlinburg is brimming over with entertainment. When you’re in the mood for amazing views, make Anakeesta top on your itinerary. This iconic area attraction and theme park can be accessed by the lift which is a great way to get a bird’s eye view on your surroundings as you head for the village. Here, guests will enjoy everything from sensational seasonal décor to unobstructed views over all of Gatlinburg! If you find that you’re here around the holidays, expect to set right in the center of Christmas activities and in December, Santa can easily be found at Anakeesta too.
For winter adventurers to Gatlinburg who are excited to lace up their boots, put on their hats, and hit the trails, there are plenty of snowy pathways to be enjoyed. Especially for those who head towards the Old Sugarlands Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This trail is open year-round but tends to be most popular around November when crowds are fewer and options to enjoy the scenery at your own pace expand. If you’re looking for a little insight on how best to appreciate the experience, be sure to swing by the Sugarlands Visitor Center before you set out and speak to a ranger on-site who is more than happy to help. The Visitor Center also has a collection of exhibits about the area which are worth checking out too.
Those who are in the area with little ones and are looking for a more family-friendly hiking trail to enjoy will want to head towards Twin Creeks Trail instead. It’s easily accessible from Gatlinburg and provides a level and welcoming pathway that’s designed to be enjoyed by hikers of all skill levels year-round. Along this trail, history comes to life as hikers encounter remnants of an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp. Be sure to bring your camera if you take to this trail because it’s a particularly scenic experience and you’re likely to find views you’ll want to remember long after you’ve returned home.
For ski enthusiasts, Gatlinburg has much to offer in the way of winter fun as well. Between December and April, Clingmans Dome is closed to vehicles and becomes a skier’s paradise. This area provides fresh powder, amazing views, and tranquility too—everything one could need to make it an unforgettable winter getaway.
Family-Friendly Winter Fun
When you’re in town with the entire family in tow this winter, there’s no reason to worry. Gatlinburg is brimming over with options that everyone in your crew will enjoy from start to finish. If you’re the outdoorsy traveling types, head over to the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park. This stop promises all kinds of fun from sun-up until sunset. It’s packed with outdoor snow-based activities ranging from skiing and snow tubing to fun on a freestyle terrain park. It’s the perfect place for kids to burn off excess energy and everyone to put their outdoor skills to the test in style.
If your family is excited to be in Gatlinburg this winter but could stand to warm up for a while, there are just as many indoor activities to enjoy. The Hollywood Stars Car Museum is a must for those with a passion for celebrity culture and an interest in amazing vehicles as well! This specialty museum puts you up close with some of the most iconic cars to grace the big screen in recent years. Fowler’s Clay Works is another family-friendly stop when you’re looking to learn a new skill together while enjoying the fact that you can walk out with a souvenir to match. This locale offers pottery classes for all ages right on-site. When class is done, you’ll have a mug or bowl in hand that you can take home with you and tell all your friends about. Of course, if you’re not so artistically inclined, Fowler’s Clay Works is also a great place to simply browse the beautiful works of art that others have crafted too. Gatlinburg is also home to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum which is always a fun time for the family. Open from 9:00 am until 11:00 pm daily, this is a fun and fascinating museum filled with mind-bending exhibits and hands-on displays to discover. With over 600 displays on-site paired with photo ops, interactive galleries and wonders, don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to return a time or two to discover even more!
Enjoy Fantastic Food
Winter in Gatlinburg is a great time to thaw out as you hop between amazing restaurants to enjoy. For those that have a hankering for a savory way to start the day, the Pancake Pantry is the place to be. Known and loved as Tennessee’s first pancake house, this eatery has been serving up the best of pancakes, and breakfast fare since 1960 with no signs of slowing down. If a BBQ lunch is calling your name, head over to Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que and enjoy savory menu selections doused in house sauces that are sure to inspire everyone who walks through the door. If you’re feeling fancy and looking for a sophisticated dining experience, time at Greenbrier Restaurant is paired with mountain views and a romantic vibe. Settled in a refurbished log cabin dating back to the 1930s, this stop is known for its amazing steak and seafood as well as its impeccable service and wine list.
Events to Check Out During Winter in Gatlinburg
Winter is a busy season in Gatlinburg when it comes to events for visitors and locals to enjoy. The Great Smoky Thanksgiving & Christmas Art & Crafts Show runs from late November into early December each year and is an amazing place to kick off your holiday shopping extravaganza. The Festival of Trees is one of the city’s most exciting December traditions for families while the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in early December will leave everyone feeling like a child inside! Gatlinburg also hosts an incredible New Year’s Eve celebration complete with a fireworks show.
Spring Seasonal Highlights
While winter in Gatlinburg is a blast, a spring trip this way comes with warmer weather to enjoy and just as much in the way of appealing fun. Those lucky enough to head to Gatlinburg in the spring will find it’s the ideal time to get out and enjoy the fresh air and views that are coming to life with plants, animals, colors and beyond. When it comes to making the most of outdoor fun, one of the fan favorite stops among visitors and locals alike is Cades Cove. For those that are willing to strap on their hiking boots and grab a pair of binoculars, this stop promises to offer up much in the way of trekking fun and options to observe amazing wildlife too. Cades Cove is a captivating valley filled with lush foliage that sits in the heart of the mountains. It’s home to incredible hiking trails, amazing photo ops and a chance to encounter everything from coyotes and deer to black bears and turkeys too.
For those who are excited to see the colors of Gatlinburg in the spring from above, booking a trip up on the aerial tramway is the way to go. This option provides not only majestic, but unobstructed view of the Smoky Mountains from a bird’s eye vantage point everyone can appreciate. The aerial tramway departs daily from its downtown Gatlinburg hub and in total, passengers can enjoy a breathtaking 2.1-mile adventure.
Sensational Shopping Stops to Enjoy This Spring
While outdoor fun is abundance in the spring, the many shops of Gatlinburg are open for business as well when travelers head here this time of year. If you’re in the mood to browse, visitors will find that the novelty food stores, and eclectic apparel and souvenir shops in Gatlinburg are ample and accessible. For a comprehensive spring shopping experience, start your adventures at The Village Shops. Here, you’ll find more than 27 on-site galleries and boutiques to enjoy in a setting that really feels like a charming European village.
It’s common for shopping to lend itself to working up an appetite eventually. When you find yourself in The Village Shops, this is never a problem. Swing by the Donut Friar which is right on-site and enjoy a tasty treat that’s sure to please. If you happen to be a fan of a savory brew and could stand to top off your day with a drink or two, heading over to Gatlinburg’s Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery is a must. Here, you’ll enjoy an array of original flavors ranging from lemon drop to apple pie just to name a few. Guests can request a tour of the facility if you’re interested in learning more about the production process—but it’s often the samples that are the highlight of the adventure.
Family Activities to Enjoy During This Season
For those in town with the entire family, that same Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park that offers up winter fun transitions into a warm-weather adventure center when spring rolls around! Head this way when you’re up for trying the roller coaster which takes passengers up a 1,000-foot ride in the woods. The many attractions and activities here make it easy to customize an afternoon of entertainment for all types of age ranges.
Spring Events in the Smokies
For travelers to Gatlinburg in the spring who can’t wait to participate in local fun, this area has much to offer in the way of seasonal events and festivities. The Music in the Mountain Spring Parade comes through each year in nearby parkway at the end of April while May visitors can make the most of the Townsend Spring Festival and Old Timers Day. Also, be sure to mark your calendar for Mexican Fiesta Weekend in Pigeon Forge the last weekend in April.
Book Your Gatlinburg Adventure Today
When you’re ready to enjoy an amazing Gatlinburg adventure, the team at Smoky Mountain Realty Partners is here to help. We can make sure you get settled in an amazing Gatlinburg area vacation rental that meets your travel needs and exceeds expectations too. Reach out today to learn more about our many options and to start planning your trip!