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Gatlinburg is a very touristy mountain town, the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains. It's disconcerting when you've come to escape it all and immerse yourself in nature and you find yourself in this place. The town itself is actually quite cute with high mountains around it, like a ski resort, and chalet-style buildings. But what's in the buildings is ever kind of tacky tourist attraction imaginable.
Even worse are the two nearby towns of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. Yikes. Gaudy and stark to the max. At least Gatlinburg has cute architecture.
If you can avoid staying in a hotel in the town, do, and try to rent a vacation rental in the forest.
If you're hungry, every type of restaurant chain imaginable is available in Gatlinburg.
It is fun to stroll around in Gatlinburg, and listen to the street musicians.
Make sure you do the lovely hike to Grotto Falls, where you can stand behind a waterfall.
Also, drive the Newfound Gap Rd past misty mountain scenery. Check out Clingman's Dome along the way (get there via a side road). At the southern end of the Newfound Gap Road, check out Mingus Mill and Mountain Farm Museum, interesting and picturesque.
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Gatlinburg town is where you enter Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee side. Cherokee is the town where you exit on the North Carolina side.
The center of town is around 900 Parkway, Gatlinburg TN 37738. One block up Historic Nature Trail Rd from 900 Parkway, there is a parking lot that is less expensive than the others and charges $6.
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, 88 River Rd, Gatlinburg TN 37738, call (865) 430-8808. Open daily 9am to between 8pm and 11pm- hours vary by season. Parking is behind the aquarium, for $6. Tickets online are $25 for adults, and $14 for kids aged 6-11, and $6 for kids aged 2-5. Come early as it gets crowded.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.