Hotel at a Glance: Days Inn on the River
When checking in at Days Inn on the River, listen for the sounds of a nearby creek and take in the lobby’s stone fireplace. Both reflect the region’s natural aesthetic, with an entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just 2 miles away. Rooms are just as inviting, with simple decor and home-like amenities, such as microwaves and fridges.
- Take a dip in the outdoor pool or relax in the hot tub.
- Complimentary breakfast: coffee, tea, juice, cereal, oatmeal, breakfast pastries or baked goods, and freshly made waffles
- River views from guest-room balconies
- Within a mile: Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
- Why travel now: Wildflowers bloom year-round in the Great Smoky Mountains; look for witch hazel and asters in fall and hepaticas and spring beauties through late winter.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Charming Artists’ Village amid Great Smoky Mountains
Gatlinburg rests near Tennessee’s eastern border, less than 3 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here, you can hike more than 100 trails that wind past waterfalls and pioneer-era log cabins tucked deep within densely forested mountains. Or, take a bicycle ride on the 11-mile loop through Cades Cove, a broad valley of open meadows where you can see deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and vacationing college mascots. Clingmans Dome, the park’s highest point of elevation at 6,643 feet, is a great place to catch the sunset.
Gatlinburg’s main attraction is probably the artists’ loop. It comprises more than 100 craft shops, studios, and cafés, and you can watch artisans as they hand weave baskets and whittle wooden figurines. Downtown Gatlinburg itself is a mountain village filled with old-fashioned ice-cream shops and boutiques selling housemade jams and decorative gewgaws.