Expansive Lodge Surrounded by Great Smoky Mountains Woodlands
One of the state's most-popular destinations, Gatlinburg is an unusual gateway town full of things to do, see, and eat right on the border of mountainous wilderness (the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is less than a half mile away). The Gatlinburg Trolley runs throughout town and stops at all the major attractions, including Ripley’s Aquarium, the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, and an aerial cable-car tramway. The trolley also veers off the beaten path to stop at the Glenstone Lodge, tucked just outside of town amid rolling hills covered with ash and hickory trees. The rustic hotel and its guest rooms exudes backcountry charm, even with its proximity and easy access to Gatlinburg and the national park.
The surrounding mountains and nearby attractions are the main draw, but there’s plenty to do at the lodge. You can hone your short game on the putting green, or train for the 400-meter individual medley in the outdoor pool. There’s also a two-level indoor pool fed by waterfalls within a cavernous, tropical-plant-filled atrium.
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's comprised of 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.