Expansive Lodge Surrounded by Great Smoky Mountains Woodlands
One of Tennessee’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 of the Smokies, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, and an aerial cable-car tramway. The trolley also stops at Glenstone Lodge, located just outside of town amid rolling hills covered with ash and hickory trees.
The rustic hotel and its guest rooms exude backcountry charm, even with their proximity and easy access to Gatlinburg and the national park. While you relax in your room, you can log onto the free high-speed Wi-Fi, or turn on the flat-screen TV. In the morning, head down to the onsite Mountain Trail Cafe for a hot breakfast.
The surrounding mountains and nearby attractions are the main draw, but there’s plenty to do at the lodge. You can hone in your short game at the indoor 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 an atrium filled with tropical plants.
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.