GATLINBURG, Tennessee – Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are side-by-side sister cities in jap Tennessee, each gateway communities to Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park, the nation’s busiest.
Each are vacationer cities, with sights cheesy and tasteful. Each have many accommodations, eating places, ice cream outlets and extra. Visitors in each will be extraordinarily congested.
Regardless of many similarities, they’re not an identical twins. Right here’s methods to inform them aside, as you propose your journey to the nation’s hottest nationwide park:
Gatlinburg, inhabitants 3,944, is straight away adjoining to the park, simply north of the Sugarlands Customer Middle. It’s extra compact geographically than Pigeon Forge, squeezed by mountains on three sides.
Its downtown district is extra walkable than Pigeon Forge’s and it’s typically thought of to have higher eating places.
Prime sights embody Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Anakeesta journey park, Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, Hollywood Star Vehicles Museum, Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Ober Gatlinburg amusement park and ski space and quite a few others.
The place to remain: We stayed on the Oak Creek Lodge, 680 River Street, a terrific location simply off the principle strip, however simply walkable to quite a few sights and eating places. Our balcony ignored the Cliff Department River, which runs via the city; charges begin at about $150 per night time.
The place to eat: We loved contemporary fish on the Smoky Mountain Trout Home, which affords 10 totally different trout dishes; different really useful choices embody the Peddler Steakhouse, and Pancake Pantry (or any certainly one of quite a few pancake homes on the town).
Don’t miss: The Nice Smoky Arts and Crafts Neighborhood, a group of retailers and galleries alongside an 8-mile loop east of downtown. Member artisans embody woodworkers and broom makers, potters, jewelers and extra.
Pigeon Forge, inhabitants 6,247, is about 8 miles north of Gatlinburg, linked by way of the Nice Smoky Mountains Parkway (U.S. 441), which additionally winds 33 miles via the park.
The route via Pigeon Forge is wider, extra dominated by parking heaps and neon indicators and is much less pedestrian-friendly than Gatlinburg.
Prime sights embody the Titanic Museum, constructed half-scale to the unique ship; Dollywood; Alcatraz East Crime Museum; Pigeon Forge Snow, with indoor snow tubing; Dolly Parton’s Stampede and others.
The place to remain: We stayed an evening at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, open in 2015 and owned by Dolly Parton. This can be a true resort, with beautiful grounds, a spa, indoor and out of doors swimming pools, leisure, night s’mores and extra. And coming subsequent yr: Dollywood’s Heartsong Lodge and Resort, on the adjoining grounds. Room charges differ extensively, however begin at about $200 an evening.
The place to eat: We ate two good meals in Pigeon Forge, at Native Goat, for fried inexperienced tomatoes, pimento-cheese burger and different Southern-American fares; and the Outdated Mill, serving extra-large four-course homestyle meals inside a historic gristmill. No reservations are accepted on the Outdated Mill, the place wait instances routinely run an hour or extra (we received fortunate and have been seated inside about 20 minutes).
Don’t miss: Dollywood, a terrific amusement park that has been ranked as the perfect in North America by voters within the annual Amusement Right now survey.
Backside line: I’d go for Gatlinburg based mostly on proximity to the nationwide park alone, and in addition appreciated that it was way more pedestrian-friendly than Pigeon Forge.
Dodging the crowds and clouds at Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park, America’s hottest
Overnighting at LeConte Lodge, the one inn inside Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park (however first, it’s important to get there)
Coming quickly: Try Journey editor Susan Glaser’s assessment of Dollywood in upcoming Journey protection.