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Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Smoky Mountains

Best Places to Visit in Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. Feel the splendor of these legendary mountains as you watch the low fog rise between the ridges and see for yourself how they earned their name.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers 520,000 acres (800 square miles) in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountains are known for the blue mist that always seems to circulate around the peaks and valleys.

Asheville, NC is an ideal base for a day trip to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. Asheville is less than an hour and a half (or less) from the five main entrances to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. National parks are free. Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Smoky Mountainsand make your trip enjoyable.

10 Best Places to Visit in Smoky Mountains

Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Smoky Mountains:

1. Gatlinburg

Best known as the Great Smoky Mountains town, Gatlinburg is a classic mountain resort destination. From here you can take a chairlift from Anakeesta and gaze at the lush, winding roads filled with individual cottages and hotels. Gatlinburg has a long tradition of artists working on mountain crafts.

Whether it’s ceramics or watercolors, you can take lessons from them and buy their wares at the secluded 8-mile Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Loop. Learn to ski on Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s only ski mountain. In summer, opt for guided hikes on the ski hills. Finish the mountain with a meal and drink along the Parkway, Gatlinburg’s main street. Ole Red offers a Southern menu, adult beverages, and live country music.

Gatlinburg is a year-round destination with a mild climate, sunny summer hiking opportunities and winter skiing opportunities. It’s a local tradition to eat as many pancakes as possible, and there are many (many) pancake houses to dine at, including Little House of Pancakes, with its classic dining atmosphere and affordable prices. If you love picnicking in the mountains, Whole Earth Grocery makes ready-made sandwiches.

2. Pigeon Forge

The streets of Pigeon Forge are lined with neon lights. You see things everywhere and often unexpectedly, like King Kong climbing a replica of the Empire State Building at the Hollywood Wax Museum or climbing a replica of the Titanic. Pigeon Forge features a Ferris wheel that lights up the night sky and a go-kart track where kids and their parents can race in the afternoon. There’s even a covered sled top.

But Pigeon Forge’s most popular attraction is Dollywood, a resort developed by superstar Dolly Parton who grew up in these mountains. Dollywood has a water park, live music amusement park, resort and spa, and many things that make this part of Tennessee great: Great Smoky Mountains scenery, mountain crafts, and country music.

There are interesting dining options in Pigeon Forge after you’ve boarded your favorite amusement park. Animatronic chickens like HENifer Aniston and Elvis PresLAY sing to you while you eat at Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Café. Human singer-songwriters perform simplified versions of their songs as dinner is served in the Listening Room Cafe.

3. Sevierville

Known as the home of Dolly Parton, this small village is located just north of bustling Pigeon Forge, 32 miles north of Gatlinburg and the National Park. The quaint downtown square features shops and cafes, as well as a bronze statue of Dolly, a guitar in her lap, and one of her favorite iconic butterflies, nearby. Seasons 101 at the Central Hotel is one of the area’s upscale restaurants, and the pace changes as you fill up with waffle houses and fudge shops.

Compared to most of the family-friendly hotels in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, staying at the Central Hotel, where President Roosevelt stayed during his visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in previous editions, is a slightly more luxurious experience. This is a great option for those who want to get away from the neon lights and noise of Park Avenue but still want full-service accommodation. Sevierville also has several low-priced hotels and cabins in the woods, the latter offering more privacy.

4. Townsend

Townsend likes to present himself as the “peaceful side of the Smoky Mountains”. Not all Great Smoky Mountains and the mountain towns around them are quiet, but Townsend is free from neon signs and King Kong climbing towers. In summer, come here for outdoor activities. Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing and Whitewater Rafting will guide you along the small river where you will feel the cool splashes and soak up the mountain scenery.

Walk along the Townsend Riverwalk Trail, a paved route with 8 miles of hiking and biking trails on either side of Highway 321. This bike- and the dog-friendly route is adorned with wildflowers in the spring. The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center tells the stories of the communities that live in these mountains, including the Native Americans who helped conserve this wilderness.

5. Cosby

Once known as the “Moonlight Capital of the World” and historically a hunting ground for the Cherokee, Cosby’s remote location surrounded by mountains and streams is ideal for camping under the stars. Cosby Campground – one of eight campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – is located here. Book one of the host camps, which includes tent and caravan sites, as well as some ADA-accessible sites. Each site has parking, fire rings and picnic tables, and lots of trees to help you stay away from other nearby campgrounds.

Overall, Cosby is considered a quieter campground than Elkmont, which is closer to Gatlinburg. Outside the park, there are special glamping shops and the quaint Airstream Village, where you can experience the feeling of camping without sacrificing the comfort of home. The Maddron Bald and Albright Grove Loop hike begin on a challenging 6.7-mile trail just off Highway 321 in Cosby. The old forest provides plenty of shade in the summer, and it’s easy to take a short hike if you’re not feeling the full cycle.

6. Maryville

Maryville College is home to Maryville College, which is essentially a suburb of Knoxville, but its peaceful, idyllic scenery makes it a scenic waypoint to the Great Smoky Mountains. Book a night or two at RT Lodge and wander through the stunning Four Seasons Gardens, sit by the fire, or borrow one of the lodge’s free bikes to drive around town and campus.

Chef Trevor Stockton uses local ingredients to prepare meals at RT Lodge. For more comfort food and drinks, stop at the family and pet-friendly Tri-Hop Brewery, or grab a chili sandwich or empanada at Aroma Cafe Cuban Food before returning to your hotel for the night. Maryville is also home to the Sam Houston Historic Schoolhouse.

7. Mt. LeConte and Alum Cave

Mt. LeConte is the third highest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 6,594 feet. While there are 5 trails to the top, the Alum Cave Trail is the most popular (and shortest) way to reach the top.

On the way to the summit, hikers will pass Arch Rock and Alum Cave Bluffs, 100-foot-high cliffs that are important in Cherokee legend and rich in minerals. Saltpeter was mined from the cliffs and used to make gunpowder during the Civil War.

Near the summit, hikers will encounter LeConte Lodge, the only working lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains. A shorter hike to Cliff Top and Myrtle Point will yield impressive views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

8. Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls is a great hiking trail for viewing wildflowers and a truly unique waterfall. In fact, the Trillium Gorge Trail runs under the waterfalls – a great way to cool off on a hot summer day. If you have enough time, this hiking trail also leads to the summit of Mount LeConte. The Laurel Falls Trail is another popular waterfall hike near Gatlinburg.

9. Rainbow Falls

This stunning 80-metre waterfall is known for creating enough mist to create a rainbow in bright sunlight. The starting point for this beautiful waterfall is the Cherokee Orchard Trail. Rainbow Falls is a 5-mile round-trip hike, but it’s also possible to reach the top of Mount LeConte and complete a 14-mile day hike.

10. Clingman Dome

The highest mountain in the Smoky Mountains is at 6,644 feet. The summit is also accessible via Clingmans Dome Road, which is open from May to November. At the top, visitors can take a short hike to the stunning observation tower for panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Six states can be seen on a clear day: Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Georgia.


Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Smoky Mountains. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Smoky Mountains, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.

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