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A Guide To Spending the Perfect Weekend in Gatlinburg

Are you looking for a fun weekend getaway? Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, might be your place. Here you can leave the daily grind behind and dive into nature, adventure, and some well-deserved relaxation. Whether you're into hiking, outdoor activities, or just soaking in the scenery, Gatlinburg has something for everyone.

Visit the Sky Bridge on your weekend trip to Gatlinburg, TN (photo: Amy Baugess).
SkyBridge (photo: Amy Baugess)

Picture this: You wake up to the sound of birds chirping and look out to see the mist rolling over the mountains. Gatlinburg is a small town packed with outdoor activities, charming shops, and tasty spots to eat. Balancing adventure and relaxation is the key to a great trip here. With so much to do and see, having a solid plan will help you make the most of your visit. So, let’s go through all the tips that will help you have the best weekend getaway in Gatlinburg!

Gatlinburg Weekend Guide

Arrival and Settling In

The drive to Gatlinburg is a treat in itself. As you wind through the mountain roads, you’ll be greeted with stunning views of dense forests and distant peaks. This scenic journey sets the tone for the adventures ahead. Along the way, you might want to stop at one of the many overlooks to snap photos or take in the breathtaking views.

Road to Gatlinburg (photo: Charis Sims)
Road to Gatlinburg (photo: Charis Sims)

When you arrive in Gatlinburg, the first thing to do is check into your lodging. Gatlinburg offers a variety of places to stay, from cozy cabins and friendly hotels to convenient condos. Each option provides a unique experience that caters to different preferences and budgets.

For those who love the outdoors, Gatlinburg campsites are a fantastic option. You can camp in a tent, RV, or rent a small cabin. These campsites provide a fun way to experience nature while still being close to all the attractions.

Once you’ve checked in, take some time to unpack and relax. Get familiar with your surroundings. If you’re staying at a campsite, explore the hiking trails or swimming pools. If you’re in a cabin or hotel, take a stroll around the property.

Day One: Adventure and Sightseeing

Morning: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (photo: Nathan Mullet)
Smoky Mountains (photo: Nathan Mullet)

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a fantastic place to start your adventure. Known for its diverse wildlife and forests, this park offers numerous trails for hikers of all levels. For a relatively easy hike with stunning views, try the Laurel Falls Trail.

If you're up for a bit more of a challenge, the Alum Cave Trail offers a more strenuous hike with equally rewarding views. Along the way, you might spot some of the park’s wildlife, such as deer, black bears, and various bird species.

Afternoon: Gatlinburg SkyPark

After your hike, head to Gatlinburg SkyPark. The Gatlinburg SkyLift ride offers impressive views of the town and the mountains. The Gatlinburg SkyPark is not just about the ride up; it’s also about the experience at the top. The SkyBridge, North America's longest pedestrian suspension bridge, offers a thrilling walk with glass floor panels that let you look down into the valley below. It's a must-visit spot for fantastic photo opportunities.

Evening: Dinner in Downtown Gatlinburg

For dinner, head to downtown Gatlinburg. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Whether you want a steak or southern comfort food, you'll find something tasty. After dinner, take a leisurely walk along the charming streets and maybe grab a dessert from a local shop. The downtown area is lively in the evenings, with twinkling lights and a friendly atmosphere. You can explore local shops, grab a coffee, or even catch some live music at one of the many venues.

Day Two: Fun and Relaxation

Morning: Ober Mountain

Start your second day with a visit to Ober Mountain. This resort offers different activities depending on the season. In winter, you can ski or snowboard. In warmer months, try the Smoky Mountain Bobsled or ice skating. The scenic Aerial Tramway ride to the Ober Mountain Adventure Park and Ski Area is a highlight, offering stunning views of the landscape.

Afternoon: Gatlinburg Space Needle

Gatlinburg Space Needle (photo: hutchcc).
Gatlinburg Space Needle (photo: hutchcc)

In the afternoon, visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle. This observation tower stands 407 feet tall and offers 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the town. Take the glass elevator to the top and enjoy the vistas. The Gatlinburg Space Needle also has an arcade and a theater for some added fun.

Evening: Relaxing by the Campfire

If you’re staying at one of the Gatlinburg campsites, end your day by the campfire. Spending an evening by the campfire is a quintessential camping experience. There’s something special about gathering around a fire, roasting marshmallows (for s'mores), and sharing stories under the stars. It’s a great way to unwind after a day full of activities. If that isn’t your thing, many cabins and lodges also have outdoor fire pits.

Shopping and Souvenirs

No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without exploring its unique shops. Spend part of your day wandering through The Village Shops, a charming collection of boutiques offering everything from handmade crafts to local It'sts. It’s the perfect place to pick up souvenirs and gifts for friends and family.

If your visit coincides with the Craftmen's Fair, don’t miss it. This fair showcases local artisans' handmade items, such as pottery, jewelry, and artwork. It’s a great way to support local craftsmen and find unique treasures.


As your weekend in Gatlinburg comes to an end, take some time to pack up and reflect on the memories you’vGatlinburg'sinburg’s beauty and charm will likely have you planning your next visit before you even leave. 

This charming mountain town has something for everyone. From exploring beautiful campgrounds to enjoying local attractions and great food, Gatlinburg is a wonderful place for a getaway. Whether you spend your days hiking or relaxing by a campfire, the experiences you’ve had will stay with you. Gatlinburg offers so much to explore and enjoy, making it a perfect weekend destination.

So pack your bags and get ready to experience the best that Gatlinburg has to offer. You’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.


This story is published in partnership with Gatlinburg, TN Guide.

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