10 Great Reasons to Visit the Great Smoky Mountains This Year!

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(ThyBlackMan.com) The Great Smoky Mountains can be found in Tennessee, and they are a sight to behold. It’s well worth the trip to see them, but of course, there are many other things to see and do in the area as well, which is why we can offer you this list of 10 great reasons to visit the Great Smoky Mountains this year. Read on to find out more.

  1. Westgate Resorts

Stay close to the Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg with Westgate Resorts.

Westgate Resorts has a number of different hotels in the area, close to the Great Smoky Mountains. This great indie chain of Gatlinburg hotels truly has something for everyone and makes the perfect base from which to explore the area surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains. The Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Water Park, the River Terrace Resort and Conference Center, and the Wild Bear Inn are all part of the Westgate family, and you’ll feel right at home in each of them. For comfort, elegance, and the ideal location to explore the Great Smoky Mountains, Westgate Resorts is the answer.

Westgate-Smoky-Mountain-Resort-Gatlinburg

  1. Dollywood

Fans of Dolly Parton and rollers coasters united at Dollywood.

Dollywood isn’t just for fans of the iconic Dolly Parton – although it’s a must-see for those who love the famous singer – because it has so much to it. It’s a huge theme park, complete with roller coasters, restaurants, wildlife (including birds of prey), and plenty of Appalachian history to boot. You can even visit a building that shows you what Dolly Parton’s life was like growing up; it might surprise you. Once you’ve done all of this, sit back and enjoy the ride on an authentic steam train that will take you through the Smokies.

  1. Pancakes

You can have pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Although there are many different types of food to experience in and around the Great Smoky Mountains, it seems that pancakes really have caught everyone’s attention. The Pancake Pantry is an example of an excellent pancake restaurant – it was the first one to open in Tennessee – but there are many more. In fact, they all added together. There are over 20 pancake restaurants in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (that’s within a 10-mile radius). Choose from a wide range of toppings and ingredients, including sweet potato pancakes and buckwheat versions. 

  1. The Views

The views around the Great Smoky Mountains are spectacular.

There are many places in Gatlinburg and the surrounding area to get the perfect view. Whether you’re looking at the Great Smoky Mountains or down from the, the experience is magical. The great thing about Gatlinburg is that you’ll find it nestled neatly in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, giving you the perfect excuse to enjoy those views no matter where you go. You might choose to use the Sky Lift, which rises to 1,800 feet to reach a specially designed observation deck where you’ll find not only telescopes but a snack bar too. Try this when it’s dark for a view that you’ll never experience anywhere else. Or perhaps you’ll try the Gatlinburg Space Needle. This 407-foot observation tower offers a 360-degree view of the entire surrounding area. While you’re up there, you can learn plenty about the history of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains, as there is an exhibit detailing all the information. 

You can mine for gems and make your own jewelry.

  1. Gem Mining

Have you ever wondered where those beautiful gems come from that you find in cute stores and curiosity booths around the place? When it comes to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains, they come from tourists just like you who decide to go gem mining. You don’t have to go underground and dig up the stones yourself, instead, you simply buy a bag of potential gems and sieve through it to see what you can come up with. It’s such a simple thing to do, but people love it, and it is a lot of fun. You can keep what you find, and many people choose to make jewelry from their pieces. If you prefer to choose what you want rather than leave it to chance, don’t miss out on visiting the Smoky Mountain Relic Room, where you can browse and buy thousands of different gems. 

The fresh air is important in the Great Smoky Mountains.

  1. Many Different Activities

The air in the Great Smoky Mountain area is fresh and bracing, and no matter what time of year you visit, it’s a good idea to spend as much time outside as possible. That’s easy to do when you’re in and around Gatlinburg because there are so many different outside activities to enjoy. One example is Hillbilly Golf which is said to be the most unique natural mini-golf course in the world. To get started, you have to ride a tram to the top of a hill, and you’ll spend the rest of the 18-hole course getting back down again. You use natural elements to play, including tree trunks and caves. As well as mini-golf, there is a mirror maze, a haunted house, an aquarium, and a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Ober Gatlinburg is an ideal place to spend some time during the winter months, and not only can you enjoy the theme park, but you can ski and snowboard too. 

The Lost Sea Adventure is a sight to behold.

  1. Lost Sea Adventure

The area around the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg is well known for its many natural wonders – the mountains themselves are testament to that – so you may not be surprised to discover that there is a huge underground cave and lake system there. Although even if you were expecting something like this, you wouldn’t be expecting what you see when you take the tour. Many of the caves under Tennessee are yet to be discovered, so when you have the chance to take a guided tour of one of the ones that have, it’s a chance not to be missed, and that’s what the Lost Sea Adventure offers. There is plenty of lighting and a good walkway, so you don’t have to worry about getting wet, and most people can take part in the tour, although the guide will turn off all the lights at one point to show you just how dark it is – you’ve never experience dark until you experience this. At the bottom of the cave, you’ll see the most beautiful ‘lost sea’ area.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has 150 hiking trails.

  1. The Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains aren’t something you can ignore when you visit the area; they tower above everything, and the tourist trade relies heavily on people coming to see them. You can visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which takes up over 520,000 acres and which allows for hikers to make the most of the terrain – there are 150 hiking trails encompassing over 800 miles. Apart from the mountains and the hiking, there are numerous other reasons to visit America’s favorite national park. They include Roaring Fork Stream (as the name suggests, this is a very powerful stream), the Rainbow Falls, and Grotto Falls. Even if you don’t see any of these things, simply being in the presence of the Great Smoky Mountains and breathing in that pure, fresh air is something you’ll never forget. 

Have you ever wondered how moonshine is made? Now you can find out.

  1. Interesting Local Fayre

Every state in the US has its own kind of food associated with it, and Tennessee is no different. When you’re visiting the area, it’s important to try as many different types of food and drink as you can because when you leave, it might be hard to get hold of them again. For example, chow chow is a pickled relish that uses a variety of different ingredients (peppers and green tomatoes being the main ones). Everyone makes their chow chow slightly differently, but everyone agrees it should be eaten with sausage for the best experience. Then there are jerkies. In Gatlinburg, you can find jerky made from beef, of course, but also from ostrich, alligator, and buffalo. The area is also famous for its barbecue sauces, marinades, and rubs, as well as jellies and jams. It’s not just food, either; at the Ole Smoky Distillery, you can try and buy a variety of different moonshines and even get a glimpse at how they are made. 

Find unique items on the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Trail.

  1. The Crafting Community

Everyone loves taking home souvenirs from their vacations, and when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of handcrafted items because arts and crafts is a huge part of many people’s livelihoods and pastimes. There is an eight-mile loop of crafts to wander around, and throughout that loop, you’ll find small stands and stores and even private homes where people enjoy crafting and selling what they’ve made. Everything is one of a kind. From paintings to pottery, from leather goods to wood carvings, you’ll find anything and everything here. It’s called the Gatlinburg Historic Arts and Crafts Trail and is certainly not to be missed.

Staff Writer; Carl Jacobs