10 Reasons Why We Love Gatlinburg

Ole Red Gatlinburg is officially open! Here are all the reasons we’ve fallen in love with this cool town, and why you’ll love it, too.


1. It’s the doorstep to the Smokies.

More people visit the Great Smoky Mountains than they do any other national park — and for good reason. There’s nothing better than cruising along its winding roads, your face toward the wind and your back against your troubles. We think this is pretty cool, too: It’s one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth, has more than 100 tree species, and is the “Salamander Capital of the World.” Two park trailheads are located within a mile and some change from Ole Red Gatlinburg’s door. Nature within a stone’s throw of a glass of sangria. We’re down with that.

Photograph courtesy of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

2. You can take in the views from just about anywhere.

If a ride on a ski lift, rather than a hike, is more your speed — especially after chowing down on Ole Red’s Southern Tater Tot Poutine — we feel ya. The great thing about Gatlinburg is that you can enjoy its mountain vistas from just about anywhere, from Clingmans Dome to the Gatlinburg Space Needle.

Photograph courtesy of The Pancake Pantry

3. All. The. Pancakes.

This town has got a thing for fluffy stacks of pancakes. With a flapjack house on practically every corner, Gatlinburg could probably sustain itself on syrup and syrup alone. We don’t question it; we embrace it. Because oatmeal is sad.

4. Bet your town doesn’t have a living mascot.

A mascot around these parts, the ubiquitous black bear is immortalized in the form of garden figurines, salt and pepper shakers, and yep, even toilet seats. Spotting the real-life version of one of these local celebrities is a lot like catching a glimpse of Blake Shelton in the flesh. Hey, be cool, OK? No really, it’s a bear. You gotta be cool.

Photograph courtesy of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

5. What can we say? We just love love.

Gatlinburg is known as the wedding capital of the South. Something about this place just gives you that lovin’ feelin’, whether you’re tying the knot or renewing those vows.

Photograph courtesy of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

6. The people are daggum crafty.

Gatlinburg’s got a big arts and crafts community. In just an 8-mile stretch, you’ll find more than 100 artists and craftsmen who work with a variety of mediums, from clay to metal to fabric to wood. As for us? We can nail two two-by-fours together. Maybe. Good thing live music is our specialty.

7. We’ve got spirit(s). How about you?

During Prohibition, “moonshiners” used to cart around illegal corn whiskey all around the Appalachian mountains in the stealth of the night, earning moonshine its “white lightning” nickname. Liquor-making is no longer illegal — surprise — but traces of the region’s outlaw past can be found at several distilleries that call Gatlinburg home.

8. You’ll never know what you’ll find.

Whether you need to stock up on socks or wall clocks, insanely spicy hot sauce or fudge, Gatlinburg’s got it all. Specialty shops along the Gatlinburg Strip point you to all the things you never knew you needed … until now. No paycheck is safe.

Photograph courtesy of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

9. This town is worth visiting any time of year.

Gatlinburg looks good in any season. Enjoy snowtubing and skiing in the winter, wildflowers in the spring, alpine slides and water rides in the summer, and bright foliage in the fall. You can visit one part of the year and have a completely different experience a few months later.

10. Roots run deep.

When walking down the Strip, it’s not hard to find a family with at least three generations represented. Kin is important around here, which is why folks will come back year after year to celebrate new milestones together.

Gatlinburg’s a family tradition — and we’re honored to be a part of it.


Katie Quine

Katie Quine is a digital marketing coordinator for Opry Entertainment. She believes Dolly Parton is one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever known.