While the Great Smoky Mountains themselves have been standing guard over scenic East Tennessee for millions of years, it was the city of Gatlinburg, in large part, that helped bring tourism to this region. More than a century ago, mountain crafts gradually transformed from being part of everyday life to being a commercial venture. And when people started arriving from all over the country to visit the new Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the 1930s, the arts and crafts lifestyle of the day gave folks just another reason to stay in town a little while longer.
Today, Gatlinburg has retained much of its mountain-hamlet charm, serving as home to just a few thousand full-time residents. Tucked away in the crevices of the Smokies’ foothills, the community in many ways resembles a charming, European, alpine village. But in other respects, the city has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 100 years and has become one of the region’s hotbeds of tourism.
Mountain crafts are still at the heart of things. The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community is an eight-mile auto loop that showcases dozens and dozens of craft shops and studios, most of which are occupied by artisans who carry on the craft traditions of yesteryear, including basket making, wood working, pottery and broom making. Those in search of mountain treasures and other vacation memorabilia will also find ample shopping opportunities along the city’s downtown Parkway.
Gatlinburg is also known for its outdoor activity, particularly the high-altitude kind found at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort on Mt. Harrison. They have snow skiing, snowboarding and ice skating in winter (you can actually ice skate year ‘round), and alpine sliding, go-carting and watersliding in summer. Golfers also know Gatlinburg has a reputation for its many fine, championship courses and golf resorts.
Downtown Gatlinburg is loaded for bear when it comes to family fun too. There’s the towering Space Needle, Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, a multitude of unique museums and amusement centers as well as a whole family of Ripley’s Entertainment attractions, including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
When planning your stay, don’t forget that Heartland Cabin Rentals has a large inventory of Gatlinburg vacation cabins ranging from 1 to 5 bedrooms to accommodate up to 18 people. We have properties located in a wide variety of locations in and near Gatlinburg, so depending on what your specific interests are, we’re likely to have a cabin site that will suit your needs perfectly.