Spanning the length of the Tennessee/North Carolina border, the Smoky Mountains are home to some of the most undeniably beautiful sights in the Eastern United States. Nestled in the foothills of the Tennessee Smokies is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. CSM Publishing is fortunate to host an annual leadership conference in Gatlinburg, and this year we hope to see you there! If you’ve already reserved your spot and are looking to plan your trip, or if you need some extra encouragement to join us, here is a list of some fun things to do in the area!
Ober Gatlinburg is one of Gatlinburg’s most notable attractions. The resort offers ample opportunities for people of all ages, including snow tubing, skiing, wildlife encounters, ice skating, alpine roller coasters, and scenic chairlifts with breathtaking views to name a few. If experiencing the beauty of the Smoky Mountains combined with the fun of an amusement park is your thing, Ober Gatlinburg is the place for you!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
If you want to witness the unbridled beauty of the Smokies, take a short drive outside of Gatlinburg and explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A 20 minute drive down Highway 441 will take you straight to Newfound Gap, home to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail. With an elevation of over 6,500 feet, I highly recommend taking in the sights from here. However, if you prefer to stay closer to Gatlinburg, there is plenty of hiking to do in the immediately surrounding areas. Rainbow Falls is located just four miles from Gatlinburg and offers scenic waterfalls at the end of a short hike. Nearby, Grotto Falls is equally as beautiful. Both of these sites are tucked into Mt. LeConte, which has several other trails to choose from. If you’re looking to spend an afternoon in the mountains or just looking for a nice afternoon walk, I encourage you to check out the trails at Mt. LeConte and find one that suits your needs!
There is so much to do in the downtown Gatlinburg area, it’s impossible to take it all in at once. Some of my favorite things to do include the Gatlinburg Space Needle and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Both of these attractions are located in central Gatlinburg and provide hours of entertainment and fun for people of all ages! There are endless opportunities to shop in Gatlinburg as well – make sure to check out the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) while you’re in town!
One of the best things about Gatlinburg is the variety of restaurants. My favorites are Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin and The Park Grill. Flapjack’s is a quaint chain restaurant with more pancake flavors than you’ll ever want to choose from, and they are delicious! You won’t want to miss the Park Grill either. Located in a massive log cabin, the atmosphere is unmistakably unique to the Smoky Mountains, and they have absolutely the best hamburgers!
Outside of Gatlinburg
If you’re looking to have an adventure a little bigger than Gatlinburg, there are three things that I highly recommend. The first is going on a scenic horseback ride. There are several stables located in the Gatlinburg area. The guides are friendly, the horses are extremely well-behaved, and you just can’t beat experiencing the mountains from the back of a horse. There’s something about it that’s so calming and exciting at the same time. The only con here is that an hour ride costs about $30 a person. You can find coupons in nearly any guide book, and most shops and restaurants have these laying around.
The second thing I recommend is exploring Cade’s Cove. The natural beauty and history of the cove is one of my favorite things about Tennessee. The 11 mile loop around the cove can be driven, and there are plenty of places to pull off and explore. If you like history, you’ll love the historic cabins that were home to the first residents of Cade’s Cove. Most of them are over 200 years old! The major con here is that Cade’s Cove is just under a three hour drive from Gatlinburg. But if you can make the drive, or if the stop is on your way, I promise you won’t regret it!
The final thing I recommend doing is exploring Knoxville, Tennessee. Knoxville is less than an hour from Gatlinburg and is one of Tennessee’s most well-known cities. My favorite thing to do is hang out in Market Square; there are unique shops, amazing restaurants, and talented performers on nearly every corner.
There is so much to do in Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas that I couldn’t possibly discuss them all, but maybe this will help you plan your trip! We are so excited about seeing you all in Gatlinburg for our 2016 leadership retreat. We hope you will join us as we hear from our guests Joseph Bondarenko and Takoosh Hovsepian, as we discuss how we can be “Unshaken.”
Call our offices at (888) 811-2276 for registration information, and reserve your spot today!
VICTORIA GRACE SIMPSON recently earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in International Studies with a Minor in Professional Writing from Spring Hill College. She also earned her certification to teach English as a Second Language in Italy.