Gatlinburg, Tennessee, United States of America
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Gatlinburg Hotels

Glide effortlessly up the mountainside in a swinging open-air chairlift, trek the craggy peaks of the indomitable Great Smoky Mountains, or kayak the winding waters of its many rivers as they spring from the depths of the mountain slopes and trail their way through the valley. Here at Gatlinburg, modern tourist attractions, and lively bars, mix with the freedom of outdoor adventure pursuits to offer the perfect laid back lifestyle. It’s a verdant landscape with a myriad of attractions, bringing travelers and foreign visitors in their droves.

Things to see

The glass-fronted, neon-lit fascia of the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is hard to miss in the heart of Gatlinburg town, a modern wood and stone-built structure housing over 10,000 exotic marine animals in gigantic tanks. Marvel at Sandtiger sharks as they flick their tails and show their teeth, or head over to the petting tank where elegant rays slip through the shallow waters with minimum effort. The impressive floor space of the Gatlinburg Convention Center is regularly filled with interesting trade shows or exciting cultural events during the year, and purpose-built stages are created for elaborate ballet recitals like the ever-popular Nutcracker. There are many ways to reach the summit of the pine tree-covered Great Smoky Mountains that surround the city, but you haven’t tried the best until you’ve arrived at the soaring peaks by Skylift ride. Take in the views as you travel in authentic 2-person open seats, grazing the treetops on the the steep ascent to the top of Crockket Mountain, and gaze back over the town nestling on the valley floor below. At night, the journey is even more spectacular, and the bright lights of Gatlinburg’s downtown streets can be seen from these haughty peaks.

Hotels in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg hugs the undulating mountain-ridge border that Tennessee shares with North Carolina, and sits in a steep valley, tucked away in a rural backwater location. The hotels in Gatlinburg reflect its history, with plenty of comfortable and very affordable places to stay. Higher priced hotels might come with complimentary WiFi, and spa baths, but they’re still only 1 or 2 levels high, and blend in perfectly with the wonderfully scenic natural environment. You’ll find that even the discount hotels here have their own swimming pool to relax in, and gyms are not uncommon either.

Where to stay

The winding roads of Gatlinburg curve their way through the valley, reaching tentatively up the steep slopes on either side as residential estates expand to higher ground. There’s a small-town feel to this quaint tourist-friendly neighborhood, with cluttered hardware stores, cozy local restaurants, and delightful delicatessens in its main streets. You’ll find Gatlinburg hotels further north in the tranquil valley of Pigeon Forge, where cabin rentals, and discount hotels sit close to the popular Titanic Museum and the undulating green fairways of its Gatlinburg Golf Course as they stretch around the lower reaches of the craggy mountains.

How to get to Gatlinburg

The nearest international airport for transatlantic flights is Nashville International Airport, a 4 hour drive west of Gatlinburg. It’s an easy drive though, past spectacular mountain scenery and extensive lowland valleys, fertile and green in the spring to early summer. Once you’re in the town, you can explore most places on foot, but Gatlinburg runs an excellent trolley service around its center, and to outlying neighborhoods as well. You can hop on and off all day long, exploring local attractions, and relaxing in different bars up and down the valley.

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