Gatlinburg: Restaurants and Things to Do
Interested in Gatlinburg? Gatlinburg, TN is probably the number one vacation destination in the Great Smoky Mountains – and it’s no wonder. Things to do in Gatlinburg are numerous, and this beautiful town is surrounded by the mist-covered blue mountains of the Appalacians, native wildlife, history, and clear mountain streams. Its sister city, Pigeon Forge, is just a few miles away, and you'll find plenty of amusements there. There’s so much to do and see here that doing it all is practically impossible to achieve on a typical vacation, so you’ll need to pick and choose! You can always schedule another vacation to do what you missed on your first trip. Of course, you might not want to do anything but relax and take in the views of the gorgeous Smoky Mountains. Having an idea of what things to do in Gatlinburg that you and your family will enjoy should be considered before you arrive, which will help you schedule your time wisely. That way, you can take full advantage of all that Gatlinburg and the surrounding area have to offer.
Pigeon Forge, TN
Wet a fly in one of the nearby creeks, lakes, or rivers for some trout fishing. Gatlinburg is very proud of its trout fishing opportunities, and its rivers are stocked with rainbow trout on a frequent basis. The Little Pigeon River flows right through downtown, and it’s regularly stocked with trout and easily accessible. The area wants every visitor to try their hand at trout fishing, so they’ve included a pier with handicap access at Herbert Holt Park, along with trout streams just for kids. You might also want to try Dudley Creek, LeConte Creek, or Roaring Fork. Go it alone or hire a knowledgeable fishing guide.
It trout fishing in a stream isn’t your bag, try a nearby lake. Douglas Lake is located just thirteen miles from Gatlinburg, and it has more than 500 miles of shoreline. Fish species living in the reservoir include striped bass, bluegill, black crappie, walleye, largemouth bass, white bass, spotted bass, sauger, channel catfish, and blue catfish. Marinas on the lake offer boat rentals, fuel, snacks, burgers, hot dogs, and deli sandwiches. Renting a pontoon boat is a great way for the whole family to explore the lake. Phone numbers for marinas on Douglas Lake are listed below:
Swann’s Marina – 865-397-2182
Gator Point Marina – 865-908-4000
Mountain Cove Marina – 865-453-3506
Lighthouse Pointe Marina – 865-397-7997
More than 400 shops line the streets of Gatlinburg, with a wide selection of souvenirs, handmade local crafts, local art, and one-of-a-kind gifts. Some of the treasures include quilts, wood carvings, paintings, sculpture, leather goods, gourmet foods, and Indian pottery. Be sure to check out Marketplace and the Mountain Mall. Take the short ride to visit the artists and craftsmen at the Arts and Crafts Community located on Glades Road, where you can watch the artists at work. Among the numerous artist and craftsmen, you’ll find woodworking, metal sculpting, pottery making, watercolors, oil paintings, pen and ink works, prints, soaps, glass art, deerskin apparel, jewelry, ceramics, weaving, wreaths, primitive home décor, baskets, quilts, candles, log furniture, and handmade Santas.
In Pigeon Forge, you’ll find hundreds more shopping venues, including outlet malls, boutiques, and specialty stores. The factory outlet stores provide great deals on clothing, jewelry, perfumes, books, tools, shoes, handbags, kitchenware, home décor, watches, and souvenirs. You might also want to browse the Incredible Christmas Place, where the yuletide spirit is alive and well all year. Shop for toys, collectibles, unique ornaments, designer Christmas trees, nativity scenes, and lots more at this beautiful store.
If you have kids with you in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, it’s probably going to be hard to avoid a visit to Dollywood. The theme park covers 150 acres and includes rides, shows, history, restaurants, shopping venues, and live craft demonstrations. The rides range from calm rides for little kids to breathtaking thrill rides. Coasters, water rides, high-flying adventures, a Ferris wheel, a carousel – DollyWood has it all. In fact, it has America’s first wing coaster, Wild Eagle. There’s also a zipline feature, which is a little out of the ordinary for an amusement park. Dollywood, however, isn’t your typical theme park!
In addition to all the rides, you’ll have the chance to see artisans and craftsmen at work. Watch blacksmithing, candle making, glass blowing, woodcarving, leather crafting, wagon and wheel making, candy making, and more. Watching these skills reminds guests how mountain people used to live. Many of the handmade products are available for purchase.
When it comes to shows at DollyWood, musical entertainment takes the lead, with country, bluegrass, gospel, and old rock ‘n’ roll all in attendance. You might be surprised to discover, however, that you’ll also have the chance to experience a mariachi band, Zambian vocals, Indian music and dance, Andean music, French folk music, and Ugandan drum songs. Other shows include Cirque Shanghai, fireworks displays, plays, and acrobats. Be sure to check out the Birds of Prey exhibit, too.
You’ll work up an appetite traipsing around DollyWood, but you’ll find plenty of yumminess to satisfy your appetite. Enjoy southern favorites like barbecue, grilled sausage, fried chicken, pork rinds, ham and beans, bacon, or fried bologna sandwiches. You’ll also find pizza, onion rings, cheese potatoes, kettle corn, hot crab dip, funnel cakes, hot dogs, corndogs, glazed nuts, sandwiches, ice cream treats, cookies, cotton candy, burgers, fries, salads, and more. There’s even a Festival of Nations where you can sample foods from around the globe.
If your visit to DollyWood is during the warmer months, you might want to spend a day at DollyWood’s Splash Country. Splash Country is thirty acres of wet and wild fun for all ages. It includes more than twenty thrill rides and water slides, along with a lazy river, a wave pool, and special play areas for small children.
White Water Rafting
Rafting is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Visitors can choose a relaxing float down a lazy river or a white-knuckle adventure on Class IV rapids – or anything in between! Even kids as young as three can get in on some of the Gatlinburg vacations action. Local outfitters use experienced guides to ensure your safety and enjoyment.
The Upper Pigeon River provides seventy rapids over a 6.5-mile stretch, ranging from class I through class IV. The Lower Pigeon River is calmer. A 5.5-mile section includes fifty rapids, ranging from class I through class II, with one section that’s rated class III. Whatever type of trip you choose, you might want to bring along some dry clothes!
Below are some contact numbers for rafting near Gatlinburg:
White Water Rafting with Smoky Mountain Outdoors – 800-771-7238
Big Creek Expeditions – 877-642-RAFT
Rafting in the Smokies – 800-776-7238
Outdoor Rafting Adventures – 866-333-RAFT
Rapid Expeditions – 888-504-7238
With over 800 miles of hiking trails at its back door, Gatlinburg won’t disappoint avid hikers. With trails ranging from easy to difficult, treks for the not-so-avid hikers are also available. The scenery from the trails is stunning! You might encounter waterfalls, caves, wildlife, or high vantage points that will reward you with miles and miles of blue-green mountains, hills, and valleys. Trails near Gatlinburg range in elevation and elevation gain. On easier trails, like Grotto Falls, for example, the gain is less than 600 feet. On the most difficult trail, Mt. LeConte from Bullhead, the gain is almost 4,000 feet.
Hiking trails near Gatlinburg that are fairly easy to navigate include Grotto Falls and Baskins Creek Falls. Trails that are rated as moderately difficult include Husky Gap off Newfound Gap Road, Chimney Tops, Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, and Bullhead Trail. More difficult and challenging trails near Gatlinburg are Brushy Mountain Trillium Gap, Mt. LeConte from Trillium Gap, Mt. LeConte from Bullhead Trail, Mt. LeConte from Alum Cave, and Mt. LeConte from Rainbow Falls.
Wanna experience the Smokies from the treetops? Hop on a zipline and soar up to 100 feet in the air. Ziplining is perfectly safe, and the landings are gentle. Harnesses, helmets, and other safety equipment is used, and there are trained staff to help and guide you through the experience. Some allow small kids, too. Below are places you can enjoy ziplining near Gatlinburg:
Gatlinburg Ziplines – offers nine ziplines, a freefall plunge, rope course, trapeze, snowboarding, ladders, and swings. There’s also a Skybridge that takes you high above the city. For ages five and up.
Smoky Mountain Ziplines – 24 zip lines, ranging from low and slow to high and fast, up to 40 miles per hour. Canopy tours range from two hours to three hours. For ages eight years old and up.
ClimbWorks Canopy – tours start with a ride in a four-wheel drive vehicle to a mountain top. Nine zip lines and three skybridges are included. The ziplining canopy tour takes about 2 ½ hours. For ages eight and up.
Several stables in the area offer wonderful rides through the mountains on gentle, well cared for mounts. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an old cowpoke, the guides will find a horse to match your experience level. This is one of the best ways to experience the breathtaking beauty and peace of the Smokies with Gatlinburg vacations! Check out Smoky Mountain Stables, Five Oaks Riding Stables, or Sugarlands Riding Stables, or make the short drive to Pigeon Forge to Big Rock Dude Ranch. Before or after your trail riding at Big Rock, check out their other activities. Fish for crappie, bass, and bluegill in the pond, or take an exciting ATV tour through the mountains. Kids will love the petting zoo, which is home to a pony, a llama, chickens, emus, ducks, goats, and rabbits. After feeding the friendly critters, stop in at the Chow Boys Café and have a bite to eat. Once you’re refreshed and reenergized, try your hand at mining for gems.
For Gatlinburg vacations during the busy tourist season, you’ll probably want to make reservations for your trail riding adventure. When you call, you can also ask questions about prices, age limits, and weight limits. Below are the phone numbers for Gatlinburg riding stables:
Smoky Mountain Stables – 865-436-5634
Five Oaks Riding Stables – 877-741-8070
Sugarlands Riding Stables – 865-436-3535
Big Rock Dude Ranch – 865-428-9398
The Gatlinburg aquarium is Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. This is a must-see! View thousands of marine species in the 1.4 million-gallon tank, including 12-foot sharks, piranhas, and colorful tropical reef fish. You’ll walk through a clear underwater tunnel as huge fish and rays swim over and around you. Kids will love the interactive tanks where they can touch rays and horseshoe crabs.
One of the most popular areas of the Gatlinburg Aquarium is Shark Lagoon, where you travel through a clear tunnel on a glide path. Over and around you swim sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, tarpon, big stingrays, squirrelfish, grunts, sawfish, moray eels, and a sea turtle. The water is crystal clear, and the views are amazing!
One of the most beautiful parts of the aquarium is the Tropical Rainforest. It features waterfalls and lush vegetation, along with fish species like four-eyed fish, piranha, arapaima, mudskippers, armored catfish, zebra cichlids, cardinal tetras, and freshwater rays. Other species that inhabit this area include iguanas and poison dart frogs.
Be sure to spend some time at the Coral Reef exhibit, where you’ll see all sorts of colorful fish. These include clownfish, blue tangs, clown triggerfish, Sohal tangs, Moorish idols, rabbitfish, angelfish, damselfish, and species of butterflyfish. Experiencing the vibrant colors of the fish is like watching an ever-changing swimming rainbow!
Something new at the Gatlinburg Aquarium is the Penguin Playhouse, and it’s sure to be a big hit with kids. Of course, adults will love it, too. Visitors can view playful penguins from above the water and under the water, by the humans making their way through clear glass tunnels. Guests can even buy paintings created by some of the creative birds, and half the proceeds go to penguin conservation.
Other areas of the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies are Stingray Bay, Systems Control, Ocean Realm, Gallery of the Seas, and Discovery Center. The aquarium opens at 9:00 am, every day of the year. Closing times range from 8:00 – 11:00 pm, depending on the season. You can purchase tickets online. Adult tickets are $22.99, and the price for children ages 3-11 are $14.99 each. Kids under three are admitted for free.
If you want some unforgettable views of the Smokies, this is the place! No, it’s not the Space Needle in Seattle – it’s the one in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. A glass elevator takes you to the top of the 400-foot-tall platform. The Education Center provides lots of fascinating information about the Smoky Mountains and the history of Gatlinburg. At the base, you’ll find a huge two-story arcade that sprawls over 25,000 square feet. Guests can play amazing video games and redeem coupons for prizes. There’s also Lazer Runner, laser tag with lots of amazing graphics and special effects; Old Tyme Photos, where you and your family or pals can dress up as cowboys, outlaws, hillbillies, or saloon girls; a hurricane simulator; and a gift shop. If all the fun gets your tummy rumbling, stop in at the Flying Saucer Bistro for some great pizza, calzones, salads, wraps, wings, hot sub sandwiches, and scrumptious desserts.
Gatlinburg features several putt-putt and miniature golf courses, with themes ranging from the mountains to the jungle. Some of the most popular include Hillbilly Golf, Treasure Quest Golf, Davy Crockett Mini-Golf, and the ultra-cool 3-D Circus Golf. If it’s cold or rainy outside, you can still enjoy mini golf at Old Gatlinburg Golf and Games, which is a huge indoor mini golf course. The Black Light course is super cool, with glowing balls and clubs, along with plenty of fun surprises.
For more miniature golf choices, jump over to Pigeon Forge, where you’ll find Walden’s Landing Firehouse Golf, Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini Golf, Fantasy Golf, and Tree House Golf. These Pigeon forge mini golf courses are all located on the Parkway, so they’re easy to find and easy to access.
Okay, it should be a requirement for visitors to experience one of these on Gatlinburg vacations! The views are absolutely amazing. Choose between the enclosed tram car that holds 120 passengers, or the Gatlinburg Sky Lift, where you and a companion will share a leg-dangling open-air trip up the mountain. The tram takes you up to Ober Gatlinburg, and the chair lift takes you to the top of Crockett Mountain.
The aerial tramway boards right in downtown Gatlinburg and glides just a little over two miles up the mountain to Ober Gatlinburg. I’m terrified of heights, but I found the trip to be relaxing, for the most part. There are a couple of little “drops” that sort of startled me, though. Nevertheless, I’m glad I went on the ride. The scenery is marvelous! This is definitely something I’ll do again.
Drive or take the tram up to Ober Gatlinburg, where you'll find an ice skating rink, restaurants, snow skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, shops, rides, and snack bars. There's something for every age and for every season of the year at Ober Gatlinburg. By the way, the aerial tramway is the best and easiest way to get to your destination, in my opinion. The trams leave about every twenty minutes, so it’s not like you’ll be “stuck” for hours.
Ober Gatlinburg has a neat ride called the Alpine Slide. It involves cement tracks that weave down the mountainside. Guests sit on a wheeled sled and glide down the hills. Each sled has its own brake to control speed. You don’t need any special skills to enjoy this attraction.
If you enjoy wildlife, check out the Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg. You’ll get to see black bears, flying squirrels, otters, skunks, raccoons, snakes, and turtles. The Birds of Prey aviary houses golden eagles, barred owls, and Peregrine falcons.
The ice skating rink is located right in the middle of the indoor mall. It’s a large area, 140 x 75 feet, so it can accommodate a lot of skaters comfortable. Skates can be rented at the facility. Best of all, the ice arena is open all year, and it’s a great way to cool off in the hot months of summer.
Part of Ober Gatlinburg is like a combination of water park and carnival. In the warmer months, guests can enjoy a 600-foot long twisting water slide and a “dry” water slide that provides a sheer forty-foot drop. The “carnival part” includes a carousel, a chair swing ride, a kid-size car ride, an arcade, a maze, and mini golf. There’s also a great outdoor playground with a train, tunnels, a web crawl, chute slides, and ladders.
Restaurants and snack bars include The Market, The Sidewalk Café, The Snack Bar, The Fudge Shop, and the Ober Gatlinburg Restaurant and Lounge. At these eateries, you can enjoy Mexican food, appetizers, salads, steaks, pasta dishes, chili, hamburgers, sandwiches, vegetarian dishes, grilled chicken, fried pork cutlets, pizza, and yummy desserts.
If you enjoy shopping for unique items, you’ll love browsing the Ober Gatlinburg stores. You’ll find clothing, handbags, hats and caps, souvenirs, plush bears, collectibles, sporting goods, Christmas ornaments, lodge décor, puzzles, games, personalized items, leather goods, coats of arms, and more. You can also purchase photographs of yourself riding the tram and engaging in the snow sports.
In the winter months at Ober Gatlinburg, snow skiing and other snow activities take the stage. Nine trails are available, and all are enhanced with snowmaking systems. Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned skier, you’ll find a trail that’s perfect for you. There are also plenty of lifts to keep you having fun on the snow. You can rent equipment or bring your own, and if you need a lesson or two, those can be provided.
If you have kids in tow, ya gotta take ‘em here. They’ll enjoy a huge arcade with prizes, laser tag, black light mini golf, a laser maze, bumper cars, and an awesome 3-D theater. The latest technologies are incorporated into the games for an amazing interactive experience. For something a little more “down to earth,” guests can try their luck at gem mining. Actually, you won’t need much luck, as every bag is a winner. As you sift the contents in the water, you’ll find fossils, rubies, and/or native spear points.
Perhaps the most amazing attraction at Fort Fun is the Motion Ride Theater. When I say “amazing,” I really mean amazing! You’ll have six 3-D movies from which to choose: Pepsi Max, the fastest and tallest coaster on the planet; Slot Car Boogie, a super fast and furious race from the future; Astro Canyon Coaster, an other-worldly rollercoaster ride; Glacier Run, a hazardous trip through the Arctic; Smash Factory, a thrilling ride through a parking maze; and Volcano Mine Ride, a wild trip inside an erupting volcano.
This ride simulator makes you feel like you’re actually in the middle of all the action. The movie screen moves, and the seats move – a lot. They drop feet instead of inches, they turn, they twist, and they provide g-forces that will have you hanging on for dear life. This attraction will get your adrenaline pumping!
World of Illusions
This place will leave your kids scratching their heads and wondering, “How’d they do that?” See a genii in a bottle, calm a raging cyclone with the wave of your hand, watch Merlin the Magician levitate, walk away from your shadow, and make a companion disappear into thin air! There’s lots more here to amaze and baffle, too. Watch as a beast turns into a human. Solve puzzles. See a magician pass a ball through a table.
The illusions are mostly aimed toward kids, as adults will probably figure most of them out quickly. Most children are pretty amazed, however. This attraction has been around for a long time, and it doesn’t take long to experience – less than thirty minutes. If you’re in Gatlinburg in the summer, World of Illusions is a nice place to cool off and have some fun.
Titanic Museum Pigeon Forge:
If you’re a history buff, or if you’re just fascinated by the ill-fated Titanic, you’ll love this Pigeon Forge museum attraction. It’s a permanent attraction that’s described as the world’s largest museum attraction. The museum is housed in a replica of the famous ship, and inside are the Grand Staircase, memorials, old photographs, a first-class stateroom, the captains bridge, a third-class cabin, and hundreds of artifacts. You’ll feel like a passenger as you stroll the decks!
This is a self-guided tour opportunity, and parts of it are interactive. You can feel an iceberg, send an S.O.S., sit in a life-size lifeboat, feed coal to the engines, and experience the tilting decks of a sinking ship. You’ll even get to try your skill at steering the boat, and you’ll hear real accounts of that fateful event from survivors. Crew members are on hand to answer any questions you might have.
Gatlinburg has several scary adventures, but this one just has to be the best. On the outside, it looks like an old Victorian farmhouse kinda like the house in the movie, Psycho. On the inside, it’s full of ghosts, goblins, a dungeon, secret passageways, and all kinds of scary surprises. Even the most jaded haunted-house-goers are sure to get a few thrills and chills! Take a pal or two with you.
The atmosphere at Mysterious Mansion is set before you ever enter the house. Outside is a spooky old-fashioned horse-drawn hearse, tombstones, and skulls, and ghouls can be seen through the windows and on the outdoor balconies. Once inside, one of the first rooms you enter is sort of a library, and once you’re in, you can’t get out! The doors magically disappear. After an exit reappears, you’re on your way to more chills and thrills as you explore the haunted house. The staff of characters is very good at hiding. You can peek into a room and not see anyone there, and just when you think the coast is clear, a costumed villain or monster will show up from nowhere to give you a good scare!
Hubby and I visited Mysterious Mansion one dark October night, with our best friends, Steve and Sandy. Steve, hubby, and I all had a blast, but Sandy was seriously frightened. It took her a few minutes to calm down completely after our tour of the haunted house. For the best experience, I definitely recommend going at night.
Museums and Galleries
For some more sober entertainment, visit one of the area’s museums to see antiques, old cars, and scenes from the Bible. There’s also the Ripley’s Museum, the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Hollywood Stars’ Cars Museum, and the Guinness World of Records Museum. Visit one of Gatlinburg’s galleries to see the creations of local artists and craftsmen. Museums and galleries in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are below, along with contact numbers:
American Indian and Tribal Arts – 865-436-7445
Art for God – 865-436-0789
Bampton-Greene Galleries – 865-436-7445
Beneath the Smoke – 865-436-3460
Brush and Pen Bobi Art Studio – 865-436-0704
Christ in the Smokies – 865-436-5155
Cottage by the Creek – 800-824-2508
Deborah Cain Gallery – 865-774-2900
Dinosaur Walk Museum – 865-428-4003
Dolls by Susan – 865-436-0077
Dukes of Hazzard Museum – 540-477-2432
Elvis Presley Museum – 865-428-2001
Fireside Gallery – 865-430-3757
Gallery 5 – 865-809-2284
Gallery of Light – 800-201-5048
Gatlinburg Gallery – 800-6820547-
Guinness World of Records – 865-430-7800
Heavens Eyes Gallery – 865-436-9676
Henry Parker Gallery – 865-430-9449
Hippensteal Vern Gallery – 865-436-4328
Hollywood Stars Cars Museum – 865-430-2200
Hollywood Wax Museum – 865-430-1800
J. Alan Gallery – 865-430-5904
Jim Gray Gallery – 865-436- 5262
Lamplight Gallery – 800-736-2087
McCord Gallery – 865-436-4436
Mountain Vision Gallery – 865-430-1994
Nancie L. Bush Fine Art Gallery – 865-430-4038
Ogle Randall Gallery – 865-428-2839
Ripley’s Believe It or Not – 865-436-5096
Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum – 865-430-5515
Smoky Mountain Dulcimers – 865-436-5211
Stewart Gallery – 865-430-4038
Thomas Kinkade at the Village – 800-675-6337
Turtle Hollow Gallery – 865-436-6188
William Britten Gallery – 865-277-7700
Visit one of the theaters for some rousing live entertainment. Enjoy a musical review, a comedy show, a murder mystery dinner show, or a magic show. Some of the performers are masters at getting the audience involved, which just adds to the fun. No matter where your interest in live shows lies, you’ll find something in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge to enjoy.
One live show that everyone seems to enjoy is Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, in Pigeon Forge. It’s like a rodeo, circus acts, comedy, and music and dance – all rolled into one. On top of all that, you get to enjoy a feast while watching the show! Typical fare includes soup, a whole roasted chicken, barbecued pork loin, corn on the cob, an herbed potato, a biscuit, and dessert. To wash it all down with are free refills of Pepsi, coffee, and iced tea.
For thrills that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, get tickets for Cirque de Chine, at Sevierville’s Smoky Mountain Palace. See amazing acrobats, aerial artists, musicians, dancers, and all the fabulous costumes and pageantry that are big parts of the show. You’ll be awed when you see five motorcyclists speeding around inside a round ball!
If you’re an Elvis fan, you won’t want to miss Elvis and Friends at Memories Theatre in Pigeon Forge. Famous Elvis impersonator, Eddie Miles, performs a rousing tribute to The King. Miles is joined in the show by some of the top names in country music. Some of the tribute stars that will be appearing this year are Kenny Chesney, Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Tim McGraw, and Conway Twitty.
For some side-splitting laughter, head to The Comedy Barn in Pigeon Forge. Amusing skits, humorous musicians, funny magicians, talented jugglers, and amazing ventriloquists will entertain every member of the audience – regardless of age. You’ll love the fascinating canine comics, too. And who knows? You might just become part of the show!
Gatlinburg Restaurants - Pigeon Forge Restaurants
If you can’t find what you want to eat in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, you’re not hungry! You’ll have countless choices of steaks, sausage dogs, seafood, sandwiches, burgers, ethnic cuisine, wonderful barbecue, pizza, and good ol’ Southern cookin’! These range from fast food eateries to family-style meals to fancy restaurants. Below is a list of Gatlinburg restaurants and Pigeon Forge restaurants, with comments about the ones my family and I have experienced. Some of our reviews are based on multiple visits, some are based on two visits, and a few are based on a single visit. Your experiences might be different. Also, I’m not commenting on most of the national chains, since one is pretty much like the others.
Alamo Steakhouse – like the one in Pigeon Forge, which is awesome!
Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que – good barbecued meats, small salad bar.
Best Italian Café and Pizzeria
Best Italian on the Parkway
Blaine’s Grill – good chili and sandwiches. Service can get slow when the place is crowded. If you can, eat outdoors and do some crowd-watching.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Company – good drinks and appetizers, but the seafood entrees are inconsistent, ranging between awesome and average.
Calhoun’s – great BBQ, especially the pork ribs. If you have your heart set on ribs, however, get there early – sometimes they run out.
Cherokee Grill – good choices, good meals.
Crawdaddy’s – great drinks, appetizers, and oysters on the half shell.
Dick’s Last Resort
Fanny Farkle’s – great sausage subs and corndogs.
Five Guys Burgers – national burger chain
Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin – wonderful pancakes!
Fox and Parrot Tavern – good fish and chips and beer cheese fries. Great selection of beers.
Franklin’s Bar and Grill
Greenbrier Restaurant – a rustic, cozy lodge off the beaten path. Wonderful atmosphere and friendly staff. Quality of food is inconsistent.
Greystone Grill – might just have the best breakfast in Gatlinburg! Fluffy buttermilk pancakes, salty country ham, and good ol’ southern grits.
Hard Rock Café – national chain
Hofbrauhaus – a small sandwich shop that serves great food. order the Reuben!
Hogg’s and Honey’s Saloon – a fun place for wings, burgers, and sandwiches.
Hungry Bear BBQ
Johnny Rockets – national chain
Kentucky Fried Chicken – national chain
Little House of Pancakes
Loco Burro – hip, fun place for Mexican food and drinks. Check out the rooftop patio and fire pits.
Log Cabin Pancake House – great for breakfast!
Mama Bears – great place to grab a sausage, a funnel cake, fried Oreos, and some real lemonade!
McCutchans Brass Grill
McDonald’s – national burger chain
Mellow Mushroom – national chain
Morning Mist Café – typical burgers and sandwiches, with friendly service.
Mountain Edge Grill
Mountain Lodge Restaurant
New Orleans Sandwich Company – casual and cozy, with authentic Cajun cuisine. Be sure to try a po’ boy, made with homemade bread.
New York Pizza and Pasta
Non Way Jose’s Cantina – very good Mexican food. Awesome tamales!
North China Chinese Restaurant
Ogle’s Brick Oven Pizza
Pizza Hut – national chain
Pucker’s Sports Bar and Grill – noisy, smoky, and fun. You can’t go wrong with the wings here!
Rocky Top Restaurant and Tavern
Shoney’s – national chain
Smoky Mountain Brewery and Pizza – a fun place to eat. The guys love the microbrewery, and we all enjoy their pizza.
Smoky Mountain Trout House – this is the place to go for trout, but it’s a little pricey.
Smoky Mountain Wings and Grill
Smoky’s Sports Pub and Grub
Southern Fried Grill
Subway – national chain
Texas Roadhouse – national chain
TGI Friday’s – national chain
The Cabin Café
The Melting Pot – national chain
The Park Grill – excellent food!
The Peddler Restaurant – excellent steaks. My daughter and her husband think their steaks are the best ones in Gatlinburg.
The Sherlock Holmes Pub – nice cozy place to grab a beer and a burger.
The Wild Plum
Wendy’s – national burger chain
Wild Boar Saloon – excellent service, with decent but overpriced steaks.
Pigeon Forge Restaurants
Alamo Steakhouse – one of the best meals we’ve ever enjoyed in a restaurant! This place isn’t cheap, but if you want a really good steak dinner, it’s worth every penny.
Arby’s – national chain
Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que – same as the one in Gatlinburg
Big Daddy’s Pizzeria
Blue Moose Burgers and Wings
Bojangles – national chain
Burger King – national chain
Calhoun’s – like the one in Gatlinburg.
Captain Jim’s Seafood – this is an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, with crab legs, boiled shrimp, fried oysters, oysters on the half-shell, fried catfish, blackened fish, baked tilapia, crab cakes, crawfish, clams, paella, baked chicken, chicken strips, and pot roast. Along with all the entrees are plenty of sides, soups, and salads. Good food for a buffet.
Carino’s Italian Restaurant – national chain
Corky’s Ribs – national chain
Cracker Barrel – national chain
Denny’s – national chain
Domino’s – national chain
Firehouse Subs – national chain
Five Guys Burgers – national chain
Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin – same as the Gatlinburg location.
Geno’s Pizza – good pizza, good service, slightly overpriced. If you go, try the calzones. Yum!
Golden Corral – national chain
Happy Days Diner – fun, casual, good food.
Hardee’s – national chain
Huck Finn’s – good fried catfish, fried chicken, hushpuppies, and sides. If you’re really hungry, opt for one of the all-you-can eat specials.
Hungry Bear Café
IHOP – national chain
Iron Boar Saloon – sort of a biker bar, but don’t let that stop you. The atmosphere is friendly, and the food is tasty.
J.T. Hannah’s Kitchen
Kentucky Fried Chicken – national chain
Kinkaku Japanese Steak House
Krystal – national chain
La Carreta Mexican Restaurant
Little House of Pancakes
Little Tokyo Hibachi Grill and Sushi
Log Cabin Pancake House if you like pancakes, you’ll be happy here.
Long John Silver’s – national chain
Mafia House Pizza – this place will offer you a pizza that you can’t refuse! Great sauce and other ingredients. Try the calzones and the garlic knots!
Mama’s Farmhouse – good southern cooking.
McDonald’s – national chain
Mellow Mushroom – national chain
O’Charley’s Restaurant – national chain
Old Mill Restaurant – good comfort food, interesting atmosphere.
Parkway Pancake House
Pizza Hut – national chain
Reagan’s House of Pancakes
Red Rooster Pancake House – good pancakes. Atmosphere is similar to Denny’s.
Roma’s Pizza and Subs
Ruby Tuesday – national chain
Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina – pretty good food, reasonably priced. The portions are usually generous.
Shoney’s – national chain
Smokie’s Cuban Café
Smoky Mountain Pancake House
Sonic Drive-In – national chain
Starbucks – national chain
Stonehouse Pizza – friendly staff, good pizza, and very good appetizers.
Subway – national chain
Taco Bell – national chain
Texas Roadhouse – national chain
TGI Friday’s – national chain
The Old Mill Pottery House Café and Grille
The Partridge and Pear
Tony Roma’s – national chain
Villa Zapata Mexican Cantina
Wendy’s – national burger chain
Wood Grill Buffet - national chain
Smoky Mountains - Lodging
The choices for accommodations and Gatlinburg vacation rentals are as varied as the activities. Stay in a hotel, motel, or condo downtown, or choose a more secluded log cabin, vacation home, or chalet. The mountain cabins range from rustic to truly luxurious. Many have hot tubs and other upscale amenities. One of the ultra private cabins is a great lodging choice for honeymoons and romantic getaways! My daughter and her family always rent mountain cabins for their Gatlinburg vacations, while hubby and I prefer to stay in Gatlinburg condos downtown. We especially like Summit Manor. Their condos are clean, attractive, affordable, and located within walking distance of just about everything in Gatlinburg.
With all the choices you’ll find, you can design your Gatlinburg vacations to suit your tastes and preferences. There's practically an endless supply of things to do in Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. The choices for food, drinks, and snacks are practically infinite, too. It's almost like a giant Disney World without the long lines and with better views! People of every age and with every interest will thoroughly enjoy the amazing beauty of the Smoky Mountains and all the great activities provided. You can stay as busy as you want to be by taking in all the attractions, sights, and activities, or you can just sit back, relax, and breathe in the mountain air and soak up the natural scenery. Once you visit Gatlinburg, you'll be planning more visits to Gatlinburg!
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