Along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains. The National Park Service protects a large part of the land that makes up this mountain range, also known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Accordingly, this area is home to quaint mountain towns and some larger resorts where you and your family can enjoy some time in the mountains immersed in fresh air. Whether you choose to stay in North Carolina or Tennessee depends on your own personal preferences. Book a vacation rental at the Smoky Mountains today. That said, here are the most exciting places to visit around the Great Smoky Mountains.
1. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Enjoy skiing and being in the thick of all the fun when you choose a mountain cabin as your vacation rental in Gatlinburg. At Ober Gatlinburg, take the tram up the mountain to the shopping area that includes indoor ice skating all year. In the winter months, you and your family can ski or snowboard down the mountain. The Gatlinburg Space Needle provides you views for miles on a clear day when you travel to the top 406-feet above the street.
2. Pigeon Forge
Join the crowds in the center of it all in Pigeon Forge. It’s the home of Dollywood, an Appalachian-themed amusement park, that’s partially owned by country music legend Dolly Parton. In addition to an amusement park and water park, the town offers shopping and outlets, dinner theater, an Aquarium, WonderWorks, and a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! It’s easy to navigate this town with its tram system. In the winter months, the town is awash in Christmas lights and decorations to get you ready for the holiday season.
3. Bryson City, North Carolina
Hop on a real train for a ride through the mountains with the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad located in Bryson City. If you love trains, then check out a smaller version at the Smoky Mountain Trains, with its authentic looking miniature trains. Spend your days hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, fishing, biking, and horseback riding. Grab a craft beer and casual meal at the Nantahala Brewing Company, or try rafting down the Nantahala River.
4. Cherokee, North Carolina
Find a vacation rental tucked away in the mountains for some peace and quiet, or choose a more central location in downtown Cherokee. Learn more about the Native Americans who once inhabited the area with a trip to the Museum of the Cherokee Indians, or step back in time with the replica of a Cherokee village at the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Stay for a showing of A Time of War, a drama about the disagreements between settlers and Native Americans.
5. Townsend, Tennessee
Slow down and take life a little easy in this small mountain community. In Townsend, you’ll enjoy a little gossip and advice about where to find the best fishing hole at the local store. Learn more about the area on a tour with Cades Cove Heritage Tours. While away the days hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, biking along the back roads and fishing in a nearby stream.
6. Wears Valley, Tennessee
In Wears Valley, you and your family can find the perfect retreat for some quality family time. Your days spent in a vacation rental include fishing, boating, hiking, and biking in the beautiful outdoor areas nearby. Take the family to the Wears Valley Ziplines for their chance to soar above the trees and get views that they’ve never seen before. Make sure to stop by the Wears Valley Farmers Market and pick up some farm fresh goods to make your family a healthy dinner.
7. Cosby, Tennessee
Hike the Great Smoky Mountains with a vacation rental in the small mountain town of Cosby. For something unique, try seeing the surrounding area on the back of llama with the Smoky Mountain Llama Treks, or hit the river with the White Water Rafting With Smoky Mountain Outdoors. While hiking in the area, check out the Ramsey Cascades and take lots of photos. You’ll find plenty of nearby hiking trails and fishing holes for a day filled with communing with nature.
8. Dillsboro, North Carolina
Since the 19th century, tourists have made Dillsboro the home base for their Great Smoky Mountain vacation, and you and your family can find a vacation rental that’s just right. Hike out to a couple of great waterfalls, Mingo Falls, and Dry Falls. Get your heart pumping when you tackle the ropes course at Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours. Inside the national park, take an afternoon to visit Clingmans Dome with its observation deck that provides views of the mountains and valleys below.
9. Sevierville, Tennessee
Near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, the town of Sevierville is also a college town with a young and hip vibe. Find a vacation rental in the downtown area or select something more reclusive. Wander the downtown streets, ducking in and out of the local shops to find something unique or stop at one of the locally-owned cafes for a cup of joe. Take the kids to the NASCAR-themed go-kart entertainment center and see who wins the race.
10. Maggie Valley, North Carolina
In the winter months, take a vacation rental in Maggie Valley and pass your days out on the ski slopes. The ski resort in town has rental equipment available if you left yours at home. Take a ski lesson if it’s your first time or brushes up on your skills if it’s been a while. The ski resort also offers a dedicated area for snow tubing. In the summer months, take the kids to Ghost Town Village, a wild-west themed amusement park.