If your ideal vacation involves breathtaking scenery and small town charm, then Wears Valley might just be the perfect location for a long weekend or a couple weeks away from home. Located in eastern Tennessee, Wears Valley sits in close proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains. All along the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and throughout the area are mountain towns of varying sizes, including a couple of resort towns, where you and your family can stay entertained from morning until late into the night. Here are the 10 best towns and communities in the Great Smoky Mountains to find the perfect Wears Valley vacation rental.

1. Wears Valley

mountainous village
Source: Flickr / Gary Millar

In Wears Valley, you and your family can pass the days fishing, biking, horseback riding, and hiking. This small town offers your family the chance to escape the crowds of some of the larger towns. For the daredevils in your group, take them to Wears Valley Ziplines and get them off their feet and soaring above the trees where they can see for miles. On the way back to your vacation rental, stop by the Wears Valley Farmers Market for some fresh vegetables and fruit for dinner.

2. Downtown Pigeon Forge

building turned upside down
Source: Flickr / Madison Berndt

Drive north along Highway 321 to arrive in the resort town of Pigeon Forge. Settle your family into one of the condos or lofts in town or a log cabin just outside the downtown area. This resort town offers shopping at unique boutiques and outlets, art galleries, dinner theater, a trolley, and museums of all kinds. Let your kids learn more about science with all the hands-on activities at WonderWorks, and then check out the ropes course attached to the property.

3. Dollywood Vicinity

wheel at the mill
Source: Flickr / Kamoteus (A New Beginning)

Stay near the front gates of Pigeon Forge’s star attraction, Dollywood, and be one of the first guests through the gates each morning. With an Appalachian theme, this amusement park has roller coasters, rides for smaller children, and unique shows featuring singing and dancing. When the weather turns hot and steamy in the afternoon, check out the attached water park with its lazy river, wave pool, and a variety of water slides to take your breath away.

4. Gatlinburg

thick forest
Source: Flickr / Sarath Kuchi

To the east of Wears Valley lies the other large resort town in the Great Smoky Mountain area, Gatlinburg. Enjoy all the attractions, shopping, and restaurants along with a variety of outdoor activities. Take the kids to Little Pigeon River to try their hand at fishing for their supper, or accompany them for a thrilling ride on the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster that winds its way through the mountains and woods as you ride along in your individual car. For views for miles, ride up to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle.

5. Ober Gatlinburg Area

Source: Flickr / Michael Winters

In the winter months, the hot spot in the Great Smoky Mountains is the Ober Gatlinburg area. Find a log cabin as your vacation rental where your family can cozy up around the fire after a day of skiing at the resort. At the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, there are several trails with varying degrees of difficulty to accommodate all levels of skiers. If skiing isn’t your thing, then enjoy an afternoon of ice skating, or hop on a tube to enjoy some snow tubing.

6. Sevierville

covered bridge
Source: Flickr / Rod Detty

To the north of Pigeon Forge, you find its sister city, Sevierville. This town is a college community that offers a lot of shopping and dining plus an exciting bar scene. Select a vacation rental near the college, or choose a log cabin outside the downtown area. The young, hip feel of this town encourages you to get out and get active by biking, skateboarding, and hiking in the nearby state and national parks. For the speed demons in your group, take them to the NASCAR-themed go-kart tracks to see who can finish the course in the fastest time.

7. Williamsburg

tree branches
Source: Flickr / Olin Gilbert

Travel northeast from Wears Valley to find a vacation rental in the small mountain community of Williamsburg. Enjoy days filled with fishing, biking, horseback riding, and reconnecting with your family. When the snow falls, the hiking trails can double as trails as you put in some time on cross country skis.

8. Oldham

beautiful river in the woods
Source: Flickr / Michael Hicks

Located near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the relaxing community of Oldham invites you to fill your days with hiking, fishing, rock climbing, and stumbling across waterfalls. Take lots of pictures of the local wildlife, and you might even catch sight of a bear. Since the bears are strictly hands off, take the kids to Lancaster Park & Animal Farm to see domestic farm animals that they can hand feed.

9. Cherokee Hills

Source: Flickr / Miguel Vieira

Step back in time when you find a rustic cabin in the Cherokee Hills area to the northeast of Wears Valley. This small mountain town offers hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and kicking back and doing absolutely nothing. Horseback riding is popular in the area, and you can book a trail ride for your family at Douglas Lakeview Stables and Five Oaks Riding Stables.

10. Zion Grove

little falls and river rocks
Source: Flickr / Michael Hicks

Step outside onto the deck of your vacation rental and smell the clean mountain air when you settle into the town of Zion Grove. Just a short drive from the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this town invites you to while away the days by hiking, biking, rock climbing, and caving. One of the most popular trails in the park is the Chimney Tops trail.