If you've never heard of Gatlinburg before, you'll be surprised to discover that this quaint town is more of a major city in the beautiful state of Tennessee. In fact, Gatlinburg is nestled against the Great Smoky Mountains, so it has a gorgeous backdrop of hills, trees and other natural wonders. You might be thinking of simply visiting family over the Thanksgiving holiday, but a trip to Gatlinburg might be a better choice for every family member. Take a look at just a few reasons why Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg remains a popular destination during the holiday.
The National Park
It's impossible to visit Gatlinburg and miss the Great Smoky Mountains. This park is a national treasure that's perfect for anyone visiting the area for the first time. During late November, you can even see flowers in bloom. Take a short hike to see all of the late fall blooming flowers that take advantage of the open spaces. Be on the lookout for wildlife too. Bears, deer and elk are all common inhabitants of this area. You can even take a horseback riding trip to see further into the park. For most Gatlinburg visitors, this park is at the top of their vacation to-do list.
The Festival of Trees
Although it may be Thanksgiving, the December holidays aren't that far away. For that reason, Gatlinburg also offers their Festival of Trees during late November. Dozens of uniquely decorated trees delight visitors as they walk among their branches. Although many of these trees are artificial, the event planners do add in some real trees to create that distinct winter scent. In fact, you can put on a gift box decorated in gorgeous wrapping to pretend you're a present under one of these trees. Take a photo of you and your family as presents, and create a fun memory from Gatlinburg.
Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Show
The locals in Gatlinburg pride themselves on being amazing artists, so don't miss the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Show. This gathering is a reflection of everyone's historic roots within Tennessee. At times, craftsmen actually create their treasures right in front of your eyes. Other vendors have countless tables of products ready to be sold. Strolling among all of the crafts will also help you work off that Thanksgiving meal. This show goes on during the entire week of Thanksgiving, so you don't have to miss a thing.
The Space Needle
You'll be amazed at the observation tower built in Gatlinburg because it stretches higher than 400 feet. Take an elevator to the top on Thanksgiving, and the entire family can enjoy a look out onto the Smoky Mountains. The Space Needle is open all year-round, so there's no need to worry if it's closed on the holidays. There's also a huge arcade incorporated into this attraction too. The kids will love the distraction from all of the holiday excitement by playing their favorite games.
Those Colorful Trees
One of the main reasons why visitors to Gatlinburg are such fans is the surrounding fall leaf colors. Although each year is different, the Thanksgiving holiday can produce some of the most brilliant fall colors across the local trees. Drive around the city to see which tree areas are the brightest along the urban outskirts. Take a few hours to drive and walk among the developing tree colors. Pictures and videos can't describe the colors effectively. You simply need to experience them on your own.
Gatlinburg also has the added excitement of possible snow along the foothills. By late fall, major snow hasn't fallen in most areas. However, Gatlinburg does produce their own snow in certain recreational areas for both locals and visitors to enjoy. Snow tubing is a popular choice for kids and adults. Simply ask some locals about any snowy excursions, and they can point you in the right direction. If you're lucky, you can have some snow fun and see the local fall tree colors simultaneously. Gatlinburg is unique with its seasons.
Small Business Exploration
Visitors will want to start their holiday shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend too, so explore Gatlinburg's small businesses. Many main street businesses offer distinct gifts you won't find anywhere else. Take a day to simply stroll along these shopping districts to discover every gift you could possibly want. By shopping with the locals, you support the city and help the area grow with prosperity. You could discover even more stores next year if local business people continue to cultivate their companies.
The Annual Youth Football Game
Your family might have college football playing on the television during Thanksgiving, but Gatlinburg has a live alternative. Each year, a youth football game is put together to thrill every attendee. Watch some of the best athletes fight their way to victory. With the surrounding mountains and fall color adding to the experience, outdoor football in Gatlinburg is an exciting addition to any vacation. Simply grab your jacket and purchase some concessions to support the teams. You'll have a great story to tell your friends afterward.
An Unorthodox Thanksgiving
Ham, turkey and all of the fixings is the standard Thanksgiving, but Gatlinburg wants you to rethink those traditions. When you visit this city, think about having an alternative Thanksgiving meal to mark the occasion. Most restaurants are open during this holiday to serve you the best that Tennessee has to offer. You could indulge in a fondue meal, for example. For a more hearty Thanksgiving, try some barbecue. Chicken, pork and beef are usually slow-roasted and covered in sauces to give you a mouthwatering experience while on vacation.
Drive or fly into Gatlinburg this Thanksgiving and stay for the entire weekend. You might have good friends there, so that you have a place to stay. If not, this beautiful city has plenty of Gatlinburg hotels ready for you. Make your plans early for Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg, however, because all of the fine restaurants and hotels book up quickly this time of year. Enjoy your stay in Gatlinburg and visit often next year too.