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5 Tips for Visiting Gatlinburg

So, you're thinking about visiting our amazing little mountain town in eastern Tennessee — you know, the one known as the gateway to the roughly 520,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park? The place TripAdvisor declared to be the #1 Trending Destination in the US and #5 in the world?

Are you stuck pondering how to navigate this exciting adventure? Well, here are five quick and easy tips to keep in mind when planning your trip to our favorite town in the United States.



Because our beautiful town is listed as one of the most popular destinations in the world, this obviously creates some crowd and high traffic issues. Lucky for you, we have a wonderful thing called an "off season." This is one of my favorite times to visit Gatlinburg — especially when I am craving a quiet, relaxing getaway.

Even though our town and the Smoky Mountains are really a year-round destination, we find less tourists visiting our parts in the months of January, February, and March. This means less stress for you if you're willing to face the colder temperatures. There are times that do tend to pick up, such as Valentine's Day or school holidays, but most likely you will find these three months as the best to choose if you're wanting a vacation from lots of people.

Recently I asked a store owner right on Parkway about this very thing. He told me that during these months, when tourist traffic is greatly reduced, that you'll find cars owned by employees parked in the right lane all up and down the street. Wow! For those who have visited during peak seasons, this is hard to imagine, isn't it?



OK, this has got to be one of my favorite tips of the day for visiting Gatlinburg. Who doesn't love riding a Trolley? Especially when it's free?

Since the first time we drove our family down to the strip and failed at trying to find parking, we realized we would have to find alternate ways to deal with cars and lots of cars. We found two parking garages we love (they're $10 for the day instead of the normal $20 -- see our parking tips on our website here), and then we found a Catholic church parking lot up the street from the Space Needle that charges $5 for the day, and also realized the beauty of finding free parking on River street (which runs parallel to the strip). But if you're really wanting to enjoy Gatlinburg without the stress of transportation, you need to check out the wonderful Gatlinburg trolley!

The Gatlinburg Trolley System was originally established in 1980 with a fleet of six trolleys and now the system has over 20 trolleys to service the 3,700 residents and 12 million visitors to the Gatlinburg area on a daily basis. A current trolley stop map can be found here.



Gatlinburg seems to wake up later than normal destination spots. So with this in mind, you can do much more in the early morning during those busy peak seasons than you can if you sleep in with the rest of the tourists!

Grabbing a famous pancake breakfast on the strip can be way less hassle and time if you just arrive when they open. Otherwise, you might be fighting some long wait time to get in to the favorite places downtown.

We learned this the hard way. Wanting to review Crockett's Breakfast Camp due to its long lines (always a good sign you're going to get a good meal), we decided to go early in the morning, and it worked. Instead of the over hour long wait those lazybones experience, we just had to wait about five to ten minutes. And as luck would have it, we were able to grab one of the prime parking spots right in front of their place. Perfection!

Earlybirds get more done in a day as a rule. And in Gatlinburg, earlybirds are the winners.



OK, ladies, this tip is for you. And this is pure obvious. Don't come to Gatlinburg trying to impress anybody with your six inch monstrosities clinging to your poor little swollen feet. Be practical. Be real. Give your toes a break. Think comfort when choosing your shoes to walk through Gatlinburg!

My daughter and I have been trying to get 10,000 steps in every day. When we're in Gatlinburg, we've figured out that if you start right at around Anakeesta and walk clear down to the end and all the way back, (with some special visits to stores off the beaten path), you're looking at tracking up to and around 6,000 steps. Pretty darn good, if you ask me.

Keep in mind, too, that right around our cabin (which is just 2 minutes from the strip), there are some of the best hiking trails around. And of course, for your feet to survive any amount of hiking, they must be happy. So when visiting Gatlinburg, choose comfortable shoes! Your feet will thank you!



Lucky for you, we have spent hours and hours and hours carefully reviewing some of our most favorite (and least favorite) restaurants and activities in and around Gatlinburg. We have talked to many of the locals to ask for suggestions, then have tried as many places as we could to get a firsthand impression to pass along to our Lazy Bear Escape guests coming to stay on their vacations. Most places have wowed us greatly, but a few have failed miserably (and we will not be going back).

You can save much time and money by reading through our reviews on the website to make sure you'll be choosing excellent places to eat and fun things to do while you're here. This is truly a work in progress, as every time we go to Gatlinburg, we endeavor to review at least 2-3 places while we visit.

There's a never-ending selection of places to choose from, and we plan to continue to work hard at giving you the most honest reviews in order to help make your trip memorable and cost-efficient. Don't visit without perusing through our reviews first!


So there are your five tips for visiting one of the most wonderful cities in America. We sure hope that you include a stay to The Lazy Bear Escape. You can find our calendar on AirBnB right here. Come join the fun!



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