I think I can speak for all of us when I say we all remember the first time we visited Gatlinburg. For some, it has been decades ago—when the town obviously was much different—but for the others, such as ourselves, we only remember Gatlinburg as the place that it is presently. There are things that are hard to plan on your first visit, but I’d like to give you 5 things you’ll likely learn pretty quickly once you enter this tourist haven.


While the people that currently reside here aren’t a mixed group, you can’t say the same about the many tourists who visit. It won’t take long for you to discover the different races, languages, and people from every corner of this great melting pot. With more than 11 million people and counting visiting this treasure—including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—the word has definitely spread, bringing all walks of life to enjoy the fun and beauty of the area.

Beauty Beyond Words

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Speaking of beauty, this is quite evident once you turn south and go up that first hill on Winfield Dunn Parkway heading toward Sevierville. All of a sudden, you’ll be rendered either speechless, or simply overjoyed at the amazing view of the Smoky Mountains in plain sight—if it’s not too hazy or cloudy. I remember vividly how awesome this was to my wife and me. While we loved the mountain views when we first entered the Volunteer State, it was all but forgotten once the Smoky Mountains were within our sights. Trust me on this one, you’ll understand.

The Food is Fantastic

If there needed to be another reason for coming back after our first visit to Gatlinburg, the food clinched it for us. The first place we visited was Smoky Mountain Brewery. Since then, we’ve had EVEN BETTER pizza, but our taste buds were brought to life, and so our love for the food began. There’s many places I’ve recommended with my previous blog posts, but before I end this topic, you absolutely MUST eat out for breakfast here. It’s clear they do pancakes well here, but there’s many other mouth-watering food choices you’re sure to devour.

It Can Get Crowded

This is especially true if you’re planning on a weekend trip. We always try to avoid the heavy crowds by arriving at the end of the weekend and leaving town at the beginning. While you may follow this advice and still think it’s busy, hear me out when I say you’ll be able to tell—especially if you’re staying at a downtown hotel. Obviously, holiday weekends are busy times, but if you go during January and February, generally, you’ll enjoy a tamer atmosphere. But hey, if you enjoy the big crowds, don’t let me deter you from having a good time—that’s easy, no matter what.

You Should Have a General Plan

If you’re the type of person that lives for the unknown, doing things on a whim, you’ll want to skip this one. Some people, though, like to come with a plan. There’s a bevy of information available for your first visit to Gatlinburg regarding hotels, cabins, restaurants and things to do online—my site is good for that too—and it should put you at ease. Even though you’ll probably spend hours researching, we enjoy doing it every year and think you will too!

I didn’t want to bog this post down with an abundance of information, but I do hope you found this helpful if you’re planning a first—or twenty-first—visit to Gatlinburg. If it is your twenty-first visit, thanks for reading anyway. You probably will already know this to be true. It’s okay to get your Gatlinburg fix any way you can.

I totally understand.