Gatlinburg, Tenn. is known as the "Gateway" to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America's most popular national park [source: Gatlinburg Visitors and Convention Bureau]. The first stop in the park is Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies. The walk to the top reveals panoramic views and a palette of seasonal hues. Other nearby options include a stop at Cades Cove and a drive on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. You'll pass cascading waterfalls, miles of streams and year-round flora and fauna. Other park activities include guided nature walks, cycling, horseback riding and fishing.
Tucked away just outside of downtown, you'll discover another hidden treasure: the largest artist colony in North America -- the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community of Gatlinburg. Artists and artisans have been practicing their crafts here since 1937 [source: Gatlinburg Visitors and Convention Bureau]. Here, you can shop for art, unique candles, jewelry, pottery, leather goods and more.
If the kids are in tow, Dollywood is just 20 minutes away in Pigeon Forge. More than an amusement park, Dollywood is known for its live entertainment, festivals and shopping.
Winter features Gatlinburg Winter Magic, a four-month winter festival running from November through February. The entire area is decked with twinkling lights and there's a full calendar of festival events.
Gatlinburg dining favorites include Lineberger's for fresh seafood (it's flown in fresh), Calhoun's for Tennessee barbecue, and Pancake Pantry for its top-secret-recipe pancakes. Many have tried to duplicate these tasty pancakes at home but we're guessing no one's been successful yet.