Five Must-Haves for a Weekend in Gatlinburg

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Living in Kentucky, the classic weekend getaway is Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It’s just a few hours away from most places in the state, making it quick enough for a 3-day weekend trip. There’s also tons of stuff to do, whether you’re going on a family vacation or on getaway with some friends. Plus, it’s right inside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Back in November, a big group of friends and I decided to head down to Gatlinburg for a mini-vacay before the end of our semester. This was the perfect way to relax and de-stress before getting into gear for finals. Want to have a Gatlinburg weekend getaway of your own? Here are five must-haves to make sure your getaway is perfect:

1. A COZY CABIN

Our cabin had a guestbook…this was our entry.

Cabins are hands-down the best places to stay in Gatlinburg. There are tons of cabin rental companies all throughout the town, ranging in prices and sizes. My friends and I stayed at this cabin that we found on AirBNB. It had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and could hold up to 8 guests (we had a couple extra guests as well, but they just brought air mattresses!). It had a huge kitchen perfect for cooking big breakfasts, comfy beds, a pool table, and it even had a hot tub that was perfect in the chilly November weather. We paid about $270 a night for a 3-day weekend in November, and divided the total cost by 10 since that’s how many was in our group.

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2. PARTY GAMES

No gathering without friends is complete without party games!On our Gatlinburg getaway, we would all settle down and play games in our cabin’s huge living room after exploring Gatlinburg for the day.  My friends and I are big fans of drinking games like King’s Cup, as well as classic card games like Rummy, Thunder, and Kemps. My personal favorites are Cards Against Humanity and What Do You Meme?, which are both tons of fun with a group of friends! 

3. GOOD FOOD

Eating is one of my favorite things to do on any trip, and the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area has no shortage of great food! No visit to the area is complete without a visit to one of the pancake houses in the area (and no, I don’t mean IHOP!). There are tons to choose from, but my favorites are the Log Cabin Pancake House and the Little House of Pancakes. Most of the area’s pancake houses have long waits, so it’s best to get there early! Also, make sure to check out the hours of operation before you go, because the majority of them close for the day around 2-3pm. If the waits at these places are too long, you can also check out Reagan’s House of Pancakes. The food there isn’t as good as some of the other pancake houses I’ve had, but it’s definitely not bad and they have a super cheap all-you-can-eat buffet!

In addition to pancake houses, Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge is known for home-style, southern, country cooking. My favorite are the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant & Grill at the Apple Barn. Warning: this is one of the most popular restaurants in the area, so there’s almost always a long wait if you go at their prime dining times. It’s definitely worth the wait though, as everything I’ve tried, from the breakfast to their amazing fried chicken, is wonderful. There’s also a candy factory on-site, which is the perfect place for dessert! Another favorite? Huck Finn’s Catfish. They’re known for their delicious (and affordable!) all-you-can-eat catfish dinners. Again, this is an extremely popular place, so expect a wait.

4. MOONSHINE!

I love a good drink every now and then, and I knew that I had to do some moonshine tastings while I was in Gatlinburg. There are several places in Gatlinburg that offer moonshine tastings, and at only $5 per tasting, you can get a pretty good buzz on the cheap! You also get your $5 back in the form of a coupon off of a purchase at the distilleries.

The tasting area at Ole Smoky Moonshine in downtown Gatlinburg

The first tasting that we did, as well as the most popular one in the area, was at Ole Smoky Moonshine. They have several locations in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Our $5 tasting included mini-shots of 13 different moonshine flavors ranging from 40-128 proof. This included some of their classic flavors, such as Blue Flame and Apple Pie, as well as some fall/winter seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Pie. My favorite? Mountain Java, a coffee-flavored shine that would be the perfect addition to spice up some coffee or hot chocolate. My least favorite? Peppermint. It tasted like toothpaste.

Sugarlands Distillery in Downtown Gatlinburg

Next, we headed on down the strip to Sugarlands Distillery. Of the two tastings we did, this one was my favorite. Our guide was hilarious and I really liked all of the samples I tried. Again, this $5 tasting included around 10 moonshine samples and a $5 coupon off a purchase. My favorites here were the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Butterscotch.

Sugarlands Distillery tasting area

Haven’t had enough moonshine? Check out Doc Collier Moonshine in Gatlinburg and the Old Forge Distillery in Pigeon Forge. We didn’t try these on our trip, but I definitely plan to the next time I’m in the area!

5. GOOD FRIENDS!

What’s a friends getaway if you don’t do it with a great group of friends? We had a great time hanging out and relaxing before the stresses of finals took us over. We’re hoping to make this an annual thing, but we haven’t decided if we’re going to stick to Gatlinburg or switch it up. Where will we end up this year? I don’t know, but I’m sure we will have a great time wherever it is?

Have you been to Gatlinburg? What are your favorite things to do in the area?

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