With over 11 million annual visitors, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular national park in America! Most of the vacationers who come to the Tennessee side of the Smokies choose to stay in Sevier County, which is located right on the border of the national park. Sevier County is home to the best mountain towns in Tennessee. To help you make the most of your getaway in Sevier County, we’ve put together a guide to the 5 best towns in the Smoky Mountains:
Gatlinburg is the most famous mountain town in Tennessee, boasting a convenient entrance to the national park along U.S. Route 441. In many ways, Gatlinburg is filled with contradictions. It is a small town with less than 4,000 permanent residents, but it hosts millions of guests each year. Gatlinburg is surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery and mountain views, yet it features a bustling downtown area that is overflowing with attractions, shops, and restaurants. It is this unique mix of quaint charm and vacation fun that makes Gatlinburg such a special place to visit.
Unlike many other towns in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is very walkable. Once you find parking on the downtown Parkway, also known as “The Strip,” you can stroll around the center of town for hours, stopping by fudge shops, moonshine distilleries, mini golf courses, and many other popular spots. Highlights of Gatlinburg include Anakeesta, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and the Ober Gatlinburg. While this town is probably the most popular, there are plenty of other cities near Gatlinburg TN you will want to visit!
2. Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge’s motto is “The Center of Fun in the Smokies,” and it certainly lives up to this slogan! The Parkway, the main highway that cuts through the center of Pigeon Forge, is lined with a seemingly endless array of museums, dinner theaters, go-kart tracks, souvenir shops, and restaurants. Simply driving down this road is a memorable experience in itself, as you’ll see an enormous replica of the Titanic, King Kong scaling the Empire State Building, an upside-down building, and even more delightfully strange sights.
The most-buzzed-about destination in Pigeon Forge is definitely Dollywood. Co-owned by country superstar Dolly Parton, this wonderful theme park is the biggest ticketed attraction in the state of Tennessee! If you don’t want to be far from this theme park, check out our excellent cabin rentals that are minutes away from Dollywood. Because of all the fun attractions and excitement, Pigeon Forge is a top destination for families visiting the Smoky Mountain area.
Sevierville is another one of the very best towns in the Smoky Mountains. Boasting a more residential feel than Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Sevierville is known as “your hometown in the Smokies.” In downtown Sevierville, visitors will find the iconic Sevier County Courthouse, which includes a beautiful clock tower and an infamous statue of Dolly Parton out front. Sevierville is quickly becoming the town to visit if you love food, because there are several restaurants in this area where you will find an authentic mountain town experience when it comes to food!
Some of the most popular attractions in Sevierville include the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo, Tennessee Shine Company, Forbidden Caverns, and Legacy Mountain Ziplines (which you can visit for free with our Luxury Pass). And we can’t mention Sevierville without talking about the Apple Barn! The Apple Barn Village is one of the most popular spots in the Smoky Mountain area. Visitors come from all over to try their homemade apple fritters at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, sample cider at the cider mill, and pick up some of their famous apple butter to take back home with them.
4. Pittman Center
Pittman Center is one of the delightful, small cities near Gatlinburg TN that is located off of the East Parkway. When we said it was small, we weren’t joking; the community is just 6 square miles with only 500 residents! Perfect for anyone looking for a break from the excitement of downtown Gatlinburg, Pittman Center offers a tranquil atmosphere away from the Parkway.
Many visitors to Pittman Center come to take advantage of the Greenbrier entrance to the national park. Featuring a gorgeous picnic area by the Little Pigeon River, beautiful hiking trails, and lovely wildflowers, the Greenbrier section of the park is not to be missed. Other highlights of Pittman Center include the Glenn Cardwell Heritage Museum and Hungry Bear BBQ #1.
5. Wears Valley
Considered a hidden gem in the Smokies, Wears Valley is a gorgeous community off of the Pigeon Forge Parkway that runs through mountain country into Townsend, Tennessee. This scenic valley features spectacular mountain views, a peaceful ambiance, and a “secret” entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. Some of our favorite spots in Wears Valley include Goats on the Roof, the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, Elvira’s Cafe, and GSM Outfitters. There’s also a new food truck park in Wears Valley where visitors can try delicious foods, listen to live music, and enjoy local art.
Explore the Towns in the Smoky Mountains
We’ve told you about some of the best mountain towns in Tennessee, and now we bet you can’t wait to come explore! All of the towns are just a short drive from each other, so you’ll have no trouble visiting them all while you’re in the Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg is the place to go when you want gorgeous mountain views and a mountain town feel, whereas Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are perfect for families looking for non-stop action. Pittman Center and Wears Valley show a more peaceful side of the Smokies, welcoming those who want to escape the hustle and bustle and take in the beauty of the mountains.
Where to Stay in the Smoky Mountains
When you stay with us, you will have the perfect home base for exploring all of the best towns in the Smoky Mountains. Our cabins in Sevier County come with your choice of amazing amenities, including decks with rocking chairs and hot tubs, stunning mountain views, fully furnished kitchens, awesome game rooms, and incredible theater rooms. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 15 bedroom lodges, we are sure to have the ideal accommodations for your escape. To start planning your vacation to the best mountain towns in Tennessee, browse our selection of cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains!