How is it possible that I never heard of Gatlinburg, Tennessee before? There are so many hidden gems in our beautiful country just waiting to be discovered! The main hub is a Disney-like stretch of tourist traps like Ripley's Believe it or Not, World of Illusion, suspension bridges, cable cars, trams, thrill rides, miniature golf, Dollywood and everything else you could hope for in great family getaway. Stores have very religious, Christian slants as well as some disappointingly deep rooted Confederate angles. Gatlinburg has provided the most culturally rich southern experience yet. It's definitely a quirky little place. All of this personality is tucked in a valley with sweeping views of the Smoky Mountains. This small city draws nine million tourists a year. With all it offers, I am not surprised. What was surprising is that here, even employees in stores do not wear masks. This is essentially a mask free zone during the pandemic. Also surprising was how packed the town was post Labor Day season on a week day. There is a great investment opportunity here as it is a year round destination and when we tried to extend our stay we were out of luck as all the homes we liked were booked through December!
We didn't explore much in Gatlinburg. We were too comfortable in the amazing chalet we rented, Majestic View Lodge through Mountain Laurel Chalets. One of the perks of traveling off season are the great rates on incredible properties. This house had the most breathtaking views with wrap around decks on each level and unique amenities including an indoor home theater. We never wanted to leave and we barely did. But for those who want to venture out there are plenty of hiking trails, towns and scenic drives in the area.
It was difficult to part ways with the the sprawling mountain ranges, great weather, luxury accommodations and peaceful environment. We found solace in knowing that there are many more special places to be discovered and off we went!