Winter is a magical time of year to visit Gatlinburg, Tenn., as millions of twinkling lights displayed around town make for a spectacular sight. Whether you take a self-guided lights tour or visit for the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade on December 3, featuring one-of-a-kind displays, bands, and floats, the whole family can discover wonder around every corner.
Get your day going at one of seven pancake houses in Gatlinburg, like an order of Sticky Bun Pancakes from Flapjacks Pancake Cabin. You’ll need the energy as you hit the slopes of Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, take advantage of indoor ice skating and thrilling snow tubing. The season kicks off Friday, November 19 with the Back in Blue Rail Jam.
Local Tip: As the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll find miles of trails easily accessible from town.
Walk the Parkway looking for unique gifts from The Village Shops or The Marketplace, like handmade candies, local wines, home goods, and apparel. Visit the talented artists in the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, an eight-mile loop of artisans working in pottery, wood, paint, and more. Need gear while you’re in the area? The Day Hiker and Nantahala Outdoor Center Gatlinburg are excellent stops for restocking and advice on the best trails and views around.
Gatlinburg Brewing Company is the perfect spot to end the day as you load up on craft brews and pizza with friends both old and new. Catch some live music and southern comfort food at the Blake Shelton-inspired Ole Red. Then it’s time to make your way to a cabin, hotel, or campground for the night so you’re ready to explore more the next day.