Is 3 Days In Gatlinburg Worth It




Is 3 Days In Gatlinburg Worth It


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Imagine spending three days immersed in the charming beauty of Gatlinburg. With its picturesque landscapes, exciting attractions, and vibrant downtown area, Gatlinburg offers a multitude of experiences to leave you in awe. From exploring the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains National Park to discovering the unique shops and restaurants along the Parkway, this captivating destination promises an unforgettable getaway.

But the question remains: is three days enough to truly appreciate all that Gatlinburg has to offer? In this article, we will explore the value of spending three days in Gatlinburg, taking into account the multitude of activities and attractions that await you. So grab your hiking boots, book your cabin, and get ready to embark on a memorable adventure in Gatlinburg!

Is 3 Days In Gatlinburg Worth It

Table of Contents

Things To Do With 3 Days In Gatlinburg

Explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the top attractions in Gatlinburg is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This expansive park offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. You can hike along the many trails that wind through the park, showcasing its diverse flora and fauna. From stunning waterfalls to breathtaking mountain views, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a nature lover’s paradise.

Visit Ober Gatlinburg

If you’re looking for some family-friendly fun, a visit to Ober Gatlinburg is a must. This ski resort and amusement park offers a variety of activities for all ages. In the winter, you can hit the slopes and try your hand at skiing or snowboarding. During the rest of the year, you can enjoy activities such as ice skating, tubing, and visiting the wildlife habitat. With beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, Ober Gatlinburg is a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

Go hiking on the many trails

Gatlinburg is surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, and what better way to experience it than by going on a hike? There are numerous hiking trails for all skill levels, from easy strolls to challenging treks. Whether you want to see panoramic views, waterfalls, or wildlife, there is a trail for you. Plus, the fresh mountain air and peaceful atmosphere will leave you feeling rejuvenated and connected to nature.

Experience the Gatlinburg SkyLift

For an unforgettable view of the mountains and the town of Gatlinburg, you must take a ride on the Gatlinburg SkyLift. This scenic chairlift takes you up 1,800 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain. As you soar above the treetops, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Be sure to bring your camera, as you won’t want to miss capturing this incredible vantage point.

Enjoy the Gatlinburg Space Needle

If you’re looking for another observation deck experience, the Gatlinburg Space Needle is a must-visit. Standing tall at 407 feet, the Space Needle offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the town below. Take the glass elevator to the top and marvel at the beauty of the mountains and the charming streets of Gatlinburg. It’s the perfect spot to snap some memorable photos and enjoy a unique perspective of the area.

Try some local cuisine

No trip to Gatlinburg would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. From traditional Southern comfort food to unique mountain-inspired dishes, there are plenty of dining options to satisfy your taste buds. Sample some mouthwatering barbecue, try a delicious pancake breakfast, or indulge in some homemade fudge. Gatlinburg is also home to several breweries and wineries where you can relax and unwind with a local craft beer or a glass of Tennessee wine.

Go shopping in The Village

If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, head over to The Village in downtown Gatlinburg. This charming collection of quaint shops offers a unique shopping experience. Browse through boutique clothing stores, specialty gift shops, and art galleries. From handmade crafts to one-of-a-kind souvenirs, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye. Take a leisurely stroll through The Village, stop for an ice cream cone, and soak in the atmosphere of this picturesque shopping destination.

Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

No matter your age, a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is guaranteed to be a memorable experience. This world-class aquarium boasts a variety of exhibits showcasing marine life from around the globe. Walk through tunnels surrounded by sharks, interact with playful penguins, and marvel at the colorful coral reefs. With interactive exhibits and educational programs, Ripley’s Aquarium is both entertaining and informative.

Go on a scenic drive

One of the best ways to take in the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains is to go on a scenic drive. The area surrounding Gatlinburg is filled with picturesque roads that offer breathtaking views at every turn. The Newfound Gap Road, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and the Cades Cove Loop Road are just a few examples of beautiful drives in the area. Roll down your windows, feel the cool mountain breeze, and let the awe-inspiring landscapes take your breath away.

Accommodation options in Gatlinburg

Hotels and resorts

Gatlinburg offers a wide range of hotels and resorts to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget. From luxury resorts with all the amenities to cozy, family-run hotels, you’ll find plenty of options. Many of the hotels in Gatlinburg are conveniently located near the downtown area, making it easy to access all the attractions and activities.

Cabin rentals

For a truly immersive mountain experience, consider renting a cabin in Gatlinburg. Cabins offer a unique blend of comfort and seclusion, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of the area while still having all the amenities you need. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a spacious cabin for a family reunion, there are cabins of all sizes and styles available for rent. Wake up to stunning mountain views, soak in a hot tub on the deck, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Campgrounds and RV parks

If you prefer to be even closer to nature, there are several campgrounds and RV parks in and around Gatlinburg. Pitch a tent or park your RV in a tranquil setting surrounded by mountains and forests. Many campgrounds offer amenities such as showers, picnic areas, and fire pits. Fall asleep under the stars and wake up to the sounds of nature in these idyllic camping spots.

Bed and breakfasts

For a more intimate and cozy stay, consider booking a room at one of Gatlinburg’s charming bed and breakfasts. These historic properties offer personalized service, comfortable accommodations, and a delicious homemade breakfast to start your day off right. Plus, staying at a bed and breakfast gives you the opportunity to interact with the owners and get insider tips on the best places to visit in Gatlinburg.

Transportation in and around Gatlinburg


Driving is the most convenient way to get around Gatlinburg and explore the surrounding area. Gatlinburg is easily accessible by car, and there are several major highways that lead to the town. Once you’re in Gatlinburg, having a car allows you to easily visit attractions outside the downtown area and venture into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Public transportation

Gatlinburg does not have a public transportation system, so relying solely on buses or trains may not be a viable option. However, if you’re staying in one of the hotels or resorts in downtown Gatlinburg, many attractions and restaurants are within walking distance, making it easy to get around on foot.

Trolley service

Gatlinburg offers a trolley service that operates throughout the town and nearby areas. The trolleys run along designated routes and provide a convenient and affordable way to get around. Whether you’re heading to an attraction or simply exploring the town, hopping on a trolley is a fun and hassle-free way to travel.

Weather considerations

Average temperatures throughout the year

Gatlinburg experiences four distinct seasons, each with its own charm. In the summer, temperatures can range from the 70s to the 90s Fahrenheit (20s to 30s Celsius), making it the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities. Fall brings cooler temperatures, with highs in the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit (10s to 20s Celsius), and the famous colorful foliage of the Smoky Mountains. Winter temperatures can dip into the 30s and 40s Fahrenheit (0s to 10s Celsius), creating a winter wonderland and making it an ideal time for skiing and snowboarding. Spring brings mild temperatures, with highs in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit (10s to 20s Celsius), and the blooming of wildflowers throughout the national park.

Rainfall and precipitation levels

Gatlinburg receives an average of around 55 inches of rainfall annually, with the wettest months being July and August. It’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast and come prepared with rain gear, especially if you’re planning on hiking or spending a lot of time outdoors. However, rain showers in the mountains can be unpredictable and often brief, so don’t let a little rain deter you from enjoying all that Gatlinburg has to offer.

Day 1

On your first day in Gatlinburg, start by exploring the downtown area. Take a leisurely stroll along the Parkway, the main street of Gatlinburg, and stop by the local shops and boutiques. Visit the Space Needle for stunning views of the area, and then head to The Village for some unique shopping. In the afternoon, make your way to the Gatlinburg SkyLift for an unforgettable ride to the top of Crockett Mountain. End your day with a delicious dinner at one of the many restaurants downtown.

Day 2

Spend your second day immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Choose a trail that suits your hiking abilities and embark on a scenic adventure. Whether you want to see waterfalls, panoramic views, or wildlife, the park has something for everyone. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a serene meal surrounded by nature. In the afternoon, head to Ober Gatlinburg for some family-friendly fun. Try your hand at skiing or snowboarding in the winter months, or enjoy activities such as ice skating and wildlife encounters during the rest of the year.

Day 3

On your last day in Gatlinburg, start your morning with a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Explore the exhibits and get up close and personal with marine life from around the world. Afterward, take a scenic drive through the Smoky Mountains. Choose from routes such as the Newfound Gap Road or the Cades Cove Loop Road, and soak in the breathtaking views. End your day with a delicious meal at one of Gatlinburg’s restaurants, and reflect on the memories you’ve made during your trip.

Pros of spending 3 days in Gatlinburg

Abundance of outdoor activities

Gatlinburg is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With the Great Smoky Mountains National Park right at its doorstep, you’ll never run out of adventures to embark on. From hiking and fishing to biking and wildlife spotting, the possibilities are endless. Spending three days in Gatlinburg allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area and take advantage of all the outdoor activities it has to offer.

Beautiful scenery

With its picturesque mountains, lush forests, and stunning waterfalls, Gatlinburg is a feast for the eyes. Whether you’re hiking in the national park, driving along scenic roads, or simply strolling through town, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking views at every turn. Spending three days in Gatlinburg gives you ample time to soak in the beauty of the area and truly appreciate its natural wonders.

Opportunity to explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders. With over 800 miles of hiking trails, historic structures, and abundant wildlife, there is so much to discover. Spending three days in Gatlinburg allows you to explore the park at your own pace and truly appreciate its diverse ecosystems and rich history.

Unique tourist attractions

Gatlinburg is home to several unique tourist attractions that you won’t find anywhere else. From the Gatlinburg SkyLift to the Space Needle, these iconic landmarks offer panoramic views of the area and unforgettable experiences. Spending three days in Gatlinburg gives you the opportunity to visit these attractions and create lasting memories.

Variety of dining options

Gatlinburg boasts a wide range of dining options to satisfy every palate. From classic Southern dishes to international cuisine, you’ll find something to suit your tastes. Spending three days in Gatlinburg allows you to try a variety of restaurants and discover new flavors. Don’t forget to indulge in some local specialties, such as homemade fudge and moonshine cocktails.

Charming mountain town atmosphere

Gatlinburg exudes a charming mountain town atmosphere that will instantly captivate you. From the quaint shops and cozy cafes to the friendly locals and welcoming community, there is a warmth and charm to the town that is hard to resist. Spending three days in Gatlinburg gives you the chance to explore the town at a leisurely pace and truly immerse yourself in its unique ambiance.

Cons of spending 3 days in Gatlinburg

Crowded during peak tourist seasons

Gatlinburg is a popular destination, especially during peak tourist seasons such as summer and fall. The town can get crowded, and popular attractions may have long lines and wait times. If you prefer a quieter and more relaxed experience, consider visiting Gatlinburg during the shoulder seasons or weekdays.

Limited parking in popular areas

Due to the high number of visitors to Gatlinburg, parking can be a challenge, especially in popular areas such as downtown. Finding a parking spot may require some patience and planning. Consider staying in a hotel or resort within walking distance of the downtown area to avoid parking hassles.

Some activities may be weather-dependent

While Gatlinburg offers a wide range of activities, some of them may be weather-dependent. For example, skiing and snowboarding at Ober Gatlinburg are only available during the winter months. Outdoor activities such as hiking and scenic drives may be affected by inclement weather. It’s important to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly to make the most of your three days in Gatlinburg.

Tips for making the most of your 3 days in Gatlinburg

Plan and prioritize activities

With so much to see and do in Gatlinburg, it’s important to plan ahead and prioritize your activities. Make a list of the attractions and experiences you don’t want to miss, and schedule them accordingly. This way, you’ll make the most of your three days and ensure you have time for all your must-see and must-do items.

Consider purchasing attraction passes

If you plan on visiting multiple attractions in Gatlinburg, consider purchasing attraction passes. These passes often offer discounted admission to several attractions, allowing you to save money and make the most of your time. Look for bundle deals that include popular attractions such as Ripley’s Aquarium and Ober Gatlinburg.

Make restaurant reservations in advance

Gatlinburg’s dining scene can get busy, especially during peak times. To avoid wait times and ensure you get a table at your desired restaurant, consider making reservations in advance, especially for popular establishments. This way, you won’t have to worry about finding a place to eat and can focus on enjoying your meal.

Check weather forecasts

While Gatlinburg is beautiful throughout the year, the weather can vary greatly. Check the weather forecast before your trip to pack appropriate clothing and gear. This will ensure you’re prepared for any weather conditions and can enjoy all the activities you have planned.

Pack appropriate clothing and gear

Regardless of the season, it’s important to pack appropriate clothing and gear for your trip to Gatlinburg. In the summer, lightweight and breathable clothing is recommended, along with sunscreen and insect repellent for outdoor activities. In the winter, layers and warm clothing are essential, as well as appropriate gear for winter sports if you plan on skiing or snowboarding. Don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes for hiking and exploring the town.

Alternate destinations near Gatlinburg

Pigeon Forge

Located just a short drive from Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge is another popular tourist destination in the Smoky Mountains. Known for its family-friendly attractions and entertainment, Pigeon Forge offers something for everyone. Visit Dollywood, a theme park owned by country music star Dolly Parton, or enjoy dinner and a show at one of the famous dinner theaters. Pigeon Forge is also home to go-kart tracks, mini-golf courses, and outlet malls, making it a great option for a day trip from Gatlinburg.


No trip to the Gatlinburg area would be complete without a visit to Dollywood. This renowned theme park offers a mix of thrilling rides, live entertainment, and delicious Southern cuisine. From roller coasters and water rides to music shows and craft demonstrations, there is plenty to keep you entertained for a full day. With its charming atmosphere and unique attractions, Dollywood is a must-visit destination near Gatlinburg.

Cades Cove

For a glimpse into the history and natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains, head to Cades Cove. This picturesque valley is home to historic buildings, including churches, log cabins, and a grist mill. The 11-mile scenic loop road takes you through the cove, offering stunning views of the mountains and abundant wildlife. Whether you choose to drive or bike the loop, Cades Cove provides a peaceful and immersive experience in nature.

Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

If you’re looking for a thrill, don’t miss the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. This roller coaster takes you on a thrilling ride through the mountains, with twists, turns, and breathtaking views. Control your own speed as you race through the forest and make memories that will last a lifetime. The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is a popular attraction for families and adrenaline junkies alike.

The Island in Pigeon Forge

For a fun-filled day of shopping, dining, and entertainment, visit The Island in Pigeon Forge. This vibrant complex is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. Ride the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel for panoramic views of the area, try your hand at The Escape Game, or enjoy live music and shows at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery. The Island offers something for everyone and is a great place to spend a day exploring.


Ultimately, whether spending three days in Gatlinburg is worth it depends on your personal preferences and interests. Gatlinburg offers a range of options for different types of travelers, from outdoor enthusiasts to nature lovers to thrill-seekers. Consider the time of year and weather conditions, as well as the pros and cons of visiting during peak tourist seasons. With its abundance of outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, and unique attractions, a three-day trip to Gatlinburg can be a worthwhile and memorable experience. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to create lifelong memories in the charming mountain town of Gatlinburg.


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