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My favorite and least favorite US destinations: Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg, TN 
Gatlinburg is in the Smokey Mountains National Park, it is a two for one. You get the great town of Gatlinburg and a national park to visit in one trip. The town of Gatlinburg is fun and quant with an old western and bluegrass feel. The main stripe in town is lined with endless shops to spend your time and money. Rafting, horse back riding, hiking to Clingman's Dome, ski lift, and the sky bridge are just a few of the popular activities most visitors enjoy. The scenery of the Smokies Mountains is breathe taking. 
This is a place I have visited twice. To be honest, I would revisit tomorrow if I was able to. When others say they want to take a vacation and not sure where to go, I always suggest Gatlinburg. Add in the bonus of it's neighbor Pigeon Forge and a visitor has everything they could ever want. Pigeon Forge reminds me of a bigger and better Branson, MO. Go-carts, fun houses, Dolly Parton Stampede, restaurants you name it, Pigeon Forge has it all. Why not stay there then, because Gatlinburg has a more homey and welcoming feel. I prefer to visit Pigeon Forge and stay in Gatlinburg. Pigeon Forge has been an afternoon filler for our trips. Gatlinburg has provided many different activities each day. 
I have camped in an travel trailer and rented a cabin. Both were amazing! The only downside to both is you will have about a twenty minute drive into town. Either we are pretty easy going or just used to it but that never seems to bother us much. There are numerous hotels to stay in that line or are within walking distance of the stripe in Gatlinburg. You seriously can't go wrong with any of the three choices.  We went with extended family and stay in the cabin for a reasonable price once everyone paid their share of the rental.  The cabin was spacious and provided extras like being in the mountains, wildlife (bears), pool table, laundry and kitchen appliances, and a hot tub. I would suggest to check the cabin rentals out first then look into hotels. 
Walking the main stripe in Gatlinburg is so fun much. There is so much to take in, you will spend hours and several times walking this stripe. I remember being awe struck as we walked around a corner and walked upon a live band playing bluegrass music.  The crowd was rocking away in rocking chairs the town leaves out each night.  We made our way to the back of the area where of course there was FREE moonshine tasting. I swear it was 15-20 little cups of each moonshine to taste.  You will leave in a better mood and walk back out into the live music. What is better than that? 
The stripe also provides endless choices for dining. Local and chain restaurants are offered to satisfy your cravings. The best fried chicken I ever ate came from a restaurant in Gatlinburg. 
Endless activities to fill all your free time.  They have the normal indoor activities like an amazing Ripley's aquarium, Riley's Believe it or not, Amazing Mirror Race, and tons of shopping for anything and everything you can imagine. Truth be told, it's the outdoor activities that really win here.  My husband and son still talk about white water rafting here.  We have rode horses a few times, hike the beautiful Smokies to Clingman's Dome and several waterfalls, and enjoyed the ski life.  More recently, the town now has the Sky Bridge.  It is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. The hike to Clingman's Dome will leave you out of breathe as it is a steep, real steep half mile climb to the top.  The view at the top makes the hike worth it.
Bored, take a drive. We did one night and beside the road was a black bear.  We watched the bear from our car for almost an hour while the bear eat.
Wildlife offers the best entertainment and it is usually free.  It just costs some of your time and hopefully your respect to their habitat. Sorry, but I strongly believe and try to follow the Leave No Trace movement. No one should ever know you were there. It helps preserve the habitat for nature and others to enjoy in the future.  
I have traveled all over the US and can honestly say that Gatlinburg, TN is by far one of my top and favorite places to travel. The town has the perfect backdrop of the Great Smokie Mountains and the people are so welcoming and kind. You can feel that they want you to love their home. They want you to come back. They want you to tell others to come. 
Both times we visited we drove from Missouri to Gatlinburg.  It can be a long drive but if you break it up into two days it's really not that bad. I have a few more destinations in the US I want to visit before I start returning to my favorites but once that begins I will return to Gatlinburg first. 
If you haven't visited, you really need to check into visiting this gem. I promise you will not be disappointed. 
Safe travels!

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