This trip was organized around a music fest and Christmas events in a gorgeous little town in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. When exploring Gatlinburg in November, be sure to check out these great options for the best 4 activities for a fantastic fall weekend in Gatlinburg! There is a lot to see and do at any time!
What to do:
1. Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies
Produced and hosted by Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, this fun indoor bluegrass festival features great national, local, and regional bands through the course of the weekend. Usually around the 15th of November, this festival is at the Convention Center in Gatlinburg. With great music to listen to, workshops for players, and a jam room for attendees to mix and share bluegrass favorite tunes, this festival is a must-see on your fall weekend in Gatlinburg.
2. Walk around Gatlinburg
A cheerful little tourist town, Gatlinburg is tucked in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and there is plenty of shopping and eating along the main streets. Try the Crazy Mason if you’re in the mood for some wild milkshakes, and there are plenty of opportunities to sample moonshine if you like. It’s also known for southern BBQ and there are plenty of options. We were recommended to stop at Bennett’s BBQ and try the deep fried deviled egg, but schedule and access didn’t permit this trip…definitely next time!
3. Take a tram ride on SkyLift and walk Skybridge
While there are a number of great scenic lift rides, SkyLift takes you up to a gorgeous view looking over Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. Then head over to the slightly hair-raising SkyBridge and walk across the gorge. If you’re brave, look down through the glass panels in the middle–but it’s a LONG way down. It is a suspension bridge so be warned that it will sway and buck a bit! Very very worth it!
4. Drive to the Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
From Gatlinburg, it’s about 11 miles to the top of the mountain at Newfound Gap which stands at the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. You can stand with a foot in both states! It’s an incredible view.
Where to stay:
1. Gillette Motel
This adorable and squeaky clean vintage hotel is right in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg and is a great place to call home on a fall weekend in Gatlinburg. They decorate for Christmas too! While not fancy, it is comfortable, reasonably priced and well maintained…and did I mention CLEAN?? One note: choose rooms on the 3rd level if possible since the 2nd is over the car park and the floors can get chilly….especially bathrooms….
The location is perfect, just across from the convention center, and it just felt like visiting Grandma’s for the weekend. Crisp white vintage bedspreads and mismatched paintings, everything spotlessly tidy, and green tiled vintage bathrooms made it very homelike and not at all sterile like many motels. It’s family-owned, and they do a great job making you feel a warm southern welcome. https://www.gillettemotel.com
Where to eat:
1. Cumberland Jack’s
The hands-down winner in a tourist town where foodie destinations are hard to find, this new restaurant a little ways up the road on the main strip is worth a look. Ask the waitstaff for favorites–they will steer you in the right direction. The fried chicken may have been the best I’ve ever eaten, and the delicious vegetable soup and bread that starts the meal hits the spot on a November day. They serve up real honest to goodness skin-on mashed red potatoes with delicious gravy too! Be sure to give Cumberland Jack’s a visit on your fall weekend in Gatlinburg! https://cumberlandjacks.com
2. Log Cabin Pancakes
Conveniently located just a block up from The Gillette, Log Cabin Pancakes serves up fresh hot pancakes and crepes in a town that takes pancakes VERY seriously. They are very tasty and reasonably priced but be prepared for lines. Every pancake place in town has huge lines! They also have heaters on the porch to keep you warm while you wait in line. Try the basic pancakes but there are a lot of great specialty options too (chocolate chips, anyone?).
Their slogan is “Baking Tiny Crispy Cookies since 1924”, and that’s all they need. Rich and buttery in many different flavors, they are all really good. Try the Key Lime or Peach. You can fill a box of mixed cookies to try all the different types. https://www.byrdcookiecompany.com
They have a huge array of ridiculously decadent caramel apples covered in all sorts of goodies, as well as truffles and skewers of marshmallows and maraschino cherries. Try the turtle truffle.
-Ole Smokey Candy Kitchen
It’s really really fun to watch them make saltwater taffy on the old taffy machines! They have big windows in the downtown shop so you can see the process of pulling taffy and making turtles, etc.
There are many other fun activities for a fun fall weekend in Gatlinburg, such as the Anakeesta Astra Lumina, a magical walk among moving lights at the top of a ski lift, and walking downtown in the cheerfully lighted Christmas in the Smokies. Lots of Christmas activities and decor in this cute small town! It’s a beautiful place to spend a weekend!