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It may come as a surprise, but the most visited national park in the United States is not even the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or Yellowstone. The most visited is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This huge mountain range with diversity in ecosystems, wildlife and heritage is located half in North Carolina and half in Tennessee.
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For those just starting to plan a trip to the Smokies, you may want to consider how you’ll explore the national park and where you’ll want to base yourself or jump between. With this guide to the best places to stay in the Smoky Mountains, you’ll learn the differences between each area and get inspiration for where to stay.
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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only huge, but because it runs through North Carolina and Tennessee, it opens up a wide range of lodging options.
Something unique about the Smoky Mountains region that you’ll quickly learn is that it has some of the most unique properties of any place we’ve been. There are so many charming, escapable stays that it almost doesn’t make sense to look at traditional hotels and motels.
Whether you’re looking to pick a spot for your trip or are thinking of combining a couple of spots like we did on our 6-day Smoky Mountains itinerary, here are some of our favorite places to stay in the Smoky Mountains. in a hurry and just want the best of the best.
Meadow Fork Cabin is one of the many cabins on the Boyd Mountain Log Cabins property and is a historic log cabin. Located in Waynesville, North Carolina, the cabin is surrounded by a family-owned Christmas tree farm, fishing pond, and hiking trails. As you enter through the idyllic porch with rocking chairs, you’ll see how they’ve modernized and transformed the cabin into a comfortable, spacious place to stay with a full dining room, air conditioning, fire pit and outdoor dining area, and three. Rooms suitable for 8 people.
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Tiny houses certainly have their appeal, but if you’re like us, you’re not sure if you want to own one but would love to see what it looks like. Gina’s Great Getaways has a wonderful collection of vacation rentals near Bryson City, North Carolina. One of them is called Sweet Pea Tiny Home. Located next to the creek, you’ll be surprised how much room you have inside despite your small footprint. It’s a wonderful place to stay, perfect for couples.
While this wouldn’t traditionally be a choice location for those exploring the Smoky Mountains, it might be worth the detour if you’re looking for a special place, RT Lodge exudes southern charm that’s perfect for those looking for a place to stay. where there are plenty of places to rest and relax. All stays include breakfast and all you can eat in their fireplace. The restaurant at RT Lodge is also a delight.
These are treehouses built by the Treehouse Master himself, Pete Nelson. Treehouse Grove has a unique collection of treehouses built near the Smoky Mountains and the town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The specific one you should look at is the maple tree, which was designed as a retreat where you can enjoy the comfort of the forest surroundings. Dubbed the “Honeymoon Treehouse,” you’ll have a large observation deck, screened-in porch, kitchen, couch with TV, bunk bed, modern rain shower, and a master bedroom.
Not sure how to plan a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains and looking for inspiration? Here’s an adventurous itinerary that will definitely start you off with plenty of personal experience and advice.
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There are several towns and areas on both sides of the Smoky Mountains that you should definitely check out when planning your road trip.
While most guides will direct you to some of the big, touristy cities, it’s worth getting to know some of the ones that might slip off your radar. Each city/town/region has something different to offer and may suit your travel style more than others.
Officially falling as Haywood County, Waynesville is a quaint town with a lot of charm.
Steps from the Smoky Mountains, downtown Waynesville feels like you’re stepping back in time, with main streets lined with classic general stores, movie theaters, shops and eateries. Take a closer look and while they’ve kept the exterior, you’ll find trendy shops, artisanal goods and fun spots like the Boojum Brewery Taproom.
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This is more off the beaten path for those coming to explore the Smoky Mountains, but that’s only because the secret isn’t out yet!
If you’re looking for a great place to host next to the Smoky Mountains, Bryson City is the perfect choice, especially if you love adventure activities and convenient access to the national park.
In addition to the national park, there is the Nantahala National Forest, Cherokee, and Waynesville and Maggie Valley just a short drive away.
Sevierville is a little-known part of the Tennessee side of the Smoky Mountains, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering. As the northernmost city in the trio next to the national park, you’ll love that it’s less busy than the other two, has cheaper accommodations and more local, authentic restaurants.
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Sevierville is definitely more off the beaten path, but you’re only 30 minutes into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It’s a major tourist town in Tennessee and there’s a seemingly endless line of rides, restaurants and shows along Dollywood and the main park that runs through it.
Driving through Pigeon Forge will remind you of Orlando or a family-friendly Las Vegas with giant pirate ships, King Kong, a giant replica of the Titanic, miniature golf courses and more than life themed activities. .
By staying here, you’ll be right in the middle of the action with everything Pigeon Forge has to offer, but you’ll also be conveniently located between Sevierville and Gatlinburg.
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Of all the cities mentioned, this is probably the most popular name. Gatlinburg is located in Tennessee and is the closest to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on this side.
Seemingly surrounded by mountains, Gatlinburg has a more intimate feel while also having quite a range of entertainment nearby. Within a small area, it is full of fun activities, attractions, viewpoints, shops, bars and restaurants.
It’s another family-friendly location with direct access to the Smokies, making it great for many first-time visitors.
Now that you know a little more about the best places to stay in the Smoky Mountains and why you want to stay there, let’s dive into each mountain town and specific recommendations for special accommodations, hotels, and resorts to consider on your trip. .
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You really can’t go wrong with one of these places to stay because at the end of the day you’ll have a car and getting around isn’t that difficult.
The main decision you want to make is whether you want to stay in North Carolina or Tennessee or if you can’t decide, you do both as we did on our Smoky Mountains tour. Each side of the Smokies is surprisingly different.
Gatlinburg is a favorite for many people because of its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a hub of recreation and activities.
I’ll admit it’s a bit kitsch with its themed restaurants and wax museums. As someone from Canada, it reminds me a lot of Clifton Hills in Niagara Falls. That said, it has its own mountain border vibe that makes it charming and retro at the same time.
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There is no denying that there is much to see and do in Gatlinburg itself. It has a focus on family entertainment. In this, it is very similar to its sister town, Pigeon Forge, but it is located in the mountains.
From a national park perspective, it almost feels like part of Gatlinburg, with many of its key trails leading directly into the Great Smoky Mountains, which is a huge plus. It’s also a short drive to Pigeon Forge and Sevierville which opens up even more things to do.
When it comes to accommodation, you have a wide choice of family resorts and hotels, but at the other end of the spectrum, you also have a number of unmissable treehouses.
Pete Nelson and his team on the Animal Planet show, Treehouse Masters, built these collection of treehouses in the woods outside of Gatlinburg. We personally stayed at Maple and I have to say that of all the nice properties we stayed at during our 6 days in the Smoky Mountains, this one takes the cake. Directly
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