We put together a list of what we think is the best the Smokies has to offer – best family restaurant, best auto tour, and the best adrenaline rush.
1. Best restaurant for families: The Park Grill Steakhouse in Gatlinburg. Has a “National Park” theme with wait staff in ranger uniforms and live pianist. The food and atmosphere are amazing. Children’s Meals prices are $1.00 x Child’s Age (Up to 12 years of age), which means a 4 year old eats for only four bucks. If you can save room, they offer some of the best desserts in the Smokies.
2. Best pizza and beer: Smoky Mountain Brewery offering two locations, Walden’s Landing in Pigeon Forge and in the Calhoun’s Village in Gatlinburg. Amazing hand tossed pizza, brewhouse burgers, micro brewed beer, TV’s and nightly entertainment make this one of the Smokies best places to eat and entertain. They don’t deliver, but they do offer take-out. Plus, you can build your own six-pack by choosing from the many microbrew flavors like Black Bear Ale, Mountain Light and Thunder Road, to name a few.
2. Best Family Sports Grill: Blue Moose Burgers and Wings in Pigeon Forge. Blue Moose serves a variety of casual American fare from angus beef burgers, award winning jumbo chicken wings in 16 different flavors (the mango habanera BBQ sauce is amazing), hotdogs, salads and ice cold beer. Blue Moose’s cozy atmosphere and 20 flat panel televisions; make it the “spot” to catch all the games.
3. Best kept dining secret: The Peddler Steakhouse. While The Peddler is a Gatlinburg tradition for succulent steaks cut table-side to your specifications and grilled over real Tennessee hickory charcoal and their expansive salad bar. You may not know that the bar area overlooking the shimmering Little Pigeon River is self seating. So even during the busy season, you can get table without much of a wait. Not going to be a secret for long.
4. Best Auto Tour: The 11-Mile Cades Cove Loop. Before becoming a part of the Smoky Mountain National Park, nearly 135 families called Cades Cove home. Many of the houses and cabins have now been restored and are able for viewing. In the Cove, there is Becky’s Cable Mill, a visitor’s center, and a little shop within the natural fields surrounded by the Smoky Mountains. The luscious fields attract all types of wildlife including deer, turkey and even smoky mountain black bears. Cades Cove offers the best wildlife viewing in the entire park. A visit to Cades Cove is a trip you will never forget, a must on any trip to the Smoky Mountains.
5. Best crafts shopping: The Smoky Mountain Arts & Crafts Community, in Gatlinburg, is the nation’s largest community of independent artisans and craftspeople. This historic 8-mile loop has been designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail. The artisans along the trail create original collectibles and folk art such as candles, baskets, quilts, trolls, brooms, pottery, jewelry, dolls, ceramics, oak and willow baskets, scrimshaw, silver-smithing, leather, stained glass, wearable fashions, sculpture, lithographs, fine photography, frameable art, oils and watercolors.
6. Best Outlet shopping: Tanger Outlets in Sevierville. This shopper’s paradise offers more than 100 stores. You can save from 20 to 40% off on designer clothing and handbags; shoes; children’s clothing; and more. Find discounted clothing at stores such as Tommy Hilfiger, Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Gap, Levi’s, Polo Ralph Lauren, Eddie Bauer, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein and more. Shoe stores include Nike, Adidas, Bass, Clarks, Nine West and Puma. If you have little ones, visit Carter’s, The Children’s Place, Gymboree and OskKosh B’gosh. There even a few restaurants including the newest addition for 2012, Joe’s Crabshack. There is even a Starbucks.
8. Best dinner and show: Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. Featuring 32 magnificent horses, trick riders, talented actors, dramatic lighting and show stopping pyrotechnics. This wonderful live show treats guests to a spectacular four course meal featuring tender rotisserie chicken, barbecued pork loin, corn on the cob and potatoes, the famous home-style cream of vegetable soup, biscuits and a scrumptious apple turnover for dessert. They do not provide utensils, so if you do not like eating with your hands; bring your own plastic wear.
9. Best Zipline: Wahoo Adrenaline Park in Sevierville. Offering 3 attractions in one location, featuring the longest zipline in the nation, over half a mile long, New Zealand style jet boat tours on the French Broad River and the largest glass bottom sky bridge in the world, The Mountain Dew Sky Bridge. If you are looking to get your adrenaline pumping, visit the Wahoo Adrenaline Park.
10. Best Whitewater Rafting Adventure: Big Creek Expeditions. Located on the Pigeon River in scenic Hartford, Tennessee. Specializing in professionally guided trips, beautiful mountain surroundings, and memories that will last a lifetime. Big Creek offers two different rafting trips appropriate for any age and skill level. The Upper Section is a thrilling ride through class III and IV rapids for ages 8 and up (or 70+ pounds), while the Lower Section is a scenic float trip for ages 3 and up. This half-day whitewater rafting expedition will be the talk of your vacation.
11. Best way to Relax: Stay in your Cabin Fever Vacations cabin and soak in the hot tub, snuggle up next to a cozy fire and read a good book or pull up a rocker on the deck and take in the amazing views of the Great Smoky Mountains and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Have you visited the Smoky Mountains? What do you think is the best the Smokies has to offer? Tell us in the comments below.