Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook: A Must-See for Families
Do you want the inside scoop on the best Gatlinburg scenic overlooks and viewpoints in the Smoky Mountains? Read on to see the complete list! For more, also see our Gatlinburg scenic drives guide.
Living near Gatlinburg, the Smoky Mountain area is one of our favorite places to go with our kids out of all the places we’ve traveled.
Top Thing To Do: Anakeesta
Where To Stay: Margaritaville Gatlinburg is our favorite resort in the area. While it’s not the cheapest, it’s a new resort with a nice pool and a great location.
Where To Eat: Ole Red (not because the food is amazing, but because of the live nightly entertainment)
How To Get There: The closest airport is Knoxville (TYS), about an hour away. A rental car is almost a requirement due to the distance between attractions. Click here for deals on Discover rental cars. Gatlinburg is also within a day’s drive of 2/3rds of the country’s population!
Top Gatlinburg Overlooks for Stunning Views
One of the most popular spots to take in the sweeping mountain vistas is the Gatlinburg Bypass. This scenic drive offers multiple parking areas where you can stop, snap pictures, and enjoy the breathtaking views of downtown Gatlinburg and the surrounding mountains.
Gatlinburg Space Needle
The Gatlinburg Space Needle is a 407-foot observation tower that provides a 360-degree view of the city and the Great Smoky Mountains. On a clear day, you’ll be awestruck by the magnificent panoramic views of the Smokies. Note there’s an admission fee, and you can get even higher views from surrounding attractions like Anakeesta Mountain.
Clingmans Dome Road
Clingmans Dome Road is another beautiful drive that leads to the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This popular spot offers dramatic contrast between the lush forests and the towering mountains, making it one of the most photographed areas in the park.
Newfound Gap Road
Newfound Gap Road takes you on a scenic journey through the heart of the national park, connecting Gatlinburg, TN, with Cherokee, NC. This winding drive offers multiple overlooks, providing stunning views of the Smokies and a chance to spot wildlife like black bears and white-tailed deer.
Looking for a less crowded, more serene experience? Head to the Foothills Parkway for gorgeous views of the Smokies without the hustle and bustle. This less-traveled road offers multiple scenic overlooks, perfect for picnics or just taking in the views.
Fun Activities in Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg is not just about the views; there are many opportunities for family fun. Check out the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway for an exciting ride with spectacular views or visit Gatlinburg Skylift Park for a thrilling chairlift ride to the top of Mt. Harrison. During winter, Ober Gatlinburg transforms into a ski resort, offering skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.
If you’re looking for something more laid-back, stroll around downtown, where you can find great spots like an amusement park, fun arcades, and excellent pizza restaurants. Don’t forget to visit historic buildings like the LeConte Lodge for a taste of local history.
Tips for Visiting Gatlinburg Overlooks
- Visit during different times of the year for unique experiences, like vibrant fall foliage or the snow-capped peaks in winter.
- Arrive early to beat the crowds and secure a parking spot, especially at the most visited national park overlooks.
- Be mindful of inclement weather, leading to road closures and limited visibility.
- Bring a camera to capture the breathtaking views and make lasting memories.
Gatlinburg: A Great Place for Families in the United States
Gatlinburg is a wonderful destination in the United States, offering fantastic mountain views and plenty of activities for families to enjoy. With its proximity to Pigeon Forge and the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s the perfect place for your next family vacation.
Nearby Attractions and Best Places to Visit
While visiting Gatlinburg, consider taking a short drive to the nearby city of Pigeon Forge, home to famous attractions like Dollywood and the Titanic Museum. You can also explore the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains or venture along the Gatlinburg Spur for more scenic views.
A Great Way to Unwind: Relax in a Hot Tub
After a long day exploring the Great Smoky Mountains, what better way to unwind than soaking in a hot tub? Many Gatlinburg accommodations offer hot tubs with scenic views, allowing you to relax and enjoy the mountain vistas while soaking your cares away.
Top Places to Stay in Gatlinburg: From Resorts to Cozy Cabins
After a day of exploring, nothing is better than retreating to a cozy cabin nestled in the mountains. Gatlinburg offers a variety of cabin rentals, ranging from rustic log cabins to luxurious mountain retreats. Many cabins feature fire pits, hot tubs, and stunning mountain views—perfect for a relaxing winter getaway.
Gatlinburg offers a variety of accommodations to suit every traveler’s taste and budget. Here are some of the top-rated places to stay in Gatlinburg, including luxurious resorts and charming vacation rentals:
Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg is a 4-star resort located on the main parkway (Hwy 441) in Gatlinburg. We have stayed at this resort several times, and while it’s not the cheapest resort in Gatlinburg, it’s by far our favorite.
This tropical-inspired retreat offers well-appointed rooms and suites, an indoor and outdoor pool, a fitness center, and an on-site spa.
The resort’s convenient location across the street from Anakeesta makes it a perfect base for exploring the best of Gatlinburg.
Margaritaville Gatlinburg: A Tropical Escape in the Heart of the Smokies
After an action-packed day at Anakeesta, unwind and relax at Margaritaville Gatlinburg, a tropical oasis just a short walk from the mountaintop theme park. Inspired by the laid-back lifestyle of singer Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville Gatlinburg offers a unique dining and entertainment experience that transports you to a tropical paradise.
Dining at Margaritaville Gatlinburg
The Margaritaville Restaurant offers a delectable menu featuring a variety of island-inspired dishes, such as the signature Cheeseburger in Paradise, Volcano Nachos, and Coconut Shrimp. Kids will love the diverse options on the Little Parakeet’s menu, ensuring that even the pickiest eaters find something they enjoy.
Try one of Margaritaville’s famous frozen concoctions or specialty cocktails, like the classic Margarita or the refreshing Rum Runner. Non-alcoholic options are also available, making Margaritaville a great destination for the entire family.
Map of the best deals on top hotels and VRBOs in Gatlinburg:
Best Times of Year to Visit
The best time of year to visit Gatlinburg depends on your personal preferences. Fall months bring vibrant foliage, while winter offers a chance to experience snow-covered peaks and skiing at lower elevations. No matter the time of year, you will surely find incredible scenic views and a memorable experience.
Explore Cades Cove Loop Road
For a unique adventure, take a short drive to Cades Cove Loop Road, a one-way loop that offers a glimpse into the area’s history. With historic buildings, picturesque landscapes, and abundant wildlife, it’s a great spot to explore and take in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains.
Fun and Games: Gatlinburg Arcades
Gatlinburg is home to many fun arcades, providing entertainment for the whole family. From classic games to state-of-the-art attractions, you’ll find something for everyone to enjoy.
Great Overlooks and Perfect Spots for Photography
With so many scenic overlooks in and around Gatlinburg, you’ll have no shortage of perfect spots for capturing stunning photographs. Keep an eye out for small signs indicating overlooks and pull-offs, as these often lead to breathtaking views.
Delightful Dining Options
Gatlinburg offers various dining options, from excellent pizza restaurants to upscale eateries. Don’t forget to visit some local gems for a taste of Gatlinburg’s culinary scene.
Learn about the Rich History of the Area
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is steeped in history, from the days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the Cherokee people who once called this area home. Visit the national park service web pages for more information on the area’s history and cultural heritage.
Tips for a Memorable Gatlinburg Experience
- Arrive early to secure parking spaces at popular overlooks, especially during peak seasons.
- Plan your visit around the best times of year for your desired activities and weather preferences.
- Stay at accommodations with amenities like hot tubs for a relaxing, enjoyable experience.
- Take advantage of Gatlinburg’s proximity to other attractions, like Pigeon Forge and the North Carolina side of the Smokies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is there an admission fee for most overlooks?
A: Most of the scenic overlooks are free, but some attractions like the Gatlinburg Space Needle and Gatlinburg Skylift Park have admission fees.
Q: Can I spot wildlife at the overlooks?
A: Yes, you might encounter black bears, white-tailed deer, and other
wildlife at the overlooks or along the scenic drives, especially in the national park areas.
Q: Is air pollution a problem in Gatlinburg?
A: While air pollution can sometimes affect the visibility at the overlooks, it’s generally not a significant concern for visitors. On clear days, you’ll enjoy stunning views without any issues.
Q: Are there any lesser-known overlooks worth visiting?
A: Absolutely! Some lesser-known gems include the Little River Road, Mount LeConte, and the one-way loop road in Cades Cove. These spots offer breathtaking views without the crowds of the more popular overlooks.
Q: What’s the best time of day to visit the overlooks?
A: Early morning and late afternoon offer the best lighting for photography, but any time of day can provide beautiful views. For a truly magical experience, visit an overlook on a clear night to stargaze and marvel at the twinkling lights of downtown Gatlinburg.
Q: How accessible are the overlooks?
A: Most overlooks are easily accessible by car, with parking lots or pull-offs available for visitors. Some, like the Newfound Gap parking area and Clingmans Dome Road, offer additional facilities like restrooms and picnic areas.
Gatlinburg is a beautiful place with stunning scenic overlooks perfect for families seeking memorable experiences in the Great Smoky Mountains. With various options, there’s no better place to soak in the captivating views and create lifelong memories with your loved ones. So, start planning your next vacation to Gatlinburg, and don’t forget to include some of these amazing overlooks on your itinerary!