Off season in the Great Smoky Mountains used to mean everything shut down. Not so anymore. January and February are great times to visit with smaller crowds and plenty to do and see – often at a discount! Check out these Winter specials for favorite mountain restaurants via the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce and these American Patriot Getaways cabin specials.
Winterfest continues through Feb. 15
You haven’t missed the beautiful lights of Winterfest – they are around until Feb. 15. This true winter wonderland continues in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville. Millions of small, twinkling lights come together on streets throughout the mountain towns to form elaborate displays that will leave you in awe.
A drive down the Pigeon Forge parkway will treat you to a view of the 12 Days of Christmas in lights. Head to Gatlinburg to see intricate displays of animals that are native to the Smoky Mountains. Pigeon Forge Winterfest takes the bite out of the winter cold and makes for smiles all around in a metropolis of winter fun.
Take a Trolley Tour for a terrific way to see the lights or drive through them on your own. More tour fun is included on the Redneck Comedy Bus Christmas Lights Tour through Jan. 30. The tour boasts a jolly good time and boards at Cooter’s Place Pigeon Forge at 177 E Wears Valley Rd, Pigeon Forge.
Enchanted Winter of Lights
Find this fun festival at Anakeesta through Feb. 28
Located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg with mountain views and 70 forested acres of fun and relaxation, Anakeesta is a mountain playground for all ages. When the sun sets in the Smokies, Anakeesta comes alive with a celebration of lights for its Enchanted Winter celebration.
Anakeesta is a Cherokee word referring to high ground, literally meaning “the place of the balsams.” Balsam forests are found at the highest elevations in the Smoky Mountains. Among the trees at Anakeesta are wonderful spots for selfies, viewing the scenery, watching downtown Gatlinburg. And food – from barbecue to southern foods with a view from the top.
Gather around the fire with family and friends for hot cocoa or your favorite hot toddy. Then stroll through the magical villages to shop and eat and take in the scenery and a mountain of light displays. All of this is included with general admission to the park. To get to Anakeesta, buy tickets online, then take the scenic open chairlift or the enclosed Chondola from Gatlinburg up the mountain to Anakeesta – you can’t drive yourself; the Chondola is the only way there. Find the Chondola ride to Anakeesta at 576 Parkway in Gatlinburg.
Want to see what’s happening there right now? Check out their web cam.
Because Food! There’s always plenty of food in the South!
At the top of Anakeesta is The Bar at the Top of the World, part of The Cliff Top Grill & Bar. Here, visitors take in the beautiful scenery, have a beer or a cocktail – try Karen’s Sweet Tea, and maybe snack such as the southern favorite Fried Green Tomatoes or a ½ pound char-grilled Smoky Mountain burger or BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese Bowl – be still my heart. Check out the rest of the menu.
Anakeesta’s Smoke House is where visitors are able to walk up to the bar for a great bear on tap and sit around the firepits watching the mountains and the people and enjoy smoked meats including pulled pork, brisket and chicken in many unique ways – sandwiches, plates, nachos, chips and salads. Located in Firefly Village.
Located in Black Bear Village, Kephart Café serves gourmet hot dogs, flatbread pizza and Flavor Burst yogurt. “Father of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Kephart Cafe offers walk-up dining for those on the go. Also in Black Bear Village is Tap House, offering gorgeous views and craft beer.
Don’t forget the pie! At Pearl’s Pie in the Sky, get a homemade fried pie, a scoop or three of Bluebell ice cream, cookies brownies or hot chocolate with Pearl’s famous wassail.
For more, see our recent blog post on Anakeesta.
The Island in Pigeon Forge is beautiful to behold, fun to explore and offers great shopping and delicious and unique restaurants year round.
The Wheel is worth seeing and riding even in winter. Beautifully lit at night, The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel towers 200 feet tall. It provides riders an unparalleled view of the incredible Smoky Mountains. Don’t worry about being cold, you’ll be comfortable in the all-glass gondolas that seat up to eight people. For ticket and pricing, click here.
Just want to watch The Wheel? Bundle up and sit in a sweet rocking chair watching it go round and enjoy the dancing fountain – coordinated to music all day and night.
You came for the shopping? Well, you’re in luck – The Island has more than 40 unique shops – from Beef Jerky Experience and Pepper Place (all the hot sauces you could ever want) to The Patriot Peddler- show off your American pride and spirit by shopping where everything is made in the USA. This shop is full of clothing, home decor, and military gifts; Build-a-Bear Workshop; The Sneaky Squirrel; Southern Sportz and so much more.
Ready to eat?
The Island has restaurants for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks or snacks. Or all of those if you spend the day there.
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen offers all three meals daily. It doesn’t get more Southern than Paula Deen. Endless portions served family style – everyone certainly will leave full.
Breakfast favorites include chicken and biscuits, “Sweet Piggies in a Blanket” and “Southwest Cheesy Grits,” along with meats and lots of sides. For lunch try “Grandmama Paul’s Fried Green Tomatoes,” beef pot roast or the chicked-fried porkchop. For dinner, fill up on the “Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken,” “ Ol’-fashioned Southern Meatloaf” and chicken and dumplings. Alongside, how about some collard greens, creamed corn and broccoli casserole? Yum!
Even if you didn’t save room, dessert is a must: Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, banana pudding and season cobblers are among the list.
At Timberwood Grill, site down for a taste of the mountains with “unique approaches to traditional favorites.” Open for lunch and dinner, Timberwood Grill offers a mac & cheeseburger, Gunpowder Ribeye and Strawberry Chicken Salad among its favorites. There’s also a Big Sky Black & Bleu Salad with fresh farmers’ market greens, steak tips and bleu cheese. The Lumberjack Stack is a triple decker sandwich stacked tall with honey ham, American cheese, oven-roasted turkey breast, Swiss cheese and thick-cut bacon. They also offer Rocky Top Pork Nachos and Baby Back Ribs.
More eating and snacking opportunities include: Kapop Gourmet Popcorn, Island Yogurt, Yeehaw Snack Shack, Yeehaw Brewery, Margaritaville, Mellow Mushroom, The Fudgery, Changes in Latitude Bar and Dude’s Daiquiris. There’s something for everyone!
Arts & Crafts Community
There is more shopping to be done in The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community located 3 miles from downtown Gatlinburg. Here visitors can find a diversity of crafts and a wide assortment of items from dulcimers to stuffed bears to ceramics and glass blown right there in front of them. The artists often will talk with visitors and discuss the history of their craft.
“Do The Loop” as they say. Along the 8-mile Loop Road, find more than 100 Artists and Craftsmen. There are eateries here too.
The Arts and Crafts Community is the largest independent organization of artisans in the United States. Each shop offers plenty of free parking, however visitors also can use the Yellow Trolley from downtown Gatlinburg to get to the Community.
Gatlinburg’s Arts & Crafts Community is a living, breathing tribute to the history of Tennessee. The carvers, weavers, watercolor artists, casters, soap makers, potters, silversmiths and dozens of other artisans skillfully demonstrate their abilities before thousands of visitors each year. Find the Community at 668 Glades Rd, Gatlinburg, 865-412-1012.
Winter in the Smoky Mountains is magical – beautiful views from your Mountain Cabin hot tub, warm and inviting restaurants, thrilling fun on the mountain slopes from skiing and snowboarding and snow tubing to ice skating and bumper cars. Ober Mountain is definitely a place to visit for adventures.
Ober Mountain Amusement Park and Ski Resort is a “mountaintop of fun, excitement and beauty.” Little and big kids alike AND all the adults can find entertainment at Ober – outside or warm and cozy inside.
Start your day at Ober Mountain by boarding the Aerial Tramway in downtown Gatlinburg and avoid the drive up the mountain while taking in, arguably, the best views as you soar above Gatlinburg for more than 2 miles. The cable car has been taking passengers from downtown Gatlinburg to the Ober amusement park and ski area since August 1973. Check out this video for a taste of what you’ll experience!
Once you reach the top, outdoor adventures at Ober Mountain include Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and the children’s play area – Cubbies Snow Zone – where younger children can just, well, play in the snow.
Find lift pass rates here. Ober Mountain offers ski and clothing rental, along with lessons for young and old. Ober Mountain has 10 trails from beginner to advanced, including a freestyle Terrain Park. There are seven lifts to get you there. Check out the Slope report and the live webcams. One camera points at the activities going on. The other camera is the Mountain Valley view.
Another great adventure on the mountain is snow tubing. Ride an inner tube and giggle down the 400-foot hill. There are 10 lanes to keep the fun moving. At the bottom, the snow tubing slope has a “magic carpet” that takes the standing riders to the top, avoiding the exhaustion of schlepping up the hill.
Inside, visitors will find ice bumper cars, ice skating, a carousel and several casual restaurants.
With more than 12.3 million annual visitors coming through The Great Smoky Mountains National Park annually, winter is one of the BEST times to avoid the crowds and take in mountain views normally obscured by trees at other times of the year. However, taking a hike in winter months is not without its own set of risks. Check out our blog for some winter hiking tips to keep you and your family warm and safe on the trail.
Ready to book your Smoky Mountain winter stay and start planning your adventures?
Whether it’s your first visit to the Smokies or your fiftieth, American Patriot Getaways has a cabin for you. From studio-style economy cabins to 13-bedroom palatial chalets, any family or group can be accommodated in our cabins. There are movie theater cabins, cabins with swimming pools, secluded cabins, cabins with multiple kitchens and cabins with game rooms. Keep warm in an outdoor hot tub. Check out our cabins with hot tubs and book today for a winter wonderland stay in the Great Smoky Mountains!
Avoid mountain roads by booking a cabin with easy access. Book a cabin close to the Parkway and you won’t miss any Gatlinburg fun. Book online using our web site, or give our friendly Reservation staff a call at 800-204-5169 to get started planning your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.