Monthly Archives: October 2012

Tips for Halloween in Gatlinburg: Let the Fun Begin!

Halloween in Gatlinburg Even though you may not have considered Gatlinburg as the place for Halloween fun, it’s definitely the place to be on October 31st!  Gatlinburg’s family friendly atmosphere attracts families from all over to come and celebrate Halloween in a safe environment.

Trick or Treat – Plan of Attack!

As always parking on the Gatlinburg strip is primo!  However, it might be easiest and most practical to start at the middle of town where there is a very well lit and safe city parking lot.  To be a successful “treater,” it is imperative to have a plan of attack.  Parking here gives the treater a home base to work from!  You can hit up the mall across the street, the several surrounding hotels and restaurants, Arrowmont and the Aquarium in a hurry.  Then you can unload at the vehicle and hit the streets running again.

Our suggestions for getting the most from your Halloween experience in Gatlinburg is to work from right to left. You’ll be more efficient and can hit all the hot spots as quickly as possible. Plan of attack, remember? Once you have safely crossed the street to the right side, you can start working the strip.  After you have made your way up the right side of the strip leaving no business untouched by the horror of your costume and sticky fingers, you are left with a downhill return back to the car!  Ah ha! Saving the downhill for last is definitely a benefit for the parents, because the kids will be inevitably hyped up from their candy plundering.

What Time should Your Family start Trick or Treating in Gatlinburg?

Traditionally, you trick or treat at night.  Not so in Gatlinburg.  For the safety of all the little ones, this affair begins earlier in the day from 12:00pm-5:00pm.  That is only if you want candy. If you don’t want candy, that’s okay too!  You can still don your costume and join the nighttime crowds downtown.  Most of the restaurants and local bars will be in theme. Some even have costume contests!

Fright Nights!

Don’t miss Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure on Halloween this year! The 14th annual performance includes a “Voodoo 13” show that is sure to fright and delight. Ripley’s likes to haunt year round, but they really ramp things up when haunting is in full season.  Every weekend leading up to Halloween, at no extra charge for guests, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure hosts its New Orleans themed show “Voodoo 13” at 6:13pm.   Come if you dare, or if you just like a scare!

Are you planning to celebrate Halloween in Gatlinburg? Tell us your plans and show us your costumes in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!  

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Was the UT Theme Song, Rocky Top, Written in Gatlinburg?

UT Football Rocky TopThe answer is yes, and here’s a little bit of background information!

The lyrics to the song Rocky Top were  undoubtedly embedded into every Volunteer fan’s memory at a very young age.  If you aren’t a fan of the Tennessee Volunteers and happen to spend a lot of time in Tennessee, there stands a strong chance you have heard this familiar tune because it’s also a state song!  Millions know the song, but not many know the history behind it.  It is the 45th anniversary of the song that was written in Gatlinburg so what better time to tell the history of this legendary piece.

Where is Rocky Top?

There are three places in East Tennessee that have a claim to being the “Rocky Top” – Thunderhead Mountain, ridges in Cocke County and Monroe County.

Standing tall in the Great Smoky Mountains outside of Gatlinburg is Thunderhead Mountain at 5,528 feet.  The mountain is split in half by the Appalachian Trail and is home to one of the only 360 degree views in the park.  You will find Rhododendron, Laurel thickets, Dogwoods and tall flowing grass upon this 70-acre expanse.  The human eye can only see as far as 7 miles, but when you are standing upon this mountaintop, it feels as if the sight before you never ends.  As your gaze comes back and the awe subsides, you may notice a humbly placed, bronze plate a few paces away that reads ‘Rocky Top.’  This could easily be a “6th Secret Place to Discover”, that is if you are willing to grind out the grueling 14.2 miles round trip to experience it!  This location is without a doubt the more famous of its two counterparts.

UT Football, University of Tennessee, Rocky Top, Gatlinburg Rocky Top, You’ll Always Be

In 1967, Archie “Grandpappy” Campbell from the televised show “Hee-Haw” contracted the Nashville, TN famous couple Felice and Boudleaux Bryant to write songs for an old-folks album called “The Golden Years”.  The couple began writing fiercely to get the assignment finished.  The slow tempo of the songs they had been writing became too depressing for good ole Felice.  She demanded that they stop and write something more upbeat. Adamant that they do this, Felice tried to convince Boudleaux, and he angrily responded:

Wish that I was on old Rocky Top
Down in the Tennessee hills … “

Felice responded in kind by adding in more lines.  In 10 minutes, the couple co-wrote a song that would transcend generations and define a region.  It was only fitting that Felice and Boudleaux co-wrote their hit in Gatlinburg, TN at the Gatlinburg Inn, because Gatlinburg is at the heart of those “Tennessee hills”.  After writing the song, the couple continued on with their assignment not knowing the impact it would later have.

A “Fight Song” for all that is Orange

While Rocky Top was written in 1967, the song did not gain popularity until the Pride of the Southland Band at the University of Tennessee used it in a football half-time drill in 1972.  As the story goes, the crowd could not get enough of it. The more the band played Rocky Top, the more the crowd wanted it.  The popularity of the song grew wildly from there, and it eventually became the official rallying cry for the University of Tennessee football team. Just a short 10 years later, “Rocky Top” became one of the 5 state songs for Tennessee!  Are you in love with Rocky Top yet? Maybe this will help, just click, listen and feel the rich history behind all that is Rocky Top!

What’s your favorite football fight song? Let us know in the comments or share it with us on Facebook and Twitter

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Oktoberfest in Gatlinburg: A Special Celebration Commemorating the 202nd Annual German Festival

Oktoberfest at Ober GatlinbugOktoberfest is very much a Bavarian Holiday, however, America being the melting pot that it is has adopted the holiday in its’ very own way!

Oktoberfest Origins

Oktoberfest from the get-go was never a modest event.  In 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, Munich, Germany held a horse race and provided drink, food and music for the people in a large field now called Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese).  Unfortunately, Bavaria was engulfed in the Napoleonic Wars the next year and was unable to have an immediate anniversary of the festival.  1816 rolled around and so did the sausage carts.  The townspeople vowed to never let anything get in the way of having Oktoberfest again, and so they haven’t!

Oktoberfest Traditions

Festival attendees can expect a multitude of scenes that they will be able to indulge themselves in to their heart’s content!  Depending on whether the first Sunday of October falls on the 1st or 2nd this party can last up to 18 days (or all the way through November 4th in Gatlinburg).  The unique Bavarian style of music has lasted through the centuries – oompah, sing-a-longs and yodels.  Obviously you will get your fill of Bier (beer). Just fill those mugs high, as they say!  The festival has food for days, literally.  The plethora of food choices will keep you full and happy, and you can expect any one of these items to show up on your plate:

“Hendl (chicken), Schweinsbraten (roast pork), Haxn (knuckle of pork), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezn (Pretzel), Knödeln (potato or bread dumplings), Kaasspotzn (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Rotkraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a fatty, spiced cheese-butter concoction) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).” Source: http://www.galvestonoktoberfest.com/history.html

Make sure your lederhosen is snug, keep a firm grip on that drink and cut a rug.  If you aren’t sitting at the dinner table or playing a drinking game, you had better be dancing because it is the favorite past time of Oktoberfest!  This isn’t your normal jig.  If you’re in character, you’ll probably be doing the schuhplatting or one of the other folk dances.

Oktoberfest’s Gatlinburg Roots

Old Heidelberg Castle operated the restaurant at Ober Gatlinburg in the 1980’s.  Heidelberg kept with its Bavarian roots and introduced Gatlinburg to its first taste of Oktoberfest.  It was a sensation and has become part of the culture here in the Smokies.  There isn’t a horse race, but you can find everything else Oktoberfest has offer!  The Bavarian Fun Makers Band, donning their authentic lederhosens, is right at home providing all the traditional live entertainment you would get in Munich.  Couple that with gourmet food and Oktoberfest Biers, you can count on having an amazing time this year at Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg is held from September 28th through November 4th, 2012. For more details, visit: http://www.gatlinburg.com/events/details.aspx?id=80.

Have you experienced Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg? What did you think? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

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5 Secrets to Discover in Gatlinburg

Whether you’re traveling to Gatlinburg for the first time or you’re a seasoned veteran of the Smokies, there may be a few places in Gatlinburg that you haven’t been able to explore yet. These 5 secret spots are worth more than a passing glance. If you’re looking for something special to do while you’re in Gatlinburg that is off the beaten path, get a head start on your trip planning and make sure to remember these secret destinations!

Secret #1. The Chimney’sGatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mountain View

You can spot the beautiful dual peaks, stunning mountain views, and outcropping of wildflowers and wildlife at Chimney Tops, also known as “The Chimney’s.” One of the more adventurous and dangerous trails in the Great Smoky Mountains, the 2.2-mile hike to Chimney Tops is considered well worth the risk to many hikers. This treacherous trail has spectacular mountain views at its peak, which is enough to inspire people to traverse the narrow, winding passageways that lead to the beautiful view at the top of the trail. This trail requires caution, skill, and strength, but once you experience the natural wonders that await at the top, you’ll see why so many hikers take the risk and trek to Chimney Tops.

Rainbow Falls, Gatlinburg, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Secret #2. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Looking for a place to enjoy the scenery without ever leaving your car? Auto touring in the Smokies is a favorite pastime of many Gatlinburg visitors. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a wonderful place to begin your journey. Located right outside downtown Gatlinburg near the Park Vista Hotel, the Motor Nature Trail is a short drive full of stunning foliage, native wildlife, and natural beauty. This is a great place to look for bears and to spend some much needed time in a peaceful part of the mountains without taking a long hike!

Secret #3. Greenbrier RiverGatlinburg, Greenbrier River

Greenbrier is off the beaten path and is mostly known to locals and a few travelers that have explored the outskirts of the city. Located 10 minutes from downtown on Highway 321, Greenbrier is a quiet little river situated in a beautiful nook of trees and wildflowers. One of Gatlinburg’s hidden jewels, Greenbrier is a great place to go during summer for a splash into the cool waters on a hot day. Greenbrier is a beautiful, peaceful spot just outside of town where you can bask in the glory of the rushing waters and choose your own private haven so that you can enjoy a few quiet hours in the Great Outdoors.

Secret #4. Arts & Crafts Community and Arrowmont SchoolGatlinburg, TN Arts & Crafts Community, Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts

The Arts & Crafts Community is one of Gatlinburg’s finest areas. Recognized as the largest collection of independent artisans in North America, the talented artists in the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community show their skills by carving, whittling, casting, weaving, sewing, and transforming different elements of nature into cultural keepsakes. The Great Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts Community is located 10 minutes away from downtown. You can also stop by Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts (across from the Aquarium) to see the fine artwork in the gallery, peek into an art class, and take a tour of the building.

Secret #5. Cades CoveGatlinburg, Cades Cove

While Cades Cove is not necessarily a secret, there are some things hiding inside Cades Cove that you may not have seen before! As the home of historical landmarks, lush natural beauty, and abundant colors in almost every season, Cades Cove gives visitors several different ways to tour the area. Cades Cove offers horseback riding tours as well as bicycle loops for avid cyclists. Make sure to bring you camera with you on your trip, as Cades Cove is home to many species of wildlife including black bears, deer, owls, foxes, and turkeys. One of the best times to visit Cades Cove is before sunrise when a collage of colors meets the horizon, and there’s barely any traffic on the Loop before dawn regardless of the season!

Do you have a secret spot that you love in Gatlinburg? Share it with us in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter. We can’t wait to see what you’ve uncovered while exploring Gatlinburg! 

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15 Best Places to See the Fall Colors in Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the “permanent enjoyment of the people” on September 2, 1940. Since that day, thousands of people have flocked to the region to enjoy the views and stand in awe of the grandeur Gatlinburg and the National Park have to offer.

Fall is the most popular time of the year to view the foliage in Gatlinburg and the GSMNP because the once lush green trees transform into a mosaic of stunning color. As Gatlinburg’s mountain views change from blue-green to bright yellow, orange, and red, the mountains seem to come to life. Visitors can enjoy views of the fall colors in Gatlinburg from many different vantage points throughout the city, but here are some of the best leaf gazing spots.

Best Views when Auto-Touring the Smokies Gatlinburg Fall Colors, Leaves, Fall in Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove

Driving through the Smokies, or auto-touring, is one of the most popular ways to explore the National Park. The Park spans a vast 800 square miles, so make sure to fill up your tank before your excursion. If you’re unfamiliar with the motor trails, you can stop by the Surgarland Visitor Center before you hit the roads to pick up a self-guiding tour booklet. You can also pick up these booklets online!

Take a scenic drive through these motor trails to enjoy beautiful views of the fall leaves.

Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway, Gatlinburg, TramBest Views from Lookout Points in Downtown Gatlinbur

If you like to spend your time downtown, you can still see amazing views of the fall leaves. Downtown Gatlinburg has several great spots that will keep you in the thick of the action while still allowing you to enjoy unforgettable views! If you want to catch a once-in-a-lifetime view without ever leaving downtown Gatlinburg, come on by and visit these landmarks.

Best Views from Hiking Trails Gatlinburg, Mountains, Fall, View

Some of the most breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains and the autumn colors can be seen at the height of the most popular hiking trails. Fall is a wonderful time of year to hike a trail and experience the beauty and allure of nature. The crisp autumn air, perfect weather, and stunning colors are enough to leave any park-goer breathless with wonder.

For an adventure in the Smokies, take your pick of these trails to see some of the best fall views.

*Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap have spectacular roadside views, so you don’t even have to leave your car if you visit these two destinations.

Beating the Crowds

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the nation, which can lead to overcrowding during peak seasons like October. If you want a more peaceful leaf gazing experience, you can visit some off the beaten path destinations to escape the crowds. Make sure to visit these Gatlinburg treasures during the fall season for amazing views and smaller crowds!

  • Foothills Parkway East or West
  • Greenbrier
  • Rich Mountain Road (Must be accessed through Cades Cove Loop)

October is leaf peeper heaven in Gatlinburg. Grab a vacation guide and a Great Smoky Mountains National Park trail guide to find your way to the best fall views in the area. What’s your favorite place to check out the fall views in Gatlinburg? Share it with us in the comments section, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter! We’d love to hear from you!

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3 Things You Need to Plan Your Gatlinburg Vacation

When you’re planning a trip to Gatlinburg, finding the best place to stay, great restaurants, and exciting activities for the whole family may be easier than you think! With these three essentials, you can plan a fun filled adventure in Gatlinburg and experience the peaceful getaway you’ve been dreaming of, the serene beauty of the mountains, and the charming downtown atmosphere. Whether you’re planning for a trip several months in advance or you’re putting together a spontaneous vacation for two, these three resources will help you experience the best that Gatlinburg has to offer.

#1. Gatlinburg Vacation GuideGatlinburg Vacation Guide

Gatlinburg’s free vacation guide has everything you need to plan your trip. You’ll find helpful information on things to do, sights to see, and seasonal temperature charts. You’ll also find listings of almost every restaurant, attraction, and lodging business so that you can create the perfect plan for your next vacation to Gatlinburg! If you’ve ever stopped to wonder whether there’s something you haven’t seen or a place you haven’t been able to experience, this guide has everything you need to make your next Gatlinburg vacation the best you’ve ever had.

Download your free guidebook to a perfect Smoky Mountain getaway: http://gatlinburgtncoc.weblinkconnect.com/CWT/External/WCPages/WCWebInput/VacGuideWebInputPage.aspx

#2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trail GuideGreat Smoky Mountains National Park Trail Guide

For anyone who likes an adventure, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trail Guide is a must have! You’ll find a full list of trails complete with pictures and information about the hike so that you can be fully prepared for an exciting excursion into the most visited national park in America! You may even be able to visit a backcountry campsite (some of which you can only get to by boat!), and you’ll know where all the developed campgrounds, shelters, and interconnecting roads that will take you through the National Park are located!

Take a look at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trail Guide:

http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/upload/GSMNP%20Backcountry%20Map.pdf

#3. Gatlinburg Events CalendarGatlinburg Events Search

Seasonal celebrations are always happening in Gatlinburg, and the events calendar is packed with exciting cultural traditions and family-oriented events. The Gatlinburg Events Calendar will give you an insider’s view into what’s going on in the city during all four seasons. The next time you plan a trip to Gatlinburg, grab an events calendar so that you can plan to attend the parties, special seasonal festivals, and one-of-a-kind celebrations while you’re in town.

Find out which celebrations will be going on when you’re in Gatlinburg for your next trip:

http://www.gatlinburg.com/events/default.aspx

With the Gatlinburg vacation guide, trail guide, and events calendar at your fingertips, your next vacation is sure to be unforgettable. Whether you plan to come see us during the colorful fall season or the breezy spring months, you’ll have everything you need to plan the perfect Gatlinburg vacation!

How do you plan your trip to Gatlinburg? Tell us in the comments section below or let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

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How to Create a Beautiful Fall Harvest Display for Your Yard

Fall Harvest Display in GatlinburgAs fall season comes into full swing, many people are decorating their yards with harvest themed displays.   Here are some helpful tips that will hopefully inspire you to create something amazing!

The Little Things

Before you do anything else, collect all the supplies you’ll need to create your harvest display and get organized. This will be key to a smooth process and a great outcome!  The first step is determining what you are going to use to decorate your house.  Pumpkins, mini-pumpkins, gourds, squash, grape vines, berries, a couple baskets, pinecones, Indian corn and plant foliage are all the traditional items.  A large uncarved pumpkin will generally last most of the fall season, but if you want to make sure that it does, just add a coat of polyurethane to it. Then you’re sure to have a gleaming orange pumpkin all season long.

A single pumpkin placed on a small outdoor table will be where you want to start.  Scattering fall leaves on the table is a nice way to give it that added festive feel.  Next, take your basket and fill it roughly half full with the same fall foliage used on the table.  Strategically place a few pinecones and Indian corn inside the basket to give it texture and character.  Lastly, drape your grape vines around the table and stack several mini-pumpkins, gourds or squash around it to give it added depth.

Fall Decorations The extra mini-pumpkins or squash make excellent candleholders.  Cut the tops of the pumpkins or squash, take a spoon to clean out the centers and place your candle or votive inside.  These usually turn out really cute and add the perfect touch to the rest of your display.

Centerpieces

This is the drive-by eye catcher, so you definitely want to do this right.  Simplicity along with a few creative touches is always best.  You will need to purchase several hay squares, plenty of corn stalk, definitely a large pumpkin or two, some orange ribbon, more grape vine, a couple fake crows and one or two scarecrows.

Find a spot that is both easily visible to the street and easy to work with as well.  Arrange the hay squares to fill the spot comfortably so that your display doesn’t look crowded.  Next, arrange the scarecrows.  You can give them a casual look by propping them up so that they look like they’re leaning against the hay talking. You can also have one sitting and the other one standing, or maybe do one that fits the theme of your family!  Once you have the scarecrows situated, just work in a few pumpkins, the crows, some ribbon and grape vine to give the display that last bit of spice.

Final TouchesSmoky Mountain Harvest Festival in Gatlinburg

Decorating the mailbox!  This is a simple one but can pull your whole yard together nicely.  Tie together two corn stalks with thick twine on each side of the mailbox.  Use the extra orange ribbon you have from your centerpiece to cover the twine.  This will give it that much needed color splash.  Place a large pumpkin on both sides of the mailbox in front of the corn stalks.  This hides the bottom of the corn stalks to give your display a more natural look.

Remember, just be you and let that show in your creative design.  When you are finished, take a step back and appreciate your hard work!

Gatlinburg is hosting its annual Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival through the end of October. During the Harvest Festival, Gatlinburg patrons adorn their shops, restaurants, and hotels with festive fall decorations to celebrate autumn in the Smokies.  Join us this season for another spectacular display of fall decorations in Gatlinburg!

Show us your fall harvest creations on Facebook and Twitter, or share your decorating tips with us in the comments section! 

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