While they might not be as high on your list as other destinations in the region, the Great Smoky Mountains, known as the Smokies, are actually a great place to spend a girlfriend getaway.
There’s not much of a nightlife scene, but there are plenty of activities to keep you and your friends entertained. And don’t miss all the restaurants and shopping!
Eating in the Smokies
Leave any ambitions of a diet at home before visiting the Smokies because there’s hearty and delicious food around every corner. Just be sure to schedule time for walking it off!
Courthouse Donuts– Donuts are DIY at this Sevierville spot where you choose your icing flavor and toppings or let the experts decide. The interior is a great place to enjoy your coffee and donuts, but otherwise, sit in front of the Dolly Parton statue across the street.
Pancake Pantry– Expect to wait in line at this popular Gatlinburg restaurant which has a sister location in Nashville. They have dozens of types of pancakes but also serve burgers, omelets, and sandwiches.
Sawyer’s Farmhouse Breakfast– A giant rooster statue welcomes guests to the Pigeon Forge eatery that is open for breakfast and lunch. The menu has all the favorites like pancakes, waffles, French toast, and eggs.
The Old Mill Pottery House Café & Grille– Far from health food, this local restaurant is where you go when you want to splurge. Portions of the Southern food are hearty and come on locally made pottery. They also have salads, quiches, and homemade desserts.
Smokies Cuban Cafe– This strip mall surprise was a highlight for its authentic Cuban fare and reasonable prices. Go for the classic Cuban sandwich with yucca fries and the strong Cuban coffee if you dare!
Whole Earth Grocery & Cafe– For something lighter, head to this Gatlinburg grocery which carries salads, sandwiches, and wraps. They can be made vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free for dine in or carry out.
Fusion Cafe– If you’re looking for a break from burgers, check out this strip mall Asian eatery with authentic Chinese, Japanese, and Thai. The bento box, sesame chicken, and curries are all recommended.
Local Goat- New American Restaurant– Easily the best restaurant around, Local Goat has an extensive craft beer menu, wine, and cocktails as well as elevated gastropub fare. Their burgers and shoestring fries use as many local ingredients as possible.
The Peddler Steakhouse– A classic steakhouse, The Peddler’s main draw is its wine list and massive steaks, which you can get cut tableside. If you’re looking for something lighter, they also have lighter entrees and an all-you-can-eat salad bar.
Drinking in the Smokies
You won’t find nightclubs and wild party vibes in the Smokies, but there are plenty of places to imbibe, no matter what your poison is.
Bootlegger’s Homemade Wine– This winery has two locations in the Smokies, offering their small-batch Appalachian wineries, including muscadine varieties.
Doc Collier Moonshine– Moonshine distilleries are found throughout the Smokies, but I found Doc Collier to be the best among them. Stop by their tasting room to sample the varieties, including flavored white lightning.
Smoky Mountain Winery– As the area’s first winery, Smoky Mountain has received countless awards for its wines. The tasting room in Gatlinburg offers free tastings.
Smoky Mountain Brewery– A local chain, the Smoky Mountain Brewery crafts locally-inspired brews like their Appalachian Pale Ale and Black Bear Ale. They also have a full restaurant menu.
Margaritaville Restaurant Pigeon Forge– For a taste of the islands, seek out Jimmy Buffet’s popular restaurant chain. Here you’ll find frozen drinks like daiquiris and margaritas as well as his Landshark beers.
Wild Plum Tea Room– Inspired by the tea houses of Austria, this is a great spot for lunch or just an afternoon tea. Wild Plum carries its own style of tea, which can be enjoyed hot or cold, along with coffee.
Relaxing, Beauty and Fitness in the Smokies
Your girl’s weekend doesn’t have to be just eating and imbibing. It’s also a chance to relax and catch up over a class or get yourself pampered.
Blue Mountain Mist Massage & Spa– Another hotel spa is Blue Mountain, which has well-priced treatments like Swedish and hot stone massages. Manicures and pedicures are also available.
The Spa at Oak Haven– This luxurious spa in the foothills of the mountains offers the latest in spa treatments, including massages, nail treatments, and lash extensions.
St. Somewhere Spa Margaritaville Island Hotel– Dianna gave me a great massage, which finished with time in their Chill Room and a glass of wine and selection of cheese! This is the best place around for a treatment. They also offer pedicures, scrubs, and other spa treatments.
Wise Mountain Yoga– This small studio offers restorative yoga in the Smokies, including satsang, flow, and beginner’s classes. Classes operate five days per week in different locations. Drop in rates are $8-10.
Shopping in the Smokies
Some shops in the Smokies are more kitsch and national chains than anything else, but there are a few places to shop locally.
Tanger Outlet Sevierville– Shop for discounted goods from Ann Taylor, J. Crew, and Michael Kors, as well as Le Creuset, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Yankee Candle.
Beehive– Another outlet store, this is the place to buy wholesale-priced clothing, home decor, and gifts.
The Rhythm Section– The Mountain Mall houses this longtime classic record store where you can find rare and vintage vinyl.
Lodge Factory Store – Pigeon Forge– These classic cast iron skillets are made at a forge nearby, but you can buy them for cheaper at the factory outlet. They make great gifts.
Sightseeing in the Smokies
This trip may not be about sightseeing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cross a few attractions off your list during your visit.
Dollywood Parks– Spend a day riding roller coasters and checking out the Dolly memorabilia at this Pigeon Forge theme park. They also have a water park, open seasonally.
Zorbing at Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge– Roll down the hillside at this year-round attraction, inspired by zorbing in New Zealand. You can even go with a friend!
Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park– Zip through the trees on these ziplines, ropes courses, swinging bridges, and climbing walls. The facility also has a cider distillery! Book your canopy tour before you go.
Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at The Island– Set above Pigeon Forge’s largest entertainment complex, this Ferris Wheel offers views of the Parkway and beyond. It soars to over 200 feet and has enclosed glass gondolas for 360-degree views.
Cades Cove– This is the most popular part of the over 500,000 acres fo the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Go on one of the shorter hikes and drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.
Cooking class at Buckhorn Inn– Established in 1938, this mountainside inn offers cooking classes for visitors to learn the region’s best recipes.
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts– Tour the galleries of student work in the well-known arts school that has existed in the Smokies for decades.
Sleeping in the Smokies
There are hundreds of properties to stay in in the Smokies, ranging from quirky hotels to luxury resorts. Bigger groups should opt for cabins, which will allow you more flexibility.
The Lodge at Buckberry Creek– This rustic lodge has modern amenities like top-notch dining and views of Gatlinburg below. Suites are ideal for groups.
Camping– If you want to spend the majority of your time in the national park, take advantage of the many campgrounds inside it. Some are remote backcountry sites while others have all the amenities of modern campgrounds. Little Arrow Outdoor Resort has campsites, glamping tents, cabins, and tiny houses. You can also rent a camper to stay at one of these sites.
Book your stay in the Smokies with our preferred partner.
This guide was created with the assistance of local partners in the Smokies.