Various: Food Options In and Near the Park
There are little to no options for food inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park; but there are plenty of choices in nearby towns. I ate at a nice barbecue restaurant in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and a very good restaurant (with great catfish) in Cherokee, North Carolina.
- National/State Park
- Family Travel
- Food and Dining
Cades Cove: Only food available in the park
There are no concessions within the park and food is not available, with one exception. There is a small general store near at Cades Cove which sells basic staples for camping. If you'd rather not backtrack into Gatlinburg or Cherokee and didn't bring food with you, its worth considering, if you're in the Cades Cove area. Here you can find enough items to take with you and have a picnic elsewhere in the park. Otherwise, its back to Gatlinburg.
For those of you who care about such things, or care to comment on such things, or both, the picture is not a picture of the general store. I didn't see any reason to take a picture of the general store because it wasn't that impressive. The building in the photo is actually the Cades Cove Visitor's Center. I thought it was a pretty cool building for a visitors center, but that there wasn't much inside so it wasn't worth yet another tip. For those of you who could care less about such things, I sincerely apologize that you read this entire paragraph just to find that one.
- National/State Park
Alabama Grill: A country music experience!!!!!
This is a themed restaurant with a country music flair!!! The band "Alabama" has turned this place into a country music hall of fame. The walls are decorated with memorabillia from all the big country stars including themselves. In the middle of all the giltz and glam they really have good food!!!! They also have their very first tour bus in the parking lot you can tour for a small donation to St. Judes. It is worth checking out!!!
Favorite Dish: I highly recommed the Smoky Mountain Chicken!!!!
- Family Travel
Cherokee Grill: Formal dining
For a more formal place to dine you might want to try the Cherokee Grill. It is a mountain atmosphere that you will love. They have a large fireplace going and the lights dimmed. It is concidered a steakhouse but has soooo much more!!!
Favorite Dish: Try a steak or the fresh mountain trout!!!
Blaine's Grill and Bar: For a lighter meal
For a lighter meal such as a sandwich or a salad try Blaine's. This is the perfect place for a nice lunch while walking on the strip in Gatlinburg. It is located right in the middle of the parkway.
Favorite Dish: Try one of their sandwiches or maybe a grilled chicked salad!!
Calhoun's: The best BBQ in East Tennessee
There are no restaurants in the National Park so you will have to venture out to the surrounding towns. Calhouns is in the small mountain town of Gatlinburg, TN. This is my favorite place to eat BBQ. I promise you will not be dissapointed!!!
Favorite Dish: Shredded pork sandwich or try one of their marinated steaks!!!
Picnic Areas Galore: You had better bring your own food.
There is not a single restaurant within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but there are an abundance of very nice picnic areas. The one pictured here is near the entrance to Cades Cove. For those who don't care to pack a picnic, there are literally dozens of restaurant choices just outside the main entrances to the park: Gatlinburg, Cherokee, and Townsend.
When I was living in nearby Sevier County, and summer temperatures would soar into the 90s, I would pack a picnic and head for the Smokies. I had a digital dashboard thermometer on my car at that time and it was absolutely amazing to see the temperature drop as we gained altitude. By the time we reached the Chimneys Picnic Area on the Newfound Gap Road, the temperature was often 10-15 degrees cooler than at the base of the mountains. If we climbed higher to Newfound Gap or Clingman's Dome the temperature would drop even more. On a hot summer day the Smokies are a very cool place for a picnic.
Once when I bought Kentucky Fried Chicken in Gatlinburg and took it into the park for my picnic, a mama black bear and two cubs came out of the woods to see if I would share with them. I made a hasty retreat to my car and ate it all myself.
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