If you approach the Great Smoky Mountains from Tennessee, you'll probably enter along the Sevierville-Gatlinburg route. Watch out for numerous 'Information' and 'Visitor Centers'. Many are real estate operations seeking to get you to visit their timeshares or condo operations. If you're willing, you can get some good deals for overnight or longer term stays. But, they have little to no information about the sights in the park. Lot's of information about the shows. though!
Many will come to this small mountain town and view it as a tourist trap. It has its places that can be concidered a "trap" but over all it is a precious town. The architecture and quaintness is amazing. We love to just walk "the strip" at night and window shop and people watch!!!! It is my favorite place to stay when in the area.
Unique Suggestions: The few place I concider a trap are Ripley's Believe it or not, Guiness Book of World Records, and all the scary houses. Why would you go to the mountains to go to a haunted house?? Just curious!!!!!
Also, Ober Gatlinburg is "somewhat" of a trap. If you are there in winter to ski then it is fine. If you go to ice skate or in the fall to see the leaves, ok. There is a nice lift on top of the mountain and sometimes there is a 3 man bluegrass band playing. If you dont do any of these things, then dont go!!!! The rest is a carnival type rip off with games and expensive food.
Fun Alternatives: If you are looking for an alternative, dont go to Pigeon Forge. It is a blown up version of Gatlinburg. I only go there to let the kids ride the go carts once in a while. Other than that you will end up broke if you do all the laser tag, putt putt, shows and shops!!!! My tip..................stay in the mountains!!!!!!!!
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