Wildly kitschy and family-friendly Gatlinburg hunkers at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, waiting to stun hikers with the scent of fudge, cotton candy and pancakes, and various odd museums and campy attractions. Boisterous new tasting rooms are drawing thirsty adult crowds to a slew of moonshine distilleries along Parkway, the main drag through town that rolls right into the national park. It's a wild ride of all that's good and bad about the USA at the same time, wrapped up in a gaudy explosion of magic shows and whiskey.
With the exception of the Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Anakeesta Mountain, the town emerged from the devastating 2016 wildfires largely unscathed, but memories of the conflagration linger. If you tire of all the flash and bling, you can find a handful of quality cultural and natural attractions within – or very close to – the busy downtown.