Camping Near Gatlinburg
The campground Camping in the Smokies is a no frills camping experience and what you get here is easy access to everything via the trolley. We would stay here again without hesitation though some campers may prefer something better. It is really fine if you don’t mind a grass site and paying for the location rather than the amenities – which really just include a small pool here. We had a fine experience despite the reviews. The convenience of the trolley and having a Dollar General store, horseback riding and a full service bar/restaurant all within walking distance makes up for any loss of amenities.
You really don’t need a car when staying on a Gatlinburg Trolley route. They are easy and there’s an app you can download to tell you exactly where your trolley is and when it is coming. There are various routes to get you just about anywhere. The terminus in the town centre is right at Ripley’s Aquarium and within walking distance of anything in the town itself. Many locals use it and you should when visiting. It is frequent enough and you can get just about anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. Parking in the town center isn’t the best option.
You take the Aerial Tramway up to Ober Gatlinburg from the downtown and you can buy a return (round trip) ticket. Ober Gatlinburg had a lot to offer from good German food and the Ski Mountain Coaster to an aqua massage, chair lift ride and the Alpine Slide. We did all that but could have done a lot more! There are plenty of other things for children and they won’t soon be bored. We certainly weren’t. I think the Alpine Slide was my favourite but it was all good fun. Some reviews call it dated; I like to call it nostalgic fun. Life is too short to criticize everything. Just enjoy it for what it is because it was an awful lot of fun.
The Hollywood Car Museum is located right in the town centre along the main street so you can’t miss it. We love cars so we had to visit. It really is a great place and as a former museum director I could certainly spend time making criticism about it, the point is the place is fun and full of information and nostalgia and interesting cars. It was well worth the price of admission in my mind and while it is more of a boardwalk attraction, even museum goers can enjoy the hell out of it. We even got our pictures taken sitting in the 1966 Batmobile – and loved it! The Beverly Hillbilies truck and Andy Griffith’s police car and plenty of others are all here. We had a blast and enjoyed speaking to the manager on duty about the collection after we went through.
Horseback riding at Smoky Mountain Riding Stables is very convenient to the campground we stayed at and you could easily walk there but we rode our bicycles. The guide was excellent and the trail one of the best we’ve done. I even saw a black bear cross the trail right in front of us which was a super fun sight! We would go back here any time as the stables and horses were well cared for and the staff incredible. We even forgave the owner who chatted to us afterwards telling us how great he thought Donald Trump was. And yes, the owner was a bit angry about government regulations, he was white and was male but we didn’t try to change his mind. The experience here was one of the best horseback riding experiences.
Crystelle Creek Restaurant and Grill is right next to the Camping in the Smokies campground. There is a bar and restaurant and the food was well above expectation. The martinis were really well made too! And there is a waterfall of lights in the back of the restaurant that look quite nice at night.
We look forward to a return trip to Gatlinburg and would do some of the same things again – which is saying a lot! This is a great destination that enables you to do just about anything you want to do and be as busy as you want to be. Sure, there’s some tourist schlock but the town is packed with a lot to do in. A compact area at reasonable prices. Not the most authentic experience in terms of soaking up local culture but a nice manufactured destination that we certainly intend to return to