If you’ve visited the Smoky Mountains National Park area in the summer, spring or fall, then you know it can get a little crowded here. That’s why you should consider a getaway during the wintertime. You’ll find fewer visitors and traffic, enjoy clearer views of the landscape, and even enjoy some sunny days in the crisp winter air.
Try these ten things to do when you’re here on a romantic getaway:
Winter hiking in the Park
Hitting the trails isn’t just a summertime activity in the Smokies. Just take a few precautions and be mindful of the snow and ice on the way, and you can enjoy relatively crowd-free hiking through these colder months. Watch out for falling icicles from above as well when trekking under cliffs. Some excellent trail options include Andrews Bald, Charlies Bunion and Porters Creek. If you want to check out the snowfall in the mountains, visit this webpage for more information.
Cades Cove in the Winter
A favorite spot of the Park anytime of year, Cades Cove shows its winter side with snowy landscapes across its wide open fields and the preserved structures. Wildlife put in an appearance at different areas, especially white-tailed deer. During this time, the Visitors’ Center is open only on the weekends, and the lone access road to the 11-mile loop is Laurel Creek, so plan accordingly.
Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights
In Pigeon Forge, more than five million lights twinkle and dance in the Christmas spirit all around town. The town truly becomes a magic winter wonderland. So access the handy map to see this incredible display, which is available online, the Welcome Centers or the Pigeon Forge Trolley Office. The light spectacle starts on the north end of the main drag, the Parkway.
National Park Waterfalls
The breathtaking cascades in the Great Smoky Mountains NP are naturally favorite destinations during the warmer months. But you would be missing out on seeing some of them frozen, a gravity-defying phenomenon of sparkling snow and ice, especially at the higher elevations. You can either hike or drive to the waterfalls, depending on your energy level and sense of adventure.
The Incredible Christmas Place
If there’s any item related to Christmas, you’ll likely find it here in this nearly 30-year-old Pigeon Forge institution. The 43,000 square-foot holiday palace has everything you’ll need for the winter holiday, including lights, artificial trees, decorations and personalized ornaments, a great gift-giving idea for family and friends. Take a look at the intricate displays that enchant visitors of all ages.
Smoky Mountain Opry
Enjoy a wide-ranging variety of live entertainment at this two-hour program in Pigeon Forge. You’ll see singing, dancing, comedy, aerial acrobatics and more with performers from the Smoky Mountains area, and the production is every bit as impressive as the anything that you’ll see in a more sophisticated (and expensive) big city.
A gourmet meal with snowfall viewing
When the weather starts to turn snowy, there’s nothing better than being inside and enjoying dinner, with a fine glass of wine and a fire blazing in the hearth. Why not reserve a table at our very own Mountain View Restaurant, with a daily four-course menu created by our chef, Karen Valentine? Make your reservation at least 24 hours in advance.
The area’s only ski resort provides a great area for both skiing and snowboarding, with a mostly intermediate terrain. A freestyle terrain park allows thrill-seekers to practice their jumps and flips, or everyone else to watch them. Don’t forget to take on the tubing hill, where you can fly without leaving the ground, and take the aerial tramway for spectacular views at the top of the mountain.
Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
All around Gatlinburg, you’ll find over 120 artisans creating beautiful handiwork from all types media. Some of the original artwork on display includes painting, sculptures, photography, ceramics, textiles, furniture, and a whole lot more. When you need a break from the browsing and shopping, refuel at one of the town’s many restaurants.
Of course, you’re on a mini-vacation. You can simply decompress from your busy life and sit in front of our fireplace in the library, savoring a piping hot coffee or glass of wine while you watch the snow fall outside our picture windows. Relax after you’ve gone through the list above, or just make this your top priority for the weekend.
No matter what winter things you choose to do, return to your hot tub suite at Christopher Place, your Smoky Mountains bed and breakfast resort, or chill out in our sauna. Wintertime just might become your favorite time to visit.
Photo courtesy of Michael Hicks on Flickr.