Though many claim it, few cities in America genuinely offer ‘something for everyone.’ Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers often flock to smaller, rural havens for solitude, while history buffs and those craving a plethora of dining, shopping, and entertainment offerings opt for larger, metropolitan areas. The best of both worlds, it seems, is difficult to find.

Enter Gatlinburg, the small gem of a city nestled on the northern edge of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. For outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, thrill seekers, and shoppers/diners alike, Gatlinburg truly lives up to the claim of having something for everyone.

And right at the very center of the city, with the Little Pigeon River peacefully trickling nearby, stands the Greystone Lodge On the River – a family owned treasure operating in Gatlinburg for nearly 60 years. We recently sat down with Nicole Shisler, who first joined Greystone as a front desk clerk in 2014 and has been in charge of group sales since 2017, to learn more about the lodge itself, the city of Gatlinburg, and all that the area has to offer.

The first thing she pointed out, which would seemingly go against the grain of marketing your own city (don’t worry, she’s a pro!), is that Gatlinburg isn’t quite as big as many people seem to think it is.

“People know about Gatlinburg and they assume it’s a large city, but Gatlinburg is only three miles long. It’s very much a walkable town.” Nicole says. “There are only ten traffic lights on the main parkway through downtown Gatlinburg, and the Greystone Lodge is right in the middle, at light number five. So we’re quite literally in the heart of everything.”

And in case you were already wondering just how many diverse offerings could fit within a three mile stretch of city, Nicole rather quickly expounds on what she means by ‘everything’, rattling off attraction after attraction after attraction.

Right across the street sits Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Opposite the aquarium is the Anakeesta adventure park, featuring shops and restaurants, chairlifts, gondola rides, repelling, ziplining, botanical gardens, an upcoming observation desk, and much, much more. A block-and-a-half up the street you’ll find the new SkyBridge – a suspension bridge that crosses over a ravine exactly one mile high (and, oh yeah, the bottom of the bridge is see-through at the center point!) Just under a mile away is Ober Gatlinburg, the popular all-season attraction complete with an amusement park, dozens of shops and eateries, year-round snow tubing, bumper cars, ice skating, and even a live animal exhibit featuring local wildlife including bears and otters. Even further up the road, about two miles or so, is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And that’s just part of what Gatlinburg offers within two short miles of its city center!

Further into the Smoky Mountains you’ll find countless hiking trails with waterfall access, horseback riding adventures, ATV tours, Pink Jeep tours, and the Sugarland Visitor Center where park rangers lead outdoor classes and teach about the natural history of the mountains. You can even venture to the exact site where President Roosevelt dedicated the park in 1940.

Of course, no destination would be complete without dining options to satisfy every palate, and once again Nicole was quick on the draw with options aplenty! No matter what you’re craving, and whether you enjoy local dives or large chains, Gatlinburg has you covered.

 Surrounding the Greystone Lodge is Ole Red (a pub style eatery with southern comfort twists), the LandShark Bar & Grille (courtesy of Margaritaville), No Way Jose’s (for those craving Mexican fare), Best Italian On the Parkway (which needs no further explanation), Mellow Mushroom (for the always popular pizza option), and, for those who enjoy a bite bright and early, the Donut Friar (a crowd favorite!). Simply put, for kids with picky eating habits or adults with adventurous foodie appetites, Gatlinburg once again has something for everyone!

As our conversation with Nicole drew to a close, we asked her where she, as a local, enjoys visiting that might be a bit off the beaten path. Without hesitation she offered two options: Carver’s Orchard and Applehouse Restaurant (complete with an old fashioned candy store, local produce, fresh apple cider, fried apple pies, and even a restaurant overlooking the apple orchards and horse pastures), and the eight-mile-long Arts and Crafts Loop which showcases the work of over 100 different artists and craftsmen, all of which is available for purchase. Nicole’s one tip for getting the most out of the Arts and Crafts Loop? Grab a brochure!

So, whether you’re a single-family household or a large school group, and whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure and education or dining/shopping/entertainment options galore, Gatlinburg truly does have something for everyone. And if you want to learn more about the Greystone Lodge or any of the attractions we mentioned, click the respective links below.

Quick Tidbits About the Greystone Lodge:

  • Large groups ARE welcome (they have nearly 160 double queen rooms, about 30 of which are all on one floor to ensure your group stays together).
  • Most rooms overlook the Little Pigeon River.
  • They offer a deluxe breakfast with quick access to plenty of food options including southern favorites like biscuits and gravy.
  • During the warmer months they operate an outdoor pool with a water slide.
  • Convenient parking with two on-site lots and a five-story garage.
  • Motorcoach parking is free AND reserved (so your spot is guaranteed!)
  • The Gatlinburg Trolleys stop right out front of the hotel and take you anywhere (for just 50 cents a ride) within downtown Gatlinburg, including the Arts and Crafts Loop.
  • The Gatlinburg Convention Center is 0.6 miles away (about a 10-15 minute walk) and is where most school and musical performances are held.

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