In the heart of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Gatlinburg is a bustling tourist hotspot nestled into the Smoky Mountains. Any time of year, its sidewalks burst with smiling vacationers strolling from one attraction to another, from the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium to the Sky Lift, from the Space Needle to a doughnut shop, from the Marvelous Mirror Maze to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, from one moonshine distillery to another, and to nearly any restaurant in town for hot pancakes. This is a place where signs exclaim “Amazing! Extreme! Exciting! Challenging! Action-Packed! Biggest!” and more in bright neon.
Gatlinburg, as you may have guessed, is a family-oriented destination. But can two childfree adults enjoy a grownup getaway? My husband and I agreed to find out. Our verdict: YES!
Since it’s surrounded by nature, you could stay in Gatlinburg and escape the hectic hubbub for hiking, zip-lining, rafting and other adventures nearby—and we’re sure to try those options some future visit. But it’s also fun to embrace your inner cheeseball and dive into the plethora of attractions.
Stay at Greystone Lodge for the best of both worlds.
The lodge is located near Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. It’s also on the banks of the river. Our suite’s two balconies both overlooked the river; the view was so picturesque and the sound of water rushing over rocks hid any traffic noise so well that it was easy to forget how close we were to the attractions—and yet it was an easy walk to the full list of options! Its peace and serenity was genuine, if unexpected.
Our suite impressed with modern décor, stylish furnishings, spacious rooms and its pristine cleanliness. We felt almost guilty for having failed to invite friends along since our suite boasted two bedrooms and two bathrooms, though we managed to make full use of the space. (The layout would easily accommodate a family, but also two couples or a group of adult friends.) A kitchenette—which we found came in quite handy as a wet bar—plus a dining table and living room rounded out the floor plan.
After a day spent walking up and down the streets of Gatlinburg playing harder than we usually do, our room at the lodge provided a haven of cozy comfort. We could sink back into the upholstered couch and watch TV, sit at the table and plan the next day’s activities, soak in a hot bath, sip some of the Tennessee whiskey we’d purchased while seated on one of our balconies, or sink into the mattress dressed in luxurious linens and fall into deep sleep.
We woke up refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to play some more. Two nights didn’t seem long enough. We’ll have to return.
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Complimentary continental breakfast available 7-10 a.m. each morning
- Various room options and layouts including standard, executive, mini suites, two-room suites and cottages
- All guestrooms have private balconies
- All guestrooms have microwaves and mini refrigerators
- 8 guestrooms are handicap-accessible
- Most guestrooms have standard bathtubs; king mini suites have Jacuzzi tubs
- Guestrooms with gas fireplaces are available
- Fitness center available 24 hours a day
- 4 p.m. check-in; 11 a.m. check-out
- No pets allowed
- Heated outdoor pool
- AARP members save 10%; military saves 15%
- The lodge will be entering the third and final phase of a $10 million total renovation in January; work will be completed in May 2015.
- Odds of Encountering Children: Inevitable—shockingly, even the moonshine distilleries permit children to stand at the bar during tastings even though they are not served. Increase your odds of an adults-oriented (and less crowded!) getaway by booking a Gatlinburg vacation on weekdays when school is in session.
Where To Eat…
Crockett’s Breakfast Camp
As with most restaurants in downtown Gatlinburg, you may encounter a line of folks waiting for a table, but it’s worth the wait for the thickest pancakes, sweet cinnamon rolls, and fresh egg dishes.
A Gatlinburg tradition for breakfast and lunch for 50 years, come here for made-from-scratch pancakes topped with real butter, fresh whipped cream and dozens of other options. Other menu items include omelets and sandwiches, but pancakes rule.
Whether you opt for a steak dinner, grilled salmon, ribs, pecan chicken or fill up a plate or two at the salad bar, hunger is banished at this traditional American grill.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
@21plusTravel Tip: Gatlinburg is surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on three sides. There is no charge to enter the 800-mile Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the only free National Park in the U.S.
– Photo Credits: Greystone Lodge exterior courtesy Greystone Lodge; remainder © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.