tennessee · Travel

Gatlinburg | Thanksgiving & Black Friday


My husband, James, and I go on a road trip vacation every thanksgiving. I am a teacher and he is a farmer, giving us enough free time this time of year to get away for 3 or 4 nights. This year, we visited  Gatlinburg, TN. Everyone anywhere close to Tennessee should visit this town at least once in their lives. It is a small mountain town with all the attractions of a small town and a huge attraction beach town put into one.

However, to start our journey, we set out on our adventure by black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving night. We made our way to Winston-Salem, NC (about an hour and a half along our route to Gatlinburg. We stopped at Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Macy’s. I really wanted to get one of the Google Home Mini’s at Target on sale for $29 plus you got a $10 gift card. However, as one could have guessed, the line was wrapped up and down aisle to the other end of the store…and me, being the impatient person that I am, said screw that. However, fun fact, I just bought the Google Home Mini online at Target at the same price minus the gift card yesterday, so another win for my online shopping addiction. Actually, that’s pretty much what I did while James drove for the whole trip. I completed (basically) all of our Christmas shopping for each other and everyone else, online, on my phone, on black Friday.


Our usual routine is to stop at wineries along our route. However, we have been to all the ones on the way to Asheville, and then once you pass Asheville, we only saw one (which we stopped at of course). Pigeon River Winery was a cute, hole in the wall winery right on the outskirts of the Gatlinburg area.


Once in Gatlinburg, we checked into our hotel, which had a view to die for. We had balconies overlooking the river. Our hotel was downtown, so we pretty much parked the car the entire weekend and walked everywhere. Actually, we walked about 10 miles everyday according to my Apple watch (so fitness was put in there some, right?).


After checking-in, we drove to visit some wineries in Gatlinburg, actually, they were in Pigeon Forge. This was not the best idea considering it was Black Friday… and for those who aren’t familiar with Pigeon Forge, it’s basically like all the huge Myrtle Beach attractions, including Tanger Outlets (on Black Friday), smashed in one small little strip of a town. I had no idea it was laid out how it was, so it took us about 40 minutes to go 2 miles away. We visited two wineries, Apple Barn and Hillside Winery. This brings me to my only complaint about the Gatlinburg area….basically all their wines are sweet. Plus, he few dry wines that some places offer, are not crafted well. I guess they put all of their focus on their sweet wines? So if you love sweet wine, this is the wine country for you!

Once we finally made it back to our hotel that evening, we had dinner at a local steak house style restaurant called The Peddler. The entire downtown Gatlinburg area was packed and when we walked in the door they told us it would be a 2 hour and 45 minute wait. However, we walked back to the bar area and two people were getting up from the “seat yourself bar tables”. I am still proud of this move. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of salad bar, grilled chicken and rice, and stuffed shrimp. We then made our way back to our room and enjoyed a night on the balcony with a bottle of wine.

Day 1

On morning #1, we set out to find a breakfast house and found FlapJacks. We both got breakfast skillets with eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes (which I am obsessed with) and pancakes.

We then started exploring the downtown area. We went in several downtown shops. We stumbled upon a Craft show and a Christmas Tree Festival in the downtown Convention Center.  All kinds of local businesses had created a Christmas Tree to enter into the festival. People could buy the Christmas Trees and the Money went to The Boys and Girls Club. This was a great cause and a beautiful sight to see. It helped us to start getting into the Christmas Spirit.



And then we soon started going in the “moonshine” tasting places. There are 3 or 4 different places downtown that you can go in an pay $5 to do a tasting, but then you get your $5 back if you buy something in the shop. We went to several different ones. Sugarland Distillery was our favorite, the people working in there were HILARIOUS. They also get tips if you leave them a good trip advisor review, so make sure you do that, especially if you don’t have cash to tip while you are there.


After doing that a while, we decided it would be fun to go ziplining! We walked over to Anakeesta, which is located downtown. You ride a chairlift up to the top of the mountain, where they have shops, food, and the zip lining. I wish I had brought my go pro (still salty about that) but I forgot. So I don’t have any picture of that. But I have a ton of pictures from the chairlift. Their ziplining was inexpensive, but it was a little shorter than I wish it would have been, but it was still a blast.. and had a beautiful view!

We had dinner at Mellow Mushroom, cause ya know, pizza is life. It was absolutely DELICIOUS. Afterwards, we walked over to the downtown Space Needle where we acted like kids and played some arcade games (I am a sucker for a game of ski-ball). We rode the elevator up to the top and saw the whole city lit up at night. It is probably the easiest place to get a great place of the city.


Magic show:

We went back down to the bottom and saw a magic/mind reading/mentalist show. It was located in the Iris Theater at the bottom of the Space needle. The show was called Illusions. I got a Groupon, so I saved 50% on our tickets, but we were planning on going even before I found that deal! Sign up for Groupon and download the Groupon app through my link. The show was really cool. It was a little bit interactive, so he could show off the mind reading skills, but its not overly invasive if you’re not into that. Ignore my blurry photo, but that is the best picture I took of the space needle. (whoops)


Day 2

We got up on the second day and walked down to Ober Gatlinburg. They have a downtown location, where you can get on the Ariel tramway and ride it all the way up the mountain to their mountain top location. They have the longest ariel tramway ride in the world (so they told us). Riding this is worth the trip, even if you don’t do any activities at the top.


Snow Tubing:

Ober has ice skating, snow tubing, skiing, games, shops, a wild life attraction, kids rides, and more. I had already scheduled us to go snow tubing at 11 am. This was an awesome time and a first for both of us. It wad 60 degrees outside so it wasn’t freezing. Therefore, obviously, they had man-made snow. It worked great, the tubes went really fast down the hill. They had lanes already made, so you didn’t have to worry about hitting other people. Plus, they had a conveyer belt that took you back to the top of the hill (so no hill climbing. yes!). We did this for about an hour and a half and then headed off to find lunch.


After snow tubing, we grabbed a bite of lunch at a restaurant in Ober. We walked around and went in a few shops. I bought a Christmas ornament. I am trying to start collecting them from all of the places that we travel to. We also went and walked around the Wildlife Exhibit. They do not have a ton of animals, but that is something that we always enjoy checking out. Afterwards, we rode the Ariel tramway back down the mountain to continue our adventure!

We continued to walk around and explore the downtown area and went into a few more moonshine tasting places, got some ice cream from the famous Kilwin’s, and then landed in Landshark Bar and Grill to have a drink. We made friends with the other people in the bar. I am all for making bar friends, especially when they buy you drinks :).

Escape Games:

Afterwards, we tried out an escape game at Captured! (located at the bottom of the space needle). I have always wanted to do one of these cause I am all about crime shows and figuring out “who done it” type of things. However, we should not have started with the hardest one after having a few drinks LOL. I know the people were just sitting back behind the camera in the other room laughing at us. BUT, it was fun and I would do another one.


We had dinner at Calhoun’s and they had some of the best ribs I have ever eaten! I definitely recommend eating here in Gatlinburg!

We went home, packed up, and headed home the next morning. We did A TON of stuff on this trip and it was so much fun! The two of us were in desperate need of some fun together and we definitely got experienced it in Gatlinburg! I would love to come back here one day! It was about a 5 and a half hour dive back home to VA, but it didn’t feel bad at all.

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Let me know if you have any questions or are going here in the near future!

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This is not a sponsored post – All travel expenses were paid for by myself – All opinions are honestly and organically my own.

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