Life doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Get an altitude adjustment and treat yourself this autumn by planning a trip to the foothills of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tn.
Gatlinburg is the Southeast’s premier fall color destination, offering something special for all ages. Family-friendly and affordable, this walkable community at the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides the perfect setting for fall vacations. Groups and couples will find just the right mix of adventure or relaxation, with special events providing extra opportunity to make memories that last a lifetime.
One of the best times to visit Gatlinburg is after Labor Day when September’s warm, sunny days and cool, clear nights mix with just the right amount of rain to begin the thansformation of 800 square miles of lush forests into a brilliant palette of vibrant autumnal colors by early October.
Did you know that for about eight weeks each autumn, you can always find color peaking at some elevation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where most of the 100 or so species of trees are deciduous and shed their leaves. Color displays above 4,000 feet start as early as mid-September and the middle and lower elevations typically peak between mid-October and early November.
Artisans and storekeepers strive to mimic the beauty of the mountains by carrying the same colors into often-elaborate storefront decorations, thus turning this little mountain town into a promenade of Southern Appalachian sights.
Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival complements this facade of autumn. Fall decorations, special events, entertainment, and local craft exhibits complement this festival which cranks up Sept. 13 and continues through Oct. 31.
The eight-mile loop of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community is a drive visitors will not want to miss. Situated on the northeast side of Gatlinburg, it is the only zoned crafts community in the United States. Onlookers can view live demonstrations of candy-making, watch as ordinary wood is turned into works of art, and marvel at the intricate handiwork of mountain artisans as they handle the delicate tasks of quilting, broom making, and pottery-throwing.
On Thursday, Sept. 27, a multitude of Gatlinburg’s finest restaurants will serve menu favorites for a United Way of Sevier County fundraiser in the 15th Annual Taste of Autumn at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
Arts and crafts are important to the heritage of the Smoky Mountains, and if visitors missed it during July, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair once again becomes the focal gathering point for over 180 craftspeople from around the United States as they exhibit and sell their traditional handiwork at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from Oct. 11 through Oct. 28. Live country and bluegrass entertainment is featured throughout each day.
October also means Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg and Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, and don’t forget to check out the mermaids at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. There’s a special event for everyone in Gatlinburg.
While October is known throughout eastern America as being a beautiful time for leaf-watchers, the latter part of October often extending into the first days of November is also a rewarding time to visit Gatlinburg. The red maple trees that shroud the Great Smoky Mountains turn deep crimson and orange in color during that time, making it a sight to see and a pure wonder of nature.
Coming to the mountains? It only makes sense to stay in the mountains of Gatlinburg! For mountains of information, call 800-56-VISIT (568-4748) or visit www.gatlinburg.com.