Spending Winter in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains

Imagine beautiful, snowcapped mountains, peaceful small towns and exploring eastern Tennessee with your family. In the winter, we may be tempted to hibernate like the bears do, but this is the best time to leave home and visit those places that may be overcrowded during those hot summer months. Tourist season isn’t the only time to come to the Tennessee Smoky Mountains; winter holds its own delights. A snowy vacation among the majesty of the mountains will bring serenity and special memories with your family.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make your winter vacation in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains a success:

Step 1: Find a Warm Place to Stay

Snuggling around a fire, drinking hot cocoa, playing a family game, waking up to beautiful vistas right outside your door—what more could you want from a winter vacation? The area around the Tennessee Smoky Mountains is known for rustic and comfortable cabins that are available to rent. Many locations offer special rates during the winter months, so now is the time to plan your escape. Click here to find your cabin.

Step 2: Visit a Local Festival

The towns around the Tennessee Smoky Mountains feature festivals that draw you into the culture and community of eastern Tennessee. During the winter months, Winterfest gives you a glimpse of what makes this region special. Though the first months are dedicated to the holidays, the lights remain up until the end of February. The lights celebrate the beauty and wildlife of the Smoky Mountains. And until January 31, you can enjoy the lights from a heated trolley. Click here for more info.

Step 3: Bundle Up and Get Into Nature

During the summer in the Smoky Mountains, you may have to fight the crowds to enjoy some of the most popular hiking trails, but winter offers a rare opportunity. You can hike the trails in the peaceful quiet of nature. You may even be able to see historical buildings of early Smoky Mountain settlers which are usually hidden by the foliage of spring and summer. Click here to learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited park in the U.S.

Step 4: Hit the Slopes

There is only one place in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and even snow tubing. At Ober Gatlinburg, whether you’re a novice or an expert, you can enjoy the thrill of winter sports. Don’t worry if you’ve never skied before or if you don’t own the equipment, Ober has got you covered. There are tons of things to do all winter long, including a restaurant where you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Smokey Mountain peaks. Learn more here.

Step 5: Take Advantage of Winter Sales

The Tennessee Smoky Mountains has one of a kind shops that you won’t find anywhere else. Find arts and antiques at the Dogwood Mall or mountain and rustic gifts at My Favorite Things. Or if you want to shop till you drop, visit the Tanger Outlets in Sevierville or the shops at the Island in Pigeon Forge. Whether local goods or designer brands, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Step 6: Fill Your Belly With Warm Southern Style Food

If you’re not from the south, then you would be foolish not to stop into a local restaurant for some southern, home cooked, comfort food. After a cold, snowy day, you’ll need some warm food in your belly. Some restaurants close during the winter months, but at these restaurants, you are sure to find a meal that makes you say, “mmmm.” ​

Click on one of these to get your mouth watering: Mamas Farmhouse | Bennett’s BBQ Greenbrier Restaurant

Step 7: Too Cold? Then Visit an Indoor Attraction

The Tennessee Smoky Mountains have attractions all year long, including indoor places that are fun for the whole family. Want to learn about this incredible region, then take advantage of a local museum, both fun and educational. Click here for a full list of museums.

Or try something exciting, like laser tag or indoor skydiving.

There are also a variety of shows, from magic to country music to mysteries. Click here to view them.