When you go away for vacation, wherever it is, it’s easy to get caught in tourist traps. You know, those busy places filled with camera-carrying, too-big-of-a-bag-toting, nose-in-a-map-walking tourists that sometimes make it hard to enjoy your time at whatever attraction you’re visiting. Maybe you’ve been one of those yourself and would rather explore the area in a new way.
We’ve found that the best way to see what the Smokies has to offer is like a local. Locals know the places to eat, the times to get out and about without hitting all the traffic, and have their own favorite spots. So book a Gatlinburg cabin to have your own home away from home – your first step to acting like a local – and read on for 10 easy ways to travel like a local in the Great Smoky Mountains.
- Take your time in the morning.
Don’t jam pack your days so much that you can’t enjoy them. Take your time in the mornings…have a cup of coffee while breathing in that fresh air and soaking up your mountain views from the deck. Slow down and build a “normal” day into your vacation, one where you can take time for a peaceful meal, catch up on the news, and just curl up on the sofa in your living room at night.
- Cook some of your own meals.
Besides saving you money, not eating out for every meal affords you the opportunity to have some quality time with family and friends around the dinner table. Take advantage of having a fully equipped kitchen in your cabin and cook a few of your own meals. Stop by the farmers market in season and get some fresh, local goodies for homemade meals.
- Follow a trail and stop and smell the roses.
There are tons of great trails to check out in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, there are more than 800 miles of trails in the national park. That means you have plenty of opportunities to hike along those not-so-traveled trails for a peaceful day in the great outdoors. Stop and smell the roses…or rhododendron here…for a laid-back day you won’t soon forget.
- Go off the beaten path.
There are some great popular attractions you won’t want to miss, but try to visit some of the lesser-known attractions as well. While not always on the “top 10” lists, they’ll give you a taste of the fun of the Smokies. Need a few ideas? How about the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum, Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo in Pigeon Forge, or Art Studio of the Smokies (in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community) where you can create your own masterpiece!
- Don’t eat at chains.
While there are some great chain restaurants in the Smokies, traveling like a local means eating like a local. So why not try some of the restaurants that are unique to the area? Alamo Steakhouse, Best Italian Café and Pizzeria, The Mountain Lodge Restaurant, and No Way Jose’s are a few to get you started.
- Make your own guidebook.
Instead of relying on one guidebook or list of “must-see” attractions in the Smokies, make your own. Read through our blog for dozens of different ideas and browse online to see what sounds good to you. Then pick and choose your favorites and create your own must-do list for your vacation.
We even have blogs dedicated to different vacation styles, group sizes, and interests. Find info for families with toddlers, outdoor enthusiasts, wine lovers, reunions and retreats, pet lovers, and more! Then you can completely tailor your vacation to check out the places that will make your getaway the most memorable – for YOU!
- Hop aboard the trolley.
The trolley is not only cheap but also a great way to explore the area without the hassle of traffic. You’ll avoid being the slows-down-at-every-turn driver and enjoy your time a lot more. You’ll even have 2 options depending on where you’ll spend most of your time: the Gatlinburg Trolley and the Pigeon Forge “Fun Time” Trolley.
- Get the Gatlinburg App.
Want an easy way to see what’s going on downtown, search for restaurants based on where you are, and get more info on the go? Download the Visit Gatlinburg App (on the App Store and Google Play) to stay connected. You’ll be able to easily pull up area info, making you feel like a pro (and local)!