Located on an eight-mile loop a short drive from downtown Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community plays an important role in the area’s past and present. The community, which is the largest group of independent artisans in North America, is integral to the history, tourism, and culture of the Smokies. Today, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community brings in thousands of tourists each year. But even before tourism was a part of the economy, the handmade goods created by the people of the area served a more practical purpose. Locals used the goods – baskets, clothing, pottery, quilts, and more – to meet their everyday needs.
Over the years, the community has grown into the home of more than 120 artists and craftsmen. These artists and craftsmen showcase and sell their work, even allowing visitors to watch them as they work! You can watch a woodworker carve a bear out of a huge log, see custom leather moccasins being made, or watch a talented artist create a beautiful birdhouse. The dozens of shops in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community boast a variety of handmade gifts and goods, so you can find something unique for yourself or pick up holiday gifts for everyone on your list. Some of the beautiful work you’ll find includes:
- Hand-poured candles
- Silver and gold jewelry
- Paintings of local landscapes and wildlife
- Hand-stitched quilts
- Repurposed antiques
- Handmade clothing and accessories
- Wood carvings
- Leather accessories
While you can take a drive anytime throughout the year, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community hosts several special events during the year. The three big events – the Easter Craft Show, the Thanksgiving Craft Show, and the Christmas Craft Show – are ideal opportunities for getting seasonal décor and holiday gifts. Best of all, the handmade items you get will be one-of-a-kind and unlike the typical gifts from the big box stores. The 2015 Thanksgiving Craft Show will be held November 24 through November 29, and the 2015 Christmas Craft Show will be November 30 through December 6 – both at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Take a drive along the loop (designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail) this summer, or head to the Smokies this holiday season to do some Christmas shopping!
During your visit, be sure to take a break at one of the restaurants or eateries along the loop. Sit down for a meal at Crystelle Creek Restaurant & Grille, Three Jimmy’s Restaurant, or The Cabin Cafe before getting dessert at Fudgewrights, Glades Homemade Candies, or Glades Soda Fountain. You may also want to visit Jams, Jellies, Nuts & More, Simply Savory Gift & Gourmet, Morning Mist Cafe, and Hogg’s Pub & Grub. Stop for a bite before finishing a fun day exploring the loop. Most shops are open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day throughout the year. You can park for free at all the shops, restaurants, and galleries, or you can take a low-cost Gatlinburg Trolley ride if you’re planning to park in town.
On those beautiful Smoky Mountain days, an afternoon exploring the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community will be the ideal way to unwind and relax. You’ll see the beauty of the mountains as you drive, and you’ll get to check out some of the best shops in the area! Still need a cozy cabin to call home while you’re in the Great Smoky Mountains? We have more than 200 cabins to choose from that meet a variety of needs. Check out our pet-friendly properties if you’re traveling with your four-legged friend or splurge on one of our luxury properties. We also have budget-friendly cabins if you want to save some money, and all of our cabins are comfortable and equipped with lots of amenities!