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Located about 30 minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in east Tennessee is the small mountain city of Sevierville. Known to most as the hometown of a Grammy-winning petite blonde country songwriter with a big personality, the city has been transformed into a kitschy Southern vacation destination in recent decades with interactive museums, theaters, a waterpark, zipline courses, underground caverns, and moonshine distilleries.
Sevierville’s historic downtown has recently been revitalized with new murals, a quilting shop, a cafe with fresh-baked donuts, and boutiques. About 15 minutes away by car, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have ski lifts that run all year, dinner shows, trampoline parks, and comedy clubs. For a quieter, more restful getaway, there are plenty of cozy log cabins away from the city center where you can unplug with panoramic views of the surrounding mountain peaks.
The closest airport is Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), about an hour’s drive from most cabins in Sevierville. Taxi services and rideshares are available at the airport, but you’ll want to rent a car if you plan to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park during your trip. Inside the center of the city, it’s possible to get around on the public trolley, which also runs to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You can walk around the historic district, but you’ll need to take a car to get to most cabin rentals in Sevierville and the activities along the main parkway.
Fall is a popular season in Sevierville with visitors hoping to see the blazing red and golden leaves and enjoy the crisp, cool weather. Winter temperatures are cold and it snows about six inches each year, but Smoky Mountain Winterfest decks the region out in millions of holiday lights, making it a great time to cozy up by the fire in your Sevierville chalet. Spring can be a bit unpredictable, so expect a mix of warm and cooler days with plenty of rain. Most visitors book their Sevierville rentals during the summer, where warm-weather hikers enjoy the trails and then cool off in swimming holes along the Little Pigeon River. It’s always a good idea to bring layers throughout the year as the varied elevation makes for cooler temperatures, especially at night.
Located at the Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), this interactive museum houses a collection of fighter planes from World War II through the present. Exhibits with military medals, flight suits, and timelines pay homage to pilots from different eras, and there are spontaneous flight demonstrations on the airway. The museum’s hangar has vast collections of military vehicles, aircraft engines, helicopters, and more.
Appalachia has a strong crafting tradition that is highly influenced by its Scots-Irish immigrants, and this eight-mile outpost houses workshops and galleries where more than 100 artists, makers, and crafters work and sell to the public. The local trolley will get you here, and it makes several stops along the Arts & Crafts route so you can see it all. Expect to find whittled wood sculptures, pottery, colorful quilts, woven baskets, paintings, silver jewelry, soaps, musical instruments, and jams and preserves made with locally grown produce.
Straddling the line between Sevierville and Pigeon Forge is this campy amusement park with a mountain theme. Although summer is the most popular season for visitors due to the school holiday, fall might be the most fun as the weather is cool and the park is decorated for the annual Fall Festival. There are 16 adrenaline-pumping roller coasters as well as calmer rides. Food stalls serve Southern foods like barbecue and country ham, and you’ll find a surprising number of Appalachian craftspeople and artisans inside of the many souvenir shops educating the public about their specialties. And don’t miss the daily live theater and musical performances around the park which offer a welcome break from the sun.