Gatlinburg, a town cradled by the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park, captivates nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Brimming with cosy charm, this town never fails to dazzle its visitors with breathtaking scenery, thrilling outdoor activities and rustic allure. 

Being so close to the Smoky Mountains means you’ve literally got the USA’s greatest (and my all-time favourite) National Park on your doorstep. So, pack those hiking shoes and make the most of it, my friends! Get ready for your mind to be completely and utterly blown, the vistas here are INSANE

Whether you want to spend your days hiking the hills, indulging in local cuisines or just soaking in the mountain’s tranquillity from a snug cabin – Gatlinburg has you covered.

However, Gatlinburg is somewhat spread out, making it seemingly difficult to navigate at first glance. Not only is it surrounded by mountains, but some of the neighborhoods are up steep hills, making them hard to access without a car or public transport. Before setting on where to stay in Gatlinburg, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with its diverse areas. 

That’s my cue! I’ve scoured Gatlinburg to bring you the top three neighborhoods, each tailored to fit a range of travel styles and budgets. I’ve noted the best places to stay and things to do in each to give you a good idea of what to expect. 

So, let’s dive into it and find the best place for you in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Where to Stay in Gatlinburg

Gatlingburg is one of the American South’s hottest budget vacation spots right now. Public transport is quite good in Gatlinburg, and the tourism office will be happy to help you get your bearings.

If you don’t mind which neighbourhood you’re staying in, these are our top overall accommodation picks. Luckily, there are quite a few epic Airbnbs in Gatlinburg, which might make your stay into something truly special.

What to Expect from Airbnbs in Gatlinburg

Hampton Inn Gatlinburg | Comfort on a Budget Hotel in Gatlinburg

Sometimes you just want the added convenience of a hotel. The Hampton Inn offers this without hitting your wallet too hard. Located right on the outskirts of town, it is well placed for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is a pool area surrounded by the forest, creating a calm and quiet atmosphere to enjoy on those lazy afternoons.

Scandinavian Home | Contemporary Condo in Gatlinburg

If you’re looking for stylish and well-serviced, you can’t go wrong with the Airbnb Plus range! This bright and airy Scandinavian style condo is perfect for those that want to kick back and relax. The tranquil interiors create a calming atmosphere. It’s located a short walk from the Ober Gatlinburg resort area, and a quick trolley ride from the city centre.

Our Airbnbs in Smoky Mountains post has so many epic Gatlinburg options.

Scandinavian Home is one of our favourites in Gatlinburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

Downtown Creekside | Stunning Holiday Home in Gatlinburg

This dazzling townhouse is the perfect getaway for those wanting to stay in Central Gatlinburg! Rated five stars, it is a little on the pricier end – but totally worth it for the ultimate retreat among the Smoky Mountains. Rooms are stylish and spacious, and most of the city centre attractions are only a short walk away. This is an excellent pick for larger families.

Downtown Creekside is one of our favourites in Gatlinburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

Gatlinburg Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Gatlinburg

OVERALL BEST PLACE TO STAY IN GATLINBURG
Parkway District, Gatlinburg
OVERALL BEST PLACE TO STAY IN GATLINBURG

Parkway District

Also known as Downtown Gatlinburg, the Parkway District is the beating heart of the city! For first time visitors, this is where you will find most of the main attractions on offer.

FOR ADVENTURE
Great Smoky Mountain, Gatlinburg
FOR ADVENTURE

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The park is obviously quite sparse, but the road network is excellent. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to some of the most popular hiking trails in the country.

Gatlinburg’s 3 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Gatlinburg is a diverse destination that has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re a family, couple, or group of friends looking for some adventure, we have you covered in this guide. Keep reading for top tips on where to stay and what to do.

#1 Parkway District – Overall Best Place to Stay in Gatlinburg

  • COOLEST thing to do in Parkway District: Discover a fascinating insight into local culture with this Moonshine and Whisky Tour – a great alternative to pub crawls!
  • BEST place to visit in Parkway District: Anakeesta is a great adventure park for families, with zip lines and gondola rides to suit all ages.

Also known as Downtown Gatlinburg, the Parkway District is the beating heart of the city! For first time visitors, this is where you will find most of the main attractions on offer. From theme parks and waterparks to dinner shows, restaurants, and bars – there’s a little something for everyone in the Parkway District.

Parkway District, Gatlinburg

This is the most lively neighborhood in the city, so those that like to stay up late will have plenty to do. Though seemingly designed with only tourists in mind, there are plenty of the local attractions if you look beneath the surface. The Moonshine and Whisky Tour is a great way to do this, but make sure to check local event listings before you arrive.

As the centre of the city, the Parkway District is well connected to all the other neighborhoods mentioned in this guide. It also has great connections to Sevierville and Pigeon Forge – and even a regular service to Nashville! If you don’t have a car, staying in the Parkway District is your best bet for getting around easily.

Downtown Mountain Hideaway | Cozy Cottage in Parkway District

This is another epic Airbnb Plus property that you won’t want to leave! Despite its city-centre location, it is nestled in a somewhat secluded street – giving you peace and quiet away from the main tourist strips. The extravagant porch area is fully decked and comes with swing chairs and a top of the line hot tub. Visiting Gatlinburg to relax? This is the place for you.

The Park Vista | Elegant Hotel in Parkway District

DoubleTree is the family-friendly Hilton brand with a focus on unbeatable attention to detail! Perched right next to the mountains, all the rooms come with stunning views. There’s a games room and arcade on-site for keeping the entire family entertained in the evenings. There’s also a well-equipped fitness suite – perfect for keeping up your routine.

Downtown Creekside | Luxury Townhouse in Parkway District

We love this stunning townhouse home – and it’s an excellent alternative for those that don’t want to stay in a cabin in Tennessee! Anakeesta Mountain Adventure is a two-minute walk away, making this a great choice for those with younger kids. The trolley also stops right outside the complex, giving you quick access to most neighborhoods in the city.

Downtown Creekside is one of our favourites in Gatlinburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

Things to See and Do in Parkway District:

  1. Soaring above the Great Smoky Mountains, the Gatlinburg Sky Needle is the largest observation deck in the city – and also has an arcade!
  2. Wild Bear Falls Indoor Waterpark is the largest attraction of its kind in the south – perfect for keeping the family occupied on a rainy day.
  3. Visiting as a couple? We recommend the Smoky Mountain Winery – they offer multiple tours a day with complimentary tastings.
  4. Not the most skilled hiker? The chairlifts at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park will take you to some of the most stunning viewpoints in the area.
  5. Need a quick breakfast on a budget? Pancake Pantry is a firm favourite with families thanks to their bottomless coffee and all you can eat pancakes.
  6. Gatlinburg has a vast selection of great barbecue and southern restaurants – but if we had to choose a favourite, we’d go with Bennett’s.
Is This the Best Backpack EVER???
audy on top of a mountain in japan with the osprey aether

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

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#2 Ober Gatlinburg – Best Place to Stay in Gatlinburg for Families

  • COOLEST thing to do in Ober Gatlinburg: Ride the Gondola between Ober Gatlinburg and the Parkway District.
  • BEST place to visit in Ober Gatlinburg: Ober Gatlinburg Resort is a must-visit attraction year-round!

Ober Gatlinburg is best known as a ski resort during the winter, but it also has plenty of excellent summer attractions! The aerial tramway and bear habitat are open year-round, and there are some great trails and slides for the kids in the summer months. In the winter, they offer a variety of snowsports to suit all ages.

Ober, Gatlinburg
Photo: Chris Hagerman (WikiCommons)

The area surrounding Ober Gatlinburg is peaceful, especially in the summer. For this reason, we recommend it as a great neighborhood for families heading to the Great Smoky Mountains. The gondola to the city centre is open year-round, giving you easy access to all the major attractions without the noise in the evenings.

Million Dollar Views | Spacious Mountain Chalet in Ober Gatlinburg

We just can’t get enough of the dazzling scenery that surrounds this adorable chalet! Admire the sunset from the balcony every evening over a glass of wine before heading to the sauna and hot tub to unwind. There is a large sun deck for use throughout the summer, and the lounge comes with subscription channels. It can sleep up to eight – but many couples opt for the entire place to themselves.

Scandinavian Home | Hip Apartment in Ober Gatlinburg

This stunning AirBnB Plus apartment is perfect for families and larger groups heading to Gatlinburg! Its calm interiors are a major selling point, but we also love the mountaintop location. You will be rewarded with impeccable views of the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg from the comfort of your bedroom. Rustic, yet minimalist, this apartment evokes Scandinavian design principles to give you a great mix of hip and cozy.

Scandinavian Home is one of our favourites in Gatlinburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

Cherokee Winds | Rustic Log Cabin in Ober Gatlinburg

You’re truly spoiled for choice when it comes to cute little log cabins in Gatlinburg – and this Cherokee inspired lodging is perfect for smaller families. Alongside the hot tub, this house also benefits from a cinema room and games room – perfect for keeping the family entertained if the weather takes a turn. Ober Gatlinburg Resort is a five-minute walk away.

Cherokee Winds is one of our favourites in Gatlinburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

Things to See and Do in Ober Gatlinburg:

  1. No trip to Ober Gatlinburg is complete without a visit to Puzzled – a quaint little toy shop offering handmade delights.
  2. Ski Chalet Village Owners Club is a small clubhouse in the heart of Ober Gatlinburg with a laid back atmosphere and excellent facilities.
  3. Ride the chairlift up to Mount Harrison – even in the summer, you will find some great views and Instagram backdrops from the peak.

#3 Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Where to Stay in Gatlinburg for Adventure

  • COOLEST thing to do in the Great Smoky Mountains: Disconnect from the hustle and bustle of day to day life with this Unplugged Waterfall Hike.
  • BEST place to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains: Sugarlands Visitor Center is where you will find great hiking maps and activity information.

Isn’t Gatlinburg already in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park? Technically, no – but it is located right along the edge. If you want a true adventure, there are some excellent lodges awaiting you right in the heart of the national park – as well as some more typical hotels along the outskirts. If you’re here for the natural beauty, you absolutely have to get out of the city and stay in the Great Smoky Mountain NP.

Ober, Gatlinburg

The park is obviously quite sparse, but the road network is excellent. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to some of the most popular hiking trails in the country. Modern tourism companies also give you the opportunity to take a guided adventure if you’re less experienced.

Smoky Mountain Ridge Resort | Secluded Summer Cabin in Great Smoky Mountains

Sleeping up to twenty-four people, this is one for the big groups and important family gatherings! It comes with its own private pool – as well as a theatre room and games room. Laurel Falls is only a short journey away, and many major hiking routes pass outside the front of the cabin. This accommodation is the closest to the centre of the national park, so perfect for getting away from it all.

Hampton Inn Gatlinburg | Budget Friendly Hotel in Great Smoky Mountains

Not only is the Hampton Inn the closest hotel to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – but it’s also right next to the trolley to Ober Gatlinburg. This is perfect for those visiting the town for an extended stay. They also provide a complimentary breakfast buffet, saving you some money! The pool area is calm and peaceful, and there’s also a small fitness suite.

Lover’s Loft | Romantic Hideaway in Great Smoky Mountains

Right on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, this cabin gets you close to the mountains without leaving the comforts of the city. The interiors are decorated with rustic furnishings – and the modern appliances will assure you enjoy all your home comforts. With only one bedroom, it’s popular with couples looking for a romantic getaway in Tennessee. There is a private hot tub and fireplace on the deck.

Lover’s Loft is one of our favourites in Gatlinburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

Things to See and Do in Great Smoky Mountains:

  1. Hike along the many trails on offer in the National Park – Old Sugarlands Trail is a great option for beginners.
  2. Hiking not your thing? You can bring the car with you to Cades Cove and discover the native wildlife along the way.
  3. Sugarlands Riding Stables offer horse rental for experienced riders – plus some taster sessions for beginners.
  4. Cataract Falls is the most accessible waterfall from the visitor centre – and great for capturing a photo of your trip.
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FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Gatlinburg

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Gatlinburg and where to stay.

What To Pack For Gatlinburg

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Gatlinburg

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Gatlinburg?

Gatlinburg seems to rise out of nowhere from the forested landscape of the Smoky Mountains! It is a fantastic destination for nature lovers and thrill-seekers, and its proximity to Dollywood has made it a popular base for family staycationers in the United States.

When it comes to the best place to stay, we have to go with the Parkway District! It is well connected to all of the other neighborhoods – as well as some great destinations outside of the city.

Speaking of other great destinations – if you’re visiting the area on a budget, check out our guide to Sevierville. It’s not too far from Gatlinburg but offers some inexpensive accommodation options. We’ve also got some info on Pigeon Forge Airbnbs for those interested in Dollywood and other family attractions. Or if you want to stay in the foothills of the Smoky Mountain, then a vacation rental in Pigeon Forge is also a good idea.

All that said, all of the neighborhoods mentioned in this guide have their own unique charms. We hope we’ve helped you narrow down your options for your upcoming trip to Gatlinburg.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Looking for more info on travelling to Gatlinburg and Tennesee?

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!