Best Italian in Downtown Gatlinburg, TN

Old World Italian comes to Gatlinburg in the form of pizza pies, pasta and seafood.

It seldom happens that a name really does describe a restaurant. Certainly Taco Bell tells you what to expect and McDonald’s has come to be an icon, but Best Italian in Gatlinburg, Tennessee not only tells you what to expect but it also lives up to its name. For over 30 years Best Italian has been providing both pizza and Italian cuisine to locals and visitors alike in Gatlinburg. Their pizza is astounding, their Italian cuisine is incredible and their garlic knots are breath taking. Make sure to include Best Italian in your next trip to the Smokies.

New York style pizza in the Smokies, thin crust, big, and made to order, only at Best Italian. Their pizza is different and they have some toppings you don’t see in the chain stores: Pesto, feta cheese, artichoke hearts and more. Their pesto pizza is a green monstrosity with a whole different kind of pizza goodness. The Brazilian Béchamel is a white sauce pizza that will leave your mouth watering even after you are done. Or just order the size you want and keep adding toppings until you have the perfect made-to-order pie. Or try the same thing with their pizza dough used as a calzone. The calzone is enormous. Pizza at Best Italian is simply the… Best.

Loads of pasta. If their pizza is the best then their Italian cuisine is even better. Traditional Italian fare mixed with something special here and there. They carry all the favorites you might be looking for: spaghetti, fettuccine alfredo, eggplant parmigiana. But they have some signatures dishes that you shouldn’t miss. Chef Paul’s seafood medley is wonderful, enough seafood to sink a shrimp boat and a wine sauce that is simply decadent. And their wilted spinach side dish is beyond compare. Spinach wilted and served with fresh tomatoes. The Italian cuisine at Best Italian ranks up there with posh restaurants you would find in some of the greatest ‘foodie’ cities in the world.

Garlic knots! This is the basic side that comes with every meal. These little balls of heaven melt in your mouth and they are served almost floating in a garlic oil mixture and covered in parmesan cheese and bits of garlic. One recommendation is to always try and get the last one. When you get the last one, break it in half and let it soak in the garlic oil before you eat it. Best Italian is one of the little known eateries in Gatlinburg but it is out of this world. They are located in the Elks Plaza shopping center between traffic lights 8 and 9. Best Italian, their name really says it all.

Gatlinburg Fall Foliage Report – Mid-October

Information on fall foliage in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through mid October 2012.

Right now, if you’re traveling to Gatlinburg you’re likely spending a bit of time twisting your neck trying to catch the fall colors on your way through the Smokies. What you’re probably seeing are hints of the Gatlinburg fall foliage combined with late season greens with color appearing more frequent the higher up you travel.

The Gatlinburg Fall Foliage Experience

In other words, you might be able to tell that the Gatlinburg fall foliage is coming when the fall season starts kicking off. If you’re a weather buff, you’re watching for more sunny days and cooler nights. This is when the leaves really start changing. Much of the region is still overcoming a dryer-than-normal summer which affects fall foliage as far as when it begins and how long it lasts. Peak color in the Smokies’ lower elevations is still over a week away. Some reds have been seen in the valleys and golds appear in such species as the black walnut, birch, beech, and hickory trees. Maples and oaks are also beginning to show color in the lower elevations.

We also suggest taking to one of the many Smoky Mountain trails in order to get a better glimpse of the splendors of autumn. With so many people pouring into the Smokies this time of year, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park becomes one of the more solitary places for people wanting to get away from town and view the fall colors alone in nature.

A few easy to moderate Smokies hikes include the Lower Mount Cammerer hike, Baskins Creek Falls, the Little River, the Old Settlers trail and Porters Creeks. Those of you looking for a more challenging hike, try these next few which lead to a number of scenic overlooks – Sugarlands Mountain, the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Sterling, the Goshen Prong trail. the Foothills Parkway, Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441), the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Balsam Mountain Road and Cove Creek Road are just a few of the more scenic roadways for anyone who might want to see the Gatlinburg fall foliage but can’t or prefer not to leave their car.

Peak color season in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can occur throughout the month of October in more than one location. Places may peak earlier than others and vice versa. The marvelous colors of autumn actually light up the Smokies for seven weeks or more as the peak elevations move down the mountainsides from the highest elevations to the foothills. On average, fall color usually reaches peak at middle and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. Trees such as the sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple and hickories really stand out during this time.

5 Rental Companies With the Best Places To Stay In Gatlinburg TN

Are you excited for the best vacation you’ve ever experienced? You definitely will be after sorting through all of the places to stay in Gatlinburg TN and finding the perfect one for you. In order to help you during your search we have put together this list of rental companies that offer excellent service, locations, amenities and more for your amazing getaway in the mountains. Take a look at a few of the websites listed below to find the best Gatlinburg vacation rentals available. Continue reading “5 Rental Companies With the Best Places To Stay In Gatlinburg TN”

Beef Jerky Outlet

Beef Jerky Outlet Franchise specializes in all kinds of beef jerky from original to fiery hot, with over 200 varieties in all. It’s a highlight for many who come to the Smoky Mountains every year.

Besides Gatlinburg, there are 4 other Beef Jerky Outlet stores in the Smoky Mountain including Kodak, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville. Beef Jerky Outlet stores typically locate close to a strong tourist venue which would classify the Smokies to a tee.

The world’s largest selection of beef, turkey and wild game jerky are available at Beef Jerky Outlets. Once you[‘re there, you won’t believe the number of beef jerky flavors that are available. Bulk jerkycan be found in covered barrels and is sold by the pound, while packs of pre-sealed jerky and pound jerky jars can be found on the shelves. It’s a very simple layout, but one that has proved very effective. The Beef Jerky Outlet doesn’t try to trick their customers with gimmicks. It’s an uncomplicated approach that allows for the best in shopping and service to the customer.

“As a national franchise, we have found the formula for success,” said Scott Parker, founding partner of the Beef Jerky Outlet franchise. “The combination of unique, high quality products and the right location makes for a winner every time. The Beef Jerky Outlet offers a unique selection of jerky, sausage and snack foods. Add in the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory, and you have a consumer fantasyland.

“When folks see the store their eyes light up; they want to get in and see what it’s all about. They come inside and there are 200 or more different kinds of jerky, including exotics like alligator and kangaroo. We have some other items, too–sausages, popcorns, peanut butters–but make no doubt about it: beef jerky is the primary focus.”

In the Smokies, gourmet jerky and smoked meats is an ever-growing market.

“Here at The Beef Jerky Outlet we sell true ¼ lb, ½ lb and 1 lb bags,” Parker said. “Bottom line, we sell USDA Beef Jerky that can’t be bought at markets or convenience stores. All of our suppliers use whole muscle beef which is raised in the United States. We’ve got something that people crave and it’s damn good and tastes great.”

The store offers free samples for those who like to try a wide variety of flavors before purchasing.

“People appreciate the opportunity to experiment a little with the flavors,” Parker said. “They commit to a purchase when they find something they love. The expense of providing samples is very small compared to the sales and customer loyalty it generates.

“If you are looking for a quality franchise that is also social and fun, then we may be the right fit for you.”

The Beef Jerky Outlet Franchise now has 14 active stores across the country. The Franchise is ready for business in most states in the continental USA, as well as Alaska and Puerto Rico. The Beef Jerky Outlet stores offer an excellent opportunity for investors seeking a franchise business with high margin returns on moderate start-up costs.

The newest Beef Jerky Outlet franchise in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee opened just recently in July.

Beef Jerky Outlet, Gatlinburg
636 Parkway, Ste 2
Gatlinburg, TN
(865) 277-9019

5 Can’t-Miss Attractions on the Gatlinburg Strip

You may be familiar with the Las Vegas Strip, but the Gatlinburg Strip in the Smoky Mountains is quickly becoming just as well known! This is an area that has an amazing number of attractions within a very concentrated area. If you’re staying in Gatlinburg, you won’t have to drive far to find all kinds of excitement and entertainment. The following are five of the most interesting attractions that are right on the Gatlinburg Strip: Continue reading “5 Can’t-Miss Attractions on the Gatlinburg Strip”

Gatlinburg Guinness World Records Museum

The World Record book Come to Life!

As a child we were all sucked into the Guinness Book of World Records (GBoWR).  I can remember being excited every year as a new copy came out and got added to the shelf at the local book store.  The GBoWR was always a part of the school book sales back in the day, at recess you would see children pouring through the book and trying to decide what World Record they were going to break.  In Gatlinburg, TN you can step into the GBoWR at the Guinness World Records Museum.  See representations of people, places and things that have made the record book over the years and relive some of the thrill you had in childhood when you were leafing through the book.

The Guinness Book of World Records originated out of an argument that Sir Hugh Beaver (managing director of the Guinness Breweries) had with friends over what was the fastest game bird in England.  Beaver soon found that there was no book, as of 1951, that contained that information.  Through research, he decided that there had to be discussions about facts in pubs and bars all over the world.  So to that end, he decided that a world record book might be a very popular book, indeed.  Fact finders Norris and Ross McWhirter compiled the first book and it was just released in the British Isles as part of a marketing campaign.  In 1956, the book was released in the US and became a household name by the 70s.  The publishers of the GBoWR soon fell into a pattern of publishing an update every year.  Needless to say the idea of putting in museum dedicated to this tome of knowledge was not far behind the success of the book.

In Gatlinburg, TN the Guinness World Record Museum is located right on the Parkway.  Near the Village and across the street from Fannie Farkles, this is one of those street side attractions, those family attractions, that has been a part of Gatlinburg’s tourist trade for decades.  As a child you would pass the door and hope that this might be the trip where your pleading with your parents got you into the museum to see the weird, the strange and the wonderful.  As an adult, you get to listen to your children as they plead, cajole and pester you to take them into the museum.  Some advice:  take them!

When you go inside the Guinness World Record Museum, you are going to literally find yourself face to face with world records on every wall and surface.  Displays, videos, interactive games and galleries change constantly to bring the newest records to the museum.  If you want to see how the tall the tallest man and woman really were you can stand next to representations of them and see if you measure up to their height.  Stand by the Batcar, see the most tattooed person in the world, check out what the longest fingernails might have looked like, this and much more await you inside the Guinness World Records Museum.  Make the kids happy, brighten your own day, live the book at the Guinness World Record Museum.

Guinness World Records Museum
631 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN
(865) 436-5096

Top 10 Gatlinburg Attractions

Our list of top Gatlinburg attractions.

Looking at a map, it seems Gatlinburg popped up in the middle of a number of large attractions. And although that’s not true at all, it’s kind of funny when you look at the town from above and see that it’s surrounded by things like Ober Gatlinburg and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Top 10 attractions in Gatlinburg. We’ll start out on the slopes at Ober and work our way through town. If you can think of something that we’ve missed, drop us a line in the comment box and we’ll take it into consideration. It’s an evolving list so no worries, we’d love to hear what you the readers think. Let’s get on with the list.

Our Top 10 Gatlinburg Attractions:

  1. Ober Gatlinburg – Outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this wintertime attraction has been bringing in tourists to Gatlinburg for as long as most can remember. The year was 1962 actually. Guests can pick from 9 different ski and snowboarding trails during peak season. Ober’s snow-making machines keep the resort open longer each year, no matter how much real snow accumulates.
  2. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – A Smoky Mountain hot spot, Ripley’s Aquarium features 10,000 sea creatures and was once voted the No. 1 aquarium in the United States by Tripadvisor. Enjoy ocean life as you would were you really diving in the ocean. Get up close to a real coral reef and see some of its unique inhabitants.
  3. Gatlinburg Space Needle – A part of the Gatlinburg sky line since 1970, the Space Needle has been the site of numerous New Years Eve fireworks celebrations. At one time it was the second tallest tower in the state of Tennessee, now it’s the 5th. Come by and ride to the top like so many others have over the years.
  4. Gatlinburg Sky Lift – Travel from downtown all the way up the mountain to Ober Gatlinburg by way of Gatlinburg’s Sky Lift. This ride is like no other in the Smokies. Glide over wooded peaks, pass over Smoky Mountain cabins and chalets, and enjoy the majestic beauty of the area.
  5. Guinness World Records Museum – See some of the world’s most long-standing and impressive feats at the Guinness World Records Museum in Gatlinburg. From life-size statues of the most tattooed person in the world to the tallest, the sites, sounds, and interactive displays at the Guinness World Records Museum will amaze and excite the senses.
  6. Arrowmont – Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is a center for arts education. Arrowmont offers weekend, one- and two-week workshops for the beginner to advanced artist, taught by national and international practicing studio artists and university faculty.
  7. Ripley’s Believe It or Not – If you’re into the weird and the unusual, then Ripley’s Believe It or Not is just for you. Shrunken heads, wax figures, larger-than-life items all make this museum of oddities.
  8. Mysterious Mansion – Many people have come through this downtown Gatlinburg attraction and have left scared out of their wits. This house of horrors set the standard for haunted houses in the area and continues to this day.
  9. Ripley’s Mirror Maze – Don’t run into yourself too many times in Ripley’s Mirror Maze. This house of reflective walls and never-ending hallways is downtown favorite.
  10. Nantahala Outdoor Center – Plans call for hiking or exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Stop by the Nantahala Outdoor Center for some outdoorsy advise, or just pick up a new pair of hiking boots.

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

Maddeningly Marvelous Mazes

I recently had the opportunity to go to Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze.  As this was the first mirror maze that I had been to, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  We parked the car on River Road near the Mysterious Mansion and walked through one of the shopping complexes to get to the Parkway, near Ripley’s Mirror Maze.  We (my wife and I) approached the ticket booth and paid for our admissions.  The young lady that was working the booth told us that our stay in the maze could take as long as we wanted it to but most people found that it took 30-45 minutes to make your way through the maze.  She also gave us gloves to wear so that we didn’t leave finger prints in case we ran into one of the mirrors with our hands.  I thought to myself: “I think I will know before I run into a mirror.”  I was wrong.

We stepped into the maze area and we were both amazed.  I knew the concept and that I would be in a room full of mirrors but I was unprepared for how disorienting it would be.  You are literally lost once you step away from the light coming through the main entrance.  As the door shut we were all of a sudden left to figure our way through a maze where we saw images of the same thing and of mirrors reflecting the image of other mirrors.  The lights are low, the mirrors and some of the walkways are framed with faux-stonework that seems to repeat forever.  As you begin to work your way into the maze you get a sense that you are in a much bigger place then you really are.  The illusion of size and of extra passages is held up the entire time you are in the Mirror Maze.

You are also in the maze with other people.  You will round a corner, at least what you think is a corner, only to find yourself face to face with another person.  You both decide to turn away from each other and try another route only to find that your next turn puts you back face to face with that person again.  We determined very quickly that this was not going to be as easy as we thought.  We found that we were hopelessly disoriented and lost. The feeling of not knowing your way out, was exhilarating and exciting.  We quicken our pace and found that we were only getting more and more lost.  After 25 minutes of roaming through the maze, running into mirrors and scaring ourselves when we ran into mirrors, and ourselves we finally found our way out.

I recommend taking the whole family to Ripley’s Mirror Maze.  The kids will love it, the adults will love it and you will find that you all have the same sensation of being lost and the joy of helping each other find a way out.  Tell the kids not to worry because it is dark and to just have fun trying to find the exit – we did.

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze
623 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium

Ripley’s Odditorium is located in the heart of Gatlinburg and brings joy to children of all ages with every visit.

Believe it… or not

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Oddirorium is the most centrally located of all the Ripley attractions in Gatlinburg, and also one of the most fun.  Walking through the museum that is the Odditorium is like walking through the mind of Robert Ripley: a little spooky, a little creepy and a lot of fun.

When you go through the turnstile at the Odditorium, you will take in the enormity of the museum from the get go.  Each and every square inch of the walls are covered with facts, parts of the collection, the odd and the bizarre.  From the unusual to the macabre, from the weird to the historical, there is something for everyone in the Odditorium.

Robert Ripley spent his life traveling around the world collecting pieces of other cultures for his collections.  At the Gatlinburg Odditorium, you get to see part of that life time. Each of the Ripley museums around the country house different parts of the Ripley’s archive.  At the Odditorium in Gatlinburg you get to see nature run amok with the bizarre animals from around the world, you get to experience different cultures (from headhunters to Europe) and you get to see some Robert Ripley history as well.

A stroll through the Odditorium is like taking in Ripley’s Believe It or Not TV show in real life.  You will find yourself face to face with the Fiji Mermaid.  You will find your self standing mere feet from an actual electric chair.  You can see the death mask of John Dilinger. But not everything is frightening.  You will get to see creations made out of matchsticks, stroll along the rooftops of a Victorian era English city or explore the world of optical illusions.  One of the highlights for any first time visitors is the worm hole.

At the end of your journey through the Odditorium is an enormous man-sized worm hole.  You get to walk in the track of a giant earthworm that spins around you as you walk through.  Though it is very disorienting, it is also beautiful and wonderful to walk through.  Children especially will spend lots of time walking back and forth through the revolving tunnel.

Pay a visit to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium the next time you are in Gatlinburg.  This is one of the longest running attractions in Gatlinburg.  Many people an remember seeing it when they came with their parents when they were children. Now you have the opportunity to let your kids step into the world of the bizarre and ask if they believe it… or not.

Ripley’s Beleieve It or Not Odditorium
800 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

Little River Road

Little River Road just outside of Gatlinburg offers some of the area’s best natural attractions. If you’re going to be in the Smoky Mountains, or if you’ve lived here your entire life, Little River Road offers people a way to really immerse themselves in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offers a glimpse at why millions flock to the area every year.

Here are just a few of the more popular destinations located along Little River Road. Take a day and pull the car over, explore the area. This is the Smokies at its best.

Laurel Falls

The moderate 2.6 mile trail to Laurel Falls is one of the Park’s most traveled. The trail divides the waterfall in two. At the top, Laurel Branch bursts from a grove of rhododendron, or “laurel” as it was called by early settlers, and falls nearly 50 feet to collect in a pool perfect for soaking tired feet. The falls continues on from that pool for about 35 feet before reaching the bottom.

Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area

Once a family farm, Metcalf Bottoms is now a large picnic area with plenty of space along the river. As Little River Road was being built, the Metcalf family often brought fresh spring water to the many workers. The National Park Service remembered the favor by naming the picnic area for them.

Little Greenbrier School

Just a mile through the forest from Metcalf Bottoms lies the Little Greenbrier School. This charming 19th Century schoolhouse evokes the simpler education of years gone by. Built from logs split up to two feet wide, the school also served as a church from 1882 until the Park’s creation. The original benches and desks still line the room, along with a lectern and a painted blackboard.

The Sinks

Located just 1.5 miles east of Metcalf Bottoms picnic area, The Sinks are a combination of hydraulic rapids and deep pools. Folklore tells of how a logging train once derailed and plunged into the Little River at this spot. It was never found as the bottom could not be reached. Thereafter, this spot was always referred to as “The Sinks.”

Townsend “Wye”

A local favorite for years, the Townsend “Wye” is the meeting point of the middle and west prongs of the Little Pigeon River. This broad, peaceful curve is ideal for swimming and the smooth, grassy banks are a perfect spot for spreading a blanket. Over the years, this has become a popular site due to its accessibility — one mile south of Townsend and seven miles east of Cades Cove.


Once known as Tarpaper Camp (for the covering used on buildings), Tremont was one of three towns built by the Little River Lumber Company. Tremont became a logging boom town in the Southern Appalachians during the 1920s. The company town once consisted of a store, post office, hotel, doctor’s office and a church/school/theater building. Today, the area is primarily used for ranger facilities and educational research.