The Smoky Mountains are famous for a number of things. When you think of the mountains of East Tennessee, comprising Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Wears Valley, Douglas Lake, Newport, Cosby and many areas surrounding them, shopping probably isn't high up on the list against the attractions and special events. Needless to say, an area rich in tourism and accommodation of course provides thousands of storefronts, both big chains and small boutique interests, but other than a couple widely publicized areas here, good places to look for Christmas gifts might get somewhat obscured with all the rest of the advertising.
In this article, we'll recommend a few places - some well-known and some a little more off the beaten path (but not so obscure you won't find it!) that new visitors or even those who have stayed here a few times might not have had the chance to discover. These places are great to visit any time of the year that they're open, but during the holidays as a place to look for Christmas gifts? Immaculate!
The Village in Gatlinburg
The first stop is one of the easiest to get to if you're already in downtown Gatlinburg and there's nothing like it for miles around. The Village is famous for it's quasi-English/European hamlet look and feel. You might as well have discovered a little village in 1942 in Yorkshire or Aberfeldy. The streets are lined with red brick, there are TWO fancy fountains that add to the ambience, vines and heavy leaves that cover parts of the walls and some iconic businesses in the city of Gatlinburg. This is where the famous Donut Friar and Pancake Pantry are located at and you'll be able to find some other unique gift opportunities here:
Wears Valley Main Street
Take a drive on Wears Valley road for about 12-15 minutes and soon the forestry will give way to a roadside little community full of heart, grit and local wonder. Wears Valley is not a large section of the Smokies and that's exactly why we like it. Visitors who make a few stops here will be pleasantly surprised with more than dozen stores featuring local arts and crafts, handmade items, wonderful eateries and quite a bit more.
The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge
Another iconic area just off the main parkway that links Sevierville to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, The Old Mill is just one turn and you're quickly whisked away to a town square that's been the site of very Appalachian stores, a wonderful park, some exquisite eateries, a hub for the main trolley system in town and many special events throughout the decades. You could spend all afternoon at The Old Mill with all the opportunities and gift hunting there and within walking distance from it. It's also right next to the river and features the waterfall that made the mill famous in the first place with a riverside walkway for those who enjoy some riparian atmosphere in the afternoon.
Highway 66 in Sevierville
Now this is an area that doesn't get widely covered - usually because it's on the other side of the tourism route in our area and because it's further away from some of the more elegant offerings that The Village and The Old Mill offer, but it's a potential shopping excursion and gift bonanza nonetheless. Highway 66 connects downtown Sevierville to Kodak. This area offers the BIGGEST stores in the area to compliment being some of the biggest flatland in our region. Some stores are so big that they could take a full hour or more to see everything there, we kid you not. Highway 66 is also home to our two area flea markets and they open up on the weekends with some truly unique offerings. Go further off the beaten path and you shall be rewarded!
The Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg
If you venture nowhere else to go shopping for Christmas gifts, the Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg is where you need to go. The A&C community is located in the Glades of Gatlinburg just off of Highway 321, about 10 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg, and it is an 8 mile loop of store complexes, restaurants, workshops and much more. It could take you a full DAY to see all the cute, quirky, and thoroughly Appalachian stores within those eight miles. Potters, painters, sculptors, antiques, knife makers, woodworkers, metal smiths, handmade clothing, gourmet foods and more than we can possibly list on this article.
All of these places and many more are within an hour's drive of our cabins here at Bear Camp and, depending on which cabin you choose, will be a whole lot less travel required than that. Make it convenient or make it a day trip - either way, you'll have a lot of fun shopping for the holidays in the Smokies!