The number of Smoky Mountain rentals available is truly dizzying. You have, quite literally, thousands of options to choose from. There's a vacation rental to suit just about any budget, from simple accommodations to luxury cabins with hot tubs, big screen TVs, game rooms and designer decor.
You can choose cabins, chalets, condos, cottages, cozy honeymoon hideaways or spacious vacation rentals suitable for group get-togethers and family reunions.
But the first question to answer is, "Where?"; which locale best fits your vacation dreams? Let's take a look at some of the cities and towns in the Smokies and begin narrowing things down a bit.
We'll start with the two most popular locales, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Gatlinburg directly borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If your Tennessee vacation plans include spending a lot of time in the park, this would be an excellent choice. Both the Roaring Forks Motor Trail and the Sugarlands Visitor Center are close by. Whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River and horseback riding in the park are easily accessible from here.
Gatlinburg is also the most pedestrian-friendly city in the Smokies, and the best place to find quality arts and crafts. You can choose a Smoky Mountain rental close to all the action, yet far enough away to make you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. Or rent something that actually is off the beaten track if you value more peace and quiet and plan only occasional visits to the attractions in town.
Pigeon Forge is a bit farther from the national park, more spread out, and (let's be honest) tackier than Gatlinburg. It also has the largest, most popular, attraction in the Smokies, Dollywood. (Although Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg is also pretty impressive.) While both cities have a lot of family style attractions and live theatre (especially of the musical variety), Pigeon Forge has more of them.
And Pigeon Forge has one thing that Gatlinburg lacks -- outlet malls. In Gatlinburg, there are lots of specialty shops and unique gift and crafts shops, but Pigeon Forge and Sevierville have the bargain shopping.
For families whose major focus is all the fun and frivolity of the many Smoky Mountain attractions, Pigeon Forge is an excellent choice. It's still close enough to the national park for easy access, and you can find a Smoky Mountain rental that offers the serenity of the mountains, while still being close to all the frenetic fun of the Parkway.
Sevierville is farther from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park than Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but it has the advantage of being close to freeway access at I-40 and is a bit less congested. It's also close to Douglas Lake, where you can go fishing, rent a boat or jet ski, go swimming or just enjoy a picnic. Like nearby Pigeon Forge, Sevierville has outlet malls, musical theaters, and family attractions, and all the attractions in Pigeon Forge are just a short drive away.
Townsend bills itself as "the quiet side of the Smokies," and so it is. You won't find any amusement parks or outlet malls here, but you will find plenty of ways to enjoy the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. Townsend is right next door to the most scenic area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove, where you can rent a bicycle, take a guided tour on horseback, or explore the loop road in your own vehicle.
Tubing, kayaking, and just splashing around in the Little River are popular activities here, and there are several companies offering rentals and shuttle services. Townsend also has a lovely bike trail, galleries featuring local artists and artisans, the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, and Tuckaleechee Caverns.
Scenic Wears Valley offers serenity with easy access to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, and the National Park. Located on Highway 321 (Wears Valley Road) between Townsend and Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley offers many Smoky Mountain rentals where you can get away from it all, yet still be close enough to enjoy all the varied attractions in the Smokies.