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In Love With Gatlinburg

Get away to one of the South’s most romantic cities this month. 
by Erin Z. Bass

Selected as one of America’s most romantic getaway destinations recently, the resort town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, resides in the splendor of the Smoky Mountains. A gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is a popular tourist spot in the summer, but this February, the city is calling all couples for a romantic retreat. In its list of the Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the United States, Guidebook America suggests a mountain cabin for “wooded seclusion, small-town charm and breathtaking mountain views” as Valentine’s Day approaches.

Each year, close to 10,000 people get married in Gatlinburg, making it the “unofficial” wedding and honeymoon capital of the South. Is it something in the air? The altitude? Or the moonshine? We asked Jim Davis, public relations coordinator for the Gatlinburg Department of Tourism.

“Gatlinburg’s cool mountain air and warm mountain folks appeal to people of all ages and types, from nature lovers to thrill seekers to sentimental romantics,” he says. “Wedding couples and honeymooners find this is a great place to begin a lifetime together, and they return again and again to rejuvenate and rekindle the fire in their relationships. Whether you’re here for two days or a week, with your entire family or just the two of you, Gatlinburg will be a resort retreat you’ll remember for a lifetime.”

While mountain getaways often make it hard to leave the comfort of a crackling fire or porch with a view, Gatlinburg does have plenty of sights to see. A morning ride on the ski lift or the 120-passenger gondola for top-of-the-world views of the city and the Smokies isn’t a bad way to start the day. Couples can also take in a sunset view of the Smoky Mountains on the 342-foot Space Needle observation tower.

Days can be spent browsing through art galleries or wine tasting award-winning vintages at Smoky Mountain Winery. And then there’s the moonshine. Gatlinburg’s own Ole Smoky Moonshine showcases the old art at its distillery. See authentic working moonshine stills and learn how grains are cooked and fermented. You’ll also get a free taste of Ole Smoky’s Original Unaged Corn Whiskey, White Lightin’ and Moonshine Cherries, plus seasonal flavors, and have the chance to purchase some for late-night sipping.

Relax over an early, intimate dinner for two at one of Gatlinburg’s 100 dining options, from barbecue to Italian, seafood and steaks. The city is also famous for its pancake houses, so leave room for breakfast. After dinner, take a seat at Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre & Music Hall, presenting live musical comedy since 1977 and declared a “national historic treasure.”

Gatlinburg also has 600 miles of hiking trails, a Ripley’s museum, adventure rides and museums, but you’ll probably be too busy sipping moonshine in a heart-shaped hot tub to do any of those.

This month, couples can enjoy packages at less than $200 at a secluded chalet, bed and breakfast or hotel hideaway.

Photo credits, from top: Cades Cove view courtesy of Tennessee Department of Tourism; mountain view and room courtesy of The Lodge at Buckberry Creek.



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