The best alternatives to Hawaii to visit are all located on or near the mainland. These states offer stunning landscapes, diverse cultures, and plenty of activities for visitors of all ages. Here are the best alternative destinations to Hawaii to consider when planning your next vacation (based on our destination database).
If you have been to Gatlinburg, you surely do understand that it may be challenging to find any other place in the US like it. Gatlinburg, Tennessee, offers different attractions and a plethora of activities to visitors.
In fact, people think it is in its own league regarding tourism. And they are right. Gatlinburg receives around 12 million tourists every year, more than any other place in Tennessee.
But did you know there are many places like Gatlinburg in the US? Here is a roundup of equally beautiful vacation destinations with almost the same vibe as Gatlinburg.
Table of Contents
- Why is Gatlinburg a Popular Tourist Destination?
- Places Similar to Gatlinburg in Tennessee, US
- Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
- Sevierville, Tennessee
- Wears Valley, Tennessee
- Places Like Gatlinburg in North Carolina, US
- Bryson City, North Carolina
- Boone, North Carolina
- Cherokee, North Carolina
- Places Like Gatlinburg in Missouri, US
- Edina, Missouri
- Branson, Missouri
- Places Like Gatlinburg in Indiana, US
- Nashville, Indiana
- Places Like Gatlinburg in Ohio, US
- Logan, Ohio
- Places Like Gatlinburg in Washington, US
- Snoqualmie, Washington
Why is Gatlinburg a Popular Tourist Destination?
Gatlinburg is a resort town located at the edge of Smoky Mountain National Park. Some people refer to it as the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains because of its close proximity to the park.
Gatlinburg was initially a logging community before forest conservation efforts were upscaled in the 1900s. Since then, Gatlinburg has developed into a small town known for tourism.
Gatlinburg is a mountain town at the foot of the Smoky Mountains with booming tourism industry. Why is it a major tourist destination?
Though it is a small town, Gatlinburg has beautiful scenery, museums, and souvenir shopping. The history behind it is a worthy reason to visit it. Also, Gatlinburg’s close proximity to the Smoky Mountains National Park is a significant factor. Many picturesque places exist in the park suitable for families and getaway weekend spots with loved ones.
At Gatlinburg, you can engage in many activities such as hiking and skiing in the winter. Many visitors who want to cozy up for the winter choose Gatlinburg as the primary vacation destination.
Those who have been to Gatlinburg know the beautiful scenic views of the town is, especially if you climb onto the tower.
Places Similar to Gatlinburg in Tennessee, US
Gatlinburg is not the only place with attractive scenic views in Tennessee. Other cities are much like it.
They include the following:
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Pigeon Forge is located on the Northern side of the infamous Smoky Mountains. Why is it worth your time? Pigeon Forge is close to the Smoky Mountains, which has changed this quaint town into a hotspot for tourists. But that is not all it has to offer.
Pigeon Forge is home to the famous country music artist Dolly Parton. It is popular for Dolly Parton’s Amusement Park, making it the best vacation spot for families with kids. This small is one of the destinations similar to Gatlinburg to vacation. Pigeon Forge also draws people from all parts of the country to enjoy festivals and summer activities in the city.
Pigeon Forge is also famous among seasoned tourists because of the Old Mill. This was a water-powered mill used by the Pigeon Forge settlers from as early as the 1800s. It has remained a historic landmark that attracts people to Pigeon Forge and offers a restaurant and cafe.
If you visited Gatlinburg in winter, switch your summer vacation to Pigeon Forge. Alternatively, you can spend summer and winter at Pigeon Forge because fun never ends. It offers visitors Winterfest Kickoff Festival with all fun that will help you unwind.
Lastly, Pigeon Forge is the perfect spot for renting a mountain town cabin for your family holiday. It will give you the best Smoky Mountains experience.
See Related: Best Things to do in Nashville, TN
Sevierville is found to the north of Pigeon Forge, where foothills meet Tennessee Valley. Though Sevierville is not as famous as other Smoky Mountains towns, Sevierville offers visitors a unique experience.
Sevierville is the birthplace of Dolly Parton and has a life-size statue of the celebrity. You can also access the Dollywood amusement park from Sevierville and have fun with family and friends or as a solo visitor.
Sevierville also has historic buildings and is home to the Museum of Aviation, Adventure Park Ziplines, Rainforest Zoo, and Riding Stables. You will feel worn out after exploiting everything these places have to offer. You can also think of shopping at the malls and shops in the small town.
Most of the activities that draw visitors to Sevierville include hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting. You will have endless family fun outdoors here.
Besides, you can still access Smoky Mountains National Park to view nature at its best.
Wears Valley, Tennessee
Wears Valley is known by the locals as the secret entrance to the Smoky Mountains. It is a small town found between the more developed Smoky Mountains Towns of Pigeon Forge and Townsend. It is one of the places like Gatlinburg to visit in the Midwest, but there are differences.
The residents of Gatlinburg are more focused on developing their city but Wears Valley locals are more content with their small, quiet town. Wears Valley is also booming in tourism, attracting visitors all year round.
The small town has restaurants and shops that provide everything the residents and visitors want. It also offers tourists beautiful scenic views and outdoor recreation activities. Its main highlight is the 200-foot-long forested zip line that provides the fun. You can also enjoy the views of Cove Mountain, tour Wears Valley’s Moonshine Distillery, or ride a mountain coaster.
There is endless fun at Wears Valley for you and your family. If you never believed other places like Gatlinburg exist, visit this small town in Tennessee.
Places Like Gatlinburg in North Carolina, US
Did you know that there are also other places like Gatlinburg from the Great Smoky Mountains? Yes, North Carolina also has some tourist destinations that we want to introduce to you.
Bryson City, North Carolina
Bryson City is found to the west of Cherokee, close to the Deep Creek Recreational Area. Its location alone can tell you how Bryson City in North Carolina will keep your family busy.
If you have to compare the cozy Smoky Mountains Towns, Bryson City can never miss a top spot. Quaint cafes, museums, galleries, and shops are all in Bryson City. And if you like craft beer, Bryson City in North Carolina has a microbrewery to satisfy your urge.
Bryson City has a rich cultural heritage. Apart from what you will discover in the museums, this city is the burial place for Horace Kephart. He is the founder of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Bryson City has something for everyone. Whether you like hiking or walking through the time, you won’t miss something to amuse you. You can ride along the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad to see what North Carolina Countryside offers. Or you can consider visiting Deep Creek Recreation Area.
Deep Creek has a plethora of outdoor activities. You can swim, fish, or watch beautiful waterfalls. The place offers just enough to keep your family busy for hours.
See Related: Best Things to do in Winston-Salem, NC
Boone, North Carolina
North Carolina Boone is among the places in Gatlinburg in the Midwest with breathtaking attractions. It is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina.
Boone is one of the Appalachian towns because it is home to Appalachian State University. It is also one of America’s distinctive destinations, with a rich history dating back to 1700. If you are a historian or just want to learn more about regional trade, go to Hickory Ridge Living History Museum.
Boone has as many outdoor activities as Gatlinburg. Its mountain sports are more vigorous. Adrenaline junkies and leisure seekers flock to Boone for a weekend getaway and an ideal place to visit at any time of the year.
Boone offers a broad range of outdoor activities, ranging from fishing to canoeing to zip-lining and skiing. You will never miss anything to keep you busy the entire time when you are in the city. Visit Boone any time when you want to give yourself some exercise and unwind.
Cherokee, North Carolina
Cherokee is located on the southern side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina. Tourists flock to the place for its rich cultural heritage and myriad outdoor activities.
The location of Cherokee on the Indian Reservation. This makes it a perfect tourist destination if you want a unique experience from what other Smoky mountains towns offer. It has more animals and plant species than many other mountain towns on this list.
Visitors are treated to all sorts of fun activities. When you arrive at Cherokee, you will be welcomed with one of the popular activities in the town, horseback riding. That will give you just the perfect opportunity to view the scenic trails. Also, you can choose motorcycle riding to take you through the entire dramatic scenery.
Cherokee was named after the native Americans who first settled in the area. Visiting the location will make you discover what their culture was through the crafts and enactments.
Apart from horseback riding, Cherokee also offers visitors camping, boating, tubing, golfing, and other outdoor activities. And if you like entertainment and fun, you can get the best of that at Harrah’s Casino Resort. This is where you will satisfy all your cravings for your favorite dish as you round up your tour.
See Related: Best Things to do in Raleigh, NC
Places Like Gatlinburg in Missouri, US
Missouri also has some places that offer outdoor activities like Gatlinburg. They also experience a boom in tourism for the beautiful attractions. Let’s check out a few of them!
Edina is a small community located between the North and South Forks of the South Fabius River. This small town has a myriad of activities and a rich history that most tourists cannot just resist.
If you visit Edina, you can go to the Interlachen Country Club for golfing. And when you are not at the club, you can go to the History Museum to discover the history of Amtrak or go to the Kirksville Aquatic Center for more sporting activities.
And if you want to travel a bit, you can go to Mark Twain Cave & Campground, located just 55 miles from Edina. If you don’t want to stroll the streets of Edina, you can have fun away from the town.
Branson can offer you precious moments with your family that last a lifetime. It is a lively travel destination located in the Ozark mountains. Compared to Gatlinburg, Branson is home to many people.
Branson is referred to as the perfect vacation destination for families. Its tourism industry mainly focuses on amusement and entertainment. These come in the form of music, theatrical performances, and amusement parks. It also has many outdoor activities such as biking, camping, biking, hunting, canoeing, and hunting. Do you now understand why we say Branson is perfect for a family vacation?
Regardless of your reason to visit Branson, you will have memorable moments that will live with you forever. Saying that it is one of the places like Gatlinburg can be an understatement. It is a central location that offers best-in-class entertainment, thrilling scenic views, outdoor beauties, and delicacies.
Additionally, Branson offers you cozy cabins and other accommodation options for you and your family to stay in. You can choose from hotels, resorts, vacation condos, and campgrounds. Branson is a home away from home.
Places Like Gatlinburg in Indiana, US
Apart from Tennessee, North Carolina, and Missouri, you can also visit Nashville in Indiana. This small town equally attracts tourists who enjoy its natural vibe and charm.
Nashville is a small town in Washington Township, Brown County, Indiana. It is famous for the Brown County Art Colony and tourism, offering visitors many worthy sites and activities. Despite the small size, Nashville has earned its reputation in the tourism space.
Tourism in Nashville is based on the original works of the natives and the natural environment. Its main highlight is the Brown County State Park, which is located just a few miles from the town. But it also offers art, antique, specialty shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
Nashville is the only place like Gatlinburg on this list with the highest number of weddings. Many couples choose it for its neutrality and beautiful venues for celebrating a special day in someone’s life like a wedding.
Despite the small size, Nashville still competes with other mountain towns in tourism. You can still get the space you need and outdoor activities to keep you busy all day long. Regardless of your purpose of visit, Nashville will make your vacation a memorable one.
See Related: How to Use a Vacation Generator
Places Like Gatlinburg in Ohio, US
Ohio also has a surprise for you. It only proves that you don’t have to go down to the Smoky Mountains to find other places like Gatlinburg. Check out Logan city in Ohio.
Logan is a medium-size city compared to other locations named here. It is located in Hocking County, Ohio, and is home to over 7,000 people. Logan city was named after Chief Logan or the Indian tribe who settled in the present-day Logan City during the European-American settlement.
Logan is the home of the Columbus Washboard Company, the only one of a kind in the entire country. Today, the washboard Music Festival is still celebrated in Logan and the whole country.
Like all other historic small towns on this list, Logan has many fun attraction sites that drive its tourism industry. The main highlights are the John Glenn Astronomy Park and Pencil Sharpener Museum. But if you need some outdoor activities, consider going to the Hocking Hills State Park.
Hocking Hills State Park is free to the public and features deep gorges, swimming holes, picturesque waterfalls, and sandstone outcroppings. Every minute you spend at the park will be a memorable time.
And like Gatlinburg, Logan offers you zip lines, kayaking, and hike spots to enjoy nature.
See Related: Best Things to do in Seattle, WA
Places Like Gatlinburg in Washington, US
To wrap up our list, let’s look at Snoqualmie as a possible vacation destination similar to Gatlinburg.
Snoqualmie is the final place to consider for the same vacation experience you will get at Gatlinburg. This city is located next to Snoqualmie Falls in King County, Washington, and only 28 miles east of Seattle.
Compared to other places on this list, Snoqualmie is the largest, with a population of about 14,000 people. This is even expected to rise since the city is rapidly growing.
Snoqualmie is a major tourist destination for its dramatic surroundings and many activities that visitors can undertake. Whether you are traveling alone or as a family, you will have fun things to do here. Besides, you can tour Snoqualmie at any time of the year.
Snoqualmie is a lively and vibrant community where you can enjoy all kinds of entertainment. There are different venues for live music, theatrical performances, and local art. Tourists go to Snoqualmie to explore the city and participate in different activities.
The main highlights of this city are the special events, recreational destinations, museums, and more.
Want to go to one of these places but don’t know when? Use our when to visit destination generator to find the best time to travel to your favorite places in the US.
When it comes to finding the perfect vacation destination, many people feel overwhelmed by all of the options. A vacation generator can help to narrow down your choices and give you some amazing ideas for your next trip. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a destination including the tourist attractions, climate, budget, and so much more. So make sure to think about what’s most important to you. With so many great destinations around the world, there’s no need to settle for anything less than perfect. [Read more…] about How to Use a Vacation Generator to Find a Destination