Taking up a whopping 521,000 acres across the states of both North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses some incredibly diverse landscape. From forests so thick you can’t see very far in front of you, to wide open meadows full of sunlight and daisies, to rivers running brown, this national forest covers a lot of different terrain. Hiking, camping, horseback riding, and fly-fishing are among just some of the activities you can partake in while visiting this massive and stunning park.
The only issue you may have is sharing this space with the park’s 10 million-plus annual visitors. Yep, you read that right — more than 10 million people. That many visitors has given this park the highest foot traffic of any national park in the United States. And, as a traveler, you know that is saying a lot.
Don’t let the crowds scare you though — this is a park with sights you don’t want to miss.
And it also has nearby food you won’t want to miss. While there are no restaurants inside the park itself, there are some fabulous spots just outside of the park that we highly recommend.
With a name like that, you know what you’re in for: some seriously good fuel to get your day going.
Crockett’s is named after the amazing frontiersman David C. “Crockett” Maples and all his adventures in this area. With high-quality food that honors this hero, you will find yourself feeling quite patriotic while eating possibly the best home-cooked breakfast you’ve ever had.
KOA Menu Favorite: Elk Mountain Grande Burrito and Fried Cinnamon Rolls
For more information, please visit http://crockettsbreakfastcamp.com/
It’s no surprise what the specialty of this restaurant is. And even if you don’t consider yourself a lover of trout, we highly suggest you give it another try at the Smoky Mountain Trout House — you may find yourself changing your mind. All of the trout here is Rainbow Trout that comes from the pristine waters of the Smokies.
KOA Menu Favorite: Cheese-Baked Trout
For more information, please visit http://www.gatlinburgtrouthouse.com/
At the entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this building was originally the home of a local merchant. Serving fresh, never-frozen steaks grilled over Tennessee hickory charcoal, dining at The Peddler Steakhouse is an experience you won’t forget.
KOA Menu Favorite: Prime Rib with Fresh Button Mushrooms
For more information, please visit https://peddlergatlinburg.com/
As the oldest craft brewery in East Tennessee, we are suggesting you dine here as more of a supplement to your beer tasting. Though the food is delicious, the beer obviously steals the stage. With craft beers of all types, you will love sipping on a cold one after a day in the park.
KOA Menu Favorite: Original WET Wings and a Cherokee Red Ale
For more information, please visit http://smoky-mtn-brewery.com/
What’s a trip to the South without some fine southern BBQ?
That’s exactly what you’ll find at Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que, and boy, are you in for a treat. The pork ribs, chicken, chopped pork, and beef brisket served here are basted in the restaurant’s special sauce, and then smoked for up to 14 hours.
They’ve set the flavor bar pretty high here at Bennett’s, ensuring that you leave with your taste buds and tummy singing.
KOA Menu Favorite: Bar-B-Que Beef Brisket
For more information, please visit http://bennetts-bbq.com/
A rustic mountain lodge is where you’ll enjoy your Park Grill meal, and it is a stunning one. Get a taste of what Southern Appalachia has to offer here, and see what both locals and travelers have been raving about. Right next to the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this is a great place to stop on your way in, or on your way out of the park. Either way, you’ll leave happy and with a full belly.
KOA Menu Favorite: Hickory Grilled Moonshine Chicken With Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
For more information, please visit https://parkgrillgatlinburg.com
Sitting atop Crystelle Creek, this restaurant has both stunning views and delicious food. Known for their stellar trout dishes, among many other things, you may be lucky enough to come at the right time to also enjoy some live entertainment.
An extra bonus — this restaurant is dog friendly, so be sure to bring your pup along with you!
KOA Menu Favorite: Cajun Shrimp with Sweet Potato Fries and Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
For more information, please visit http://www.crystellecreek.com/
Don’t let the lack of fancy fool you at Little House of Pancakes. Known as one of the best Ma and Pa spots in the area, Little House of Pancakes will surely give you the tasty pancakes you’ve been searching for. And with portions as large as they are here, you’ll be set for a full day in the park after breakfasting here.
KOA Menu Favorite: French Toast
For more information, please visit Facebook.
We hope you’ll find something to write home about among those restaurants during your trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As the perfect start or end to your day full of adventures, after indulging in some tasty local food and enjoying the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we’re guessing you’re going to be ready for a good night’s sleep.
Thankfully, there are some great camping spots for you to enjoy while in the area.
Here are the great KOAs in the area, and their wonderful offerings:
A quiet and peaceful place to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, the Townsend/Great Smokies KOA sits right up against the Little River.
To book your stay at the Townsend / Great Smokies KOA Holiday, please visit the camp’s website here.
Near fun parks and other experiences outside of the park, you’ll also be close enough to enjoy the Great Smokies while staying at this KOA.
To reserve your spot at the Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg KOA Holiday, please visit the camp’s site here.
This 16-acre park has a lot to offer. Near to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this KOA has hiking trails that lead right into the Great Smokies.
To plan your stay at the Gatlinburg East / Smoky Mountain KOA Holiday, visit the camp’s website here.
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