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12 Sep 2023
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Arts & Culture

Nestled outside Gatlinburg, TN and hidden behind the mountain coasters, moonshineries, and Margaritaville is the thriving and deeply-rooted Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, the largest independent organization of artisans in the US. Don’t mistake its quieter approach to business for a lack of quality; on the contrary, some of the best artisans in the southeastern US can be found here, and it is well worth a visit on your next Gatlinburg vacation! Their handiwork simply doesn’t need bright lights, catchy slogans, or piped-in music to set it apart, because the art speaks for itself.

Located in a peaceful corner of the otherwise fast-paced city, an eight-mile loop of over 100 shops, galleries, and restaurants awaits, begging visitors to slow down, settle in, and stay awhile. This is truly the perfect outing any time of the year! From handmade jewelry, woodcrafts, and leather goods to blown glass, pottery, and photography, the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community has something to scratch the itch of every art lover. Fascinated by basket weaving? Broom making? Pottery or ceramics? No problem—they’ve got shops for that. Looking to bring a gift back home to a special someone? There are candle kiosks, quilt studios, and art galleries galore that make the perfect keepsake. Makers with different backgrounds, styles, and influences come together here to showcase their wares, and you’ll likely find at least one unique heirloom piece to take home that will last your family for generations to come. 

Where to Eat

To top it all off, a tour of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community tastes good! Grab a coffee and baked good at Gatlinburg Grind Coffee and Bakery as you start your day. Pause at one of our favorite restaurants, Split Rail Eats, for lunch (and tell ‘em Mountain Laurel Chalets sent you). Need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up? Satisfy your sweet tooth with a delicious sweet treat from Wright’s Fudge.

How to Get There

 From downtown Gatlinburg, go east on Highway 321 North (the East Parkway). Go three miles to the beginning of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. Follow Glades Road to Buckhorn Road and back to Highway 321, turn right, and you will complete the eight mile loop when you return to Glades Road. Don’t forget to stop along the way to see hundreds of hand crafted items featured in this historic shopping district. There is plenty of free parking at each shop. 

Where to Stay When Visiting the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community

As always, we invite you to stay at a Mountain Laurel Chalets property in beautiful Gatlinburg, where you know you’ll be treated like family (after all, your family IS our company). Many of our Gatlinburg cabin rentals feature locally made art and furniture pieces, and all are in close proximity to the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. We would love to provide you with a comfortable place to unwind at the end of your eight-mile tour.

Check out the community's website and see a complete listing of all vendors and restaurants, along with a community map and upcoming event information. It will definitely be worth your time to pay these fine artisans a visit!