This week I had the opportunity to visit Pigeon Forge Tennessee with the Life Coach Bus. While in Pigeon Forge, I took the bus and rode up through the Great Smoky Mountains and then came back through Gatlinburg. Even in the cold winter months, the National Park is just beautiful. The leaves are off the trees and you can see for miles.
I have been going to Gatlinburg since I was in my early 20's and I have seen so much change. The town was growing and mom and pop shops were sprouting up everywhere. Craft stores lined the streets.
Then Pigeon Forge got into the tourism action, building motels and hotels on the main street. Malls sprouted up and national restaurant chains lined the street.
Today, so much has changed. The craft businesses have all moved out to the rural areas, including Glades Road. The small mom and pop stores and restaurants have all sold out or closed, due to the high rental rates and today, Gatlinburg, which is still one of my favorite little getaway towns, is lined with national chains.
This week I noticed they built a large Walgreens, 5 Guys opened in Gatlinburg on the strip and the old Burning Bush restaurant building has been demolished. In Pigeon Forge, the small family owned motels are slowly being replaced by large, national chain high rise hotels.
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg will always be a great place to visit, but the reason to visit has changed so much in the past 20 years, from good old fashion mountain hospitality, craft stores and family restaurants, to outlet malls, high rise hotels and chain restaurants.
If you have a chance, visit the area in the off season, the rates are more reasonable, the people are friendly and there is no line or wait for anything.