No vacation in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains is complete without a picnic! When the weather is nice, nothing beats eating outside amidst the natural splendor of the Smokies. The national park is home to a number of wonderful picnic spots and the Gatlinburg area boasts a great selection of restaurants where you can pick up a quick meal to enjoy al fresco. To help you make the most of your next getaway, Hearthside Cabin Rentals has put together a guide to four of our favorite Smoky Mountain picnic areas.
1. Chimneys Picnic Area
Located about 10 minutes away from Sugarlands Visitor Center off of US-441S, the Chimneys Picnic Area is a hugely popular spot for lunching in the national park. The Chimneys Picnic Area is situated beside a lovely river and features ample parking, picnic tables, restrooms, and charcoal grills. If you or your children plan on exploring the banks of the river, be sure to bring water shoes so no one in your family slips on the slick rocks. After you eat, you may also want to hike the nearby Cove Hardwood Self-guiding Nature Trail, a ¾ mile loop that is famous for its beautiful spring wildflowers. Please note that the Chimneys Picnic Area is typically open from around March 11 through November 28 each year.
Where to pick up food: Old Dad’s General Store is just a few minutes away from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it a very convenient takeout option for lunch at the Chimneys Picnic Area. Guests at Old Dad’s can either pick up freshly made sandwiches, or they can purchase deli meats and cheeses to make their own subs.
2. Cades Cove Picnic Area
The Cades Cove Picnic Area is another one of the best Smoky Mountain picnic areas. Open all year-round, this charming picnic spot is situated right before the entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road, which is the most frequented section of the national park. With 80 picnic sites flanked by two creeks on either side, the Cades Cove Picnic Area is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. Each picnic site has its own grill, so feel free to bring some hamburgers, hot dogs, or vegetables to prepare!
Where to pick up food: Visitors to the Cades Cove Picnic Area can walk on over to the Cades Cove Trading Company to grab a tasty lunch. This great shop and deli serves mouthwatering burgers, soups, sandwiches, and ice cream.
The Greenbrier section of the national park is home to a charming picnic area that boasts a beautiful creek. If you’re looking for a little adventure after your lunch, we suggest hiking the Ramsey Cascades Trail or the Porters Creek Trail, which are both well-known for their stunning wildflowers in the springtime. The Greenbrier Picnic Area is open all year round.
Where to pick up food: Hungry Bear BBQ #1 is located on Gatlinburg’s East Parkway, right near the entrance to Greenbrier Road. This local favorite has built a loyal following for its house-smoked meats and delicious homemade sides.
4. Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
Metcalf Bottoms has everything you need for a fantastic picnic! Situated along the Little River near the Wears Valley entrance to the national park, this year-round picnic area has numerous tables and benches, covered seating, charcoal grills, water fountains, restrooms, and convenient parking. Metcalf Bottoms is also a popular spot for tubing, so don’t forget to bring an inner tube if you would like to float down the river. Visitors to Metcalf Bottoms can also enjoy a 2.6-mile round trip hike to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse and the historic Walker Sisters cabin.
Where to pick up food: Just 6 minutes away from the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area on Line Springs Road in Sevierville, Country Corner is the ideal spot for picking up some tasty food to bring to the park. Popular menu items include the store’s sandwiches, burgers, and fried chicken.
When you stay with Hearthside Cabin Rentals, you will be near all of these wonderful Smoky Mountain picnic areas. Our cabins come with your choice of stellar amenities, including breathtaking mountain views, decks with rocking chairs and hot tubs, fully furnished kitchens, fun game rooms, epic theater rooms, and even more great features. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins for a romantic escape to 18 bedroom lodges for a family reunion, we are sure to have the perfect property for your getaway. To start planning your vacation, browse our selection of cabins in the Smoky Mountains!