Posted by Phil Rodgers in Pigeon Forge
It's an unwritten law of vacationing: When you take a trip, you have to buy souvenirs. Well, you don't HAVE to, but it's kind of a thing that people do. Whether it's a keepsake you're purchasing as a way to remember a trip or a gift you're taking home to friends and family members who got left behind, souvenirs are always tangible evidence of a remarkable traveling experiences.
When you're visiting the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, you'll have absolutely zero trouble finding a place to buy souvenirs. There's no shortage of T-shirt shops and other gift-oriented retailers lined up from one end of the Parkway to the other. But for our purposes, we're going to point you in the direction of a few types of businesses where the merch stands out thanks to its uniqueness. Any of these destinations will do you well in the souvenir department.
We'll start here at Goats on the Roof. Once you've spent some time visiting with our live goats and riding the Goat Cycle and the Goat Coaster and panning for gems in our gem mine, you'll want to hang out in our Goat Store. And yes, we do have T-shirts. But this is the only shop in the Smokies where you'll find the one and only Goats on the Roof T-shirt. We also carry hand-crafted food and gift items such as candies, hot sauces, hillbilly-themed novelties and Amish-made products like jellies and woodcrafts.
Another option for finding gifts that are unique to the Smokies is handmade crafts. No mass-production assembly lines here. Just lots of shops, studios and galleries where artists produce a wide array of hand-crafted items, everything ranging from candles, pottery and jewelry to blown glass, woodwork and leatherwork. You'll also find more traditional art works like paintings and photography.
One of the largest concentrations of crafts is in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community in Gatlinburg. The community is laid out in an 8-mile loop that includes Glades Road and Buckhorn Road, and it comprises some 100 different artisans. There's also a resident community of crafters at Dollywood theme park. Most of them can be found in the Craftsman's Valley section of the park. And each year, the Smokies is home to several craft fairs, including semi-annual editions of the Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair, the Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair and two events hosted by members of the Arts & Crafts Community.
Most attractions and music theaters in the area have their own gift shops, many of which offer highly specialized merchandise that reflects the theme of the attraction. If you're a music fan, you might want to shop at any of the music theater gift shops, and then there are attractions like Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg and WonderWorks and Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, all of which carry some pretty cool stuff.
If you're looking for something very specific, you'll also find unique specialty shops all over the Smokies. They're located primarily in multi-tenant retail centers and outlet malls in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. One example is The Island in Pigeon Forge, which has a row of stores that carry a little bit of everything, from jigsaw puzzles and beef jerky to cookies and hand-blown glass.
And we always recommend spending in time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you do, you'll find merch shops at most of the park's visitor centers, including Sugarlands and Cades Cove. They're operated by the Great Smoky Mountains Association, and they carry all kinds of nature-related products, such as clothing, books, toys and games, and general park-themed knickknacks.