Just walking through Gatlinburg, doing nothing in particular, is a lot of fun. During Christmas, the entire town of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is lit up beyond belief, and it is like walking in a wonderland. However, it is a great pasttime at any time of year. It is a huge tourist area. You just park your car in one of the many parking areas--most cost about $5 for entire day--and start from one and go to the other. Everything is on one street, so it is really easy to see everything. And let me tell you, you can see just about everything!!
Let me see if I can share some of the things you'll find on this busy street. First, of course, you will find your tons of hotels and an equal amount of restaurants, from Burger King to seafood to BBQ. You'll find it all right here. There are tons and tons of souvenir stores with everything from toys to quilts to house furnishings. Most have to do with the black bear that can still be found in these parts of the woods. There are jewelry stores, clothing stores, and art stores. Thomas Kinkade, my favorite painter, has two galleries here in Gatlinburg. You can go in there and shop or just browse, cut down the lights, and watch the lights in his paintings light right up.
There are a couple of bars and a daiquiri factory serving only, well, you guessed it--nice frozen daiquiris of about any flavor you can imagine. There is a large assortment of fresh fudge shops where the fudge is prepared right there in front of you. The shops have many flavors of fudge and are always willing to hand out free samples to people passing by so they can try out the different tastes. There is a Build-a-Bear Workshop. If you have never been into one of these, they are great, especially for kids. You build your own stuffed animal from the skin up. You fluff it, you dress it--whatever you want. It is your very own custom-made stuffed animal.
There is a small river that runs right along the road, and it had ducks in it. Benches all along the river enable you to sit and watch the river, have a picnic, feed the ducks, and just relax and people-watch. There are a couple haunted houses on this stretch. The Aquarium is here. There are quite a few old-time photo places here as well. They will dress you up and set you up with props and take your old-time photo, alone or with a group of people. There are quite a few of them, so shop around to find out which one you like best.
Let's see... what else... there is a Guinness World Record Museum, an indoor mini-golf course, and an indoor earthquake ride. The skylift is in this stretch. The tram that takes you to Ober Gatlinburg, a ski area in the winter, is here. There are shops to buy dolls, swords, knives, cartoon character items, a huge magnet shop, souvenir T-shirts and sweatshirts, and dog and cat items such as special treats or sweaters, leashes, and Halloween costumes. It really is just a lot of fun to window shop and see all the different stuff for sale. They even have an "adult shop", if you know what I mean.
TIP: Check in the lobby of your hotel and in the lobby area of restaurants before you venture out too much at first. There are magazines and small books that are LOADED with coupons for all of the really good attractions.