Want to take your dog on vaca? Check out this post for a dog-friendly trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee!
One of my biggest apprehensions about getting a dog while we lived in Ohio was the fact that we would have to make arrangements for him to stay somewhere when we go out of town. Dog hotels are not exactly cheap, and we don’t know how our friends would feel about us dumping our pooch on them for a few days.
Even though I’ve had many dogs in the past, I’ve never actually gone on a trip with any of them, but when we were planning our trip to Townsend, Tennessee (a town about 40 minutes away) for our friend’s wedding, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity for us to bring our little Gunther along with us.
If you’re a dog-owner, I’m sure you’ve heard of BringFido. In case you haven’t, do yourself a favor and download the app ASAP. You can also look up their website. BringFido is like TripAdvisor for dog owners. You can look up dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, stores, attractions, etc. in one convenient place. People who have visited those places with their dogs can also leave reviews about how dog-friendly the establishment really is, so you can be prepared for what to expect when you walk up with your pooch.
I had never heard of Gatlinburg before we were making plans to go to our friend’s wedding, but we ended up having a great time, and Gunther definitely enjoyed his first road trip (minus the being in the car for several hours part). If you’re looking for a relaxing destination for you and your pup, you’ll love taking a dog-friendly trip to Gatlinburg.
THINGS TO DO
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Dogs are only allowed on two trails at the Great Smoky Mountains, and one of them is in Tennessee, so if you want to take your dog on a hike here, you only have one choice. The Gatlinburg Trail is the only dog-friendly hiking and biking trail in the Gatlinburg area. A lot of people complain about this, but it’s for the safety of your dog. There are lots of bears in the Smoky Mountains, so it can be super dangerous for you and your pup if you go on any of the other trails.
The Gatlinburg trail can be accessed from the Sugarland Visitor Center, and it’s just under two miles long. There’s lots of parking in that area, and you can get information about the trail inside (just don’t get bring your pooch in with you. They got mad at us. Whoops.). The trail starts out as a small dirt path that follows the road, but along that area, you can take him into the shallow woods a little bit and see the Little Pigeon River that travels parallel to the trail. Once you get further into the hike and pass all the industrial trucks and stuff, you’ll get to the good stuff and prettier parts of the trail. You’ll see some waterfalls and you can continue walking along the river. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and Gunther loved exploring. We saw a few dogs along the way, which Gunther loved. Just don’t be disappointed by the start of the trail. If you keep going, it gets much prettier.
Not to mention, just driving through the Smoky Mountains to get to the trail is absolutely breathtaking.
The Village Shops + Downtown Gatlinburg
If your dog doesn’t like to be around a lot of people, I wouldn’t recommend going to the Village Shops, but if he/she doesn’t mind it, then I would definitely recommend taking your pup on a little shopping excursion.
Downtown Gatlinburg has tons of shops, restaurants, attractions, etc. There aren’t too many dog-friendly places in main downtown area, but there is a small mall in the midst of it that has a dog store where you can take your pooch. A lot of places will let you take your dog inside if you have them in a dog stroller, but we aren’t about that life.
The Village Shops are located inside of Downtown Gatlinburg. We actually stumbled upon it by accident. There are a few shops that will let you bring your dog in. Those will have a little sign on the door. If you have a small dog, if you ask, the shop owners may let you in as well. While you’re in the Village Shops, stop by Cookie Dough Bliss. They have a variety of different cough dough flavors, and you eat it just like ice cream. It’s so delicious. They allowed us to carry Gunther in so we could look at the flavors and choose.
There’s also plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating and a lot of tables, benches, and ledges around downtown and in the Village Shops for you to stop and rest with your dog and do a little people watching.
Sugarlands Distilling Company
Sugarlands Distilling Company is located in downtown Gatlinburg, and it was one of my favorite finds. Dogs can’t stay and hang inside, but they have a nice outdoor patio with its own little bar, and you can hang out out there. They have rocking chairs and stools, and also the smoking area is a separate outdoor area, which is nice. They also have a stage for live music, unfortunately, no one was playing while we were there, but I’m sure they have some fun acts that come through.
Gunther enjoyed just lying in the sun after walking around all day, and it was the perfect place to unwind while we enjoyed a drink, and he enjoyed some much needed rest. He also loved lounging in one of the rocking chairs with me. He’s always super popular when we take him anywhere, so he got lots of pets.
We were trying to find a dog park, but we couldn’t find one in the area. Mynatt Park was the closest we got. It’s a small park with a couple picnic areas, one shaded and the other by the water. There aren’t any trails, but there’s an open field where your dog can run around. There was another dog there off-leash, and we couldn’t tell if he was going to be friendly to Gunther, so we just kept Gunther on leash and walked around for a little bit.
Most restaurants in Gatlinburg will allow your dog to sit with you on their patio. Just double-check before you sit down, or you can look them up on BringFido. We only had one meal on our day trip to Gatlinburg, but it was delicious.
We sat by the fence so we could be close to the water and Gunther would have some interesting things to look at. They had a dog bowl with water already outside. It didn’t have fresh water in it, but I’m sure if your pooch was parched, you could ask them to change it out for you. Our staff was super friendly and commented on how Gunther got excited every time he came outside.
We ordered wine with lunch, and if you enjoy wine, get some here because they do a nice, heavy poor. They weren’t shy about filling the glass nearly to the top. For lunch, and I had the chicken Parmesan special, and Kyle had the Italian sausage sandwich. They were both so good. We also shared some garlic rolls, which you have to get if you go there. If you like garlic, and you like bread, you’ll love these.
We actually stayed in the town of Townsend because that was where the wedding was taking place, so we got to experience some of the dog-friendly establishments they have in that tiny town too. If you happen to find yourself in Townsend, definitely give these a try.
Apple Valley General Store
If you happen to be in Townsend, you can stop at this eclectic little general store. When we heard the term ‘general store,’ we were expecting to be able to pick up some of the things we left at home by accident, i.e. shaving cream. Apple Valley General Store doesn’t have any shaving cream, but it does have a wide array of candles, coffee, decor, sweet treats, honey, jams, and lots more. You can also sample and purchase fudge, which of course we did. Gunther also got a little treat to eat while we were checking out.
Along the street next to the general store is a 9-mile walking and biking trail. It basically takes you through the town right beside the main road. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also a few hiking trails in the woods up the hill from the general store. You can find them by walking up the hill as if you’re going to Dancing Bear Lodge. You’ll see a couple trails marked with small orange arrows.
Apple Valley Kitchen Cafe
Located adjacent to the general store is a small cafe called Apple Valley Kitchen Cafe. They have plenty of outdoor seating where dogs are allowed to dine with you. We sat at a picnic table in the sun (it was March, so it was still a little chilly), and it was perfect for our little guy. They also have a bunch of heaters for when it’s a cooler out.
The food is pretty typical of what you’d find at any cafe. I had a burger, and Kyle got the special for the day, which was a beef pot pie. Inside, they also have a legit condiment bar with everything you can imagine (and a few things that you wouldn’t have even thought of). It’s not just ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. They have everything for you to dress your burger, including a variety of pickles, plus some things cooking in small Crock Pots, and a ton of different sauces.
We didn’t spend much time in Knoxville, but it seems like it would be a fun city to explore. The city was on our way home, so we made plans to stop to give Gunther some play time before heading home and also to have a last meal on our vacation
PetSafe Village Dog Park
PetSafe Village Dog Park is the best dog park we’ve ever taken Gunther too. It’s a nice size with two shaded sitting areas if you want to get out of the sun. There are some tunnels and little obstacles if your dog is into that. Gunther is not. They also have a pond area surrounded by rocks if your dog wants to splash around a little.
If you have a smaller dog and want to get them away from the action for a bit, there’s a fenced-in small dog area. It’s small and just grass, but if your dog wants a place to run around by his/herself or just with small dogs, that’s an option. Gunther actually likes bigger dogs more than small dogs, so we didn’t utilize the area. There’s also another fenced-in area with a short trail and another pond. The park provides plenty of poop bags and small dog water fountains.
Online, it said there’s only certain hours when dogs can be off-leash, but when we went, there was only one lady there with her three dogs, and they were all off-leash, so we let Gunther off-leash as well. As more dogs started to come, they were all off-leash too, so take the “off-leash hours” with a grain of salt.
Nama Sushi Bar – Downtown
We had a lot of hearty meals on our visit to Tennessee, and before we left, I was craving some Asian food. We found Nama Sushi from a Google search, and it was such a great stop. They have four outdoor tables where dogs can sit with you. Our server even brought out a water bowl for little Gunth. We saw plenty of other dogs walking past to explore downtown Knoxville while we were eating, and Gunther couldn’t resist saying hello to some new friends.
For lunch, we shared a pork currydon bowl and an orange crush sushi roll. 10/10 recommend. They were absolutely delish.
Have you ever taken your dog on vacation?