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Next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Scenic East Tennessee, Lively Gatlinburg is a Tourist Magnet with a Never-Ending List of Fun Things to Do
Sitting along the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the scenic rolling hills of East Tennessee, Gatlinburg is hemmed in by tall forested ridges and started out in the early-1800s as a quiet country holler. When the Park opened in 1934, life began to change as people started arriving from across the nation.
Today Gatlinburg is a busy honky-tonk tourist magnet, attracting hundreds of thousands of vacationers every summer and fall. These folks come for the outstanding opportunities to fish, raft, bicycle, camp and hike, but they also come for Gatlinburg's wall-to-wall shops, boutiques, museums, shows and restaurants. A zip line, a Ripley's Believe It or Not, a mysterious mansion, several arcades, a passion play, ghost tours, strolling musicians, 20 wedding chapels and much, much more all keep visitors entertained. The Arts and Crafts loop wanders from the studios of whittlers, painters, potters and quilters to the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, the oldest craft school in Tennessee.
Gatlinburg also hosts a songwriters' festival, a river raft regatta, a craftsmans' fair and more. The nearby Ober Gatlinburg is the only ski area in Tennessee, and it boasts a wildlife encounter area, a skating rink, an aerial slide and a gondola.
Housing stock, much of it nestled in the surrounding hills, includes cabins, chalets and condos.
Population: 4,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 53%
Cost of Living: 65% above the national average
Median Home Price: $725,000
Climate: The elevation is 1,298 feet above sea level. Summer temperatures are in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 20s, 30s and 40s. On average, the area receives 55 inches of rain and seven inches of snow each year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No, but Leconte Medical Center is 10 miles away in Sevierville and accepts Medicare patients.
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No, but Leconte Medical Center is 10 miles away in Sevierville and is accredited.
Public Transit: Yes, an extensive trolley system
Crime Rate: Above the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Conservative
College Educated: 18%
Is Tennessee Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Somewhat
Cons: Tourists overwhelm everything from May through September.
Notes: Gatlinburg suffered a devastating fire in 2016. Nearly 2,500 buildings were destroyed, and 14 people were killed. Since then, though, the town has rebuilt and is back to operating as it was before the fire. Many people love Gatlinburg, but others think it is gaudy and over the top. The town has maintained its population during the last decade. Home prices have increased an eye-popping 25% since last year.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes, although the higher than average crime rate and tourist crowds should be considered.
Explorer DeSoto visited this area in 1540, and in 1763 England won the land by winning the Indian Wars. Early pioneers named the new state Franklin, and in the mid-1780s, the region was allowed to send representatives to the legislature. The state joined the union in 1796 and the Confederacy during the Civil War. Many residents remained pro-Union and the state was the scene of extensive fighting.
Today the majority of Tennessee locals live in urban areas. Textiles, chemicals, electrical machinery, leather goods and furniture are the state's primary products. Tennessee also produces a lot of tobacco, but other income is derived from dairy products, livestock, nursery and greenhouse products, as well as cotton.
A few of the state's points of interest are the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Hermitage (home of Andrew Jackson), the American Museum at Oak Ridge (atomic energy), three national military parks, and Rock City Gardens (in Chattanooga).
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