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Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends, share a delicious meal, and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. If you’re looking for a fun and festive place to spend Thanksgiving this year, the Gatlinburg area is the perfect destination!

traditional thanksgiving dinner

There are plenty of restaurants open that will serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, as well as others that will be open serving their usual fare such as steaks and Mexican.

If you don’t want to dine in, you can get a cabin with a kitchen and pick up a wonderful meal to go that just requires reheating. This way you can still enjoy a quiet dinner with just your family (or extended family in a large cabin) and have the same amazing food that you would have in a restaurant.

There are also plenty of things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge during Thanksgiving. Take a stroll down the Parkway to check out all the festive holiday decorations, go for a scenic hike, or visit one of the many attractions that are open on Thanksgiving. Whatever you do, you’re sure to have a wonderful Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!

Weather in Gatlinburg for Thanksgiving

Weather in the Smoky Mountains at this time of year can be a bit unpredictable, but you can pretty much guarantee that you won’t see snow in the mountains in November. It happens, but it’s pretty rare. If you want to see snow in the mountains, check out this guide here.

Gatlinburg is in a lower elevation than places like Clingman’s Dome, so it usually stays around the 50’s or 60’s for the highs this time of year, which is why we love Thanksgiving week at Dollywood, even though it’s not open on Thanksgiving Day, but it can rain a bit at this time of year, so be prepared.

Where to Eat

If you’re looking for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (also served for lunch at most places), then look no further. All of these restaurants are serving up a special Thanksgiving menu! So whether you want your meal served family style at the table or you want an individual plate, you can find plenty of delicious food at one of these restaurants.

indoor image of cracker barrel dining area

Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel is well known for their Thanksgiving food. They serve a traditional turkey dinner with all the sides – stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, cranberry relish and more. Plus you get a slice of pumpkin pie with your meal.

Location: 2 locations – 3960 Parkway, Pigeon Forge and 2285 Parkway, Pigeon Forge and also a locatin in Sevierville and other neighboring towns

Learn more about Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving here – you can even join the wait list online

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Cliff Top at Anakeesta

Anakeesta is open for Thanksgiving, so you can do all the great activities at Anakeesta (see below in Things to Do) and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Cliff Top! They serve up smoked turkey breast, gravy, sausage and sage stuffing, mashed potatoes and green bean almondine. You also get a salad and a choice of cheesecake or pie!

Location: Anakeesta is located at 576 Parkway in Gatinburg, and you’ll have to ride the Chondola, scenic chairlift or get a ride up to the top.

Learn more about Thanksgiving at Anakeesta here

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Seaons of Ober

Ober Gatlinburg is open on Thanksgiving day (see below in Things to Do), so while you are enjoying all the amazing activities they have, you can also grab your holiday feast while you’re there. Seasons of Ober serves up a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and ham, tons of traditional sides, rolls, pies and cobbler.

Location: 1339 Ski Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg (at Ober Gatlinburg)

Learn more about Seasons of Ober here

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Mama’s Farmhouse

This is one of our absolute favorite restaurants in the area! We seriously never miss a meal here, and their Thanksgiving dinner does not disappoint. This restaurant serves up family style meals with refills, and they have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Location: 208 Pickel St, Pigeon Forge

Learn more about Mama’s Farmhouse here

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Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen

Paula Deen’s is another great place that serves up traditional Thanksgiving fare family style! Get unlimited refills here, too, and be sure to get our favorite Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (or the pumpkin version!).

Location: 131 The Island Dr #8101, Pigeon Forge

Learn more about holidays at Paula Deen’s here

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view of the old mill from outside

The Old Mill Restaurant and Pottery House Cafe

You can get a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at either one of these great restaurants located in the Old Mill historic distric of Pigeon Forge. This is truly a landmark that has been around since 1830. The grain is ground fresh and then baked into bread and other goodies right on site. You can get a take home meal as well (see below).

Location: 164 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge

Learn more about Thanksgiving at the Old Mill here

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Applewood Farmhouse

While you may have to drive just a tiny bit farther to Sevierville to find the Applewood Farmhouse, it’s definitely worth the drive. This amazing restaurant has the best food in the area, and it has fresh apple everything! Get their famous apple fritters, turkey, ham, beef and all the fixin’s plus pumpkin pie or apple cobbler.

Location: 240 Apple Valley Rd, Sevierville

Learn more about the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant here

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If you’re in town for Thanksgiving, but would rather skip the traditional meal, here are the restaurants that are open with their regular menu (some may have Thanksgiving offerings as well):

Bennett’s Barbecue

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

No Way Jose’s Cantina

Calhoun’s

Crawdaddy’s

The Melting Pot

Smoky Mountain Brewery

Ole Red Gatlinburg

The Park Grill

As you can see, there are a lot of dining options to choose from on Thanksgiving!! So whether you want a full spread of Thanksgiving favorites or you’d rather skip the turkey and stuffing, there is something for everyone on turkey day in the area.

thanksgiving dinner spread

Take Home Meals for Your Cabin

If you’d rather not sit in a busy dining room for your Thanksgiving meal, consider renting a cabin and enjoying one of these great take home meals you can heat up in the cabin instead. We like to go with extended family and get a larger cabin with a hot tub and game room. Some beautiful cabins have pool tables, a theater room, arcade games, foosball and even indoor private pools! So while there are plenty of great hotels in the area, a cabin will allow you to have your dinner in private with your family and then you can watch the football games before you head out to your activities.

If you want to cook your meal in the cabin, be sure to look for ones that have full kitchens. There are plenty to choose from that do. This is the best option for a large group as the restaurants get really busy.

Cracker Barrel

Don’t want to dine in at Cracker Barrel? The restaurant does get really busy on Thanksgiving Day, but you can still enjoy their delicious food by picking up a heat and serve dinner with several options to choose from.

Location: 2 locations – 3960 Parkway, Pigeon Forge and 2285 Parkway, Pigeon Forge and also a locatin in Sevierville and other neighboring towns

Learn more about the Cracker Barrel Take Home Thanksgiving Meals here

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The Old Mill Pottery Cafe

Get the same great food from the Old Mill to go! You’ll find all your traditional Thanksgiving items plus corn fritters and maple butter and a whole pie. Definitely a meal worth taking back to the cabin.

Location: 164 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge

Learn more about Thanksgiving at the Old Mill here

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Things to Do at Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Here are some of our favorite things to see and do in the area over the Thanksgiving weekend. Some of these activities are open on Thanksgiving Day, and I’ve mentioned that for the ones that are open, and the others are open that weekend and the days around turkey day.

Ober Gatlinburg

Snow sports start in Ober Gatlinburg in the middle of November, so all the fun activities are there for you to enjoy by Thanksgiving! Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, an alpine slide, ice skating, and so many more activities are in Ober Gatlinburg. The aerial tramway getting up to the mountain from downtown Gatlinburg is also amazing. They are also open on Thanksgiving Day!

Location: 1339 Ski Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg

Learn more about Ober Gatlinburg here

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Winterfest Lights

Come see more than 5 million lights in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg! After your Thanksgiving feast, drive around the two towns to take in all of the sights. The Winterfest Lights run from early November through the end of February. You can also take the trolley for the Trolley Ride of Lights.

Location: All of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg

Learn more about the Winterfest Lights here

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Anakeesta

Anakeesta is a magical park high above downtown Gatlinburg with ziplines, play structures for kids, an amazing observation deck with great mountain views, shops, restaurants and bridges. They are open on Thanksgiving Day and you can even get your feast there. The chondola ride to the top will give you some great views as you ride in style to your destination.

Location: 576 Parkway, Gatinburg

Learn more about Anakeesta here

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Gatlinburg Skylift Park

Ride the original scenic chairlift (SkyLift) to the top of Crockett Mountain, where you will find many wonderful things to do including the SkyBridge, the US’s longest suspension pedestrian bridge (it even has glass panels in the center!), enjoy the views from the SkyDeck and have a quick bite at the SkyCenter.

Location: 765 Parkway, Gatlinburg

Learn more about Gatlinburg Skylift Park here

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Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show

This is an annual event that features amazing artisans from the area. It’s held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center and is a wonderful place to buy unique handcrafted gifts for Christmas. Quilts, paintings, pottery, candles, soaps, woven baskets and old-fashioned straw brooms are just some of the things you will find for Christmas gifts that are hand crafted in the Arts and Crafts Community of Gatlinburg.

Location: 234 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg

Learn more about the Arts and Crafts Community here

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wildwood grove sign decorated for christmas

Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas

This is one of our favorite times to visit Dollywood!! In early November the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with millions of lights, a huge interactive tree that tells an adorable story, a nightly fireworks show and all the great rides at Dollywood you expect (YES the rides are open at Christmas!).

Location: 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge

Learn more about Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas here

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Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

All this hustle and bustle and crowds not your style? Then why not take a hike or drive and enjoy the outdoors of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? There are many amazing hiking trails and things to do in the forest, and the weather at this time isn’t usually too cold, so it’s a great time to explore.

Learn more about the National Park here

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Final Thoughts

Wow! That’s a lot to eat and do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for Thanksgiving and the weekend after! I sure hope you’ve enjoyed this list I’ve put together to help you have the best Thanksgiving yet and a wonderful holiday season!

There are other things to do that didn’t make this list but I couldn’t let it go on forever, so if you’re interested in the Gatlinburg Festival of Trees, Fireworks on Thanksgiving Night at the Titanic Museum or other activities, be sure to check on those on their individual websites so you don’t miss something you want to see.

I hope you enjoy the Smokies as much as we do!

Amanda

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