Heirlooms from the Arts and Crafts Community
For generations, the mountain community surrounding the Gatlinburg area has been known for its skilled artisans and craftsmen. Visitors can find excellent representations of arts and crafts of all kinds throughout the region, especially in the Great Smoky Arts & Craft Community, part of the Tennessee Heritage Trail. Nowhere else in North America will you find a larger collection of independent artisans than in the community located just a couple of miles from Carr’s Northside Cottages. Originally organized in 1941, the Great Smoky Arts & Craft Community continues to showcase the rich heritage and artistic skills of this vibrant region.
The 8-mile loop that follows Hwy 321, Buckhorn Road, and Glades Road is home to over 100 artisans, artists, craftsmen, and cooks. No matter your particular area of interest, you’ll find something that piques your curiosity along the loop. You’ll see traditional artists of every stripe: potters, weavers, carvers, wood-workers, quilters, jewelers, and candle-makers. Every medium is available too: ceramics, stone, wood, fabric, precious metals, leather, glass, paint, photography and more. Many of the artisans work on site, allowing you to view the creative process as it happens. You can follow the progress of a pot from a lump of clay, to the throwing wheel, to the glaze, to the kiln. Or you can watch carvers shape wood into beautiful forms. Seeing the process allows you to better appreciate the skill and technique that goes into making the objects that function in or decorate our homes.
With so many stores to browse and so many artists to appreciate, you’ll certainly want to allow for a whole day to explore. When you get hungry—and you will—stop in one of the many restaurants located along the loop. Get a taste of the local cuisine for a full sit-down meal or just pick up a snack to eat along the way. Eat ribs, wings, or local trout for a fuller dining experience, or just satisfy your need for a sweet snack with some fudge or ice cream or maybe both!
If you don’t want to drive yourself, just take the Gatlinburg Trolley. For $1 you can ride the Yellow Line Trolley all day, making stops all along the loop. The trolley can be boarded at the Gatlinburg Mass Transit Center at Traffic Light #5 and runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
At the end of your day of exploring crafts loop, you’ll be inspired by the work that you’ve seen and find that just-right piece of art that you can claim as the perfect vacation souvenir and family heirloom.