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The summer season in the Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most popular times of the year, as it welcomes long days filled with outdoor recreation and family-friendly fun. Whether you’re out to discover the best local hiking trail or explore everything Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Forge have to offer, you’ll find you have much to do.
The number of activities you can do on summer vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains is nearly endless, and there’s something for all vacationers to enjoy, whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman or a certified relaxation expert. Besides marking the gateway to the enchanting land of the Smokies, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer a delicious local culinary scene with lots of excellent dining choices—especially for outdoor dining. Check out our list of the best summer outdoor dining in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge below!
LOCO BURRO FRESH MEX CANTINA
This themed restaurant can be found right in downtown Gatlinburg, with an elevated roof patio that has excellent views of the Gatlinburg Space Needle and the mountains beyond. Here you can sip on a margarita and snack on chips and salsa to terrific views in a festive atmosphere. With a menu full of all the classics—burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and more, there’s something for everyone on their extensive menu of Tex-Mex cuisine.
You can find Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina at 735 Parkway #1, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, or give them a call at 865-430-5624.
This restaurant is located in the Anakeesta mountain top theme park in Gatlinburg but deserves a mention as its cliff-top patio offers unbeatable views of the Smokies. Here you can find traditional steakhouse fare with sweeping views of the mountains, and you can occasionally find live music as well. USDA Choice steaks, gourmet burgers, house-made salads, and a selection of mouthwatering desserts make this spot a great choice any time of the year, but the patio is especially magical in the summer.
You can find the park at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, and call Cliff Top with any questions at 865-325-2400.
CRYSTELLE CREEK RESTAURANT
This charming Crystelle Creek Gatlinburg restaurant can be found just outside of town on Highway 321, situated alongside a bubbling creek with a beautiful outside patio. Serving up a selection of steaks and other savory American-inspired dishes, you can dine on one of two levels, and stop to admire the twinkling lights and koi pond on your way out. The sunset views are particularly gorgeous! This is definitely one of the best locations for outdoor dining in Gatlinburg!
You can find Crystelle Creek Restaurant at 1654 East Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, or call them at 865-430-1551.
THE CASUAL PINT
The trendy Casual Pint is located in Pigeon Forge, along the main strip of Highway 321. It’s a great stop after a day of exploring local attractions and theme parks and offers a polished atmosphere with modern touches. This joint is family-friendly and offers a kid’s menu, as well as daily happy hour specials. Offering a selection of brews both locally made and those imported from around the world, you’ll be sure to enjoy an afternoon underneath an umbrella out on their patio, watching the hustle and bustle of the street outside.
You can find The Casual Pint at 2905 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, or call them with any questions at 865-428-2525.
Located at The Island entertainment center Pigeon Forge, Timberwood Grill offers a cozy patio in a lodge-style space. Take a seat amongst the foliage and take in the latest game on one of their outdoor TVs, watching The Great Smoky Mountain Ferris Wheel go around. Here you’ll find American-style bites, cold brews, and a cocktail list to keep you busy as you kick back and relax in the nice weather. Start with a soup or salad, and when it comes to entrees you can choose from an assortment of burgers, sandwiches, steak, ribs, brisket, and signature dishes.
You can find Timberwood Grill at 131 The Island Drive #1101, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, or call them at 865-286-0600.
Calhoun’s has used the same recipes and methods since 1983. After all, you don’t need to update perfectly smoked meat, delectable sauces, and scratch-made sides. Thousands of people have tried their ribs, and you can experience award-winning food for yourself at 2532 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, or call 865-868-1500.
RISTORANTE DELLA SANTINA
The DellaSantina Family has been providing excellent food and services since 1420 in Verona, Italy.
Ristorante DellaSantina takes pride in offering patrons-only the finest food available. They boast not having a microwave nor do they have frozen food. All food is fresh and organic whenever possible.
The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe
The Old Mill Pottery House Café serves freshly made sandwiches, salads, and hearty entrees on dishes created by the potters next door.
Lunch specials daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Pottery House Cafe’s menu items are made from scratch with quality local ingredients, in the spirit of Appalachia. Its famous breads are baked on-site daily, with grains straight from the mill. Have a slice of sourdough or onion-rye with the Baker’s Garden Salad.
Howard’s Restaurant is another steakhouse, that has been a local favorite since 1946. located across from Ober Gatlinburg’s Aerial Tram Station in Gatlinburg, Howard’s serves up catfish bites, steaks, salmon, fresh trout, burgers and more in a gorgeous setting next to a flowing creek. Sit outside on the patio with trees, flowers, and tables with umbrellas. What an incredible way to spend a day relaxing in the Smokies.
Mellow Mushroom (Gluten free crust available)
Another outdoor dining restaurant favorite at The Island is Mellow Mushroom, offering salads and build your-own pizzas that include gluten-free crust, no cheese or dairy-free cheese. There’s also creamy hummus drizzled with olive oil, then topped with paprika and fresh basil. Served with your choice of lightly toasted pita wedges or carrots and celery to keep things light.
While Mellow Mushroom is a chain, Gatlinburg’s restaurant brings in local inspiration with the striking two-story restaurant reflecting the local geography and culture that lies within the Smokey Mountain region. “The bar, which offers Dude’s Daiquiris, is dubbed the ‘Moonshine Lounge’ as a nod to the mountains’ past exploits. Colorful paintings are seen throughout the space along with vintage ads painted on the walls. The upstairs dining area has a wall made up of glass garage doors that can be opened to let in the refreshing mountain air.
Wild Plum Tea Room
You can sip wild plum tea, bite into a baked salmon burger, or eat a dessert sampler while sitting outside in the fresh mountain air. Pets are allowed on the screened porch or open deck as well. Only lunch is served on specific days, so reservations are recommended.
Quaint and homey, The Wild Plum Tea Room, is a lunch-only restaurant open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and reservations you’ll want to secure your table with a reservation. Sip wild plum tea, bite into a baked salmon burger, or eat a dessert sampler while sitting outside in the fresh mountain air. Bring your pets with you on the screened porch or open deck as well.
Inspired by Austrian-style tea houses, the restaurant has fresh homemade lunch menu offerings with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. All menu offerings are homemade and made fresh daily from fresh ingredients.
Lunch is served on fine China fit for a Gatlinburg romantic meal in a cabin set in the woods. The menu selection may include daily chef specials, soups, salads, specialty sandwiches, desserts, vegetarian, vegan and allergy-accommodated meals.
Red Jasper Beer Garden (formerly Friendly Falls)
Red Jasper Beer Garden (formerly Friendly Falls) has been a favorite to travelers and locals alike for many years.
While the falls remain the main attraction, that is about all that is the same. New owners have added an extended menu of favorite foods from Food Trucks. Choose from the following Gourmet Smash Burgers served with one side:
FARM RAISED CHEESEBURGER
BIG BOY BACON
BLACK AND BLUE
Other Sandwiches Include:
GOURMET GRILLED CHICKEN
LOADED GRILLED POTATO SALAD
Your can text your order to 865-680-2863
On alternate days, you can enjoy local fare from other Food Trucks. These are all offered made from highest quality ingredients.
Choose from an extensive selection of sodas and craft beers. The choices can be overwhelming. You can also choose from your standard favorite beverage. Red Jasper Been Garden has them all.
Under the new pavilion you can enjoy great gem. mining or playing an exciting game of corn hole.
Or, if you want to enjoy a fire pit in the fall, sit at a picnic table or gather around in a circle and watch children play games, you will not be disappointed.
All of the above is beside the falls. Watch the blue heron catch fish or see if you can find a snake sunning on the rocks.
Stop by at 2135 Wears Valley Road
At My Bearfoot Cabins, you are not only going to enjoy the best in cabin life, you will also enjoy an enormous selection of restaurants to choose from on the website menu tabs. Have you considered eating outside at one of the My Bearfoot Cabins?
Pat and Don Kirchhoefer, owners