Finding the perfect souvenir to remember your Gatlinburg vacation is easy when you visit the Arts & Crafts Community. With over 100 artists and craftsmen, Gatlinburg’s Arts & Crafts Community is a living, breathing tribute to the history of Tennessee. The carvers, weavers, watercolor artists, casters, soap makers, potters, silversmiths and dozens of other artisans skillfully demonstrate their abilities before thousands of visitors. The community is set on an 8-mile loop road that’s designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail. The Arts & Crafts Community can be reached using the Yellow Trolley from downtown Gatlinburg.
The Arts and Crafts Community is the largest independent organization of artisans in the United States. As such it doesn’t disappoint in the diversity of crafts you can see when you visit. You’ll find a wide assortment of items from dulcimers, to stuffed bears to ceramics. The artists often will talk with visitors and discuss the history of their craft. Each shop offers plenty of free parking. Use this map to help you find your way around the shops: http://www.gatlinburgcrafts.com.
Several of the shops offer online shopping and you can find a list of all of the artists here so you can preview their shops before you visit.
Some of the highlights at the Arts & Crafts Community are stained glass makers, wood crafters, doll makers, candle makers, metal sculptors, glass blowers, leather workers and many more. It all got started in 1937 when John Cowden invited visitors to his home to see his work. Soon other shops sprung up in the area, one by one. Each offers handmade items that are great for collecting and can become family heirlooms. Many visitors to Gatlinburg come to the Arts & Crafts Community every year and select new items to add to their collections.
Here are some highlights you can look forward to when you visit the Arts & Crafts Community:
- Look for glass artists that make clocks, plates and window art.
- Watch craftsmen create rustic furniture as you shop.
- Check out Santa and Christmas themed creations.
- See potters at work as you browse pottery shops.
- Get belts, moccasins and other leather goods handmade for you.
- See the variety of handwoven rugs and other items.
- Look for black bear themed items throughout the community.
- Enjoy scenic photography.
- Get some wooden toys for the kids.
- See inspirational landscape paintings inspired by the local countryside.
- Explore a cornucopia of candles that are fun, beautiful and unique.
- Buy homemade jams, fudge and honey along with homemade lotions and creams.
- Enjoy meeting the artists and hearing their tales about how they learned their crafts.
Bring your Christmas list as the variety of handmade items make fantastic gifts.
After all your shopping, it’s likely you’ll work up an appetite. You won’t have to drive back to town to grab a bite as there are several restaurants located within the Arts & Crafts Community. The list of community members we provided above also includes several fun and innovative restaurants. Order unique foods like lobster pie and stop into a British themed pub for a meal or a taste of their beer or ale. You’ll also find soda fountains and candy shops to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The Arts & Crafts Community is a fun and relaxing change from the hustle and bustle in town. Visitors report that the Arts & Crafts Community is set up to accommodate people who want to spend the entire day there, or who wish to drop in and see a few shops to get a hint of local history. Some people like to stop for two or three short visits, and others love immersing themselves in this area for an all-day activity. Whatever you choose, it’s certain you’ll find something to please you in this enclave of creativity.
Note: To see as many artists as possible it may be best to go Monday through Saturday as on Sundays several of the shops are closed.