There’s nothing quite like unwinding with a glass of local blackberry wine at a beautiful Tennessee winery. Unless it’s sampling world-famous moonshine cherries. Or maybe you prefer a frosty glass of Windy Gap Wheat Beer? Go ahead, pick your poison: Below, we outline our five favorite spots to stop for a drink near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Remember: Always use a designated driver!)
Taste Tennessee Moonshine at Sugarlands Distilling Company
“Stories in every jar” is the motto at Sugarlands Distilling Company, and you’ll be a believer after you meet some of the big-hearted people who work there. Sure, there’s free samples of moonshine in flavors like Apple Pie (their one-of-a-kind version uses Granny Smith apples and caramel) but there’s also Appalachian storytelling, behind-the-scenes tours, and live music. The shine’s great and the energy’s infectious. Don’t miss this one.
Sample a Flight of Microbrews at Smoky Mountain Brewery
Serving handcrafted, small-batch beers in appropriately named varieties like Mountain Light and Black Bear Ale, Smoky Mountain Brewery is an excellent place to sample a handful of local beers – order the flight and you’ll get to sip on four different beers.
As the weather turns cooler, we especially love the Tuckaleechee Porter, a dark ale with a roasted, caramel flavor. Hungry? Decent burgers and pizzas abound. Locations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Tip Back a Pint With Locals at The Roaming Gnome
The Shepherd’s Pie may be the most Irish thing on the menu, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t tons of fun to be had at The Roaming Gnome in Sevierville. Stop by on a Saturday and you’ll find locals with frosty mugs in hand crowded around the TV rooting on their college football teams of choice (SEC fans, this is your country).
A laid-back atmosphere, big portions and a full menu until closing makes the place a good bet for those who like to party late. Try the Reuben Eggrolls!
Take the Wine Tour at Sugarland Cellars Winery
Tour this working winery, then sit back and enjoy the free wine tasting. The friendly staff at Sugarland Cellars will explain what you’re sipping, and you just might be enticed to bring home a bottle of their Blueberry Wine. Pressed for time? Swing in before heading next door for dinner at The Peddler or The Park Grill – they’ll cork your bottle for free!
Tip: If visiting wineries is your preferred way of imbibing, consider doing the Rocky Top Wine Trail, which directs you to the five area wineries. Hit all five and you’ll get a free gift at the end.
The Cherry on Top: Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
A moonshine-marinated cherry, that is. With roots tracing back to the Smoky Mountains’ earliest settlers, Ole Smoky is the first federally licensed distillery in the history of East Tennessee.
At Ole Smoky Distillery, you’ll have the chance to browse row after row of classic and specialty moonshine flavors including White Lightning and Hunch Punch. Take a tour of the distillery, or grab a gift for your house-sitter: Ole Smoky Distillery has an ample assortment of charming moonshine foodstuffs: moonshine cake, huckleberry moonshine jelly, moonshine hot sauce, and more. Locations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Looking for a place to rest your weary head after all that moonshine-soaked fun? Browse our list of beautiful Smoky Mountain National Park cabins!