Much like the European cities of old, Gatlinburg was not built for modern traffic.

The main strip is meant to be accessed by foot, really. They’ve widened the road as best they can but there’s limited space. During busy times, between the traffic and the frequent crosswalks, navigating through Gatlinburg can be an irritation.

That becomes doubly problematic if the driver wants to take in the sights.  And at Christmas, Gatlinburg becomes a visual smorgasbord, alit in the wonders of the season. It’s really cool, and worth checking out, but if you try to drive it, you’re going to miss it.

Enter the Gatlinburg Trolley Ride of Lights. Active from late November to late January, the night time tour through downtown Gatlinburg offers all the best sights from inside a warm and enclosed trolley, all for the low, low price of $10 American.

The ride rambles through downtown over to the adjacent East Parkway, giving visitors a chance to soak in the sights and take pictures without ruining their vacation and their insurance rating by plowing into an F-150 that stopped short to let a heard of teenagers run across the parkway. You can also enjoy a complimentary cup of hot chocolate provided by Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – world renowned for its hot cocoa and fish – those are individual items, the cocoa is not related to the fish or fish flavored in anyway. If you want fish flavored cocoa, you gotta do that on your own.

Visitors can catch the trolley three times a night through December 30 – no trolleys run on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. After that, the trolley tours run on Saturday evenings only.

In addition to the fantastic light show – and excellent people watching on the strip – there’s a special costumed storyteller serving as your guide and giving you some local color about the area.

All trolleys take the same route. Children under three ride free as long as they ride on a lap and there’s no food or drinks allowed on the trolley. Not even the hot chocolate.

Tickets are available online at www.gatlinburg.com.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.