These are 3 Things I Won’t Ever Do Again in Gatlinburg

downtown gatlinburg and a thumbnail of no way joses

There are certain things I wouldn't do again in Gatlinburg (photos by Marie Graichen/

A Smoky Mountain resident talks about experiences he won’t try again in Gatlinburg

As someone who has been hanging out in Gatlinburg for more than 30 years, I’ve been burned a few times. It could have been a restaurant, an attraction or an experience. Sure, we all have our favorite things, but we also want to try something new. Sometimes things just don’t work out. Often, you’ll go back and give it another try but eventually, it becomes obvious. There are some things you just need to scratch off your list. 

There are many fun things to do in Gatlinburg, but there are also a lot of tourist traps and misfires that don’t warrant further exploration. In this article, we’ll discuss three things in Gatlinburg we won’t do again. 

No way jose gatlinburg
No Way Jose’s is located across from Ripley’s Aquarium and Anakeesta in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/

1. Eating at No Way Jose’s

This used to be a favorite spot for my oldest daughter. She was young and developing her palette. Fairly plain Mexican food was just up her alley. We’d go visit the aquarium and then walk across the street to her favorite dining spot. We didn’t mind. I’d get the fajitas. It’s hard to mess up fajitas. And not that the food at No Way Jose’s is messed up. It’s just not … special. It’s the culinary version of the Larry David shrugging gif. 

You can do so much better in Gatlinburg. For instance, on a recent visit Sofia and I went to Estrella Hondumex – the Mexican – Honduran restaurant in Gatlinburg. It was fantastic and flavorful. The dining experience isn’t fancy. But it’s good. 

If you’re interested in trying No Way Jose’s yourself, it’s located at Stoplight No. 5 on the strip. Estrella Hondumex is located at 109 Roaring Fork Road.

the ober mountain aerial tramway
The Ober Mountain Aerial Tramway is the best way to travel to the attraction (photo by Morgan Overholt/

2. Driving to Ober Mountain (just take the tram)

Ober Mountain is a Gatlinburg institution that fell on hard times. Under the previous ownership, when it was still Ober Gatlinburg, I’d said I wouldn’t take my family back. However, since Joe Baker got involved, the future looks suddenly bright once again. 

So why won’t I drive to Ober Mountain? Because the cost of the aerial tramway is now included in your basic ticket price. The aerial tramway is one of the truly unique experiences in the Smokies – it feels like something out of the Swiss Alps. Technically, I should say I think that’s what it feels like never having been to the Swiss Alps. 

But in the past, the upcharge for my family of five meant it was smarter to drive up the mountain and take my chance at getting a parking spot on the top level. Now we can park on the main drag and ride up the mountain in style. It adds to the experience and ambiance of an Ober Mountain getaway. 

The Ober Mountain Tramway Mall is located at 1001 Parkway #2 Gatlinburg. Ober is open year-round. Hours and prices can change seasonally. 

The Cheese Cupboard and Hofbrauhaus Restaurant
The Cheese Cupboard and Hofbrauhaus Restaurant is now closed (photo by Bill Burris/

3. Visiting the Cheese Cupboard and Hofbrauhaus Restaurant in The Village Shops

This one isn’t a won’t. It’s a can’t. The days of visiting The Village Shops – a European-tinged shopping center on the Gatlinburg strip – to purchase exotic cheese and German food are over. The Cheese Cupboard and Hofbrauhaus Restaurant are permanently closed. Reader, we flew close to the sun on wings made of gouda. 

On our last visit – if only we’d known – I got a nice earthy mushroom leek cheese, a more traditional Colby and a round of giant pickles for the family. We wandered back out into the daylight eating our vinegar-soaked cucumbers and planning a return for schnitzel and bratwurst that would never come.  

Capitalism can be a cruel mistress. I mean who is a lowly cheese shop and German restaurant supposed to compete when legends like Jason Aldean are in the Gatlinburg culinary game?

In Gatlinburg, you have to be selective with vacation dollars. There are things you must let go. Sometimes – like with the Ober Mountain Aerial Tram – it’s because a better option has arisen. Sometimes, it’s because an old favorite has run out of chances – like at No Way Jose’s. And sometimes it’s simply the march of time or commerce or time and commerce that leads to changes. And so, there are things we can or won’t ever do again as we make way for favorites and new experiences. 

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