It’s that time of year.
The nip of winter is in the air. Thanksgiving is approaching quickly.
Colorful holiday decorations are beginning to illuminate the nighttime sky.
It’s the holiday season and you know what that means?
Christmas shopping! And we don’t necessarily mean shopping for Christmas gifts for others.
Gatlinburg and the surrounding area are also filled with shops dedicated to providing the perfect Christmas decorations, knick-knacks and more. In fact, anything you can use as the perfect holiday gift or help make your own holiday season a little more merry and bright can be found right here in the Smokies.
Still, with so many to choose from, what is the discriminating holiday shopper to do?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with this list of the best spots to do a little Christmas shopping in Gatlinburg and the mountains.
5. Uncle Bunky’s Christmas Cottage (Bryson City)
This one is a bit further out, but we thought we’d sneak it in.
After all, sometimes your Christmas shopping should come with a little bit of an adventure.
Uncle Bunky’s is located on 44 Fry St. in Bryson City, North Carolina.
It is about an hour and a half drive from Gatlinburg along U.S. Highway 441.
Along the way, you’ll see some of the most scenic views in the mountains, have a chance to spot elk, pass two of the parks’ four visitors centers and explore the North Carolina side of the mountains.
Uncle Bunky’s itself is worth the drive. The store is fun and festive and full of tastefully chosen Christmas items. It’s not gigantic but it’s pretty cool.
5. Christmas & Collectibles (Pigeon Forge)
Located at 2684 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, Christmas & Collectibles ain’t quaint and it also doesn’t mess around with trying to create its own Christmas wonderland atmosphere. There’s a wide selection of fantastic holiday decorations. It’s Christmas shopping in a practical sort of way.
3. Christmas Eve Gift Shop (Gatlinburg)
Located In the Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Village on 170 Glades Road in Gatlinburg, Christmas Eve Gift Shop features unique works of art such as hand-painted, hand-sculpted and hand-sewn gifts.
Everything from ornaments to 3-foot Santas are available. It’s a low-key shop for those looking for a lovingly crafted, locally made gift.
And, it’s also usually far less crowded, and far less stress-inducing than some of the overly-commercialized shops in town this time of year.
2. Santa’s Claus-et (Gatlinburg)
Located off the beaten path at 1350 Parkway, the pun-tastic Santa’s Claus-et is a one-of-a-kind holiday shop perfect to help get your family in the spirit of the season.
Also billed as the largest Christmas store in Gatlinburg, the Claus-et features hand-painted ornaments, holiday decor, and more.
Personalizations are free. Daily samplings include fruit spreads, salsas, veggie dips, soups, bread and more.
But what sets the Claus-et apart is it is operated by Santa himself who is available for photos and to meet with children of all ages.
Santa had previously been located within the store, but starting this year is located in Santa’s Candy Cottage, adjacent to the main store. Children can fill out their wish lists, meet with Santa and pose for pictures with Kris Kringle himself.
Certainly, it is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
1. The Incredible Christmas Place (Pigeon Forge)
And finally, the polar opposite – HA! – of Christmas & Collectibles, The Incredible Christmas Place is a handful of rides short of being a theme park.
In particular, it strives to keep the Christmas spirit year-round, like a bit of the North Pole located in the Smokies.
Its wide array of Christmas merchandise is second to none.
In addition to shopping, Santa keeps visiting hours in his “haus” from 10 am to 5 pm most days and from 9 am to 7 pm Saturday.
Haus? Well, the Christmas Village is Bavarian-themed.
Christmas Place and the shops at Bell Tower Square were founded as a family business by Hurshel and Marian Biggs in 1986, both of whom have since passed away. The Bavarian-style shopping village has since become one of the top ten Christmas and Collectible stores in the United States.
Over the years, The Christmas Place has been honored for its merchandising and decorating achievements.
For example, among the awards they have received is the “NOEL Retailer of the Year” for a Specialty Store. This annual award recognizes a company that has achieved outstanding growth and performance through excellence in merchandising Christmas products. It also recognizes the significant contributions to the Christmas Decoration Industry.
Look, it’s a little bit cliché to pick The Incredible Christmas Place at No. 1. In fact, I really wanted to rank the charming underdog Santa’s Claus-et at the top spot. But I can’t deny how awesome The Incredible Christmas Place is if you’re really into Christmas.
The good news?
You can visit both. In other words, decide for yourself and really get in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas Place is located at 2470 Parkway in Pigeon Forge.
What is your favorite Christmas store in the Smokies? Let us know in the comments below.