Sevierville

Buc-ee’s Sevierville TN Opening Date: Massive Travel Center Coming Soon

In a world of clogged inboxes full of press releases, it takes a little something special to stand out. 

Amid the endless pitches, solicitations and shysters, the folks at Buc-ee’s know how to make their voices heard. 

So when the self-styled “home of the world’s cleanest bathrooms, freshest food and friendliest beaver” announced its intention to build the world’s largest convenience store in Sevierville, I must say I granted it my full and undivided attention.

At the time of this writing, Buc-ee’s has more than 40 stores. And Buc-ee’s is continuing its expansion throughout the Southeast.

Stores are also now open in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, and yes, Tennessee. 

The Buc-ee’s store in Crossville, Tenn., is now open.

The Sevierville Tennessee location, which is projected to open in the early summer of 2023, will offer the same Buc-ee’s staples as its Texan counterparts such as fresh BBQ, homemade fudge, their popular Beaver Nuggets, jerky, kolaches, fresh pastries and of course, their famous Buc-ee’s Brisket Sandwich.

TheSmokies.com

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Is there a Buc-ee’s in Sevierville TN?

Construction is currently underway. The new location for this massive convenience store will be Exit 407 on I-40 in Sevierville, TN.

Sevierville, for the uninitiated, is the gateway to popular tourist attractions including Dollywood in Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Exit 407 is one of the most heavily traveled sections of interstate in the country. 

For many, it will be the first stop when they come to town for their family vacation.

The gargantuan Buc-ee’s will be located on land owned by Kituwah, LLC and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The land was acquired previously after being dormant for years due to a failed development. 

How big is Buc-ee’s in Sevierville TN?

Buc-ee’s will cover a whopping 74,000 square feet of the 200-acre development.

It will provide a mind-blowing total of 120 fueling positions, EV charging stations and a car wash (nearly the length of a football field). 

The previous largest Buc-ee’s location came in at 66,000 square feet.

It will be the largest location for a short time. Buc-ee’s officials recently announced plans to build a 75,000 sq foot facility in Texas. 

Read Also: Things to do, area attractions in the Smoky Mountains

When will Buc-ee’s in Sevierville, TN open?

The Sevierville Buc-ee’s is projected to open in May 2023, according to job postings from the company.

The site seems to be making considerable progress, as shown in the construction photos, taken in late September 2022.

an aerial view of construction site of buc-ee's in sevierville tn
Construction progress at the Sevierville Buc-ee’s in September 2022 (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

In short, it’s going to be a big dang deal 

As a side note, I’m glad they are coming to Sevierville. I’ve been less than impressed with the gas stations near Exit 407 of late. Recently, I pulled into one – which shall remain nameless – and none of the gas pumps were working correctly. 

Did they have any signs that let me know? Nope. They just let me drive from pump to pump like a fool.

In addition, several of the bathrooms at those stations near the exit are extremely sketchy. However, the humongous Buc-ee’s features world-famous clean potties.  

In fact, their website claims you can “potty like a rock star”.

Anyway, I welcome our beaver-loving, gas station overlords.

Somewhere, a single tear drips down the face of the giant papier-mache head of NASCAR legend Richard Petty that used to sit on a bluff at a gas station located where the Beef Jerky outlet now sits.

Which reminds me, Buc-ee’s should totally drop the beaver mascot and bring that giant papier-mache head back. It would fit with the theme of the development, “The 407: Gateway to Adventure”. 

What says adventure more than a giant foam-like head of an aging NASCAR legend? 

But I digress.

Fresh fruit at buc-ee's
Buc-ee’s is well known for its wide assortment of snacks, including healthier options like fruit cups and salads (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

Does Buc-ee’s have food?

As for the rest, I’m sorry to say the opening salvo of the Buc-ee’s press release promising clean bathrooms, fresh food and friendly beavers was simply a Trojan horse. A way to get my jaded eyes to read past the first paragraph.

Once they’d grabbed my attention, it was time for regular press release synergistic hyperbole of carefully curated exciting words in which everybody gets a little too worked up about gas station barbecue and its potential to affect positive change in the world.  

“Buc-ee’s is known for pristine bathrooms, a large amount of fueling positions, friendly service, Buc-ee’s apparel and fresh, delicious food,” reads the original press release.

“Originally launched and still headquartered in Texas, Buc-ee’s has combined traditional quality and modern efficiency to redefine traveling for their customers.”

Read Also: What is the best food at Buc-ee’s? 18 top Buc-ee’s snacks, ranked

a closer aerial view of buc-ee's building shows outlined construction for the new buc-ee's in sevierville tn
The new Buc-ee’s in Sevierville is part of a larger development at Exit 407 (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Other notable developments at Exit 407

Developers indicated that the rest of the site will feature a “world-class” golf attraction, (Editor’s Note: It better be a Top Golf) a go-kart facility and a distillery experience. 

Throw in a place to get some pancakes and you’ll have distilled the entire Smokies experience into one 200-acre site. 

Additionally, European theme park company Puy Du Fou is bringing a unique historical attraction to the site. The immersive show will be inspired by Cherokee Indians who served in World War I.

Buc-ee's Storefront
Buc-ee’s, known for its food and clean restrooms, is bringing its largest location yet to Sevierville (photo courtesy of Buc-ee’s)

Why Sevierville, TN?

For Buc-ee’s officials, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains is the ideal stop to build their Taj Mahal of travel plazas. But don’t take my word for it, just ask Stan Beard, Director of Real Estate for Buc-ee’s.

“It is not a coincidence that we chose the 407 as our first big store location outside of Texas. We will be the proverbial welcome sign at the front door of the exceptional travel experience that the Smoky Mountains, Sevierville and Sevier County have to offer. You won’t forget your first visit to Buc-ee’s and it won’t be your last!” the exclamation point enthusiast said.

“We are thrilled to share our over-the-top customer experience and be a pivotal part of the Kituwah and EBCI vision for the Gateway to Adventure.”

And we’ve not even mentioned the best part.

What’s the only thing more exciting than giant gas stations and beef jerky you might ask?

Jobs.

Buc-ee’s will bring many permanent, full-time jobs with benefits to the region. And starting pay is above minimum wage.

Are you familiar with this popular chain from the Lone Star state? Will you be starting out your Smoky Mountain adventure with a stop at Buc-ee’s?

Let us know in the comments below!  

View the web story version of this article here.

21 best restaurants in Sevierville TN [2023]

On the map, the West Prong of the Little River divides Sevierville from Pigeon Forge. 

It’s the same as many of the imaginary borders we use to divide our world into sections, arbitrary and relatively meaningless except for man-made concepts like politics, regulations and taxes. 

In the real world, unless you saw the sign, you’d have no reason to know that you’d crossed from Sevierville into Pigeon Forge or vice versa. Right there along the city boundaries, there’s very little practical difference between the two. 

But it may surprise you to know that Sevier County’s seat is more than just the business end for its two more wild and free siblings, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Years ago, Sevierville siphoned off the best of the county’s shopping – particularly the outlet businesses that had helped make Pigeon Forge strong. 

TheSmokies.com

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Is Sevierville close to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge?

Sevierville is closer to Pigeon Forge, near the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s right at the border of Pigeon Forge and about 30-40 minutes from Gatlinburg.

Sevierville siphoned off a major piece of Pigeon Forge’s bread and butter with its shopping outlet, but a funny thing happened to the rest of the city. Sevierville’s food scene became something of a natural balance to Pigeon Forge. 

Now, another movement is well underway. In particular, Sevierville is THE place to go in the county for foodies. 

It’s strange. 

When I first moved to East Tennessee, Sevierville was nothing more than the town you had to drive through to get to Pigeon Forge. As the county seat, it had the courthouse and the jail but nothing that would draw people to town who didn’t have specific business there. 

That’s not the case anymore.

Wild-eyed artists with little more than a spatula and a dream found a home in the burgeoning Sevierville food scene.

As of late, Sevierville is a good place to find great food.

So, if you’d like to get away from the culinary version of a classic rock station, drive up north of the West Prong and see what Sevierville has to offer. 

Below, you will find my personal ranking of the best restaurants in Sevierville.

Read Also: Things to do in downtown Sevierville TN, is it better than Gatlinburg?

flapjacks chocolate chip pancakes
The chocolate chip pancakes at Flapjacks can be ordered with or without pecans (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

21. Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin

Look, we had all this build-up about cracking the eggshell that is Pigeon Forge culinary homogeny, but you still got to eat breakfast.

Breakfast items are the one area in which Sevierville restaurants lack options compared to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.

Culinary artists, it seems, aren’t as jazzed at getting up at 4 am to make a bunch of hash brown skillets. Still, pancakes and waffles are big business in Sevier County and Flapjack’s is a great place to get ’em. 

It’s comfort food for your breakfast-lovin’ soul.

Holstons
A local chain, the Sevierville location can be found next door to Suntrust on Dolly Parton Parkway. The other is located in Morristown, TN about an hour away (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

20. Holston’s Kitchen

Next, we have Holston’s Kitchen. Holston’s Kitchen made the cut on our best Sevierville restaurants list for its variety of menu options and massive portion sizes.

At Holston’s, you can get anything from Greek salads to TexMex to Italian cuisine to steaks and everything in between.

Try the Fried Green Tomatoes while you’re there – a Southern staple.

Just be sure to come hungry as portion sizes are generous.

Big Daddy's pizza for take out
Big Daddy’s Pizzeria does not offer delivery, but you can order for takeout (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

19. Big Daddy’s Pizza

Everything is fresh at Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, where their wood-fired flame creates unique handcrafted Italian works of art.

The pizza is delicious, but it’s not unique to Sevierville. They also have locations in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Of course, they are best known for their pizza but also offer sandwiches, salads and apps.

plate of tacos from fort worth kitchen
If you love TexMex – Fort Worth Texas Kitchen might become your new favorite place (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

18. Fort Worth Texas Kitchen

Fort Worth Texas Kitchen is a newcomer on the Sevierville food scene.

Their dinner menu features a variety of TexMex style favorites at affordable prices.

the diner in sevierville tn
The Diner in Sevierville leans into car culture (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

17. The Diner

One of the premier attractions to Sevier County over the decades has been the car culture.

In particular, from the Rod Runs to cruising up and down the strip, the 50s/60s American graffiti vibe is a big part of the social fabric of the area.

At The Diner, get a patty melt, some onion rings, french fries, green beans, a chicken tender basket and a big ole shake.

It’s not culinary artistry. Certainly, it’s not Picasso at the grill. But it’s one of the best places in the Smokies for a traditional diner experience.

It’s good and fun and classic and there’s a place in any good food culture for those things, too. 

plate of food in front of roll on in
Roll On In is a bit more “grab and go”, but it offers high-quality build-your-own hibachi, bowls and burritos (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

16. Roll On In

Roll On In is a unique, casual concept but it delivers when you need quality food fast.

You can order from a selection of specialty bowls and burritos or completely customize your own creation.

It’s a bit like a Chipotle but for sushi and hibachi. And it’s genuinely great.

gatlinburg brewing company
The Gatlinburg Brewing Company has two locations in the Smokies (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

15. Gatlinburg Brewing Company

Here, my friends, we may well have found genius.

Founded by a man who discovered his passion for brewing at an Outkast concert – I want to make an Outkast reference here to prove how hip I am but I’ll just say that if I were a professional baseball player my walk-up music would be “So Fresh, So Clean”.

With two locations, the Gatlinburg Brewing Co. offers craft beers, pub-style appetizers and truly delicious pizza.

Pizza varieties include Dirty Hippie, Hangover Helper, Betty White and Basic AF.

applewood farmhouse grill
Applewood Farmhouse Grill – Sevierville’s oldest restaurant – is located on the Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store property (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

14. Applewood Farmhouse Grill

The Apple Barn is one of our favorite places to frequent and it happens to be home to another popular restaurant: Sevierville’s Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.

Located right on the line with Pigeon Forge, the Farmhouse is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings. The fare is what you’d expect from a farmhouse restaurant – fried chicken and roast and meatloaf and such but with a few surprises as well. 

It’s all amazing food that the whole family will enjoy.

And don’t leave until you’ve sampled the chicken pot pie, chicken and dumplings, pot roast and apple fritters for a sweet treat with a side of homemade apple butter and apple julep.

comida hondurena in sevierville
This Honduran restaurant is a local favorite (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

13. Comida Hondureña Yobanina

This one is a local favorite.

Comida Hondureña Yobanina is a Honduran restaurant located in a gas station near the Tanger outlets.

This is the perfect place to go when you want to add a little spice to your diet. 

graze burgers exterior
Graze Burgers is located in downtown Sevierville, TN and serves up some of the best burgers you will find anywhere in the Smokies (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

12. Graze Burgers

Sometimes you just want a delicious burger. Graze is the place, featuring all grass-fed beef burgers with no hormones, antibiotics or steroids.

This is not your typical burger fare. For example, try the Local Farmer with aged cheddar, house bacon, a fried egg, local greens, onions, tomatoes and house pickles.

I’m gonna be honest. Any place that has its own pickles is gonna be alright in my book. 

plate of onion rings and bbq
Hippie BBQ is a new delicious restaurant in town (photo by John Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

11. The Hippie BBQ and Grill

The Hippie BBQ is a new restaurant in the area. It’s a 1970s-themed sports bar that specializes in BBQ, burgers and wings.

It’s definitely a contender for some of the best BBQ in the area.

A steak at seasons 101
A perfectly prepared steak at Seasons 101 in downtown Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Seasons 101

For the record, this is not a freshman-level meteorology course. It is a self-described culinary experience.

Seasons 101 is located in the heart of downtown Sevierville, TN at the Historic Central Hotel. It is a comfortable, casual dining atmosphere, combined with upscale cuisine at moderate prices.

The season determines how the menu selections are curated. “An ever-changing selection of signature dishes and cocktails inspired by the current season is the heart of our dining philosophy.” 

And whatever the season, the food is, in fact, always good. 

Five oaks Farm Kitchen
Five Oaks Farm Kitchen is located across from Tanger Outlets in Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Five Oaks Farm Kitchen

For symmetry purposes, I should have ranked this fifth. But let’s move past that.

Five Oaks Farm Kitchen lives up to the name. Run by the family of Dr. John (not the Iko, Iko guy) and Blanche Ogle who originally owned and operated the family farm, Five Oaks is probably the best of the region’s farm-house style restaurants.

I’d recommend something from the smokehouse – but that may be my general preference for smoked meat talking. The fried okra is also a must. 

el primo in sevierville
El Primo offers authentic Tex-Mex (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

8. El Primo Products Hispanos

If you’re looking for the same-old Tex-Mex that gets slung in restaurants from here to the border this isn’t the place.

In fact, if the idea that the best Mexican food is served in the back of a Hispanic grocery store is a surprise to you, this might not be your place.

However, if you want to eat something with authentic flavor? This is your place. They have all the classics like quesadillas, tacos, fajitas and queso.

trotters
Trotter’s is a new BBQ restaurant in downtown Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. Trotter’s Whole Hog BBQ

This BBQ restaurant is another new addition to the growing downtown Sevierville foodie scene.

The menu features appetizers like pimento cheese, pork rinds and burnt ends as well as meat plates and a variety of smoked sandwiches with banana pudding for dessert.

It’s conveniently located on Bruce Street.

pinchys lobster
Pinchy’s Lobster also recently opened in downtown (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Pinchy’s Lobster

Pinchy’s Lobster is bringing New England seafood to the Smokies.

Freshly opened downtown, they offer fresh sushi, lobster, a raw bar, a beer garden and live music on select nights.

bustin butts bbq
Bustin’ Butts BBQ serves meat on a paper plate the way God intended (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

5. Bustin’ Butts BBQ

Delicious BBQ made fresh daily. It’s served on paper plates with beans, potato salad, smoked mac and cheese or coleslaw.

There are also a few outdoor picnic tables if you want to eat on site, but you can call ahead and pick it up to go. 

Read Also: 7 weirdest and punniest attraction names in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

Preachers BBQ Sign
Preacher’s Smokehouse is one of the best “hole in the wall” restaurants in the Smokies (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

4. Preacher’s Smokehouse

The menu? Written on a chalkboard on the wall. The proprietor? A real-life preacher named Sam Steele.

The Food? Oh. My. God.

Get the burnt ends. And get the three meat meal – which comes with two sides for $15. Get everything.

Indeed, this is the kind of place barbecue foodies dream about. Hours are limited, so plan ahead.

Read Also: 6 best hole in the wall restaurants in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

aubreys in sevierville
Aubrey’s has excellent food in Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Aubrey’s

Aubrey’s is an interesting case study. It’s part of a popular East Tennessee restaurant group that is professional, consistent and good if not great. 

I’m a fan of the Pizza Rockefeller, the Hawaiian Ribeye and the Strawberry Pecan Salad.

chop house in sevierville
The Chop House is located inside the Tanger Outlets shopping complex (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. The Chop House

This is an upset of sorts.

I love The Chop House which is run by East Tennessee restaurant royalty.

Everything is great. It’s done to perfection every time. It has been – in my opinion – the best place to eat in Sevierville for years. So why is it No. 2? Well…

The Appalachian
The Appalachian in Sevierville serves up traditional Southern classics, fine dining style (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

1. The Appalachian

Finally, if we’re honoring Sevier County’s burgeoning foodie community, we must recognize the new guard.

The Appalachian is one of Sevierville’s newest restaurants, serving up delicious food, fine dining style.

They specialize in bringing a modern approach to traditional Appalachian ingredients and dishes.

Dishes change with the season. For instance, the Wood Grilled Pork Chop has sea island red pea, long grain rice, smoked tomato broth and green onion.

At the time of this writing, prices range from $18 for the Appalachian Burger to about $90 for the 48 oz. Tomahawk Ribeye.

Certainly, The Appalachian represents an artfulness, a thoughtfulness to the culinary sciences that challenges the idea of what Appalachian cuisine can be.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Sevierville? Let us know in the comments below! 

What is the best food at Buc-ee’s? 17 snacks, ranked

Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? 

Does Buc-ee’s really have Bohemian Garlic beef jerky?

They do. And it’s magnifico. 

That’s not my real lede. I just am enamored of the idea of Bohemian garlic. What makes the garlic Bohemian? No idea. It must be socially unconventional.

It’s rebel garlic, operating outside the bounds of polite society, and it’s one of the best snacks at Buc-ee’s.

So now, here’s my real lede. 

Indeed, we have become a Buc-ee’s family.

TheSmokies.com

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For a long time, we’d heard whispers and have been Buc-ee’s curious.

Now, on multiple road trips to Florida and Alabama, we’ve been able to really soak in the Buc-ee’s travel center experience in multiple locations and can confirm it’s one of the best places to stop on a trip.

We are completely smitten with the ever-expanding Texas chain of gas stations.

Read Also: Why are people so obsessed with Buc-ee’s? Is it worth the hype?

Buc-ee's store with plush buc-ee's mascots
Bucky the Beaver is the mascot for Buc-ee’s locations (photo by Ray Shrewsberry/shutterstock.com)

What is Buc-ee’s famous for?

Buc-ee’s features dozens of gas pumps, world-record-breaking food options and impressively clean restrooms.

And we are counting down the days for Buc-ee’s to open the world’s largest convenience store at Exit 407 in Sevierville, TN. In fact, it will be a half-hour drive from our house. 

Over the years of family road trips, I’ve earned something of a reputation. On family pit stops, I will inevitably choose the worst option in a 50-mile radius. 

It’s in my head now. And it happened again recently when we had to make a stop without a Buc-ee’s nearby.

The restroom was a single stall – and while it wasn’t dirty, it was a far cry from Buc-ee’s clean bathrooms with several stalls. A father and son team beat me to the door by a few steps, so I had to wait for quite a while as they did their business. 

It was suboptimal. And it was a far cry from Buc-ee’s. 

But Buc-ee’s is more than gas pumps and bathrooms. It’s an entire road trip experience.

Everything about Buc-ee’s is ratcheted up. The shopping experience, the customer service and the tasty treats, it’s all top-level. 

I came to the realization during this latest trip that I’d rather have the food items from Buc-ee’s than almost any fast food place I’ve ever stopped at on a road trip. 

The fact of the matter is Buc-ee’s is a great place to eat when on the road. I’m not saying you should take the family out for a meal at Buc-ee’s. However, if you’re traveling and don’t want to stop for a full sit-down meal, Buc-ee’s is a great place to give your taste buds a treat. 

hammocks for sale at a bucees
Buc-ee’s is a massive store that has T-shirts, a wide range of snacks and meals and even American made hammocks (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

What food should I get at Buc-ee’s?

Well, I’m glad you asked. The best Buc-ee’s snacks and my favorite Buc-ee’s snacks aren’t exactly the same thing, but we’ll try to thread the needle with a bit of both.

Buc-ee’s has more than just sodas, pretzels and potato chips. And it’s guaranteed to be the best “gas station food” you’ve ever had.

At some locations, they also offer free samples of some of the more popular items so you can really get a good idea of what you want before you make your purchase.

Also, we’re treating this as a road trip food destination, not a family night out for dinners, so we’re factoring practicality into these Buc-ee’s food rankings. 

Read Also: Buc-ee’s Sevierville TN opening date: Massive travel center coming soon

sausage on a stick in front of bucees
Buc-ee’s famous sausage on a stick is a favorite for some (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

17. Sausage on a stick

I’m genuinely sad to report this here as I am typically a big proponent of foods on sticks.

The Buc-ee’s sausage on a stick – which comes wrapped in a tortilla – was difficult to navigate while driving and ultimately underwhelming in just about every way. 

Quail eggs at buc-ee's
The pickled quail eggs felt like an odd choice for our family (photo by Joni Hanebutt/shutterstock.com)

16. Buc-ee’s pickled quail eggs

Every once in a while, you get a real hint of Buc-ee’s Texas roots.

Look, I’m an open-minded guy.

Eat what you want to eat. But I do not want to go on a 10-hour road trip with someone eating pickled quail eggs. 

house made chips in front of bucees store
Buc-ee’s Beaver Chips are homemade (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

15. Buc-ee’s homemade chips

They’re chips. They don’t reinvent the art form or anything. 

But they are homemade, so there is that.

Fresh fruit at buc-ee's
For a quick healthy option, Buc-ee’s also offers fruit cups (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

14. Fresh fruit

We can’t all live by Beaver Nuggets and beef jerky. We need a little fresh fruit.

Buc-ee’s has a nice selection of fruit – probably slightly better than your typical gas station, but probably not quite as good as a local supermarket.

Especially in the south where fresh fruit is available for most of the year, I can’t imagine targeting Buc-ee’s for the fruit.

In Florida and Georgia, we saw dozens of ads for citrus fruit and peaches at stands up and down the interstate. In my experience, any one of those has better fruit than you’ll get from a large chain. 

peach rings at bucees
Buc-ee’s also has a wide selection of candies such as peach rings (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

13. Peach rings

Of the many varieties of gummy foods available at Buc-ee’s, and there are a great many, the peach rings are likely my least favorite.

In truth, it’s not that they’re bad. It’s just that peach rings are not my thing. If you like sugary, peachy flavor, adjust accordingly. 

wrapped white fudge with sprinkles at bucees
If you like fudge, the fudge counter is a sight for sore eyes (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

12. Fudge

Again, we’re in the realm of personal preference. I’m not a fudge guy. Every tourist town in America hawks fudge and saltwater taffy and I’ve never much liked either.

I think it’s the consistency.

Still, even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, Buc-ee’s fudge counter is a sight to behold.

They have flavors ranging from traditional, like the chocolate peanut butter, to the curious, like a blueberry cobbler, to the downright reckless – I’m looking at you, key lime pie – and also birthday cake.

cinnamon rolls at bucees in plastic packages
The cinnamon rolls at Buc-ee’s have cream cheese icing (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

11. Cinnamon rolls

Buc-ee’s has a variety of pastry selections and honestly, the cinnamon rolls are great.

It’s just that as road trip food, cinnamon rolls can be a bit … messy.

Therefore, I say get a box and put it away for the hotel at the end of the trip. But will I let you eat cinnamon rolls in our new family car? I will not.

caramel corn at bucees
Buc-ee’s caramel corn is a good option for a road trip snack (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Caramel corn

It’s a high-floor, low-ceiling kind of snack. Is it possible to mess up caramel corn? I suppose, theoretically, it is, but more often than not you know what you’re getting with caramel corn.

Good. Satisfying. Sweet. Crunchy. Not life-changing. But it’s a good road trip snack. 

chicken fajita taco at bucees
The chicken fajita tacos are a filling and convenient meal for the road (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Chicken fajita tacos

I like Buc-ee’s tacos very much.

Plus, bonus points for being easy to eat in a car.

Buc-ee's on the go meat and cheese snacks
There are several convenient grab-and-go options at Buc-ee’s, like the cup of cheese or meat snack as seen at the Georgia Buc-ee’s (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

8. Meats and cheese

When on the road, I like meats and cheeses and Buc-ee’s has a fine array of choices.

On our most recent visit, I got a vacuum-sealed pork loin with pepper jack cheese. There are several options including a summer sausage that’s quite good as well. 

cold sandwich wrapped in saran wrap at bucees store
Buc-ee’s carries a large assortment of sandwiches (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. Cold sandwiches

While Buc-ee’s has quite an array of hot food, there is an excellent variety of deli sandwiches as well.

I recently tried the Italian sub and it was really, really good. Not good for gas station food, but enjoyable enough that I’d seek it out again.

The roast beef and the pastrami Reuben are also pretty good.

If you enjoy a good sandwich, also consider their Signature Club which has ham, turkey, bacon, jalapeño Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and a spicy-sweet mayo.

beaver nuggets at bucees
These corn puffs are a staple in the Buc-ee’s community (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets

A controversial selection here as the Beaver Nuggets are probably Buc-ee’s most recognizable and blogged-about snack.

To me, they’re a cousin of the cereal Honey Smacks. But with more caramel flavor.

It’s not my favorite thing but many people swear by the puffed corn nuggets. 

wall of trail mix at Buc-ee's
Buc-ee’s has a wall dedicated to trail mix (photo by EWY Media/shutterstock.com)

5. Trail mix

Buc-ee’s specializes in walls of various treats. There’s a beef jerky wall, a dried fruit wall and a wall of gummy treats. There is also a large section dedicated to a variety of trail mixes.

It goes far beyond the typical trail mix with a variety for everyone. In particular, it’s a good energy snack for the road. 

banana pudding at bucees
The banana pudding comes in a convenient travel cup (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Banana pudding

As you can probably tell from the list, I prefer savory snacks to sweet snacks most of the time, but I’m a sucker for banana pudding.

In case you’re wondering, the best banana pudding in the world is at Dreamland Barbecue in Tuscaloosa.

Buc-ee’s isn’t that good but when you’re on the road, you have to take what you can get. And this banana pudding is worth taking.

3. Breakfast tacos

Ah. Now we’re on the high ground.

You know that meme from the Sly Stallone movie “Over the Top” which tried to be “Rocky” but for competitive arm wrestling? No. The 80s were a strange time, man.

Anyway, the only cultural relevance left is a meme of two muscular arms – one white, one black – clasping hands as if ready to arm wrestle. It’s used in internet culture to represent the meeting of two disparate cultures on common ground.

So if I knew how to make memes, I would make one representing Mexican cuisine and breakfast foods. It is, in fact, the common ground upon which a society can be built.

Buc-ee’s has a variety of breakfast tacos. However, I think drifts closer to the realm of burritos – but we’re not going to quibble over technicalities.

There are different varieties. The Hippo taco has bacon, egg, cheese, potatoes and beans. The Rhino substitutes sausage for bacon. And honestly, they are all wonderful.

ghost pepper beef jerky at bucees
Buc-ee’s has several flavors of beef jerky, including ghost pepper (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Beef jerky

Belinda Carlisle once sang “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” I’m pretty sure she was singing about the jerky counter at Buc-ee’s.

It is like the meat case at a grocery store but instead of selections of steaks, chicken and ground beef, it’s just different flavors of dried meat piled high.

How committed am I to the beef jerky life? I can remember the first time I had it. It was made by hand by a craftsperson who served it on a field trip at Historic Old Fort in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

So, I like to think the reenactor – a champion of jerky tradition and pride – is looking down from somewhere ethereal at the Buc-ee’s jerky counter and pleased that their life’s work wasn’t in vain. 

pulled brisket on wood block at bucees
Buc-ee’s is also well-known for its barbecue selection (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

1. Barbecue

Finally, we have Buc-ee’s barbecue.

Previously, I’d tried the brisket and found it to be not bad. But at that point, I hadn’t tried the pulled pork. I corrected that mistake recently.

While the brisket sandwich is better than most fast food road trip options, it’s not as good as local mom-and-pop barbecue establishments.

The pulled pork, however, is a notch or two above the brisket. I suspect it’s because the pulled pork survives slightly better under the production limitations that Buc-ee’s must overcome.

The calibrations don’t have to be quite as precise.

Certainly, I’m not here to tell you to drive past a local smoker who’s doing barbecue to go to Buc-ee’s, but I am willing to tell you it’s probably the best mass-produced road trip sandwich available.

Do you have a favorite Buc-ee’s food? What items do you think are the best? Let us know in the comments!

Christmas in Gatlinburg: 13 festive things to do in the Smokies

Fresh snow on mountains, moonshine with cinnamon; bright Christmas lights and warm homemade mittens … these are a few of my favorite things!

If you’re visiting the Great Smoky Mountains in the winter season, you’re in for a real treat. In my opinion, nobody does Christmas like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

November and December are some of the best months to visit, with the city’s lights shining so bright that Rudolph himself would approve.

If you’re looking for some of the best things to do for Christmas in Gatlinburg this year, here are some of my favorite things to do in city – and the surrounding areas – for the holidays.

TheSmokies.com

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kids sit on santa's lap at crave golf
Santa will be visiting Crave Mini Golf in Pigeon Forge on Dec. 10 and 20 from 6-9 pm (media photo courtesy of Crave Mini Golf)

13. Enjoy some festive mini golf

Whether or not the temperatures outside are looking a bit frightful, you can always enjoy a festive round of mini golf at the indoor/outdoor Crave Golf Club.

This year, the candy-themed course will deck the halls in garland, wreaths and 30,000 Christmas lights.

Santa will also be visiting on select days in December.

Crave Golf Club Coupons

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You may also redeem this coupon at the ticket counter using the barcode below.

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santa in patriotic outfit during parade
Enjoy the annual Gatlinburg Christmas parade if you’re in town on Dec. 2 (archive photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

12. See a Christmas parade

One of the best ways to kick off the season is by catching one of the area’s Christmas parades.

The Fantasy of Lights Parade is scheduled for Dec. 2, 2022 at 7:30, beginning at the Baskins Creek Bypass on East Parkway.

The Sevierville Christmas Parade will be on Dec. 3 at 11 am at the Historic Downtown area.

Read Also: 14 things to do for Winterfest Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg 2022

ole smoky with christmas decor at night in gatlinburg
Try some new seasonal flavors at Ole Smoky (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

11. Sample some ‘shine and wine

This time of year, I love allowing myself a jar of seasonal ‘shine.

My personal favorite is the Ole Smoky Shine Nog. It goes great with nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.

Also, be sure to try to check out Banana Pudding and Pumpkin Pie.

If you’re in downtown Gatlinburg, expect to pay about $5 for samples.

You won’t have to try too hard to find wineries or distilleries. Just walk the strip, and you’re bound to bump into one.

You can also book a tour with a professional guide if there’s room in your budget.

If you venture down to the Sevierville or Pigeon Forge area, it’s also a fun time of year to visit the Apple Barn Winery.

The Apple Barn is free to visit, but I still recommend tipping your servers.

Tanger Outlets in Sevierville
Tanger Outlets offers some of the best shopping in Sevier County (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Do your holiday shopping

Whether you’re holiday shopping or trying to catch a few deals, winter is a great time to take advantage of area shopping centers.

In Gatlinburg, check out the unique shops around Baskins Square Mall and The Village Shops. There are plenty of specialty stores that are unique to the area.

Santa’s Claus-et is another great place to visit for the holiday season.

If you venture into Sevierville, you’ll find Tanger Outlets. It has several brand-name and designer outlet stores and has been one of my favorite places to shop in the area for years.

Be sure to pack your patience, though, because it can get a little crowded.

Of course, there’s also the Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, the South’s largest Christmas store, which has personalized items, trees and a wide variety of decor.

homemade wooden snowmen at a gatlinburg arts and crafts show
Shop from a selection of unique, homemade crafts in the Arts and Crafts Community (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Explore the Arts and Crafts Community

The Smoky Mountains are well-known for their arts and crafts.

The Arts and Crafts Community showcases the talent of local artisans featuring weaving, candle making, silversmithing, pottery, leather making and more.

Shop where you see The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community logo to explore local talent and homemade goods or explore their 8-mile loop of artists and craftsmen.

Watch as they work their holiday magic or create your own masterpiece.

During the Christmas season, you can catch the Great Smoky Thanksgiving and Christmas Crafts Show from Nov. 22-Dec. 4, 2022. The show is free to attend.

Get your Christmas shopping done in one stop by shopping for unique jewelry, baskets, ornaments and more.

The area’s shows also become festive during the holiday season. Pictured: Christmas at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge (media photo courtesy of Lumberjack Feud)

8. See a Christmas-themed show

If you’re in Pigeon Forge, catch one of the area’s many themed shows.

Shows in the Smokies offer a variety of entertainment options featuring comedians, live animals, singers, comedy, dancers and more. 

Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Pirate’s Voyage, The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud, Country Tonight and Lumberjack Feud offer Christmas-themed shows this time of year.

Note that the Stampede, Pirates and Hatfield and McCoy are dinner shows. Come prepared with either an empty or full tummy, as situations apply.

Lumberjack Feud Coupons

Save $5 on Lumberjack Feud Show tickets

Save $5 when you book online with promo code TSC at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud.

You may also redeem this coupon at the ticket counter using the barcode below.

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A penguin at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
See what the penguins are up to at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (media photo courtesy of Ripley’s Aquarium)

7. Visit a museum attraction

Another way to stay warm is by visiting an indoor museum attraction.

Specifically, the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge is beautiful to visit this time of year since they get all decked out (pun intended) for the holidays.

I also enjoy visiting Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg this time of year. And, if you buy combo tickets, you can make your vacation dollars go even further and visit multiple attractions.

Lift at Ober Gatlinburg
Ober Mountain offers the only skiing and snowboarding opportunities in Tennessee (photo by Jaclyn Torrente/shutterstock.com)

6. Go snow tubing, ice skating or skiing

While the mountains can be quite cold in the winter, snow can be hit or miss. However, for those hoping to see some of the fluffy white stuff, you still have a few options.

Ober Mountain (formerly Ober Gatlinburg) is also a popular place to visit in the winter months. Ober has traditional snow tubing, year-round indoor ice skating, and most notably, Tennessee’s only ski and snowboard slopes.

If you hope to go snow tubing at Ober, be sure to book online in advance. Slots fill up quickly.

Don’t forget to take a scenic ride on the Aerial Tramway while you’re there.

Venturing further down into Pigeon Forge and Sevierville will also offer some more options.

Pigeon Forge Snow is an indoor snow park where you are guaranteed to see snow each and every day. The snow is 100% pure snow, made fresh every day of the year.

Also, Wilderness at the Smokies is offering ice skating from their converted outdoor wave pool for both resort guests and the general public.

Rowdy Bear Ridge is also offering snow tubing this year at its Pigeon Forge location.

gatlinburg skybridge with christmas lights
The SkyBridge is stunning this time of year at SkyLift Park (media photo courtesy of SkyLift Park)

5. Visit the SkyBridge at SkyLift Park

The Lights Over Gatlinburg event at SkyLift Park is one of the most breathtaking sights to see in the Smokies.

The event runs through Jan. 31 and features decorated Christmas trees and a 300-ft tunnel of lights.

It’s a truly magical experience. Learn more on the website.

santa and mrs claus review the nice list at anakeesta
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be visiting Anakeesta this season on select dates (media photo courtesy of Anakeesta)

4. Enjoy Anakeesta’s Enchanted Christmas

Anakeesta is one of the top attractions in downtown Gatlinburg.

It is stunningly beautiful this time of year with its Christmas decorations and offers brilliant views of the city below from high elevations.

Anakeesta’s Enchanted Winter celebration features a village of twinkling arctic lights around Firefly Village, Vista Gardens and throughout the 70-acre outdoor mountain-top park.

Santa’s sleigh will also be landing on Anakeesta Mountain on select dates throughout November and December. 

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a lighted photo op christmas wreath at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas event provides several photo ops for the family (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

3. Visit Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

Dollywood pulls out all the stops when decorating for the holidays, with the park completely covered in lights.

Glacier Ridge, one of Dollywood’s newer expansions, returns with its Northern Lights display, a 50-ft Christmas tree and a symphony of lights in the plaza.

Throughout the park, you’ll find special crafts, holiday favorites (I recommend the cinnamon bread) and a variety of holiday shows.

The Dollywood Express is also a fun way to enjoy the sights in the park. (Be sure to bundle up — it does get cold in East Tennessee.)

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a christmas fountain with a lit tree
Christmas lights and holiday decor will be featured throughout the city of Gatlinburg (photo by MoneyTy/shutterstock.com)

2. See the Christmas lights in Gatlinburg

The Great Smoky Mountains become a true winter wonderland during the Winterfest Celebration, a Smoky Mountain tradition featuring more than 6 million holiday lights throughout Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Take a driving tour or walking tour around the city of Gatlinburg.

For even more lights, be sure to check out Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland further down in Sevierville.

christmas tree inside cabin in gatlinburg
One of the best ways to celebrate the season is cozying up in a warm cabin with the family (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

1. Rent a Smoky Mountain cabin

Renting a large cabin in the Smokies has become a Christmas tradition in my family.

We invite our friends and family and all go in together on a huge cabin, where we enjoy board games, drinks, each other’s company and amazing sights as we sip hot cocoa.

With the breathtaking tree-top views, cozy fireplaces and hot tubs contrasted with the crisp mountain air, it’s enough to keep you from wanting to venture anywhere else.

Enjoy amenities the whole family will enjoy. For example, play “It’s a Wonderful Life” in your theater room.

Are you celebrating Christmas in Gatlinburg or the surrounding areas this year? What are your plans this holiday season in TN?

Let us know in the comments!