My first adult trip to London was something of a whim. My wife Leslie and I were in Paris for our honeymoon.
Flush with cash from wedding gifts, we left most of our stuff in the hotel room and booked passage on the Chunnel to London with a return the next day.
However, London’s a big city and we did not plan anything properly.
Even though we had failed at planning, I’ve never failed to feel at home in Europe. It all seems so familiar, so comfortable.
It’s not a surprise, I suppose. I was raised on Mary Poppins. Peter Pan. Winnie The Pooh. Anne of Green Gables. The Little Prince. The Three Musketeers.
We’re raised – or at least I was – on European-tinged pop culture and literature.
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Where is The Village in Gatlinburg?
The Village in downtown Gatlinburg is located right past traffic light #6, adjacent to the Pancake Pantry.
I love visiting The Village. The faux-European architecture is a stroke of genius.
In the late 60s, a pair of families took a parking lot in a small mountain tourist town and turned it into a mini-European village.
Why did they do it? I’m not sure. Had it been a decade earlier, it’s possible they’d have chosen a Western theme. A decade later? Maybe a Polynesian one.
Instead, The Village owners bought the property in 1965. They spent three years researching designs and compiling pictures with unique architectural and cultural ideas.
The result is a hodge-podge of design that makes the Village indistinctly European, the same way the Gene Wilder classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is.
Specifically, there are touches of Swiss, German, Celtic, English and French. All are connected by classic Old World brick walkways.
It’s the perfect place to do your Gatlinburg shopping and dining. But it’s also a great getaway from the more neon elements of tourism in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Village owners – Jim and June Gerding, owners of The Pancake Pantry and David and Peggy Dych, owners of Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen – searched old homes, churches and buildings that were being demolished for items they could use in the construction.
“They acquired thick roofing slates, heavy carved doors, antique trim moldings, gas lighting fixtures and handmade bricks to complete a sense of the Old World,” The Village website explains.
“Construction began in 1968, and the first 18 shops were completed in 1970. The remaining nine shops were added in 1982 to complete The Village Gatlinburg as we see it today.”
What stores are in The Village in Gatlinburg TN?
The unique stores of The Village themselves represent the melding of the Old World and the new, with a variety of oddly specific specialty shops, popular places and unique boutiques.
Certainly, not all of the stores in the shopping complex fall neatly into either category but many do.
Here is a complete list of shops currently located in The Village in Gatlinburg, TN.
25. The Spice & Tea Exchange of Gatlinburg
You can shop here for that real authentic Old World feel and a taste of the spices and teas that drove European explorers around the world. Also, it’s perfect for creating your own gourmet gift.
The Spice Exchange is, in fact, a good example of the kinds of shops that are only available in The Village.
24. The Day Hiker
If you plan to check out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you should, The Day Hiker is a great place to pick up a few supplies. It offers a variety of hiking poles, water carriers, maps and more.
Of course, there are many great gift ideas as well.
23. Master’s Editions
This shop is a fine art gallery that holds an impressive 2,000 square feet of space, a collection of masterful paintings and knowledgeable art consultants.
22. Zi Olive
A shop devoted to the finest gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegar? Sure. Throw in some pasta, sauces, wine and beer jellies and you’ve got a real taste of the Old World.
21. The Honey Pot
The Honey Pot is a great place to explore for homemade goods and home decor. They have plates, homemade pottery, custom cutting boards, wine glasses, wall art and more.
20. Bonediggity Barkery & Gifts
I assume you can guess from the name, it’s a bakery and gift shop for dogs.
Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think this is something the Swiss would embrace.
19. The Silver Tree
The Silver Tree is home to an array of jewelry that includes earrings, bracelets and more.
They also offer a men’s collection. It’s an impressive line of jewelry that is definitely worth a stop.
18. The Sock Shop
They sell socks. In fact, lots of them. Fun socks. Crazy socks. Cool socks. Toe socks. Knee socks. I don’t have a joke. Honestly, I’m perplexed.
In other words, I didn’t even know socks could be cool.
17. The Candle Cottage
Candles are always a safe gift for just about anyone. Their line of candles includes aromatherapy candles made with essential oils.
They also have decorations, oil lamps and more.
16. Pop Culture Popcorn
25 distinct flavors of gourmet popcorn? Sounds American to me.
15. Coffee & Company
We’re about halfway through the list, and you might need a pick-me-up. Coffee & Company offers their own full line of coffees with bags, gifts and home goods.
14. Maddi Mae’s Village Café and Creamery
This one straddles a bit of a line, but so does the New World borrowing from the Old. So, here we are with an American-style soda shop with a variety of ice creams, malts, shakes and floats.
Sure you can get an energy jolt from a Cappuccino or Cuban Espresso, but this little slice of heaven is straight out of an Archie comic and there’s nothing more American than that.
13. Hayloft Comfort Footwear
This shop focuses on comfortable feet, both for work and for play. If you need any specialty footwear for just about any occasion, this is your spot.
12. Pepper Palace
What says New World tourism more than hundreds of hot sauces, salsas, spices, rubs and more, each designed to set your world on fire.
Cheese shop? Donuts? How about you pay us for some hot sauce to set your tongue – and the rest of your digestive tract – on literal fire?
11. Toy Crazy
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Toy Crazy has a selection of Care Bears, Hello Kitty, dolls, games, stuffed animals and so much more.
10. Celtic Heritage Co.
The Celtic Heritage Co features items imported from Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Indeed, it is a great place to dust off your hyper up-to-date Mike Meyers Scottish impression circa 1993. Wool sweaters, kilts, tartans and a fine selection of jewelry are also available.
9. U Name It
Here we have a monogram shop where you can customize a selection of purses, bags, baby blankets and more.
8. The Lazy One
All this shopping will be exhausting. The Lazy One specializes in pajamas, loungewear and comfortable clothing. The selections are unique for everyone from infants to adults.
7. Boudicca’s Celtic Pub
Newly opened in late 2021, this Celtic Pub sits in the Village behind the Pancake Pantry. And it also features a variety of beers that can be enjoyed in the Public House style downstairs.
In addition, there’s also a family-friendly dining room upstairs with adults and kids menus featuring burgers, fish and chips and other pub food.
So, who is Boudicca? Only a warrior Queen of Briton from 43 AD who was apparently a cross between Merida from Pixar’s “Brave” and William Wallace who unified the tribes of Briton and fought the ruthless Roman hoards.
In fact, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a poem about her. And the History Channel did a documentary so you know she’s a big deal.
Boudicca-themed merch also makes for the perfect souvenir for the Warrior Queen in your life.
Editor’s Note: When my Guinness-loving in-laws came into town, they visited this pub daily.
6. God’s Corner
God’s Corner is a Christian shop with a selection of music, art, jewelry and more.
5. The Cheese Cupboard and Hofbrauhaus Restaurant
Another of the early shops, The Cheese Cupboard opened in 1969 as Gatlinburg’s premier cheese shop. Certainly, a category for which I can’t imagine there was much competition.
“Since that time, thousands have enjoyed our large array of imported and domestic cheese, unusual crackers and wonderful chocolates straight from Switzerland and Germany,” owners say on their website. “We have snacks, cold drinks, gourmet mustards, hot sauces and even old-fashioned Kosher dill pickles.”
The restaurant, a German-style pub, features the famous Super Reuben and a variety of hot specialty sandwiches. Indeed, this German pub is the definition of an Old World atmosphere.
4. Misty Mountain Soap Co.
Soap is similar to candles, it’s a safe option for just about anyone on your shopping list. The array of homemade soaps is sure to have something for everyone.
3. Gatlin’s Escape Games
There’s also a small board game store – Gatlin’s Escape Games.
Gatlin’s shop carries a selection of puzzles, brainteasers and magic tricks.
2. Life is Good
This popular brand is all about the power of optimism. They are famous for their classic T-shirts and apparel for both humans and pets.
1. The Donut Friar
Carolyn and James Ryan moved to Gatlinburg in 1969 and opened The Donut Friar. A happy little donut-serving holy man was somehow perfect for The Village’s European sensibilities.
For generations, the Ryans have served fresh donuts of all kinds. Favorites include chocolate and coconut glazed and rainbow sprinkle donuts.
French crullers and Bavarian cream-filled cinnamon twists are also on the menu as well as cake donuts. And the cinnamon bread is definitely worth it.
Certainly, there are a surprising number of shopping destinations dedicated to specialty footwear and socks.
From all kinds of home decor to candles, to gourmet food, you can find the best gift idea or two right off traffic light number six.
What is your favorite destination at The Village Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments.