Rent a cabin
Outside of the park, the most popular spots to visit are mountain towns like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville in Tennessee along with the less touristy destinations in Jackson County on the North Carolina side of the Smokys. Jackson County destinations like Cashiers, Cherokee, Sylva, and Dillsboro have their own charm and a less frenetic pace of life.
In Gatlinburg, rental cabins are the places to stay. Big enough for a group of friends or families, most of the better ones are equipped with full kitchens, rec rooms with pool tables and video games, and hot tubs to soak in after a long day of tourism. Airbnb has hundreds of listings for you to choose from. During colder months, Ober Gatlinburg is a popular spot for skiing and snowboarding, as well as hitting up the restaurants and bars for après-ski activities.