The area's family-friendly attractions, particularly the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, earned praise from the magazine's readers and editors, along with the scenic beauty of East Tennessee.
Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga topped the "Best Scenic View" list, which also featured two favorite destinations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park-Cades Cove (#6) and Clingman's Dome (#7), which is the highest point in Tennessee.
"The appeal of our attractions, lodging and dining, plus the spectacular beauty of the mountains resonates with our guests. That will be especially true as people visit this year during the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park," said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.
Pigeon Forge, which has only 5,800 residents but approximately 11 million visitors a year, offers guests a year-long calendar of special events, approximately 10,000 accommodations (hotel, motel, cabin, chalet), more than a dozen entertainment theaters, six outlet malls, craft shops, art galleries and attractions such as Dollywood, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede and WonderWorks.
A major new attraction, Belle Island Village, is projected to open this spring. Its major components include the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Motion Picture Museum and the Darrell Waltrip Racing Experience.
"Southern Living's 'Readers' Choice Awards' mean a lot. The magazine's circulation is 2.8 million, and its readers really know the South," Mr. Downey said.
Southern Living is the eighth largest monthly magazine in the U.S., and its readership is more than 16 million. Its "Readers' Choice Awards" are acknowledged as one of the largest reader-response programs in the publishing industry.
Other Tennessee favorites in the 2008 voting included Franklin at #5 on the "Best Small Town" list; Nashville at #5 on the "Best City" list; Nashville's Loveless Café and Pancake Pantry at #5 and #6 on the "Best Breakfast/Brunch" list; and the Memphis in May International Festival at #9 on the "Best Festival/Fair" list.
Balloting already has begun for the 2009 awards at www.southernliving.com/readerschoice. Voting ends on June 30, 2009.
Information courtesy of The Chattanoogan