Don't listen to the haters. We go up every year during Mardi Gras and I absolutely love it up there. Beautiful country.
That area is basically the pancake house capital of the world. As far as food goes, I highly recommend Pancake Pantry in downtown Gatlinburg, which is one of my top 5 favorite restaurants, anywhere. They have a huge variety of different styles of pancakes, crepes, and unusual sandwiches. I have never been disappointed. My wife really likes the Apple Barn/Apple Barn Grill in Pigeon Forge. The Peddler Steakhouse in Gatlinburg is a cool place where they hand-cut your steaks in front of you (you buy it by the ounce) and they have a great salad bar.
Whatever you do, DO NOT go to Cades Cove. I have been twice and both times were extremely boring. The only animals I have ever seen were deer and turkeys. Definitely one of the most overrated places in the park.
If you want to see great scenery, drive the main road through the park towards Cherokee, NC. You can stop along the route to take plenty of great pics.
Ober Gatlinburg is another great place, especially if you have young kids with you. They have skiing, tubing, ice skating, and a lot of other fun activities.
I also highly recommend stopping at the Ole Smoky distillery in downtown Gatlinburg and sampling all of their different moonshines. You can literally sample as many flavors as you want.
This post was edited on 4/9 at 8:13 am