How the Hometown is Rivaling its Sister Cities
Spanning the United States from North Carolina to California, Interstate 40 funnels millions of travelers to the Smoky Mountains every year. The most popular exit is 407. This exit marks the entryway to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. Many tourists may not realize that as they exit the interstate, they are passing through Kodak, TN. Kodak is a small community with a population of 4,500.
In the past, Kodak has gone unnoticed by the people traveling to its sister cities. Now, with its own growth and development, the town is beginning to rank amongst Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg as a popular Smoky Mountain destination.
The Steady Growth of Kodak, TN
Kodak, located at the northern tip of Sevier County, has been a quiet residential area for those working in the booming tourism industry. The community’s growth has recently accelerated, although it remained steady for the last few decades.
In the 1990s, the Great Smokies Flea Market opened and was an instant favorite for Smoky Mountain locals and visitors. Soon after, restaurants and motels opened, followed by the Tennessee Smokies Baseball Stadium in 2000. By the new millennium, other businesses like Bass Pro Shops popped up to join Kodak’s other big-name businesses such as Russell Stover, Cracker Barrel, and a handful of fast food establishments.
To reduce traffic backups, officials modernized the interchange to a diverging diamond in 2015. It proved successful in managing the traffic coming in and out of Kodak. Now, new developments will strain the current infrastructure. As a result, plans are in the initial stages to construct a new exit. The new exit, 408, will make way for additional businesses including the 407: Gateway to Adventure site.
Exploring the Plans for 407: Gateway to Adventure
Kodak, TN, is fast becoming the ultimate fusion of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. It is evolving to provide a unique mix of the best each city has to offer. Visitors can expect the warm, small-town feel of Sevierville, the exciting attractions and thrills of Pigeon Forge, and the nostalgia and Smoky Mountain charm of Gatlinburg.
Phase 1 of 407: Gateway to Adventure includes the new Buc-ee’s Travel Center. Visible from the interstate, motorists can’t deny the alluring beaver and all that Buc-ee’s is known for. Travelers love this Texan establishment for its clean restrooms, a plethora of gas pumps, and freshly smoked BBQ. Buc-ee’s branded merchandise has quickly become one of the most popular souvenirs in the Smokies!
Visitors to this travel center will notice nearby development sites. Another addition to phase 1 activity is the 20-acre entertainment district named Smoky Gap. Kituwah LLC, a subsidiary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is bringing this destination to Kodak. It will offer an experience akin to that of a 1900s Americana main street, complete with attractions, dining, and shopping. This will be an attraction that appeals to people of all ages. On top of this, there will be late-night entertainment, making it ideal for a fun-filled time with friends.
Also, the French Theme Park Company, Puy du Fou, has a new Cherokee history attraction in the making. This immersive show will highlight the Cherokee Natives’ contribution to World War I.
To better accommodate the large influx of overnight guests, a Courtyard by Marriott will be opening in phase 1 – adding to the already present Fairfield Inn & Suites, Comfort Suites, and other places to stay in Kodak, TN.
Visiting Kodak, TN Today
A total of three phases will propel Kodak to rival to its sister cities. Keep watching to see Kodak mature into a brand new place for Smoky Mountain visitors to enjoy! Kodak will look like a completely different place within the next decade, but visiting Kodak now is already a great way to enjoy a few days in the Smoky Mountains. Bass Pro Shops is a notable spot, neighbored by Chop House Restaurant, Thunderhead Harley-Davidson, and Old Tennessee Distilling Company. Across the road, you can find Cracker Barrel, several well-known fast-food restaurants, and the Tennessee Smokies Stadium.
In 2025, the Tennessee Smokies Baseball Club will relocate back to Knoxville, and the future of the stadium in Kodak remains uncertain. There is, however, some speculation that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians may be interested. It will no doubt be fascinating to see what happens with this property.
Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin has been serving breakfast to Kodak visitors for the past two decades. With five other Smoky Mountain area locations, guests love this restaurant for its scratch-made dishes, log cabin atmosphere, and Southern hospitality. Across the highway, Russell Stover has been offering freshly made candies, boxed confections, and hand-dipped ice cream. On top of that, visitors can find car and RV dealerships in the area.
Other businesses such as Katom, FedEx Ground Warehouse, Lisega, OTICS, America’s Home Place, and Mountain Motorsports conduct business in Kodak. These businesses provide even more jobs to East Tennessee residents. Kodak is a popular relocation destination for families moving to Tennessee.
Only in Kodak, TN
There’s nowhere else in the Smokies to catch a ball game, buy a new Jeep, and then indulge in hand-crafted spirits, chocolates, and beaver nuggets. All of this, and more, can be found in Kodak, Tennessee!
Part of Kodak remains unincorporated while other portions have been annexed by the City of Sevierville. These areas are included within the city’s urban growth boundary. This interactive map shows the boundary lines and gives us insight into where the progress is happening and where more developments may happen next.
There’s no denying that millions of tourists love the Smoky Mountains and the cities within its foothills including Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, but now they can explore a new destination – Kodak, TN!
Kellum Creek Business Solutions keeps tabs on all the developments happening in Sevier County, and we help talented entrepreneurs launch successful, purposeful brands. Check out the list of clients we work with here. We love being a part of the tourism and business industry in Sevier County, so let’s stay in touch! Sign up for free business advice and news about local businesses in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg… and Kodak!
Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton