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50 Things To Do In Gatlinburg in 2022

Gatlinburg is globally known as the “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains”.

The 10-square mile, little town sits within the heart of eastern Tennessee’s Appalachian Mountains, not far from Pigeon Forge.

It’s overflowing with exciting activities, even though it’s home to a population of fewer than 5,000 residents!

Don’t underestimate Gatlinburg’s beauty. It can go head-on with the more famous alternatives.

Fun things to do come from every direction, both from the town proper and the Great Smoky Mountains!

Delicious food? Check!

Relaxing spots? Check!

Heart-stopping adventures? Check!

Vibrant culture? Check!

Gatlinburg is a city that punches above its weight. Let’s hop into it all!

Here are the best 50 things to do in Gatlinburg for a memorable trip.

Here are the best 50 things to do in Gatlinburg for a memorable trip. 50 Things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

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Thrill-seeking at Anakeesta

What’s special about this place?

One of the best places in Gatlinburg is the all-in-one adventure park Anakeesta conveniently located along Parkway. Packed with adrenaline-rushing rides creatively networked within luscious nature, this theme park can answer all your needs, whether it’s fun, relaxation, or good food. There’s so much to try at Anakeesta that you’ll have to return to try them all!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Anakeesta is a family-oriented spot where every member of your family can find something that ticks their interest. No matter what preferences you have, and any fitness level you’re in, there are plenty of options at Anakeesta waiting for you!

What to do here?

Test your courage by hopping in for a Rail Runner Mountain Coaster rushing down from 1,600 feet high at 25 MPH or enjoy a ride to the top on a chairlift. Go for a friendly competition by the Dueling Zipline Adventure, stroll along the treetop skywalk at least 50 feet off the ground, and talk the kids to the playground. Refuel at Cliff Top for some comfort food, delicious steak, or a serving of dessert.

Best Time to Visit

Start your adventure as early as 9 AM on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when Anakeesta is least congested. But expect that flocks of tourists will start flooding at 11 AM. For the rest of the week, you can get your adrenaline fix between 9 AM and 9 PM, with 8 PM as least busy (if you’re into the nighttime adventure).

Learn more about Anakeesta here!

Hiking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What’s special about this place?

America’s most visited and one of the few free-entry national parks, the 522,419-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a natural cradle hosting diverse wildlife, terrains, and adventures. With over 150 trails running more than 600 miles, there’s no shortage of workout and majestic views to take in when you assault the Smokies!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has uncountable activities for people of any age and skill level. Meaning, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or you have no experience at all, you’ll find a trail that suits you. It’s also a fun place for your family, or you’re generally an outdoor enthusiast seeking to venture into nature.

What to do here?

Stay on the lookout for the animals peeping through the bushes and trees, go fishing, hiking or biking. You can also set up a tent to watch the sunset and camp overnight while stargazing. Remember the rule, LNT (Leave No Trace), “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time”!

Best Time to Visit

Start your journey as soon as dawn breaks, when the morning is still quieter and fresh. You can explore this treasure trove 24/7, stay for the beautiful sunset and stargazing once darkness falls. Anytime you feel the need to take a break, go straight to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Plan and make sure you have your tent ready. Gear up with some comfortable hiking boots and stay hydrated!

Learn more about Great Smoky Mountains National Park here!

Breakfast at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp

What’s special about this place?

Serving heavenly breakfasts since 1875, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp serves some of the largest plates of Southern breakfasts in Gatlinburg. Having drawn inspiration from the legendary Davy Crockett, there’s a frontier feeling here.. With a meticulous mountain-like setup, friendly staff, and yummy treats, you’ll exit Crockett’s Breakfast Camp satisfied and smiling.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The casual and family-friendly ambiance at Crocket’s Breakfast Camp makes it one of the best places in Gatlinburg if you’re dining with children. It’s all camping-inspired with wooden textures everywhere, so if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll love the experience here. The yummy menu at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is a must-try for every food lover while in Gatlinburg!

What to do here?

Say hi to the wooden statue of Crockett Maples outside before savoring their signature mouth-watering Corned Beef Hashed Benedict, with green peppers, potatoes, hollandaise, and a couple of poached eggs. Old Fashioned Cinnamon Candied Apple Waffle paired with hot cocoa topped with whip cream will keep you wanting more. Varieties of pancakes, French toasts, cinnamon rolls, omelets, and grits are also on the menu to fill you!

Best Time to Visit

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp serves daily, from 7 AM until 1 PM. Reservation is a must, and book a spot for 7 AM when there’s rarely any customers dining. It’ll leave you energized for the rest of your action-packed day.

Learn more about Crockett’s Breakfast Camp here!

Visit the marine residents of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

What’s special about this place?

With more than 100,000 marine residents, the 1.4 million-gallon Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies’ is undeniably one of the must-visits in Gatlinburg. Just a few steps from Anakeesta, these superb underwater creatures are scattered through 10 different aquatic galleries, ranging from cute penguins to rays and sharks. You even opt for a boat tour where you can see underwater through its glass floor! m

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you love animals or plunging into the waters is not possible at the moment, taking a trip to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a rewarding alternative. Bringing your little ones here will put a smile on their faces. If you’re searching for what to do in Gatlinburg, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies deserves a spot on the top!

What to do here?

See indo-pacific species in a vibrant reef environment like the regal blue tang, clown triggerfish, clownfish, and sohl tang. At the Ray Bay, there are the spotted eagle and cownose rays gliding, as well as southern stingrays, plus you can sign up for their Touch a Ray experience. Green moray eel, nurse and sand tiger sharks, and the predatory tarpons will welcome you at the Shark Lagoon.

Best Time to Visit

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is open daily from 9 AM until 10 PM. Steer clear from herds of visitors if you come at 9 AM and 6 PM onwards. You’ll forget about time being entertained, and that’s what happens when you visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Learn more about Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies here!

Sweet treats from Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen

What’s special about this place?

Gatlinburg’s best candy shop since opening in 1954, family-owned Ole Smoky Candy will satisfy your sweet tooth with the variety of options available and 33 taffy flavors to choose from. You can even watch the traditional production process while munching on candies! Experience what a unique candy parlor is like when you visit Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It’s no secret that sweets are a hit for both kids and kids at heart, so if you are with your kiddos, taking them here while in town is one of the best things to do while in Gatlinburg. Want to travel back to memory lane? Remember fun childhood days when you drop by at Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen.

What to do here?

Get a box of 24-piece assorted taffy or savor their unique moonshine flavored taffy. Classic chocolate fudge and other innovative twists like vanilla pecan and peanut butter and chocolate fudges will keep you craving more. You’ll love their signature Pecan Divinity, so much so not only you’ll binge on them, you’ll be bringing home lots of them!

Best Time to Visit

Get your sweet treats from Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen from Monday to Thursday, either once they open at 9 AM or 8 PM, both hours don’t have long queues. But for weekends, reschedule your night visit to 9 PM. Otherwise, your patience will be tested.

Learn more about Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen here!

See Tennessee from the top of Gatlinburg Space Needle

What’s special about this place?

Chances are when you take a ride at SkyLift Park or dropped by at Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook that you see a soaring tower in the scene. Gatlinburg Space Needle is the tallest structure in town at 407 feet and immediately became the primary observation deck at Gatlinburg after construction in 1969. Let your eyes feast on the 360o skyline view and the Great Smoky Mountains’ natural beauty when you ascend to the top of Gatlinburg Space Needle.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It’s one of the best places to bask in the overall allure of the area for anyone, especially if it’s your first time visiting. Gatlinburg Space Needle is also one of the best places to let your children see the wonders of the town. Sharing the viewfinder at the observation deck with someone special is one of the most romantic things to do in Gatlinburg for couples.

What to do here?

There are plenty of options to try by the lobby at the base, from yummy pizzas and souvenirs to fun arcade machines at Arcadia. You can choose from a couple of glass elevators, serving you a jaw-dropping view as you ascend to the observation deck at the top still. See the horizon stretching for miles and miles, with the settlements under, surrounded by rich greens and mountain ranges.

Best Time to Visit

Expect it to be moderately trafficked from 10 AM until midnight since it’s a megahit to tourists over weekdays. Be at Gatlinburg Space Needle before the sun goes down for a dreamy skyline, and it’s another sight to see the city lights come alive! The Gatlinburg Pinball Museum is also a close neighbor!

Learn more about Gatlinburg Space Needle here!

Trace Gatlinburg Trail

What’s special about this place?

No need to travel away from the comfort of modern living to escape the city noise! At the 1.9-mile long Gatlinburg Trail within the Great Smoky Mountains, immerse into nature amidst thick trees, rewarding overlooking views, and breathing in some fresh air for 1.5 hours to detoxify your stresses. You’ll come across open fields, waterfalls, and numerous forests along the way that you’ll forget that Gatlinburg Trail is actually within close distance from downtown!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The trail is beginner-friendly, but even pro hikers will find Gatlinburg Trail a natural wonder worth the effort. Hiking here is one of your best options if you come to the town to escape the bustles of city life. It’s also one of the few dog-friendly trails in Tennessee, so you can stroll along with your furry child (remember to clean up any mess they drop though!).

What to do here?

Find the trailhead along with Sugarlands Visitor Center. Enjoy river views, wander through rhododendron thickets and hardwoods, and look out for the quirky yet sturdy wooden footbridge that crosses it and let nature sink in. There are also remnants of previous homesteads that were once occupying sites in the area observable around.

Best Time to Visit

Gatlinburg Trail is open day in and day out, all year round. It’s better to hike once sunrise is on the horizon, so you’ll have plenty more time left to tick off items in your itinerary. Beware to avoid accidents, Gatlinburg Trail is also used by bikers.

Bring lots of water and stay comfortable throughout your hike. If you’re unsure how to remain optimal while outdoors, see the best hiking boots you can get and choose a reliable water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout your journey.

Learn more about Gatlinburg Trail here!

Enjoy the scenic views from Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

What’s special about this place?

Gatlinburg Skylift Park offers you three different options to see the picturesque scenes hundreds of feet mid-air: 140feet high at the longest hanging bridge in North America, SkyBridge, at 680 feet long, 500 feet high by the SkyDeck, and the premier 1954 SkyLift ride at 1,800 feet! Experience adrenaline rush while bathing in the town’s charm, along with Great Smoky Mountains’ charisma. Venture into head-spinning heights combing the activities at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

SkyDeck’s safe and less nauseating flat flooring might be the best option if you’re with your little ones, or head for Gatlinburg Space Needle. But if you like feeling your heart skip a beat, the thrilling activities at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park suit you well. It’s a must-visit for every tourist spending some time in the town!

What to do here?

Explore through the forests and valleys walking across SkyBridge, leading its highest point with glass floorings to spook yourself with the heights. You can also enjoy a mellow ride to Crockett Mountain’s summit sitting on SkyLift and talking unlimited snaps for keeps. At SkyDeck, you check out the gift shops and get some bites from the store while taking in the views.

Best Time to Visit

Time your visit Gatlinburg SkyLift Park during weekdays, at 8 AM when it’s least crowded and starts picking up tourist traffic at 11 AM, and reduces again at 5 PM until they close at 10 PM. Saturdays and Sundays are a big no-no!

Learn more about Gatlinburg SkyLift Park  here!

Tasting at Ole Smoky Moonshine

What’s special about this place?

Tennessee vacation is missing a puzzle without any homebrew, white dog, hooch, a.k.a. moonshine. Sip yours from one of the most-respected, most-visited distilleries on the planet, Ole Smoky Moonshine, established in 2010. Not only offering unique flavors, but there are also free samples you can avail of, a yummy menu, and a tour where you’ll witness real-time processing of this traditional southern homebrew.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Adults only! So if you’re out with your kids, just wait for them to snooze to dreamland. Ole Smoky Moonshine is one of the best bars in Gatlinburg to chill, getting merry as much as you wish sipping tasty moonshine.

What to do here?

Try your alcohol tolerance with shots of proof 100+ White Lightnin’, or the Original that’s carrying the authentic moonshine tang as ages ago. There are also coffee and pecan-inspired moonshine drinks, along with lighter brews, like Sour Peach and White Chocolate Strawberry Cream. Remember to grab some bottles to bring back home!

Best Time to Visit

Ole Smoky Moonshine is serving daily, but gulp your drinks from 6 PM until 10 PM, with fewer growlers in the vicinity. It’s also just a couple of minutes from Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, so it’s an easy detour after a physically demanding day outdoors. One of the best ways to end your day with a bang!

Learn more about Ole Smoky Moonshine here!

Family day at Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park

What’s special about this place?

Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park is one of the most visited spots in town, and it’s also the host to the only skiing resort in the state. Enjoy activities winding through the mountains no matter what time of the year you come. At Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park, there’s always something exciting and entertaining to keep you occupied, from hiking and ice skating to skiing and zooming down from the 2,750-foot summit, so there’s no stopping the fun!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It’s a place aiming to provide unforgettable memories for families particularly, so if you’re looking for some family adventure, Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park is the spot. You’ll find yourself indulging in the activities whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or you’ve never been on an adventure before. If you’re still short of things to do in Gatlinburg, you don’t want to visit Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park.

What to do here?

Before you even reach Ober Gatlinburg, you’ll ride the Aerial Tramway, with rewarding views as you ascend to your destination. Whoosh through the forests at 25 MPH from 2,750 feet when you ride the Mountain Coaster or go slow by using the handbrake. Take advantage of their ski lessons and rentals, smash the buttons on arcade machines, go for wall climbing, play mini-golf or cool off by pool slides.

Best Time to Visit

Make sure you’re there as soon as they open at 10 AM before tourist herds rush in. If you’re planning to ski, be there between December and March, but to be sure, time your visit in January and February. Ice skating is available throughout the year, so even if it’s summer, you can beat the heat at Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park.

Learn more about Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park here!

Visit Historic Ogle Log Cabin

What’s special about this place?

The first home in Gatlinburg was constructed in 1807, named the Historic Ogle Log Cabin, finished by Martha Jane Huskey Ogle. Started by her husband, Noah Ogle, who passed away due to malaria, she remained determined to finish the house in what is currently known today as Gatlinburg. Observe the meticulously restored 19th-century log cabin, barn, and tub mill, discover the history and the natural environs sitting on the grounds of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re a history geek, one of the most rewarding sites to visit in Gatlinburg is the Historic Ogle Log Cabin. The natural treasure nearby the house is also a treat for every nature lover. If you want to hit two birds with one stone, drop by at Historic Ogle Log Cabin.

What to do here?

Observe some of their house tools like spinning wheel and loom to learn about the lifestyle of the first settlers in Gatlinburg. There are also occasional dressed guides who narrate the past accounts of the Historic Ogle Log Cabin. Observe the barn with four pens and the tub mill, the only functional one within the park.

Best Time to Visit

You can take a tour at Historic Ogle Log Cabin any day, between 10 AM and 4 PM. It’s sitting along Roaring Fork Motor Trail, so if you’re planning for a hike, a quick stop at a Historic Ogle Log Cabin is a worthwhile warm-up.

Learn more about Historic Ogle Log Cabin here!

Sip Hard Cider from Tennessee Cider Company

What’s special about this place?

The pioneer cider tasting room in the state since 2019, Tennessee Cider Company at Mountain Mall will give you a unique buzz off the booze. Taste creative flavors from fresh ingredients to quench your growler’s thirst and grab a bottle or two while relaxing and chatting up with the friendly bartenders. Savor your drink with just the right mellow experience, all at Tennessee Cider Company.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you love cider, there’s no excuse for not trying out the options here. It’s also just a few steps away from the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, so it’s a sweet detour after your visit there. Tennessee Cider Company is a must-visit if drinking is a vital part of your holidays.

What to do here?

Try out their bestsellers golden/red apple cider, citrus mash cider, pineapple cider, blueberry cider, and the newly innovated watermelon cider. There are also three free tastings offered if you’re not sure about what to get, or opt for the $5/6 tastings deal so you’ll have a better grasp of the flavors before purchasing your bottles. Merchandises are on for sale as well, like T-shirts and hoodies.

Best Time to Visit

You can taste their cider selection starting at 10 AM on any given day. End your day with a relaxing ambiance and drinks when you drop by from 8 AM and onwards when fewer customers are inside Tennessee Cider Company. But if socializing is your goal, you’ll meet lots of new people at noon.

Learn more about Tennessee Cider Company here!

Stay at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Water Park

What’s special about this place?

Sitting on a massive 60,000 ft.2, Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Water Park will keep you feeling like royalty during your entire stay. When you lodge at this 4-star resort, you’ll access professional concierge services and world-class amenities within reach. With fully-equipped villas: comfortable beds, WiFi, flat-screen TV, and more, you’ll forget about your troubles when you save a room at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Water Park.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re on a family holiday, they offer the best accommodation options, packed with activities that every member of your family is sure to enjoy. Want to experience a top-notch stay while in Gatlinburg? Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Water Park won’t let you down.

What to do here?

Loosen up tight muscles at Serenity Spa, unwind by the heated pool or try your skills swinging the club on mini-golf. Splash all day at their indoor Wild Bear Falls Water Park, complete with cascading waterfalls and pools. You can also burn some calories at their fitness center and extinguish your hunger with some catfish nuggets, chicken + dumpling soup, and creole jambalaya before returning to all the action.

Best Time to Visit

Check their villa availability on their website and reserve yours in advance. After that, you can arrive any time of any day and take advantage of the services and amenities. It’s also just within a short distance from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so if you want a quick escape to nature, it’s the ideal site to lodge.

Learn more about Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Water Park here!

Sightseeing at Clingmans Dome

What’s special about this place?

Elevated at 2024.8 MASL, Clingmans Dome sits between North Carolina and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, holding the crown as the highest point in the state, promising unmatched miles and miles of jaw-dropping views. Stroll without any trouble hiking on the half-mile smoothly-finished concrete trail before climbing up the spiraling incline to the top of the observation deck. Observe Spruce-fir forest and raw wilderness when you climb up 45-foot tall Clingmans Dome.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re afraid of heights, this is the best exposure therapy, and the picturesque vistas at the top will mesmerize anyone witnessing it. The trek is also relatively easy, so even your little ones can conquer this fulfilling challenge. Clingmans Dome’s Instagrammable charisma will send heavy traffic to your account!

What to do here?

Since Clingmans Dome is part of the Copperhill Formation, there are noticeable massive conglomerates and greywackes along the way. The horizon is so expansive you’ll need more than half an hour to take it all in. On a clear summer day, you’ll be able to see as far as a hundred miles out on the horizon, but since air pollution didn’t skip the area, guests typically see at least 20 miles out.

Best Time to Visit

Weather permitting, the open season is between April 1 and November 28, but drop by their website for the latest updates.

Learn more about Clingmans Dome here!

Nonstop play at Gatlinburg Pinball Museum

What’s special about this place?

The 2018 Gatlin Pinball Museum is home to more than fully-restored 100 classic arcades and vintage pinball machines where you can play with no limits all day! Unlike traditional museums, there’s more than just looking. You can hit the buttons as much as you wish when you visit here with a great bonus, you can enter and exit any time of the same day, paying only once, a great bang for your buck while in Gatlinburg!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Whether you love history or you want to quench your nostalgic thirst, the collection at Gatlinburg Pinball Museum will keep you occupied for a long time. It’s also a child-friendly game space, and taking your children here will entertain them for hours. If you’re still short on what to do in Gatlinburg, this interactive museum is list-worthy.

What to do here?

Survive Street Fighter 2, Space Invaders, rare Gottleib’s SkyLine, escape quickly on Pac-Man, and get your hands at Lord of the Rings. Old-time car racing is also a game you wouldn’t want to skip, along with alien-hunting and shooting hoops. Gatlinburg Pinball Museum is also close to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, so once you feel the need for a change of scenery, you can easily drift back and forth.

Best Time to Visit

Be there as soon as they’re operational at 9 AM to make the most out of your unlimited plays. There are also very few people at Gatlinburg Pinball Museum during this time, so you can play on any machine without waiting in the queue.

Learn more about Gatlinburg Pinball Museum here!

Unwind at Wild Plum Tea Room

What’s special about this place?

This cozy classic tea house premiered in 1985, with delightful brews from Africa, Europe, and Asia. The Instagram-worthy space has little round tables in a comfy ambiance, sure to entice you for some relaxation while steeping your cup of tea. Wild Plum Tea Room will help ease off your stresses and enjoy the simplicity of the moment.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It’s a great spot to loosen up, especially if you just set foot in Gatlinburg. Wild Plum Tea Room will be extra special for you if you love tea. The cozy environment in this tea house will pamper anyone who drops by!

What to do here?

Get started with some smoked salmon rolls on greens or roasted beets dazzled with toasted walnuts and feta. Then marry it with lobster pie and a cup of Wild Plum Tea or apple juice. Their Bison Burger is so juicy on a massive serving it’s more than enough to fill you!

Best Time to Visit

Wild Plum Tea Room doesn’t entertain same-day reservations, so you’re required to save your seat in advance. They are operational between Thursday and Saturday, from 11 AM until 3 PM. Get there for some freshly made treats as soon as they open.

Learn more about Wild Plum Tea Room here!

Experience Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater

What’s special about this place?

Why settle for 3D when you can take it all to a whole new level at Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater! Enjoy action-packed screenings for at least an hour, with seats moving in 8 directions and out-of-this-world special effects. Prepare to be mind-boggled when you save your ticket for this Gatlinburg pride, where you’ll believe you’re inside the movie and forget the fact that you’re simply sitting on a chair inside Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Taking your children to Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater is an experience sure to give them a memory that’ll mark forever. If you’ve never tried it before, now’s your chance, so take advantage. It’s just nearby other attractions, so if you want to scoop up several activities in one go, Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater is a great inclusion.

What to do here?

Whether it’s Cosmic Race, Snow Ride, or Happy Family: The Ride, you’ll forget what reality and fiction are once the showing starts. Laugh, scream and be one with the characters and travel along with the plot with them. Feel the breeze, the water spraying on you, and your seat shake as you hop in to travel with the main protagonist/s, all at Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater.

Best Time to Visit

You can watch a show between noon and 9 PM daily, but call them up to confirm their updated hours. Soak in the movie better when there are fewer people on Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park and Gatlinburg Space Needle are also just within reach from Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater, so a pre/post-movie detour isn’t going to be troublesome.

Learn more about Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater here!

Drive to Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook

What’s special about this place?

The views at Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook are undeniably divine, but the great thing about it is it’s one of those rare gems that also offer you another raw beauty during the ascent to the top. From the base, you’ll witness stunning surroundings, and as you drive to higher altitudes, the exquisite attractiveness of the mountains will slowly peak in. And at the summit, you’ll be surprised by unobstructed scenery from Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Are you wandering around Gatlinburg with your entire family? Taking them at Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook is a fun activity everyone will enjoy without digging holes in their pocket. If you’re tight on budget, it’s one of the best sites in town to keep you in awe without a cost at all. Spending some moments basking in the views is also a romantic pursuit with your special person.

What to do here?

Bears and deer might be lurking nearby. Take in a breather of crisp thin air while sightseeing the luscious greeneries as you drive along. Once you’re at Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook, be marveled by the majestic vistas of both the town proper and mountain ranges, and take out your binoculars for a closer look at all the natural treasures before your eyes.

Best Time to Visit

Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook is open 24/7, but a picturesque sunrise has thinner crowds than sunset. It’s also a great observation spot for some stargazing once night falls. If you visit during autumn, there’s fall foliage everywhere, changing the surroundings into another striking sight.

Have no binoculars in your artillery yet? Check out these in-depth looks at the best binocularsto help you choose one that matches your style and preferences.

Learn more about Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook here!

Nerve-racking walk through the Mysterious Mansion

What’s special about this place?

The 3-story Victorian Mysterious Mansion constructed back in 1980 along River Road serves as a host to one of the town’s oldest attractions, the Mysterious Mansion. Be prepared to scream your heart out as you wander through eerie staircases and pitch-black corridors, chased by ghosts and monsters of all sorts. Find your way through the unending maze through secret channels at Mysterious Mansion, and hopefully, you get spooked out of your mind!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

No need to wait if Halloween season is still way too far, specifically if you’re a gore fanatic, simply run to Mysterious Mansion when you’re in Gatlinburg. If you have children, they don’t recommend taking them in, but it’s still up to you to decide. It’s sure to squeeze horrifying screams out of anyone who gets in!

What to do here?

Zombies can pop out of nowhere hungry for your brain, and cobwebs everywhere will catch your hair, so stay alert. The deep darkness in some rooms will require you to use your other senses so you can move forward. A ghost is sure to be lurking within every turn, so don’t let the mirrors distort your thinking!

Best Time to Visit

Mysterious Mansion is fully operational during summer and spring break until as late as midnight. But if you’re visiting during the off-season (winter, rest of spring, and autumn), see the shorter hours schedule on their website. It’s only a few steps away from the infamous Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, a great place to calm yourself, especially by the SkyDeck.

Learn more about Mysterious Mansion here!

Cruise the Roaring Fork Motor Trail

What’s special about this place?

Winding through a 5.5-mile loop in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Roaring Fork Motor Trail is a one-way road that’ll take you to some of the most-loved spots in Gatlinburg. You’ll see majestic natural views, the Historic Ogle Log Cabin, and the Place of a Thousand Drips, one of the only two waterfalls that are wheel-accessible. Roaring Fork Motor Trail will show you treasures for a couple of hours, even when you’re staying behind the wheel!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you have a vehicle with your can onboard, tracing Roaring Fork Motor Trail is one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg together. Nature lovers, even if you don’t have a car, bike, or stroll along. There are plenty of trailheads on the roadside you’ll be glad to hike.

What to do here?

Grab a guide by the visitor center to help you navigate and identify animal and plant species you’ll see as you drive along. See Place of a Thousand Drips and its waters flowing lowly, crashing into a rock. If you have the energy and time for it, you’ll also find the jump-off point to other waterfalls like Baskin Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Grotto Falls.

Best Time to Visit

The seasonal open schedule for Roaring Fork Motor Trail is currently between April 9 and November 28. Remember that if your vehicle is longer than 25 feet, you can’t enter, and the same goes for buses and trailers. There’s also no visitor center along the way, so pack your essentials and snacks in case hunger calls you out of nowhere.

Learn more about Roaring Fork Motor Trail here!

Scout the town via Gatlinburg Trolley

What’s special about this place?

One of the most practical ways to see what the town offers is riding the oldies bus Gatlinburg Trolley. With color-labeled routes, no more confusion while trying to get acquainted with the area: red, yellow, tan green, purple, blue, and pink. Since starting operation in 1980, Gatlinburg Trolley has given you a worthwhile ride throughout 100+ attractions around Gatlinburg.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re not clear where to start your trip, pick your choice as you travel onboard Gatlinburg Trolley. If you have your energetic kids with you, reduce your transportation troubles by taking a seat on this bus. If you want to scoop sites according to their forte, the Gatlinburg Trolley’s routes are all sorted out like that.

What to do here?

Taking the tan route, you’ll pass by the natural wonders of Gatlinburg, such as campgrounds and parks, before reaching the final stop at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. River Road and the busy downtown and its museums, galleries, and malls are the targets of the red route. While creative arts are the theme along the yellow route, where theaters and galleries are along the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community.

Best Time to Visit

Their operation schedule can change depending on the season and routes. But generally, you can enjoy a free ride from March until April starting at 10:30 AM until 10 PM, and between 8:30 AM and midnight from May through October. From November until February, they begin at 10:30 AM and stop at 6 PM on Sundays-Thursday and 10 PM for the rest of the week.

Learn more about Gatlinburg Trolley here!

Whitewater rafting with Nantahala Outdoor Center

What’s special about this place?

Feel your adrenaline fire up while you zoom along the 5.5-mile whitewater course at Pigeon River with Nantahala Outdoor Center. Since 2010, they’ve been one of the best outdoor adventure providers for locals and tourists alike with a massive 18,000 ft.2 area, with ziplines, camping, and their expertise, white water rafting. Get ready for a bumpy ride on more than 60 rapids, with numerous class III and IV rapids splashing sprays to your face aggressively!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

No need to be an expert or an adrenaline-junkie to enjoy a whitewater rafting adventure! There are two trips with different experiences to offer, both fun and heart-stopping. If you’re with little kids, take the Lower Pigeon River route with more forgiving waters, but if you crave action, Upper Pigeon River with class III and IV rapids can be conquered even by 8-year-olds as long as they’re at least 70 lbs.

What to do here?

Strap yourself tightly and get ready for some bouncing and splashing while screaming! Take the mellow ride to enjoy the mountain vistas while the cold wind caresses your face and hair. If you have an action camera, better get it ready for some POVs as a souvenir!

Best Time to Visit

NOC Gatlinburg opens its gates at 10 AM daily, but if you want to avoid the tourist mobs, jump into action around 5 PM between Monday and Thursday. If you like to save your spot, do so ahead of time.

No action cam? No Problem! Just strap on these best action cameras. You’ll get some crisp and crystal clear photos and footage. You won’t be disappointed.

Learn more about Nantahala Outdoor Center here!

Smash the buttons at Arcadia

What’s special about this place?

Just at the base of Gatlinburg Space Needle, the 30,000 ft.2 Arcadia has more than 200 arcade machines in its artillery. Since it started offering games in 2009, they’ve served as home to classic and modern games, with lots of big prizes on its counter! Have fun without worrying about the weather when you smash the buttons, shoot some hoops and claw out some cute stuffed toys at Arcadia!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Whether you’re with kids or you’re a child-at-heart wanting to quench some fun memories back in the day. If you’re an avid gamer, you’ll love the selection you can try at Arcadia. It’s also the ideal place for some entertaining competition with your friends while in Gatlinburg.

What to do here?

Get the most out of your money when you purchase play cards, play more, save more! Fire some shots playing Halo, or take your anger out on whack-a-mole. Feed your need for speed driving and racing on Mario Kart and scoop some items from various claw and coin pusher machines.

Best Time to Visit

Arcadia is open for plays daily, starting 10 AM until midnight, with fewer games once they open until around 1 PM when more visitors walk in. It’s only a few skips to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, so if you want to dangle your feet high in the sky after playing in Arcadia and ascending to the observation tower, you’re good to go.

Learn more about Arcadia here!

Dinner show at Dolly Parton’s Stampede

What’s special about this place?

Dig in on a 4-course dinner before heading for a world-class 2-hour show, complete with music, lights, live animals, humor, and colorful pyrotechnics when you save a seat at Dolly Parton’s Stampede. Savor yummy cuisines and share laughter while the actors/actresses put out one of the best shows you’ll ever see from experts since 1988. Take advantage and make the most of what you pay for watching Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It’s a great place where your entire family is bound to be fully charged and entertained. If you love dinner shows, you’ll fall for the innovative offers from Dolly Parton’s Stampede. A date here is also one of the best things to do as a couple if you’re around Gatlinburg.

What to do here?

Munch on chicken, pork, and corn and finish it with some delectable dessert. Then head to the theater and expect country music, lots of laughter, and unbelievable live animal performances. Take a stroll along the Horse Walk to see various breeds and meet some of the stars.

Best Time to Visit

Dolly Parton’s Stampede runs a show every 6 PM throughout the year, and book your reservations ahead of time. Take note to arrive earlier to avoid any troubles about your seating. Besides, you’ll miss a lot when you arrive late!

Learn more about Dolly Parton’s Stampede here!

Pedal along Cades Cove

What’s special about this place?

This one-way road amidst the Appalachian valley stretches for 11 miles, accessible via bikes, cars, and of course, by foot. Along the way, you’ll be marveled by the beautiful surroundings, with hidden culturally significant ancient log houses and far equipment of its previous residents dating 1818. Wonder through Cades Cove on a bike with more peace at your own pace, soaking in the vistas and breathing in the fresh air.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you love nature and culture, you’ll appreciate what you’ll see at Cades Cove. The trail is also easy, so whether you’re a pro or novice biker, or hiker, you’ll have no trouble as you trace it. Cades Cove is also a sweet site to take your family to some local wonder.

What to do here?

Let your eyes feast on Cades Cove’s natural beauty, the surrounding mountains, and the luscious green fields. Go slow, and chances are you’ll spot local wildlife in the area like black bears, coyotes, and skunks. Some churches, barns, and other structures from the 18th and 19th centuries scatter through the loop.

Best Time to Visit

Only bikers and hikers can get through Cades Cove until 10 AM during Wednesdays and Saturdays of May to September. Be there before sunrise and see the serenity of the rolling green landscapes before noise-ridden vehicles come around. Though it might be an hour and a half drive from Gatlinburg, it’s more than worth it!

If you plan to trace Cades Cove walking, a pair of comfortable hiking boots will help you enjoy the journey better. If you don’t have any, see these best hiking boots and get yourself one. It’ll be more than practical, especially if you love the outdoors!

And oh! Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Cades Cove here!

2-hour zip adventure with CLIMB Works

What’s special about this place?

Enjoy sceneries sure to sweep you off your feet while zipping nonstop through the Smoky Mountains for a couple of hours with CLIMB (Challenge, Learn, Inspire, Master, Believe) Works. After it started offering outdoor adventures in 2010, it quickly became one of the top options in Gatlinburg. Aside from their top-tier 2,000-foot high zip lines, there are also rope courses and rappelling choices adding more adrenaline kick to your system!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Taking your children here will give them the most exciting times of their lives, as long as they’re at least seven years old. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or you’re trying to conquer your fear of heights, CLIMB Works has exciting activities for your needs. If you still have empty spots in your itinerary, listing a visit to CLIMB Works is a rewarding addition.

What to do here?

There are numerous packages you can choose from for a fully immersive nature adventure. One is their best-selling Treetop Zipline, taking you for a two-and-a-half-hour journey through the mountains, while their Mountaintop Zipline also includes 2 hours of flight, and an off-road ATV tour to the summit, tests on four different rope courses, and a rappelling escapade. Stay on a calmer vibe and take a stroll at any of their hanging bridges.

Best Time to Visit

Book your zipline adventure as early as 7 AM to save your skin from burning into a crisp. It is an intimate ride that only you can enjoy along the way between 7 AM and 6 PM, so no worrying about the crowd, except on Sundays when they are not operational.

Learn more about CLIMB Works here!

Drop by at Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

What’s special about this place?

The only museum of its type in the country, the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is home to more than 20,000 various salt and pepper shakers from different corners of the planet, along with a 1500-piece collection of pepper mills. Scan through eclectic, creative, and unique exhibits packed on glass boxes and shelves made of wood at the 2002 Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Are you searching for quirky things to do in Gatlinburg? Taking a tour at the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is one of your best options. If culinary and food hold a spot in your heart, you’ll appreciate the diverse collection here, the one and only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.

What to do here?

There are uncountable pairs under categories like Christmas, cats-and-dogs, Asian, glass, and so much more! A dedicated exhibit for the Morton Salt Company also shows the company that pioneered shakers in the market. Bonus, if you buy any item, the entrance fee you paid will be refunded whole!

Best Time to Visit

See the diverse collection around 3 PM between Monday and Saturday, when guests rarely wander through the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. On Sunday you can drop by from 10 AM, and before they close at 2 PM, there’s very light tourist traffic too.

Learn more about Pepper Shaker Museum here!

Explore Village Shoppes

What’s special about this place?

Experience ancient Europe with one of the most eclectic market places in Gatlinburg, the Village Shoppes established in 1968. Its 27 restaurants, unique stores, art galleries, and novelty shops give you unlimited dining and shopping options, from the budget-friendly to the most exquisite offers. Immerse yourself in local diversity when you spend some time (and dime) at Village Shoppes.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner, or on a family holiday, the variety of choices at The Village will offer everyone something interesting to try. There are also yummy servings here that every food lover must taste. If you want to create unforgettable memories in Gatlinburg, it’s best to make some of them at Village Shoppes.

What to do here?

At the Hofbrauhaus Restaurant and The Cheese Cupboard, savor pastry delights directly from Germany and Switzerland while relaxing near the centerpiece fountain. See everything Celtic: food, accessories, and drinks from Celtic Heritage, get your hiking needs from The Day Hiker, or take a stroll around without spending anything. Remember to give Pancake Pantry’s delightful menu a try (you’ll thank us later!).

Best Time to Visit

Shop hours may differ, but more of them are generally open between 10 AM until 9 PM, with thick flocks of visitors on any given day. Village Shoppes is just a few minutes away from Anakeesta, so if you need to slow down after a whole day of adrenaline-pumping adventure, the ambiance at Village Shoppes will calm you down.

Learn more about Village Shoppes here!

Laugh out loud at Comedy Barn Theater

What’s special about this place?

Since opening its doors in 1995, Comedy Barn Theater has been the only theater in Gatlinburg with live clean hearty comedy performances. Expect world-class musicals and skits, with a farm-and-barn theme and a whole lot of clean humorous spoofs for a couple of hours when you sit to watch a show here. Who knows, you might also get called up to the stage to participate in all of the hilarious entertainment at Comedy Barn Theater!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It’s a family-friendly space, so you can bring your little ones along to share the laughter. Seeing a show at Comedy Barn Theater is also a unique idea for an unconventional yet fun date night. If you haven’t laughed in a long time, you’re bound to release them here.

What to do here?

Watch how farm animals can amazingly play out their roles along with other performers, like magicians and ventriloquists, as well as jugglers and comedians all singing along together. There are parrots performing tricks, and dogs add up more natural flavor to the show. You can also grab snacks from their fully-stocked concession stand like popcorn, pizza, and some ice cream.

Best Time to Visit

Daily shows generally start at 8 PM but make sure you’ll be there at least half an hour before it begins. Keep in mind, no flashy photography! You won’t even realize how time quickly flies when you feed your hunger for some good time, with good food and a good show!

Learn more about Comedy Barn Theater here!

Trek to Cataract Falls

What’s special about this place?

Cataract Falls is a natural gem at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where you’ll appreciate the fact that its majestic allure is away from tourist crowds. You can easily trek 2.8 miles at Cove Mountain Trail and reach it without running out of breath, where gentle waters calmly crash on top of rock formations. Enjoy the cooling environment, refresh yourself plunging into the waters, and tune in for a rewarding visit to Cataract Falls.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The hike to Cataract Falls is easy-peasy, so whether you’re a novice hiker or a seasoned outdoor enthusiast, you’ll have fun throughout the journey. Cataract Falls is a rejuvenating escape hatch if you’re exhausted from life’s demands. Reserve a spot on your list for the rewarding beauty of this fall; you won’t regret it!

What to do here?

Enjoy volumes of greeneries as you trek, filtering out the chaos of the nearby downtown. Once you reach Cataract Falls, soak in the vistas, maybe unroll a yoga mat for some meditation and pick up your camera. You’ll be sorry for not capturing the charm of Gatlinburg’s Cataract Falls.

Best Time to Visit

Since Cataract Falls can be easily accessed, expect herds of visitors, especially with their little ones. It’s accessible anytime since the Great Smoky Mountains is open 24 hours, but for your safety, don’t go once it’s dark.

Learn more about Cataract Falls here!

Visit Hollywood Star Cars Museum

What’s special about this place?

Yes, there might be numerous car museums in the country, but you rarely come across one dedicated to film collections, and that’s Tennessee’s one and only Hollywood Star Cars Museum. With more than 40 cars used in movies within its premises and an additional touch of sophistication from their celebrity vintage car exhibits, it’s no wonder why it’s a popular attraction. Get close behind their wheels at Hollywood Star Cars Museum.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

This museum is a worthwhile place, especially for car lovers or your kids (or you are) a Batman fanatic. It’s also close to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, so if you’re visiting there, rolling in at Hollywood Star Cars will be a practical deviation. It’s one of the trendy things to do in Gatlinburg, so it’s a must-see for anyone traveling around town.

What to do here?

See the most popular car amongst the collection, the original Batmobile from 1966, check out the familiar Ghostbusters van and then see Back to the Future’s DeLorean. Some of the antique cars at Hollywood Star Cars Museum were previously owned by the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, plus more. Guided tours are also open if you wish to have an information-packed tour while strolling around the museum and taking pictures.

Best Time to Visit

You can enjoy a peaceful tour once they open at 9 AM daily before tourists’ flocks in starting at 11 AM. Maybe drop by an hour before they close at 9 PM, with a little fewer people inside Hollywood Star Cars Museum. It’s also only a few strides away from Gatlinburg SkyLift Park and Amazing Mirror Maze, so whether you need to unwind afterward or beforehand, you can simply roll as you wish.

Learn more about Hollywood Star Cars Museum here!

Find your way out of Amazing Mirror Maze

What’s special about this place?

Disorienting distorted mirrors lining up the maze, can you manage to get out of the 3,000 ft.2 Amazing Mirror Maze along Parkway? After establishment in 2006, it instantly became a blockbuster, along with their infamous 18-hole mini-golf with backlight. Fun, brain-ticking, interactive, find your way out, if you can, at Amazing Mirror Maze.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It is the ideal spot if you want to engage in a family adventure inside a safe space. Amazing Mirror Maze is a great challenge for people of all ages, especially if you’re someone who loves puzzles and mazes. It’s one of the cool things to do in Gatlinburg if you want to have a unique time while on holiday.

What to do here?

The creative design might be enticing, but don’t let your eyes fool you. You don’t want to be bumping your face into the mirrors, so go as slow as possible! You can also get a ticket duo, so you can explore the maze and conquer the mini-golf as well!

Best Time to Visit

Amazing Mirror Maze is open from Monday through Sunday, from 9 AM until 11 PM. You’ll have no trouble visiting anytime during weekdays but drop by at 9 AM to enjoy more space since the tourist traffic starts flooding in around noon on weekends.

Learn more about Amazing Mirror Maze here!

Horseback riding with Sugarlands Riding Stables

What’s special about this place?

Yes, hiking is great, but horseback riding along the trails is another thing, and you’ll experience the best trail riding in Gatlinburg with Sugarlands Riding Stables. Easily spot them at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s entrance, and enjoy a ride sitting on a comfortable saddle for at least an hour for a 4-mile journey across the wilderness. Bask in countryside boondocks without breaking a sweat when you take a tour with Sugarlands Riding Stables.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Led by experts, you and your kiddos can safely hop in on this gratifying trip as long as they’re at least five years old. No need to be a professional equestrian, even if you are, you’re bound to have fun with Sugarlands Riding Stables. Booking a horseback trail riding experience is something every horse lover needs to try.

What to do here?

Witness the massive terrains of the Great Smoky Mountains and see wildlife as you go, such as deer and black bears. If you need more time, you can opt for the 15-mile tour, riding gently for around 4 hours. Just sit back and chill, breathing in fresh air while relishing the natural magic of the surroundings.

Best Time to Visit

No reservation is needed, but they’re not operating in winter from December until March (for obvious reasons). But for the remaining days of the year, you can come around for a tour between 9 AM until 4 PM. You’ll be at the heart of thick trees, so no need to worry about roasting your skin.

Learn more about Sugarlands Riding Stables here!

Trip to Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium

What’s special about this place?

First opened in 1970 but unfortunately caught fire in1992 and reopened in 1994, the 12,500 ft.2 Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium along Parkway will make you question reality. With more than 500 oddly satisfying exhibits and immersive installations across 16 galleries, there’s plenty of knowledge and trivia to absorb when you visit here. From minimized head figures to malformed skeletons, you decide whether to accept the strange collections at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Taking your children here will keep them on oooh and woooah throughout the entire tour. Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium is also a must-see if you’re fond of anything and everything peculiar. It’s a place worthy of a slot in your jam-packed travel plan.

What to do here?

There are poisonous Spiny Porcupinefish, albino giraffe, and the medieval torture machine the Cruel Iron Maiden, with spikes specially designed to save the victim from dying instantly. The scary Asmat cannibal skull is also on display, a relic from Melanesian indigenous group known for their bloody lifestyle, eating humans! Snap some selfies with Short E. Dangerously, and even General Washington’s hair lock is also part of the exhibit.

Best Time to Visit

Ripley’s attraction is rarely crowd-free, so bring bags of patience when you visit between 9 AM and 11 PM. It’s just a few skips worth reaching the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, so whether you just hopped off the cable chair or you’re craving for some height afterward, you can easily slip into Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium.

Learn more about Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium here!

Eat yummy treats from Pancake Pantry

What’s special about this place?

Established in 1960 at Village Shoppes, Pancake Pantry is Gatlinburg’s best restaurant for a pancake feast. Munch down on a delectable pancake menu, from all-time-classic buttermilk flavor to innovative pecan-inspired fares. Soothe your craving by binging on different pancake twists when you save a seat at Pancake Pantry.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It’s a blockbuster to out-of-towners and locals alike, proof that anyone visiting Gatlinburg has to try what Pancake Pantry has to serve. If you’ve always been in love with pancakes, it’ll be a betrayal to miss the delightful choices here. Pancake Pantry is also a family-oriented space, so you and your loved ones can enjoy plates after plates while sharing stories over the table without worries.

What to do here?

Taste the mouth-watering wild blueberry pancakes paired with blueberry waffles, or opt for the cinnamon tang of sweet potato pancakes and some sausage and a couple of eggs. There’s no missing their signature Morning Star, with two hash browns and two eggs, along with melted cheese, pimentos, onions, mushrooms, and ham!

Best Time to Visit

Be ready to run to Pancake Pantry as soon as they’re open at 7 AM, they’re a local favorite, so there are overflowing customers throughout the day. Ignore the crowd. All the delightful treats at Pancake Pantry is worth the effort!

Learn more about Pancake Pantry here!

Bring the kids to Wild Bear Falls Water Park

What’s special about this place?

The heat can be brutal, or the weather can be unforgivably cold, but at the 60,000 ft.2 indoor Wild Bear Falls Water Park, you can enjoy 300,000 gallons of warm water any time of the year. Boasting a lazy river, waterslides, splash areas, and kiddie pools, it’s one of the best places in Gatlinburg to cool off while having some fun. Swim, slide down, or simply float along while relaxing at Wild Bear Falls Water Park.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

This water park is targeted at families, especially if you’re staying at the villas of Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Water Park. Need some time to freshen up after a whole day by the mountains? Wild Bear Falls Water Park is the ideal spot to unwind and plunge on if you’re aching for some cooling environment.

What to do here?

Their Ramsey Cascades is a tree house-inspired aquatic fun, releasing around 300 gallons from time to time, and they also have their version of Clingmans Dome as a tube slide. Grotto Falls and Laurel Falls have their replicas at Wild Bear Falls Water Park as well. The Swimming Hole is also a safe space where you can take laps after laps.

Best Time to Visit

Wild Bear Falls Water Park is moderately crowded throughout the whole week. But if you visit between Friday and Saturday at 6 PM, you’ll have plenty of room to swim around for a couple of hours before they close. But if the heat is getting the best out of you, just head to Wild Bear Falls Water Park from 11 AM onwards.

Learn more about Wild Bear Falls Water Park here!

Capture the past on old-time photography session

What’s special about this place?

One of the most popular things to do in Gatlinburg for out-of-towners is taking some old-time photos, and you’ll find plenty of studios around, offering this unique souvenir. Travel back in time, dressing up with gun belts, trench coats, boots, and everything from the old west and strike a pose in a traditional cowboy-inspired setting. Capture timeless memorabilia while in Gatlinburg signing up for an oldies photo ops.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It is a fun experience that even your little one is sure to enjoy! If you’re looking for an entertaining activity with your friends, you won’t go wrong with this one. Some studios can be tricky, so be sure to clarify the pricing!

What to do here?

It doesn’t require anything other than a bit of creativity and your presence. Mix-and-match anything from the wardrobe, and you’re good to go! Some of the best studios in town are Four Sisters Old Time PhotoOld Town PhotosWild Gals Old Time Photo, and Four Bandits Old Time Photo.

Best Time to Visit

Most old-time photo studios are ready to help you out as early as 9 AM and as late as 9 PM. Photo studios are well-equipped with lights and make-up, so you’re sure to have great shots no matter what time you visit. But for specific schedules, see their websites for updates.

Get a souvenir from the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community

What’s special about this place?

Hailed as America’s largest organization for indie artisans, the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community along the 8.8-mile Glades Road have more than a hundred creative Gatlinburg individuals on its list. There are uncountable items for you to choose from, from painters and potters to soap makers and weavers. Not only do you get to take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir, but you’re also helping out the 1937 Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

You’ll love the creative diversity you’ll come across here if you’re an artisan yourself or you’re aspiring to be. Are you searching for Gatlinburg memorabilia true to Appalachian culture? Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community’s eclectic selection will overwhelm you!

What to do here?

Ride the Gatlinburg Trolley going to the yellow route to reach the creative hub. Some of the unique and high-quality shops and products you’ll come across are Alewine Potter, wooden items from B & T Woodworking, and scented candles by Dick & Marie. You can also visit the Cliff Dweller Gallery, Dream Painters, and Firefly Glass Studio. Pieces from Fowler’s Clay University and tasty baked goodies from Gatlinburg Grind Coffee and Bakery are also available.

Best Time to Visit

The shops may vary in operational hours, but they’re typically open between 10 AM and 5 PM. But if you want to visit a specific shop, drop by their website for updated store hours. Even just staying inside the Gatlinburg Trolley is a worthwhile experience if you’re tight on time and finances.

Learn more about Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community here!

Take the Aerial Tramway

What’s special about this place?

Still operational after institution in 1973, Gatlinburg’s Aerial Tramway offers the safest ride to see the beauty of the town and the neighboring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, leading 1,472-foot high to Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park. A 120-seater, you might as well make new friends as you enjoy the vistas during the 2.1-mile trip, lasting about 10 minutes. Journey with Aerial Tramway for a local treat you’re bound to remember forever.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

An aerial Tramway is your best option if you’re with your children. It is a ride you can’t escape if you’re heading to Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park. If you have some irrational fear of heights, a trip with Aerial Tramway is a good exposure treatment.

What to do here?

With no expectations, you’ll forget about the rest of the world once you see how majestic the views are while inside the cable lift. Soak in the picturesque sceneries, whether it’s luscious greens of summer, fall’s warmth, or winter’s white coverage. After getting in Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park, take the heart-stopping Mountain Coaster, try your feet at ice-skating, or swing the club on a mini-golf course.

Best Time to Visit

You can access the aerial tramway daily, from 9:40 AM until 5 PM. Since there’s a fixed seating number, expect it to be full (but not congested) with other tourists. Enjoy the views from the aerial tramway no matter what season of the year you come around!

Learn more about Aerial Tramway here!

Shopping at Mountain Mall

What’s special about this place?

Mountain Mall in front of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is no typical mall at all. From the mall music to the novelty shops, there are so many options to try and purchase for that immersive local vibes that it’s more like a tourist destination than a shopping area with authentic Appalachian culture. Eat yummy food, get your essentials, or purchase some truly Gatlinburg souvenirs from 36 different establishments housed at Mountain Mall.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Whether you’re looking for camping needs, somewhere to dine, or something to bring back home, you’re sure to find it here. Shopaholics, do you want to regret missing out on this local experience? Mountain Mall is also a family-oriented retail space, and even if you’re tight on budget, strolling around here won’t hurt either!

What to do here?

Try flavors from the city that never sleeps at New York Pizza and Pasta or sample the unbelievably hot offers at Pepper Palace, then head to Aunt Mahalia’s Candies to soothe your taste buds. Get cowboy items from The Cowboy Way or pamper your pet at Paws and Claws Pet Fashion. Tennessee Cider Company is here as well, so stop by for some bottles!

Best Time to Visit

Mountain Mall is usually moderately trafficked all day long between 10 AM and 10 PM, especially during weekends. But there are more forgiving crowds during 10 AM and 9 PM. It’s just a couple of minutes from Anakeesta too, so whether you’re out for some post-adventure recharge or need stuff before heading there, you can easily drift to Mountain Mall.

Learn more about Mountain Mall here!

Day trip to Dollywood

What’s special about this place?

The 150-acre Dollywood is an amusement park boasting more than 50 rides on its premises. Its authentic southern vibes entice lots of Gatlinburg tourists to conquer the nerve-racking rides, taste world-class cuisines and enjoy the live performances and activities after it opened in 1986. You’ll also find the country’s first wing coaster here, the Wild Eagle. With so much to do, Dollywood will keep you entertained throughout the entire time you’ll probably end up returning!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It’s no secret that amusement parks are a child magnet, so if you’re with you on a family holiday, Dollywood will bring y’all lots of smiles. There are plenty of sources here for your fix if you’re an adrenaline seeker. If you still have a free spot on your itinerary, Dollywood is a rewarding entry to tick off.

What to do here?

Ride the infamous Dollywood Express, take a seat at the Wild Eagle, and watch some live performances at Showstreet. Enjoy whitewater rafting by Rivertown Junction, see the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Craftsman’s Valley or opt for Dolly’s Demolition derby at County Fair. Buckle up for the Mad Mockingbird, then conquer your hunger at the Mexican-inspired restaurant Till and Harvest at Wildwood Grove.

Best Time to Visit

Dollywood is a famous attraction, especially for families, and it’s typically heavily flocked throughout the day from 10 AM until 6 PM, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays when they’re not operational. But during Fridays, there’s a bit thinner visitor volume (oddly enough), so time your trip during this day so you have more space to move around. But once you get there, you’ll forget about every hassle anyways!

Learn more about Dollywood here!

Play detective at Breakout Games

What’s special about this place?

Breakout Games is an immersive, challenging, and heart-stopping race against time. For 60 minutes, solve puzzles, find hidden objects and search for clues in an attempt to escape the tricky dares, decipher codes, and run from thrilling ghosts. Experience the best escape rooms at Gatlinburg’s own Breakout Games.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

These escape rooms are typically played by up to 8-people, so if you’re with friends or family or both, a team play at Breakout Games is a great bonding experience. It’s also a must-try if you’ve always been an escape room fanatic or you enjoy sleuthing around. For anyone who wants to test their solving capacity, Breakout Games is for you.

What to do here?

Put your limits to the test by setting yourself and your group free at The Kidnapping before the criminal returns. Stop the evil plans of The Syndicate at Undercover Alley before innocent lives are lost. See if you can contain your fears and screams discovering and getting out of the Mystery Mansion, left abandoned over the decades and now hunted by eerie entities.

Best Time to Visit

Check out their website for updated schedules. If you make your reservation as a group, the entire room is yours, so it’s a private experience. But talking about the herds of players who want to play the Breakout Games, Monday has the thinnest crowd.

Learn more about Breakout Games here!

Get fresh harvests from Gatlinburg Farmers Market

What’s special about this place?

Known to be one of the most massive events of its type in the state, Gatlinburg Farmers Market is your go-to for some freshly harvested and made local products. From nutritious veggies, fruits, and other crops to hand-crafted pillows and soaps, you won’t run out of choices to purchase while helping out the town’s economy. With additional entertainment and events, Gatlinburg Farmers Market is a staple event you’re bound to enjoy.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Head here for some juicy ingredients if you want to cook a delicious family dinner while staying in Gatlinburg. If you’re health-conscious and you’re searching for products you can trust, Gatlinburg Farmers Market won’t let you down. It’s also one of the places that’ll let you experience the local vibes in their most raw form.

What to do here?

Munch on fresh-outta-oven goodies from Josie’s Cookies while searching for your recipe needs. Melons, eggs, pork, honey, chicken, and numerous herbs are out for grabs. Maybe test your luck on a raffle and have your face painted while on a scavenger hunt.

Best Time to Visit

Gatlinburg Farmers Market has their operation every Saturday, starting mid-May and ends mid-October. You can grab fresh products from 8:30 AM until noon. Be there early as soon as the sellers spread their offers so you’ll have plenty of items to select from.

Learn more about Gatlinburg Farmers Market here!

Play some rounds at Hillbilly Golf

What’s special about this place?

Take your golf game to a whole new height playing at Hillbilly Golf’s 2 steep courses on cliffs! With 18 holes on each course, swing your club down from 300 feet high as you venture through outhouses, moonshine distills, and other Appalachian-inspired props along the way. Since it opened in 1971, Hillbilly Golf gives its guests a unique golfing experience you’ll never find anywhere else!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

There’s a challenge suitable for any skill level, so don’t let the landscape intimidate you. It means that even your children can partake in all the fun! Hillbilly Golf is a Gatlinburg treasure every golf lover is sure to fall in love with!

What to do here?

You’ll have a thrilling ride 300 feet up via their railcar to the starting point, where you’ll be welcomed by amazing sights. As you play, you might come across a former brewery, some Hillbilly Pick Up Sticks, and various obstacle courses adding challenge every time you swing the club. There are also farm types of equipment, and other eclectic exhibits, to keep you entertained as your ball rolls to the holes.

Best Time to Visit

Unless there’s an unbelievably cruel weather disturbance, especially during the winter season, Hillbilly Golf is open from 9 AM until 10 PM throughout the week. Remember that it’s a crowd-favorite, so bring lots of patience with you. But if you want a dreamier escapade, play while the sun is setting!

Learn more about Hillbilly Golf here!

Fishing at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What’s special about this place?

With around 2,100 miles of waters flowing in streams and rivers, the wildlife-rich Great Smoky Mountains is an ideal spot for some fishing in Gatlinburg. It serves as a habitat for the remaining population of wild trout in the country. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also a host to roughly 67 fish species, so you’re bent on catching something one way or another!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

There are plenty of options for every fishing enthusiast of any level. Meaning whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned angler, you’ll enjoy the experience. It’s also a great family bonding activity within nature. If you’re a nature lover in general, sit within the heart of natural scenery when you go fishing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What to do here?

Reel in darters, some shiners, maybe minnows, and lots of trout. Some natives you might see are bluegill, redear sunfish, flame chub, yellow bullhead, and flathead catfish. If you want a more comfortable fishing adventure with a guide, or you forgot your equipment, you can head to Fly Fishing the Smokies or The Smoky Mountain Angler for some professional services.

Best Time to Visit

As long as you’re carrying a fishing license, either from North Carolina or Tennessee, fishing is okay for you all year. You can’t get it from the national park visitor centers, but you can easily acquire one online or from numerous stores around the town.

Mind-boggling tour at WonderWorks

What’s special about this place?

Easily recognized for looking like a building fresh out of a tornado for its overturned appearance, the 35,000 ft.2 WonderWorks will satisfyingly confuse your brain. The exterior alone is an exciting start, but the optical illusions, displays, and interactive exhibits across their six Wonder Zones will turn up the challenge and leave you in wonderment, if not questioning reality. Get around WonderWorks for a bewildering and mind-bending tour full of perplexities!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Keep your children’s brains ticking while having jaw-dropping and exciting discoveries when you take them to WonderWorks. If you’re a science geek or you find pleasure in learning, this attraction is going to be a fun-filled place for you. Its eye-catching structural design will capture every curious mind passing by!

What to do here?

Some of the exhibits at the WonderZones include extreme weather, outer space exploration, an imagination play area, and an art gallery. They also have a laser tag arena where you can play friendly competitions with everything glow-in-the-dark, adding fun, a 4D motion ride to immerse you into the Jurassic world or the Wild West, and a rope course to challenge your skills. At WonderWorks, you won’t even figure out where to start!

Best Time to Visit

WonderWorks has its doors open daily, with no crowd once they start accepting guests at 10 AM. If you don’t mind a tour once the sun has set, you can also find the museum crowd-free from 7 PM onwards.

Learn more about WonderWorks here!

Explore Gatlinburg with Mountain Life UTV Rentals

What’s special about this place?

Why not explore the massive wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains on a buggy? Rent yours from Mountain Life UTV Rentals, one of the best in Gatlinburg, operational for over a decade now. Though their UTV models are not for off-roading, remember that there are plenty of paved and car-accessible trails throughout Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Depending on what you need, you can opt for at least a 2-seater off-road vehicle if you’re out as a couple. There are also 6-seater ones if you’re with family or some friends. Go all out as a nature lover and adventurer, scouting the grounds of the national park behind the wheels of a UTV.

What to do here?

Drive to Clingmans Dome, trace the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, or scout downtown. They also now have the latest 2020 and 2021 UTV units for a cooler and more adventurous adventure into the boondocks. Remember to take snaps as your cruise on UTV, and of course, some pictures with the massive vehicles!

Best Time to Visit

Online reservation is a must, so book your rental at least a day in advance. Mountain Life UTV Rentals is ready to accommodate all your off-road needs between 9 AM until 9 PM every day. Don’t forget to bring your license!

Learn more about Mountain Life UTV Rentals here!

Try free samples from Tennessee Homemade Wines

What’s special about this place?

You’ll fall for this local pride if the jars from Ole Smoky Moonshine were a bit too harsh for you. Offering some of the smoothest wines in the state, Tennessee Homemade Wines along Parkway has created fruity signature flavors that took the market in a wave. After starting operations, they now have 11 soothing innovative blends from dry to sweet, and you’re more than welcome to try out their free samples!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Are you thirsty for a Gatlinburg drink without drowning yourself in too much alcohol? As long as you’re of legal age, the bottles and tastings at Tennessee Homemade Wines will give you your fix. If you have a special admiration for wines or you love collecting them from your travels, this is a great place to kill some time.

What to do here?

Take a sip of their all-time favorites like their Blueberry Bammer, White Knuckle, and Fine Blackberry. Bring home bottles of flavors you won’t find anywhere else in Tennessee, like White Muscadine, Southern Red, and Niagara. Fruity Proper Peach, Old Apple, and Strawberry are also available on the racks.

Best Time to Visit

Drop by at Tennessee Homemade Wines once they open at 10 AM when there are fewer customers around. If you have free time on a Monday or Tuesday, you can visit as late as 10 PM, and you’ll still have a more peaceful ambiance. Tennessee Cider Company is also just in close range, a great match to skewer together.

Learn more about Tennessee Homemade Wines here!

Chat with the residents of Parrot Mountain and Gardens

What’s special about this place?

The 4-acre Parrot Mountain and Gardens is a free-flying haven for roughly 70 birds, no cages, and just free-flying zones. Wander around their habitats, learn how to invite them to your arms, and spend some time chit-chatting with the colorful parrots flying around! Get in touch with nature and interact with up-close airborne wildlife when you take the time to visit the Parrot Mountain and Gardens.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It is a great space where your kids can experience the natural world as raw and safe as possible if you’re with them as you travel around Gatlinburg. Are you a bird lover, or do you generally have a heart for nature? Exploring Parrot Mountain and Gardens will be a rewarding experience for you!

What to do here?

Cater to the cute hatchlings by their bird nursery by feeding them. Listening to the catchy, funny, and entertaining one-liners of the vibrant parrots and Rainbow-feathered species like Rosella, Amboina King Parrot, Lorikeet, macaws, and Red Crested Turaco adds more life to the environs. Try and see if you can have one land on your arm and let it mirror your phrases.

Best Time to Visit

It’s best if you come to Parrot Mountain and Gardens on any given day between March 7 and November 30, around 5 PM. There’s rarely anyone in the area, meaning you’ll hear the natural sounds better. Besides, the peacefulness also means more chances of birds landing on your arm.

Learn more about Parrot Mountain and Gardens here!

Sunrise tour with What’s Up Ballooning

What’s special about this place?

See the Great Smoky Mountains from a bird’s eye view for at least 60 minutes riding a hot air balloon with What’s Up Ballooning, providing tourists exceptional tours from hundreds of feet high in the sky. Take in the picturesque green horizons without typical excess efforts of scouting through the grounds when you book a tour with What’s Up Ballooning.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Their small balloons can accommodate up to 3 people, ideal if you’re with a child (must be at least eight years old), while the big baskets can stand up to 6 people, a great deal if you’re with some friends. A sunrise hot air balloon ride is also one of the most romantic things to do in Gatlinburg as lovers, or you’re out on a honeymoon as a couple.

What to do here?

Breathe in the crisp morning breeze and watch the beautiful sun slowly grace out of the horizon. Absorb the luscious wilderness under and take out your binoculars to see the happenings in the grounds up close, you might even spot some black bears along the trip! Bonus, there are free pictures included in the package!

Best Time to Visit

What’s Up Ballooning flies every dawn throughout the year. Reservation is required, but good thing they don’t ask for any upfront payment since it’s all weather dependent. Be there an hour ahead of your scheduled tour for the preparations before the balloon takes off.

Learn more about What’s Up Ballooning here!

Some Thoughts on Gatlinburg

Still don’t have a pair of binoculars? Check out our in-depth review of the best binoculars you can get and see which one ticks your preferences!

Don’t let Gatlinburg’s size fool you, “small but terrible” won’t be long around if it wasn’t true. And this stunning town is living proof.

What activities do you plan to tick off? Do you have any particular attraction on the headline of your itinerary? Or maybe you ought to go through the town with a fine-tooth comb?

Are you going to be all out on an adrenaline rush at Anakeesta, Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park? Nantahala Outdoor Center?

Maybe stay amidst nature scouting the grounds of Great Smoky Mountain National Park on a UTV? Or through Gatlinburg Trail, Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and Cades Cove?

Thought about chasing Cataract Falls or going for some fishing adventure?

How about checking out the collections at Gatlinburg Pinball Museum, Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum? Hollywood Star Cars Museum? Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium and WonderWorks?

Or do you plan to be mellow observing the town’s beauty from a hot air balloon? From the top of Gatlinburg Space Needle, Clingmans Dome, or Gatlinburg Scenic Drive?

Is it going to be a foodie’s getaway tasting local offerings from Pancake Pantry, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, Wild Plum Tea Room, and Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen? With sips from Tennessee Cider Company, Ole Smoky Moonshine, and Tennessee Homemade Wines?

No matter what you choose to do, anything Gatlinburg will give you some of the best memories you’ll have!

So what are you waiting for? Go shove those clothes on your backpack and hit the exit. Gatlinburg is waiting for you!

Stay safe. Stay Healthy. Happy travels!

FAQ

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about Gatlinburg:

What are the free things to do in Gatlinburg?

Stretch your hard-earned money a little bit more when you enjoy doing these fun activities without spending anything at all:

When’s the best time to visit Gatlinburg?

It depends on what you plan to do.

Summer and fall seasons are the best if you want to experience Gatlinburg in all its glory. The summer sun is perfect for the outdoors, while the fall foliage amplifies the area’s beauty. The same reason why it’s heavily flocked by tourists around this time.

But to avoid that, you can visit around September, when the fall season is just sneaking in, also off-season for Gatlinburg, before tourists come flooding in again by October, when fall is at its finest. The spring season (March-May) also has the thinnest crowds.

Winter is best if you love the adrenaline-rush playing through the slopes of white planes.

Is Gatlinburg safe?

Just anywhere else, it depends where you go and what you do.

The crime rate in town is higher than 80% of other cities in America. The northwestern region of Gatlinburg is the safest with an average of 1:40 crime ratio, while there’s a 1:14 crime ratio around the southern region, making it the highest in Gatlinburg.

But everywhere you go, it’s best to stay aware of your surroundings and keep your important belongings with you. Remember the SOPs, lock your door and windows, never leave essentials inside your car and take extra caution during nighttime.

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