The misty mountains of east Tennessee provide the perfect backdrop for things to do in Gatlinburg. You can’t beat this little paradise for outdoor adventure, unique wildlife, family-friendly attractions, and mountaintop thrills.
Located approximately 30 miles east of Knoxville in Sevier County, Gatlinburg is the entry point for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s also the second most popular wedding destination after Las Vegas. Even if you’re not planning a wedding, you’ll find that this mountain town makes an incredible choice for a family trip, a cozy cabin getaway, or a group adventure.
You’ll find a wide range of fun things to do in Gatlinburg, including the Ober Gatlinburg ski resort, year-round scenic chairlift rides, unique museums, an indoor water park, and an insane amount of mountain roller coasters around every corner and curve.
Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are easily accessible from Gatlinburg, which only adds to the variety of things to do and places to visit in Gatlinburg.
We’ve compiled a collection of the best things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Keep reading for some of the top tourist attractions in Gatlinburg to add to your East Tennessee itinerary.
Don't miss out on this spooky 1-hour guided walking tour through Gatlinburg! You'll uncover the real story behind the town's rough frontier origins, and visit some of the most haunted locations in the Smoky Mountains. You'll learn about vengeful Cherokee spirits and wandering phantom pioneers, and see Gatlinburg in a whole new light. This is a must-do for anyone looking to experience the darker side of the Smokies!
Looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity in the great outdoors? Come soar high above the mountain tops on the world-class, dual-line Mountaintop Zipline Tour! You’ll experience incredible views of the Great Smoky Mountains from each platform, and zip across six lines side-by-side with a friend or family member. You’ll also walk across four aerial bridges, rappel off one of our platforms, and enjoy a fun ATV adventure to the top of the mountain.
Looking for a chilling way to spend an evening in Gatlinburg, Tennessee? Join the Gatlinburg Haunts Thrilling Dark History Walking Ghost Tour and uncover the town's dark past. From tragic deaths and cannibalism to stories of witchcraft, you'll hear it all on this spooky tour. You'll also visit some of Gatlinburg's most famous landmarks, including the Space Needle, White Oak Flats Cemetery, and Mysterious Mansion.
Show Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- 1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 2. Horseback Riding
- 3. Whitewater Rafting
- 4. Ober Gatlinburg
- 5. Hollywood Star Cars Museum
- 6. Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook
- 7. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
- 8. Gatlinburg Pinball Museum
- 9. Wild Bear Falls Water Park
- 10. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
- 11. Anakeesta Mountain
- 12. Earthquake the Ride
- 13. Mysterious Mansion
- 14. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
- 15. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure
- 16. Mountain Mall
- 17. Hillbilly Golf
- 18. Gatlinburg Sky Needle
- 19. Foodie Fun
- 20. Little Pigeon River
- 21. Herbert Holt Park
- 22. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
- 23. Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community
- 24. Gatlinburg Ghost Tour
- 25. Day Trips from Gatlinburg
- What are the best things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with kids?
- What are some fun things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee?
- What are some things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when it’s raining?
- What are the best tourist attractions in Gatlinburg, Tennessee?
- Most Significant Landmark – The Great Smoky Mountains
- Best Park – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Best Free Activity – Scenic dive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
- Best Activity for Kids – Rail Runner Mountain Coaster at Anakeesta
- Best Activity for Adults – Ole Smoky Moonshine distillery tour
- Best Food – Howard’s Restaurant
- Best Nightlife – Ole Red Gatlinburg
- Best All-Around Accommodation – Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg
Things to Do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
One of the most popular places and best things to see in Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the second-most visited national park in the U.S.
Forests of fir, oak, hemlock, and spruce welcome hikers, bicyclists, birdwatchers, and nature lovers. Part of the Appalachian Trail (about 70 miles of it) runs through the park.
The Smokies are part of the Blue Ridge Mountain chain and offer more than 800 square miles of hiking trails, mountain streams, native wildlife, and more than 90 historic structures such as cabins, barns, churches, and gristmills. In case you were wondering, it’s also home to 24 species of salamander.
To begin your visit, stop at Sugarlands Visitor Center (one of four within the park) for information, free park maps, a museum, a park film, and restrooms. The other visitor centers in the park are Oconaluftee, Cades Cove, and Clingmans Dome.
For free things to do in Gatlinburg, hop in the car and take a scenic drive. Cades Cove Loop Road is an 11-mile loop road. It features hiking trails, native wildlife, and stunning mountain views. Clingmans Dome (6,643 feet) is the highest point in the national park and in Tennessee.
Another scenic drive is the Newfound Gap Road, which runs from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, North Carolina. Pine, oak, hardwood, and evergreen forests set the backdrop for a variety of terrain along this road.
Check out Inspiration Point, along Alum Cave Trail, for views of the North Carolina side of the Smokies. The “cave” part of the trail isn’t a cave – it’s more like a gigantic indention, but it’s super cool, nonetheless.
Roaring Fork Motor Trail is a 5.5-mile-long, one-way driving lane with great views and some historic structures we mentioned earlier. Rainbow Falls, found along this trail, feature an 80-foot waterfall that sometimes produces a rainbow on sunny days.
The falls are about a 5.4-mile hike (round trip). It’s considered a moderate hike but does have rocky terrain and elevation changes. So, pack your hiking boots for your smoky mountains trip.
In addition to the salamanders above, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds another unique bit of nature. It’s one of only a few places worldwide (Congaree National Park in South Carolina and the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania are two others) with synchronous fireflies.
The light pattern of these interesting insects comprises five to eight flashes, then a pause of eight seconds, and then a repeat of the pattern. As more and more fireflies take part, the forest becomes ablaze with illumination.
These mesmerizing flashing patterns occur during mating season, about three weeks from mid-May to mid-June.
Travelers wanting to get the most out of a Smoky Mountain National Park vacation will want to stay as close as possible. Magic Moments II is about six miles from the park. It has one bedroom, and one bathroom, and can accommodate four guests. Enjoy amenities like a heart-shaped jacuzzi, a fireplace, a fully stocked kitchen, a pool table, and a hot tub on the deck.
The pet-friendly Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg is approximately 300 feet from the park entrance. There’s an indoor pool, an outdoor firepit and seating areas, a fitness center, laundry facilities, a business center, a lounge, and a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guest rooms have free Wi-Fi, a microwave, and a mini-fridge. Some rooms have fireplaces and whirlpool tubs.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
2. Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is a fun outdoor adventure for your whole group. Sugarlands Riding Stables offers several tours for all levels of equine enthusiasts. Even if you’ve never been near a horse, you’ll be able to enjoy time atop a horse.
The most basic tour is a one-hour walk along a paved trail. For the more experienced rider, there’s a four-hour trail ride through 15 miles of wooded area. Other area stables include Smoky Mountain Riding Stables and Cades Cove Riding Stables.
See Related: Things to Do in Knoxville, Tennessee
3. Whitewater Rafting
Choose the Upper Pigeon River for an action-packed adventure of thrilling Class III and IV whitewater rapids. The Lower Pigeon is perfect for relaxing floats downstream on smoother waterways. Smoky Mountain Outdoors and Raft Outdoor Adventures are just a couple of local tour operators that host whitewater rafting trips.
See Related: Best Whitewater Rafting in the World
4. Ober Gatlinburg
The Ober Gatlinburg ski resort is a year-round mountaintop destination. For wintertime fun, go skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing, or check out the indoor ice skating rink. Other attractions and fun things to do in Gatlinburg at Ober Gatlinburg include the Ice Bumper Cars, mini golf, an alpine slide, wildlife experiences, climbing walls, and more.
The Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway is one of America’s largest aerial tramways. Take in excellent views of the surrounding mountains and valleys below from this aerial tramway.
You’ll cruise from downtown Gatlinburg for 2.1 miles up to the top of the mountain at the ski area and amusement park. Here, you’ll find shopping and dining to accompany all the activities and attractions.
The Ski Mountain Coaster is a year-round attraction with 2,750 feet of dips, twists, and zigzag turns. Riders can control the speed of this thrill ride and choose to take it slow or reach speeds of 25 mph.
Located near the Ober Gatlinburg ski area, skating rink, and many other Gatlinburg attractions, Bearskin Lodge on the River makes an excellent anchorage for Gatlinburg vacations and ice skating and snow tubing excursions.
Guest rooms have a balcony, a microwave, a mini-fridge, and a coffee maker. Some rooms have a fireplace for an extra cozy ambiance. Amenities include daily complimentary breakfast, a lazy river, an outdoor fireplace and seating, and a fitness center.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee
5. Hollywood Star Cars Museum
If you’re a fan of cars, celebrities, TV, or movies (or all of those things), then the Hollywood Star Cars Museum is a must. It is located along the Gatlinburg Parkway (U.S. Route 441 and State Route 448) and’s home to a large collection of iconic cars from movies and TV.
Check out the DeLorean of Back to the Future fame, several from The Fast and the Furious, Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds, the 1977 Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit, and the Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee.
You’ll also encounter cars owned by celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Dolly Parton, Mike Tyson, and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.
See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit
6. Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook
For downtown and mountain views, take a ride along the Gatlinburg Bypass. It runs between the Gatlinburg Spur and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a terrific way to take in fall foliage, spring wildflowers, winter wonderlands, and summer scenes.
Driving along this bypass and visiting the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook is free. You can pull over to check out the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook in four parking areas.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Johnson City, Tennessee
7. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
With both single and double-rider cars, the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is a top family-friendly coaster and one of the best Gatlinburg tourist attractions. You’ll find it along the Gatlinburg Parkway. It reaches up to 30 mph speeds and is also open at night for a unique perspective on speed, twists, and turns.
See Related: Where to Stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee: 3 Best Areas
8. Gatlinburg Pinball Museum
View and play over 100 retro, rare, and limited-edition arcade games and pinball machines such as Medieval Madness, The Walking Dead, Lord of the Rings, and Attack from Mars. The Gatlinburg Pinball Museum is just past the Space Needle on the Parkway.
See Related: Best Resorts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
9. Wild Bear Falls Water Park
image by If you’re looking for indoor fun in Gatlinburg, check out Wild Bear Falls Water Park. This indoor water park has a mountain theme and features a lazy river, heated pools, two giant water slides, and an interactive tree house. It’s at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park.
10. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
With several attractions – a chairlift ride, a suspended walkway, and an elevated boardwalk – the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is an all-in-one mountaintop destination.
One of the best things to do in Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Sky Lift Scenic Chairlift Ride, takes riders to the top of Crockett Mountain, an elevation of about 1,800 feet. It opened in 1984 as the first year-round chairlift ride in the South.
The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is a 700-foot-long pedestrian walkway suspended about 500 feet above town. There’s a 30-foot section of glass in the middle of the walkway (can you say, “no thanks”). The observation deck offers stunning views if you’d rather stay there.
The Sky Trail is an elevated boardwalk about one-third of a mile. It connects each end of the SkyBridge. Signs along the way point out historical facts and engineering information about the SkyLift, nature, the 2016 wildfire information, and more.
Looking for accommodations near Sky Lift Park? Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Gatlinburg, TN, is a great option. Guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and a business center. Rooms have a microwave, a coffee machine, and a mini fridge.
11. Anakeesta Mountain
Gatlinburg has this thing for putting things at the top of mountains. Another example of this mountaintop park destination theme is Anakeesta. A chairlift ride takes visitors to the top (you can also arrange for alternate transportation if needed). You do have to purchase a ticket to ride the chairlift, but there are a variety of activities at the top that are included with the price.
The Rail Runner Mountain Coaster (at an additional cost) is a single-rail mountain coaster that takes riders zipping and zooming along the mountainside. It’s not super fast, and you can control the speed, so it’s perfect for the younger set.
Climb to the top of the Anavista Tower, where you can enjoy panoramic views of downtown Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains from north, south, east, and west.
A Treetop Skywalk features an 880-foot suspended boardwalk bridge about 60 feet in the air. You can walk among the treetops and view the forest scenery below. At certain sections, you can view zipliners zooming down the mountain. The zipline is at an additional cost to mountain admission.
Other Anakeesta amusement park attractions include shopping, dining, a zipline, the Vista Gardens, and illuminated nighttime attractions. You can also sit in rocking chairs and enjoy the scenery of the mountain valley below. We highly recommend that last one.
Gatlinburg has got you covered if you like your mountains with a side of margaritas. Located across from Anakeesta, near various other Gatlinburg attractions, Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg is an excellent choice for access, relaxation, and those margaritas.
Hang out at the License to Chill Bar, grab a jolt of caffeine at Joe Merchant’s Coffee & Provisions, or enjoy traditional Atlantic Coast seafood selections at the LandShark Bar & Grill.
Other amenities include the St. Somewhere Spa (open to non-hotel guests), a hot tub, an outdoor pool with a water slide, shallow “tanning pools” with in-water lounge chairs, and a riverfront patio with a fire pit. Spacious rooms feature a classic tropical vibe with coastal class. It’s also on the trolley line, which makes it doubly convenient.
Speaking of the Gatlinburg trolley line, it’s a great way to get around or see the town. The red route takes you through most of downtown Gatlinburg and River Road. Take the yellow route to check out the Arts and Crafts Community. Take the tan Gatlinburg trolley route for a nature theme for parks, campgrounds, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Howard Johnson by Wyndham Downtown Gatlinburg is another option for lodging near Anakeesta. This more budget-friendly hotel has a heated outdoor pool, a fire pit, and a garden. Guest rooms have free Wi-Fi and balconies or patios.
See Related: Most Beautiful Valleys in the US
12. Earthquake the Ride
Just down the road from Anakeesta, Earthquake the Ride is an exciting motion simulator attraction. Through sight, sound, motion, live action, and special effects, you’ll experience an earthquake aboard a subway car. Gather the whole crew for this exciting tourist attraction and thing to do in Gatlinburg.
The Sydney James Mountain Lodge has one indoor pool, two outdoor pools, and a poolside cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Traditional rooms and cabins are available. Some rooms have a balcony, a hot tub, or a fireplace.
The lodge is on the trolley stop, which makes for a convenient place to stay in Gatlinburg, TN.
13. Mysterious Mansion
Halloween only comes once a year … in most places. In Gatlinburg, the Mysterious Mansion haunted house is open year-round. This three-story Victorian-style home offers self-guided tours.
You’ll walk through creepy parlors, down secret passageways, and into spooky rooms. You may or may not be alone, so watch out! This Gatlinburg attraction has been open since 1980 and remains a favorite of families, couples, and groups visiting Gatlinburg, TN.
The Gatlinburg Inn, located near the Mysterious Mansion and other things to do in Gatlinburg, has a swimming pool, a tennis court, outdoor seating areas, and free Wi-Fi.
The hotel has been open since 1937 and features wide plank floors, stone accents, and down-home décor. Relax on the front porch rocking chairs, watch chairlifts, and the Gatlinburg Sky Needle from the pool.
See Related: Things to Do in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
14. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ever wanted to see sharks, tropical fish, and African penguins in the Smoky Mountains? Get to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to make your sea dreams come true. The state-of-the-art aquarium features thousands of marine creatures in 10 themed exhibits.
You can splash with stingrays, gaze at giant sea turtles, take behind-the-scenes tours, and even sleep with the sharks (you’re on the floor, they’re in the tank, just to be clear). This is always one of the top things to do in Gatlinburg for families, couples, or groups.
15. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure
More on that Halloween vibe as you get your scream on at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. A renovated haunted mansion beckons visitors to explore creepy hallways as frightening actors lurk behind every corner (or not, you never know). It’s one of our favorite top things to do in Gatlinburg.
Just like in its other destinations, Ripley’s brand offers various other attractions in Gatlinburg. Seriously, you could spend days at this place! Check out Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
Odditorium, the Mirror Maze, Davy Crockett’s Mini-Golf, the Super Fun Park, or the Super Fun Zone. Let us know whether the park or the zone is the most fun.
For a large group, multiple families, a corporate retreat, or an extended vacation, the Hillbilly Hilton makes the perfect mountain getaway. There are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a pool, a hot tub, a fireplace, a washer and dryer, a pool table, and other game tables. Enjoy the convenience of a full kitchen, a spacious living area, and a dining area close to many things to do in Gatlinburg.
See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends
16. Mountain Mall
Located near the Anakeesta mountain amusement park and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Mountain Mall is the destination for the shoppers, browsers, and window watchers in your crew.
The indoor shopping destination features six floors of locally owned stores such as Aunt Mahalia’s Candy, the Tennessee Cider Company, Smoky Mountain Novelties, and many more gift, apparel, cosmetic, and souvenir shops.
Even if you’re not into retail therapy, you may enjoy the historic side of the mall. Vintage photos, original structures, and a 1934 Ford Model A delivery truck can be found throughout. Ogle’s General Store opened in 1850 and was moved to the current mall site in 1910.
Other rustic pieces of memorabilia include a full-size bear trap, a moonshine still, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey barrels as trash cans, and two indoor water fountains.
The Greystone Lodge on the River is a scenic spot on the Cliff Branch River (technically a stream, but we’re not arguing). Guests can access a pool with a twisty water slide, event space, and a fitness center. Some rooms have a fireplace and soaking tubs.
The Greystone Lodge is within walking distance of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and the Mysterious Mansion.
17. Hillbilly Golf
Add some sightseeing to your recreation at this Appalachian mountain-themed 18-hole mini-golf attraction. You’ll ride an incline rail to the top of the mountain to tee off and avoid obstacles like rusted tractors, moonshine stills, and gravity as you golf your way down the mountain. The views from the top of the Hillbilly Golf Course are excellent, so don’t worry too much if your golf game is off.
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18. Gatlinburg Sky Needle
Also known as the Gatlinburg Space Needle, the Sky Needle is one of the best places to visit in Gatlinburg. The 407-foot observation tower offers amazing mountain views. Glass elevators take you to the top.
After taking in the panoramic views, test your skills at Arcadia’s video games, solve riddles, and find clues at The Captured escape room. The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is nearby, so you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for convenience. The hotel has a fitness center, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and outdoor seating areas to enjoy that mountain air.
19. Foodie Fun
Gatlinburg’s food scene is almost as famous as its mountains and family-friendly tourist attractions. From down-home cooking, farm-fresh menus, and breakfast foods galore to Tennessee homemade wines, craft beer, and moonshine, you’ll find a huge selection of dining (and drinking) choices to refuel after a day of outdoor adventures.
Take a food, winery, or distillery tour to get a unique perspective on the best produce, fruits, and other fares that Gatlinburg farmers offer. With a moonshine-tasting tour, you’ll learn how moonshine is distilled. The Wine and Shine Tour takes you to several local wineries and moonshine distilleries.
If you go to Tennessee and don’t taste moonshine or Tennessee homemade wines, have you really gone to Tennessee? We think not.
If there’s one thing Gatlinburg is known for (besides mountain coasters), it’s breakfast joints. Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin serves country-style entrees and made-from-scratch comfort food. You’re guaranteed a plate piled high with pancakes or a chicken biscuit smothered in sausage gravy. Moving that belt a notch or two before you even walk in is best.
Locally owned and operated, the Smoky Mountain Trout House is located in one of the town’s oldest buildings. It’s been a restaurant since 1975. Order from selections such as seafood, steaks, pasta, and chicken. Oh, and maybe a few trout entrees as well. Whether you like it blackened, broiled, fried, or grilled, there are 10 trout entrees.
Part pub, part steakhouse, Howard’s Restaurant features sirloin, porterhouse, ribeye, and New York strip as well as trout, catfish, chicken, and smoked pork rib. The stone and pine log structure (Really, though, isn’t everything in Gatlinburg stone and pine logs?) scenic setting has been in business since 1946 and remains a favorite.
For dancing and live music, head to Ole Red Gatlinburg. The popular hangout is owned by country singer and The Voice coach Blake Shelton (or Mr. Stefani, to some). It’s near the former Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre (which, sadly, is now closed). It offers items like sweet brisket tacos, burgers, sloppy Joes, grilled bacon-wrapped meatloaf, a southwestern chicken salad, and cornmeal-fried catfish.
The oldest winery in east Tennessee, the Smoky Mountain Winery, is in a super cool castle-inspired structure with a gift shop and a tasting room. Learn about and taste more than 20 regional, national, and international award-winning varieties.
Ole Smoky Moonshine offers free tours of the distillery. This is an excellent way to learn about the process and maybe get to sip a sample. Or buy a bottle or two.
See Related: Strange Foods in America You Should Try
20. Little Pigeon River
The Little Pigeon River is the place to be for fishing, swimming, bicycling, and nature walks. The Riverwalk Greenway runs parallel to the river – from Old Mill Avenue, through The Island, and to the Pigeon Forge Community Center – and has benches along the way.
Visit the Old Mill, a historic gristmill from the early 1900s and one of the best Gatlinburg attractions. The mill is still in use today for grinding grain into flour for the Old Mill Restaurant.
21. Herbert Holt Park
With a playground, picnic areas, restrooms, walking trails, and a fishing pier (that’s handicap and wheelchair-accessible), Herbert Holt Park is a favorite among locals and visitors to Gatlinburg. There’s even a trout farm! It’s the only municipal trout farm in the state. The fish are released into the Little Pigeon (on Thursdays, in case you’re interested).
22. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
True collectors will want to visit the more than 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers at the world’s only salt and pepper shaker museum. Located in Winery Square, the collection began 35 years ago and progressed until the owners had to open a museum.
In addition to being just plain fun, the shakers are a visual history of societal changes, pop culture, and more from the 1500s to the present.
23. Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community
Check out the downtown Gatlinburg arts and crafts scene. It’s the largest independent community of artists in the U.S. and one of the best ways to take a piece of the Smokies home with you.
This creative section of town features an eight-mile loop of galleries and shops with local artisans demonstrating, producing, and selling their creations. Browse and buy glasswork, paintings, musical instruments, leatherwork, sculptures, and more.
Open since 1957, the Gillette hotel is near the Gatlinburg Convention Center and many other downtown attractions. Guest rooms are available in single, double, and suites and have free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a coffee maker.
24. Gatlinburg Ghost Tour
The Ghosts of the Smokies Haunted Walking Tour is a terrific way to learn about the frontier town’s rough and rowdy past as your guide entertains with stories and folklore about murder, vengeful spirits, and phantom pioneers.
One-hour guided walking tours start at the Gatlinburg Space Needle and take place rain or shine.
25. Day Trips from Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg’s nearby neighbors of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville make for nice day trips. Whether it’s Dollywood, the Alcatraz East Crime Museum, the Titanic Museum Attraction, or any number of dinner theater shows, you’ll find a full range of family-friendly attractions, activities, shopping, and dining choices.
It’s worth the short drive (about 11 miles) from Gatlinburg to Sevierville to visit the Dolly Parton statue at the 1896-era Sevierville courthouse. The Queen of Country (and everything else, in our humble opinion) is a native of Sevierville and is credited for promoting education, literacy, conservation, medical, and other charitable efforts in the region.
Located in Pigeon Forge, the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster is an alpine coaster with uplifts and tunnels. Muster up your bravery genes and take an illuminated night ride.
Another fun attraction is the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel on The Island. This 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel offers stunning day and nighttime views.
Emert’s Cove Covered Bridge, in Sevierville, sits atop the Little Pigeon River. This striking structure, constructed in 2000 (so, yes, it’s up to modern safety standards), is a popular stop for selfies and family photos.
The bridge is named after Frederick Emert, a Revolutionary soldier who was the first settler in the area. A unique feature of the bridge is the cut-out windows lining the sides. There’s a pedestrian walkway to cross on foot.
For easy access to the fun and activities of all three towns, the Gatlinburg River Inn is a great choice. It’s about a 10-minute drive from Dollywood and offers riverfront views, an outdoor pool, a fire pit, and a hot tub. Guest rooms have free Wi-Fi, a microwave, a mini-fridge, and a coffee maker.
Poolin’ Around is one of our favorite cottages in Gatlinburg. This rustic but completely modern vacation rental features an indoor pool, wide pine plank walls, leather furnishings, cozy quilts, and mountain décor.
The cottage also has that all-important mountaintop home amenity of a wide porch with a line of wooden rocking chairs (all the better to catch those Smoky Mountain sunrises and sunsets).
What are the best things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with kids?
The Aquarium of the Smokies is one of the best Gatlinburg attractions for kids. Additionally, you could take the kids fishing in the Little Pigeon, or skiing and snowboarding at Ober Gatlinburg.
What are some fun things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee?
From the thrill ride of mountaintop coasters and ziplines, to mini golf, shopping, and nature tours, Gatlinburg has a wide variety of fun things to do. We particularly love Anakeesta for its views, suspended walkway, and spectacular observation tower architecture.
What are some things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when it’s raining?
Gatlinburg is a huge outdoor enthusiast’s getaway, but if rain does happen to damper the day, there are lots of indoor things to do. Check out the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, the indoor Wild Bear Falls Water Park, or the Pinball Museum for things to do in Gatlinburg.
What are the best tourist attractions in Gatlinburg, Tennessee?
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best tourist attractions in Gatlinburg for families, groups, couples, or solo travelers.
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Sandy is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, dining, beaches, and yacht charters to theme parks, urban settings, mountain getaways, and other fun spots. In addition to Via Travelers, her work appears at AFAR, PierShare, Cozymeal, and more.