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There are thousands of things to do and see while visiting the Great Smoky Mountains. Here are a few, but let us know your interests and we’ll help you plan your perfect getaway vacation, from attractions to shopping to hiking to dining. We even have discount passes to share with you.
1. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is one of the most visited areas of the park. The Cove is an 11-mile, one-way auto loop road with an abundance of wildlife (deer, black bears, wild turkeys, etc.). From mid-May through mid-September the loop road is closed to cars on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 10 a.m. to allow bicyclists and runners an open road without the worry of automobile traffic. Waterfall Hiking Trail: Abrams Falls.
2. Little River Road
Little River Road follows the Little River, which is actually one of the larger rivers in the Smokies, and it’s certainly one of the most-scenic drives in the park. There are numerous pull-offs for stopping and photographing along the 17-mile stretch that leads from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Be sure to look for Hiking Trails: Meigs Falls and Chimney Tops.
3. Campbell Overlook
When you reach the end of Little River Road, turn right onto Newfound Gap Road and look for two large turnouts on your left. Both turnouts offer wonderful views of Mount Le Conte and the hardwood forest below. This lookout is beautiful in the early afternoon since the sun rises behind the mountain.
4. Roaring Fork
This is a beautiful six mile one-way auto loop road filled with lush forest, streams, waterfalls and nineteenth-Century buildings. The road is closed in winter, so you may want to try Greenbrier or Elkmont as alternative destinations during that season.
In spring, the dogwood trees and wildflowers are in bloom, and the damp forest atmosphere provides lush mosses around the brooks and streams. Bears and other wildlife and also very common. Waterfall Hiking Trails: Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls.
5. Morton Overlook/Clingman’s Dome
Morton Overlook is the place for the classic Smokies sunset shot. The overlook is a small turnout that can get crowded in the summer months, so get there early and stake out your spot. The sun will be setting in your frame from June through August. If you are visiting in fall, try Clingman’s Dome, elevation 6643′, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, but be sure to give yourself about another 45 minutes to get there.
With over 800 miles of trails at its back door, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park won’t disappoint avid hikers. With trails ranging from easy to difficult, treks for the not-so avid hikers are also available. The scenery from the trails is stunning! My favorite are waterfall trails and there are 100’s to explore and enjoy everyday.
Wanna experience the Smokies from the treetops? Hop on a zipline and soar up to 50 feet in the air. This is perfectly safe, and the landings are gentle. There’s also a Skybridge that takes you high above the city. For ages five and up.
8. Horseback riding
Several stables in the area offer wonderful rides through the mountain on gentle, well cared for mounts. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experience cowboy, the guides will find a horse to match your experience level. This is one of the best way to experience the breathtaking beauty and peace of the Smokies with Gatlinburg vacations!
Check out Smoky Mountain Stables, Sugarlands Riding Stables or Cades Cove Riding Stables.
9. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
This is a must-see! View thousands of marine species in the 1.4 million-gallon tank, including 12-foot sharks, piranhas, and colorful tropical reef fish. You’ll walk through a clear underwater tunnel as huge fish and rays swim over and around you. Kids will love the interactive tanks where they can touch rays and horseshoe crabs.
10. Space Needle
If you want some unforgettable views of the Smokies, this is the place! A glass elevator takes you to the top of the 400-foot-tall platform. At the base, you’ll find a huge arcade, laser tag, a comedy show, a restaurant, and a gift shop.
11. Miniature golf
Gatlinburg features several putt-putt courses, with themes ranging from the mountains to the jungle. Some of the most popular include Hillbilly Golf, Treasure Quest Golf, Davy Crockett Mini-Golf, and the ultra-cool 3-D Circus Golf.
12. Tram/Sky lift
Okay, it should be a requirement for visitors to experience one of these on Gatlinburg vacations! The views are absolutely amazing. Choose between the enclosed tram car that holds 120 passengers, or the Sky Lift, where you and a companion will share leg- dangling open-air trip up the mountain. The tram takes you up to Ober Gatlinburg, and the chair
lift takes you to the top of Crockett Mountain.
13. Ober Gatlinburg
Drive or take the tram up to Ober Gatlinburg, where you’ll find an ice skating rink, a restaurant, snow skiing, shops, rides, and a snack bar. There’s something for every age and for every season of the year at Ober Gatlinburg.
Wet a fly in one of the nearby creeks, lakes, or rivers. The Little Pigeon River flows right through downtown, and it’s regularly stocked with trout. Go it alone or hire a knowledgeable fishing guide.
More than 400 shops line the streets of Gatlinburg, with a wide selection of souvenirs, handmade local crafts, local art, and one-of-a-kind gifts. Some of the treasures include quilts, wood carvings, paintings, sculpture, leather goods, gourmet foods, and Indian pottery. Be sure to check out Marketplace and the Mountain Mall. Take the short ride to visit the
artists and craftsmen located on Glades Road, where you can watch the artists at work. Tanger Outlet Mall in Sevierville has something for everyone (at a discount!)
Visitors can choose a relaxing float down a lazy river or a white-knuckle adventure on Class IV rapids – or anything in between! Even kids as young as three can get in on some of the Gatlinburg vacations action. Local outfitters use experienced guides to ensure your safety and enjoyment.
17. Museums and galleries
Visit one of the area’s museums to see antiques, old cars, and scenes from the Bible. There’s also the Ripley’s Museum, the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Hollywood Stars’ Cars Museum, and the Guinness World of Records Museum. Visit one of Gatlinburg’s galleries to see the creations of local artists and craftsmen.
18. Live shows
A favorite of many is an evening out to enjoy a Dinner Show, Comedy Show, Variety Show…the list goes on and on. Visit one of the theaters for some rousing live entertainment.
If you can’t find what you want to eat in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, you’re not hungry! You’ll have countless choices of steaks, sausage dogs, seafood, sandwiches, burgers, ethnic cuisine, wonderful barbecue, and good ol’ Southern
cookin’! These range from fast food eateries to family-style meals to fancy restaurants.
…. and we’re just getting started. Start planning now for your return visit!