Gatlinburg is a gorgeous mountain town in Eastern Tennessee, and it’s one of the best places you can pick for a trip, and rightfully so. There is no shortage of things to do and places to see while you’re there.
Table of Contents
Things To Do In Gatlinburg, TN
With its jaw-dropping scenery, captivating landscapes, rich history, and abundant outdoor activities, Gatlinburg truly is Tennessee’s hidden gem.
Recent studies have shown that over 140 million Americans participate in outdoor activities each year, indicating the growing popularity of outdoor recreation in the United States.
Fortunately, Gatlinburg caters to this increasing demand with its wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, white-water rafting, snow-tubing, and ziplining.
Whether you are an experienced thrill-seeker or new to outdoor recreation, Gatlinburg offers many opportunities to explore and discover.
Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a breathtaking natural paradise to explore. With around 850 miles of hiking trails, it is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an immersive experience with nature.
Regardless of your experience level, the park offers trails suited to all skill levels, ranging from easy walks to strenuous hikes. Along the way, you can spot black bears, elk, deer, and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
And with more than 100 species of trees and 1,400 species of flowering plants, the park is a botanical paradise, with vibrant wildflowers and foliage adding to the beauty of the landscape.
Enjoy an Amazing View At the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
For a unique view of the Smoky Mountains, take a chairlift ride to the top of Crockett Mountain at the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park.
Once you reach the top, you can step out onto the SkyDeck, surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountain landscape, with towering trees and babbling streams below.
And if you are feeling adventurous, you can also walk across the Skybridge, a 680-foot-long suspension bridge that spans a deep valley below.
Take a Ghost Tour of Gatlinburg
For a spine-tingling adventure, take a ghost tour of Gatlinburg and explore the town’s haunted history.
As you wander through the streets, your knowledgeable guide will share chilling tales of haunted buildings, ghostly apparitions, and paranormal activity.
You will visit sites rumored to be haunted and hear stories of the eerie events that have taken place there. It is a unique way to experience the town’s rich history and uncover its darker side.
Explore Anakeesta Adventure Park
For an adventure-packed day in Gatlinburg, head to Anakeesta Adventure Park and explore the natural beauty of Anakeesta Mountain.
To reach on top, you will ride on the Chondola, a unique chairlift/gondola hybrid that offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
You can explore the treehouse village, a whimsical collection of treehouse structures from the top. Moreover, you can take a thrilling ride on the zipline course, which offers a heart-pumping adventure through the trees.
For a more relaxed experience, wander the botanical gardens or enjoy a delicious meal at one of the park’s restaurants.
Get Weird at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Gatlinburg
For a truly unique and offbeat experience in Gatlinburg, visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum. This quirky attraction is full of oddities and artifacts worldwide, showcasing the weird and wonderful in all its glory.
This place will surely keep you entertained and intrigued with interactive exhibits, unusual displays, and fascinating stories.
The museum offers a self-guided tour, so you can explore the exhibits and learn about the bizarre stories behind each one. You can also check out the museum’s other attractions, such as the 5D Moving Theater.
Navigate the Gatlin’s Mirror Maze
Gatlin’s Mirror Maze is in the heart of Gatlinburg and is a must-visit attraction for anyone looking for a unique and exciting experience.
Step inside this labyrinth of mirrors and lights and test your senses as you navigate. The mirrors create an illusion of infinite reflections, making it a thrilling and disorienting experience.
So, race against your friends and family to see who can find the exit first, or take your time and enjoy the maze at your own pace.
Ascend the Gatlinburg Space Needle
The Gatlinburg Space Needle is a popular attraction that offers visitors a bird’s-eye view of the city and surrounding mountains.
Ascend to the top of the needle in a glass elevator for a breathtaking view of Gatlinburg city from a height of 407 feet.
The Gatlinburg Space Needle is open year-round, making it a great activity no matter what time of year you visit. Remember to bring your camera to capture the amazing views from the top!
Tips to Make the Most of Your First Trip to Gatlinburg
It can be very overwhelming to plan a trip when you’re visiting for the first time.
Keep reading to find out how you can make your trip to Gatlinburg as amazing as possible!
Choose The Right Season
You’ve decided to go to Gatlinburg, but when exactly should you plan the trip? Well, since this city is known for its beautiful scenic views, it makes sense to visit during a season that’ll only elevate the experience.
The most popular times to visit are fall and summer. A major reason for this is the fall foliage that starts around mid-September and peaks in October.
It’s a gorgeous sight, and the weather is pretty amazing. But if you want to avoid the traffic and rush of peak tourist season, you can visit in winter, between November and February.
Find The Perfect Place To Stay
Where you’re staying plays a big part in how well your experience goes on the trip. The most popular choice is the Gatlinburg cabins, which are essential to the experience of this mountain town.
Gatlinburg has incredible cabin options that offer breathtaking views of the mountains, home theaters, gaming rooms, and hot tubs. There’s something for everyone based on your budget, so be sure not to miss out on it.
However, if you want to stay somewhere that gives you a more personal taste of the city, you can book a hotel in downtown Gatlinburg.
Stock Your Fridge
Choosing a cabin rental can be a fantastic way to immerse in nature while having a comfortable home base with all available amenities.
With a fully equipped kitchen, you can enjoy the luxury of preparing meals in-house, enabling significant savings on dining expenses while simultaneously creating a cozy ambiance within the cabin. However, familiarity with nearby grocery stores is essential.
Several accessible and well-stocked grocery stores in Gatlinburg offer a hassle-free experience to gather everything you need to prepare delicious meals.
Whether you need to pick up some snacks for a day hike or ingredients for a home-cooked dinner, you will find everything just a short drive away.
By doing so, you can enjoy all the comforts of home without sacrificing the beauty and serenity of your Gatlinburg getaway.
Your packing depends on the weather in town, so check it before you begin packing for the trip. You’ll also need to keep in mind the elevation. For winter, go for warmer options like coats and sweaters.
Though September is still on the warmer side, October will bring the cold with it. Pack a few off-season pieces regardless of when you’re going because weather changes are frequent.
For summer, some basic shorts and t-shirts are the go-to. Although if you plan on hiking, a pair of long pants will be helpful. Hiking boots are also a must, regardless of the season.
No matter your plans, you will end up walking a lot, and hiking boots are a choice that will save you from a lot of pain.
Skip Breakfast At Home
Gatlinburg is well known for its breakfast options, and you don’t want to miss out on their most popular item – pancakes! Not only that, but they also serve very generous portions that are sure to give you the energy you need for the day. If you’re not an early riser, no worries.
Breakfast spots in Gatlinburg tend to serve breakfast all day long. You can explore the city and go for what seems the most appealing, or plan and visit the best-rated spots.
For example, you can check out Pancake Pantry, Tennessee’s first ever pancake house, which has been around for decades.
Though there is quite a rush, the wait isn’t nearly as long as you’d expect. There is no shortage of options, so you definitely won’t go hungry or unsatisfied.
Book A Tour in Gatlinburg
Since it’s your first time, it might be a bit hectic to try and tour the city and all it offers by yourself. You might also miss out on many incredible sights because you didn’t know or couldn’t fit them into your schedule.
If you want a typical tour showing all the scenic views in the city, there are tons of great options. However, if generic tours aren’t interesting, some specific ones are super cool.
For example, you can try out a Haunted Gatlinburg Tour, where your guide will give you a tour of all the haunted spots in the city, starting downtown. Of course, if you’re there around Halloween, that’ll only elevate the experience.
Other than that, if you have a taste for adult beverages, you can tour the Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery, where you can explore and try out their famous moonshine. Make sure to bring your ID, though.
Take A Trip Downtown
Once you’re done with the major sites and tours, take some time to explore downtown Gatlinburg on your own. Make sure to visit some of the popular eateries and do some shopping.
Some places you should check out are the Village Shops that give off a lovely old Europe vibe, complete with small alleys and brick streets.
If you’re a bit of a history nut, you can check out the Historic Ogle Cabin, which has existed since Gatlinburg’s earliest days.
If you’re looking just to let loose or have kids with you, check out Gatlin’s Fun Centre, which has a variety of activities from golf to bumper cars and a laser maze.
That’ll make Gatlinburg a favorite vacation spot for the little ones.
Plan For Parking Being An Issue
If you plan on getting around downtown Gatlinburg in a car, prepare beforehand to spend quite a lot on parking. It can cost around $10 to $20 to park for a day, depending on how long you’re visiting, which can be a significant amount.
So it’s best to walk for shorter distances or quick trips.
If you cannot walk a lot, you can utilize the Gatlinburg Trolley. Not only will you get to sit back and enjoy the city, but you can also avoid paying unnecessarily. It is especially helpful if you’re only in the city overnight and don’t want to spend much.
Enjoy Gatlinburg, TN
Gatlinburg is a premier destination for adventure seekers offering a wealth of outdoor activities for all ages.
With its breathtaking scenery, rich history, and diverse outdoor activities, Gatlinburg is a must-visit location for any thrill-seeker. So why not plan your next great adventure in Gatlinburg?
Pack your bags today and head to this beautiful mountain town for an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Smokies.
Next Up From ChaChingQueen
Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.