Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg in Tennessee is a picturesque destination offering endless adventure, relaxation, and fun opportunities. From hiking trails that wind through lush forests to thrilling attractions perfect for families and couples, this charming mountain town has something for everyone.
Whether a nature lover or a thrill-seeker, you’ll find plenty of exciting things to do in Gatlinburg. Today, we will highlight some of the top attractions and activities you want to experience on your next visit to this vibrant town in Tennessee. But before that, let’s explore the accommodation options:
Where to Stay
Since Gatlinburg is a popular tourist destination, finding accommodation is easy. From cozy cabins and hotels to luxurious resorts, there’s something to suit every taste and budget. Campgrounds can be a great way to fully experience the Great Smoky Mountains’ natural beauty. For the ultimate outdoor experience, consider staying at one of Gatlinburg’s many campgrounds. The area has several options, from full-service RV parks to rustic tent camping sites.
Cabins are a perfect option for tourists traveling in large groups and adventure seekers. These are situated quite close to the Great Smoky Mountains, so those staying in cabins experience the beautiful sunrise and sunset from their rooms. Besides, renting a cabin can be a great way to fully immerse yourself in the natural surroundings.
However, those who prefer the convenience and comfort of a hotel can opt to book one of the Gatlinburg Tennessee hotels equipped with modern amenities. Some hotels offer amenities such as swimming pools, on-site restaurants, and fitness centers, and many are within walking distance of downtown Gatlinburg.
No matter where you stay in Gatlinburg, the town’s natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities will make for a memorable trip. With that said, let’s explore the activities Gatlinburg has to offer:
1) Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National park offers various activities, including hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives. With over 800 miles of trails, visitors can explore beautiful natural surroundings and waterfalls and even spot wildlife. The park has diverse wildlife, including elk, deer, and black bears. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat in nature or an adventurous outdoor experience, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-visit attraction in Gatlinburg.
2) Walk around Gatlinburg
Walking around Gatlinburg is a great way to explore this charming mountain town and enjoy its unique sights and sounds. With many shops, restaurants, and attractions lining the streets, there’s always something new to discover around every corner. Whether you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, want to grab a bite to eat, or want to soak up the quaint atmosphere, a leisurely walk around Gatlinburg is the perfect thing to do for anyone looking to experience the town’s vibrant culture and friendly locals.
3) Ride the Gatlinburg SkyBridge
The Gatlinburg SkyBridge in Tennessee is North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, offering breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The 680-foot-long bridge is suspended 140 feet above the valley, and visitors can walk across it while enjoying the panoramic views. At the other end of the bridge, visitors can explore the SkyDeck and take more photos of the stunning scenery. The SkyBridge is open year-round and is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Gatlinburg, with several other attractions and activities nearby, such as the SkyLift.
4) Visit Ober Gatlinburg
Located on top of Mount Harrison, Ober Gatlinburg is a popular tourist spot in Gatlinburg that offers a variety of activities, including skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, tubing, and wildlife encounters. With several slopes catering to beginners, experienced skiers, and snowboarders, Ober Gatlinburg also offers indoor ice skating, chairlift ride, ski mountain coaster ride, tubing for families and groups, and a wildlife encounter where visitors can see black bears and river otters, raccoons, and other animals native to the Great Smoky Mountains.
5) Take a Scenic Drive
One of the best things to do in Gatlinburg is to take a scenic drive through the stunning landscape of the Great Smoky Mountains. There are several breathtaking spots that you can drive to, each offering unique views and experiences.
• Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a narrow, winding road that takes you through lush forests, past historic cabins and homesteads, and alongside the rushing waters of Roaring Fork Creek. You can stop at several scenic overlooks, hike to stunning waterfalls, and spot wildlife like black bears and deer.
• Cades Cove Loop Road takes you through a picturesque valley surrounded by towering mountains. The 11-mile loop offers incredible views of historic buildings, churches, rolling fields, and dense forests. You can also hike to Abrams Falls or go horseback riding along the way.
• Newfound Gap Road is a 31-mile drive from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, North Carolina. It offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, including Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
6) Visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle
At 407 feet tall, this iconic observation tower offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains, downtown Gatlinburg, and beyond. Take a glass elevator to the top and step onto the observation deck to enjoy stunning panoramic vistas. On a clear day, you can see for miles and miles, taking in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the vibrant town of Gatlinburg below. The Gatlinburg Space Needle also offers other attractions, including an arcade and a virtual reality experience, and is home to a restaurant. It is a perfect destination for families or anyone looking for a fun-filled day out.
7) Explore Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
The aquarium provides interactive experiences and events, including behind-the-scenes tours and the Sleep with the Sharks program. From tropical fish to sharks and penguins, the exhibits are designed to recreate natural habitats, providing an up-close and personal experience. The Shark Lagoon is a must-see exhibit featuring a glass tunnel through the middle of the tank, while the Penguin Playhouse offers an attractive display of penguins in their icy habitat.
Gatlinburg offers many exciting activities and attractions for travelers of all age groups. The town has something for everyone, from outdoor adventures such as hiking and skiing to family-friendly attractions such as aquariums and amusement parks. The town’s unique natural beauty and live entertainment make it an ideal relaxing yet fun vacation destination. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a memorable family trip, Gatlinburg is a must-visit destination that won’t disappoint.