Skip to Content

25 Fun & Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The misty mountains of east Tennessee provide the perfect backdrop for things to do in Gatlinburg. You can’t beat this little piece of 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 romantic (non-nuptial) 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 put together 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.

Gatlinburg Ghost Tour
1. Gatlinburg: Ghosts of the Smokies Haunted Walking Tour Top Recommendation

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!

Mountaintop Zipline Activity
2. Mountaintop Zipline 2-Hours Activity

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.

Gatlinburg Haunts Thrilling Dark History Walking Ghost Tour
3. Gatlinburg Haunts Thrilling Dark History Walking Ghost Tour

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.


Fun & Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Skyline and Scenery

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. It’s also home to 24 species of salamander, in case you were wondering.  

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.

Cades Cove

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.

Newfound Gap Road
image by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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 really 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 of those historic structures we mentioned earlier. Rainbow Falls, found along this trail, features an 80-foot-waterfall that sometimes produces a rainbow on sunny days.

Rainbow Falls
HAL333, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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, be sure to pack your hiking boots for your smoky mountains trip.

In addition to the aforementioned salamanders, Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds another unique bit of nature. It’s one of only a few places in the world (Congaree National Park in South Carolina and the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania are two others) with synchronous fireflies.

Fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains
image by Niemand für Polyphemus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The light pattern of these interesting insects is made up of 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, which is a timeframe of about three weeks lasting 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

Girl 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 in your life, 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: Fun & Best Things to do in Knoxville, Tennessee

3. Whitewater Rafting

Group 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, 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.

Ober Gatlinburg

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 go along with 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.

Bearskin Lodge on the River Pool

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

Hollywood Star Cars Museum Exhibit
image by Todd Fowler is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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. Located along the Gatlinburg Parkway (U.S. Route 441 and State Route 448), it’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

Fall in Smoky Mountain National Park

For downtown and mountain views, take a ride along the Gatlinburg Bypass. It runs between the Gatlinburg Spur and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a terrific way to take in fall foliage, spring wildflowers, winter wonderlands, and summer scenes.

It’s free to drive along this bypass and visit the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook. There are four parking areas where you can pull over to check out the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Johnson City, Tennessee

7. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster Ride
image by milst1 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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 speeds of up to 30 mph 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 more than 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 Places to Travel Alone in the World

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, and two giant water slides, as well as an interactive tree house. It’s at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park.

10. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park Ride
image by anporter914 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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 itself if you’d rather just stay right there.

The Sky Trail is an elevated boardwalk about one-third of a mile in length. It connects each end of the SkyBridge. Signs along the way point out historic 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 terrific choice. 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.

See Related: Top Sites for Booking Tours: Maximize Your Experiences

11. Anakeesta Mountain

Anakeesta Mountain View

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.

Anakeesta Mountain Scenery

Climb to the top of the Anavista Tower where you can enjoy panoramic views of downtown Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains from points north, south, east, and west.

Treetop Skywalk Nature Scenery

A Treetop Skywalk features an 880-foot suspended boardwalk bridge about 60 feet in the air. You’ll be able to 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 just sit in rocking chairs and enjoy the scenery of the mountain valley below. We highly recommend that last one.

Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg Building
image by

If you like your mountains with a side of margaritas, Gatlinburg has got you covered. Located across from Anakeesta, and near a wide variety of 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 (which is 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 firepit. 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 just 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. For a nature theme, take the tan Gatlinburg trolley route for parks, campgrounds, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Howard Johnson by Wyndham Downtown Gatlinburg Room
image by

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

Situated 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.

Pool in Sydney James Mountain Lodge
image by

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

Mysterious Mansion
image by Valerie Everett is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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.

Gatlinburg Inn
image by

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.

Open since 1937, the hotel features wide plank floors, stone accents, and down-home décor. Relax on the front porch rocking chairs or watch chairlifts and the Gatlinburg Sky Needle from the pool.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

14. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Building
image by (aka Brent) is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Ever wanted to see sharks, tropical fish, and African penguins in the Smoky Mountains? Get on over 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 just never know). It’s one of our favorite top things to do in Gatlinburg.

Just like in its other destinations, Ripley’s brand offers a wide variety of 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 super fun.

Hillbilly Hilton Surrounded with Nature
image by

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, which opened in 1850, 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.

Greystone Lodge on the River
image by

The Greystone Lodge on the River is a scenic spot on the Cliff Branch River (technically a stream but we’re not arguing). Guests have access to 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

Front of 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 itself 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.

See Related: Best Golf Bachelor Party Destinations to Visit

18. Gatlinburg Sky Needle

Tip of Gatlinburg Sky Needle
image by Eric__I_E is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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 you’re done taking in the panoramic views, test your skills at Arcadia’s video games or solve riddles and find clues at The Captured escape room. 

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Architectre
image by

The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is nearby, so if you’re looking for convenience, you can’t go wrong. The hotel has a fitness center, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and outdoor seating areas to enjoy that mountain air.

19. Foodie Fun

Group Eating Meal on a Restaurant

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 have to offer. With a moonshine-tasting tour, you’ll learn how moonshine is distilled. The Wine and Shine Tour takes you to a couple of local wineries and moonshine distilleries.

Seriously, if you go to Tennessee and don’t taste moonshine or Tennessee homemade wines, have you really gone to Tennessee? We think not.

Pancake with Fruits

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 to have a plate piled high with pancakes or a chicken biscuit smothered in sausage gravy. It’s best to move that belt a notch or two before you even walk in.

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 to choose from.

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) and offers a menu of 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

Little Pigeon River in Winter
image by Scott Basford is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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

Herbert Holt Park Sign in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Pelow Media / Adobe Stock

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 only salt and pepper shaker museum in the world. Located in Winery Square, the collection began 35 years ago and progressed until the owners just 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.

See Related: Best Things to do in Nashville, Tennessee: Top Attractions

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

Gatlinburg Ghost Tour Sights
image by GetYourGuide

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

Dollywood Train

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.

Dolly Parton Statue and Scenery

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.

Emerts Cove Covered Bridge
image by Brent Moore is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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 just happened to be 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 firepit, 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).

Check out or Skyscanner for cheap rates on hotels, flights, and rental cars. VRBO is an excellent resource to find chalets, cottages, and other mountainside accommodations in Gatlinburg.


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. 

Related Resources

Lock In Your Travel Now

Find Cheap Flights
Use Skyscanner to find flight deals. As my personal favorite flight search engine, Skyscanner scours websites and airlines across the globe, leaving no stone unturned to help you find the best deal possible. And if you really want to take your savings to new heights, pair Skyscanner with Going (Formerly Scott's Cheap Flights). With access to exclusive mistake fares delivered straight to your inbox, you'll be packing your bags and jetting off on your next adventure before you know it.

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Cover yourself against illness, injury and theft, and protect the arrangements you've made with our flexible travel cancellation insurance. My favorite options for travel insurance are:

Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.

Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!

Discover the Best Travel Tools
Be sure to visit our page on our favorite travel resources to learn how you too can visit over 10 countries in year.