Gatlinburg: Things to Do

Living just a few hours away from the Great Smoky Mountains, I’ve visited Gatlinburg, Tennessee at least twenty times. Thinking back on all these ventures, Here are my top Gatlinburg top things to do!

These may all fit into one Gatlinburg trip, or you can spread them out! I’ve visited for Bachelorette parties, family vacations, on my honeymoon, and even college spring break. There’s a little something for everyone and every occasion! 🐻⛰️🥾

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Cabin Time– In my opinion, if you aren’t going to rent one of the thousands of beautiful, rustic cabins when you visit Gatlinburg, then you shouldn’t go at all. Save a hotel for another trip! There isa huge array of cabins with a wide variety of prices. You can certainly find one to fit your budget.
Read about my stay in nearby Pigeon Forge
gatlinburg cabin rentals, gatlinburg things to do
Image via Blue Sky Cabin Rentals

gatlinburg pigeon forge hot tub cabin

jacuzzi. cabin view. gatlinburg things to do. smoky mountains
Image via Visit My Smokies
Staying in a cabin is half of the reason I go to this area so much. I love the wooden interiors, the sweeping mountain views, and of course spending time in a hot tub looking at the stars! See my cabin recommendations at the end of this post! 

Hiking– If you’re going to be in the area and not visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you are crazy! One of the most visited national parks in the country, there is a huge abundance of trails, beautiful views, and chances for wildlife sightings.
Read more: The best hikes in the Smokies

gatlinburg smoky mountains cabins

smoky mountains scenic overlook gatlinburg
If hiking is out, scenic overlooks are a great idea!

The Strip in Gatlinburg– Perhaps Gatlinburg is known just as much for its cheesy main strip as it is for the national park. A bit like a country version of Las Vegas, the strip is about as cheesy and hoaky as it gets. Despite this, I somehow still love it, and it’s something you need to experience!
Simply walking down the street and taking in all the shops, mini golf, wacky museums, old time photos, and moonshine tastings can easily fill an entire day or two. Over the years I’ve discovered my favorite things to do on this famous Gatlinburg street:
gatlinburg strip, parkway covid, gatlinburg things to do
(I took this in April 2020 when everything was closed)
  1. Smoky Mountain Brewery– Original craft beers brewed on site, tasty food, a great ambiance, and above all…free parking!
  2. Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler– This little corner of the strip not only has educational information about the history of moon-shining, but it most often has live bluegrass music playing. The atmosphere is great, and you can sample tiny shooters of moonshine from the enthusiastic staff. This is always one of my favorite things to check out!

    Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler, Gatlinburg Tennessee
    Image via The Holler
  3. Aquarium of the Smokies– A bit pricey, but definitely an amazing place. If it’s too hot or too cold outside, even better!
  4. Mountain Candy– Get some taffy logs from Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen, and some rock candy too! For some reason I’m always mesmerized watching their taffy being stretched on the machine. 
  5. Putt-Putt & Go-Kart (Pigeon Forge area)– If you never do these activities anywhere else, this is the place to do it! There are an abundance of spots to make this happen, and I definitely recommend it for any age!

    Gatlinburg Bear Statues. Gatlinburg things to do.
    I have to take a photo with these bears every time I visit!

Country Drives– Another activity I love to do is honestly just to drive around aimlessly on what I like to call a “country drive”. You’ll end up finding hidden gems and classic “backwoods Americana”.
Gatlinburg things to do
One of my favorite “country drive” photos I’ve ever taken!
  1. Arts and Crafts– On one of these drives we discovered the “Arts and Crafts Community”, where you can buy anything from a wooden bear sculpture to custom Christmas ornaments (I highly recommend Santa’s Claus-et). You should also check out the Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge!
  2. The Alpine Slide– The only other place I’ve seen the chance to slide down a mountainside on a toboggan was in Switzerland, and I honestly think the slide here was better! 
  3. Anakeesta- This spot is worth a visit! It is a “mountaintop adventure park” above the Gatlinburg strip, and has epic views along with a splash pad, playgrounds, canopy walks, zip-lining, and more. |See a video of our Anakeesta experience!)
  4. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail– This 5.5 mile self guided drive includes a pamphlet explaining the history of the stops, with several scenic places of interest along the way. Just right off the main strip, I definitely recommend this!
  5. Sky Lifts and Bridges– There are several places you can ride chair lifts up to scenic mountain views, so if you have mobility issues this could be a great option. I recently went here with my toddler, and while the chairlift ride up was a little hairy, we had a great time once safely at the top!

  6. The Abandoned Town of Elkmont– This ghost town deserves its own blog post… coming soon!

    country drive. sevierville. tennessee. gatlinburg things to do. elkmont.
    Some back road in Tennessee…

Lodging: In the past, I have stayed at a variety of beautiful cabins (Most recently, Beaver’s Mountaintop Retreat which had an indoor pool!). Typically, I find these cabins using local agency, CabinsForYou.
However, you can also try VRBO and dozens of others in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. If you’d like, read about hotels in Gatlinburg with indoor pools too! 


gatlinburg cabins for groups. gatlinburg things to do.
Photo I took of Mountain Splendor cabin!

More Helpful Links:

♥ See things to do in nearby Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
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Top Things to do in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee

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