Gatlinburg is a popular vacation resort town surrounded by forest-covered mountains. The destination has so much to offer. It sits at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited park in the United States. The historic downtown area has plenty of shopping, dining and family-friendly activities. Nearby Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood and The Island, a new shopping, dining, and entertainment complex.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The National Park straddles the North Carolina and Tennessee border. The Smoky Mountains get their name from the smoky blue mist that surrounds them. The park's sprawling landscape encompasses lush forests, wildflowers, wildlife, beautiful streams, rivers and waterfalls that appear along the parks 800 miles of trails. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is world-renowned for its diversity of plant and wildlife, the beauty of its mountains, and its Southern Appalachian mountain culture. It is America's most visited national park.
One of the best things to do in Gatlinburg is to head downtown. You will find local attractions, candy kitchens, moonshine distilleries, restaurants and plenty of shopping. Make sure you get to watch the taffy makers pulling the salt water taffy in their storefront windows.
Everyone in this part of the world loves Dolly Parton. Dollywood is a great park that has something for everyone. Complete with water rides, roller coasters, restaurants, stores, and more than 30 performers a day providing entertainment. The park features artisans and craftsmen and their unique products and handmade souvenirs. www.dollywood.com
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s Aquarium is one of the most popular Gatlinburg attractions. It was voted the number one aquarium in the United States by several renowned travel sites. There is something for everyone to see with more than 350 different species of marine life to explore at the aquarium, including stingrays, giant sea turtles, and seahorses. www.ripleyaquariums.com/gatlinburg/
Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
Explore the 120 artisan shops of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community that are located along an eight-mile loop. Many of shops feature the traditional crafts of the region including candle-making, wood carvings, basket weaving, pottery, handmade brooms, dolls, jewelry, and leather work. There are a few restaurants, cafes, a soda fountain and a tea room along the loop. www.gatlinburgcrafts.com/
Gatlinburg Farmers Market
The local Farmers Market is open seasonally from mid-May through the first week of October every Saturday from 8:30am to noon. You will find a great selection of local fruits, vegetables, eggs, honey, meats, baked goods, and crafts, fun activities for the kids and occasionally live music. www.gatlinburgfarmersmarket.com
Ghostwalk of Gatlinburg
Ghostwalk Tours are offered at 9:00pm, 10:30pm and midnight with the option of riding or walking. The tour will take you through the streets of Gatlinburg where you will see many historical sites that are reported to be haunted. www.ghostwalkofgatlinburg.com
Looking for something fun to do after a full day in the park? Hillbilly Golf, the world’s most unusual miniature golf course is located just across the street from Rocky Waters. You will ride the Incline 300 feet to the mountaintop above the city. There are two 18-hole courses await you, riddled with mountaineer hazards. The whole family will enjoy this truly unique adventure.
Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
The family-friendly Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is a unique, and fun thrill ride that puts you in the driver’s seat! Rider's coast down the mountain in single or double rider coaster cars on a silent track. Individual brake handles are used to control speed so you can enjoy the ride, any way you like. www.gatlinburgmountaincoaster.com
Rowdy Bear Mountain
Rowdy Bear Mountain offers a gravity-propelled roller coaster that winds its way through the woods of the Rowdy Bear Mountain. Coming Fall of 2017 look for the Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider, the first of its kind in the world, where riders safely soar through the treetops of Rowdy Bear Mountain. www.rowdybearmountain.com
Gatlinburg Sky Lift
Take the sky lift from downtown Gatlinburg to get a bird’s eye view of the town and the mountains. The lift makes a gradual 1,800-foot ascent to the summit where visitors enjoy exploring the mountain and views. www.gatlinburgskylift.com
The Island Entertainment District
The Island in Pigeon Forge is a new shopping and entertainment complex with more than sixty retail and specialty shops, popular restaurants, rides, games, entertainment, live music and much more. Take in amazing views of the Great Smoky Mountains on the 200-foot-high observation wheel and make sure to see the The Island Show Fountains a magical combination of water dance and light, all perfectly choreographed to popular music. www.islandinpigeonforge.com
Tanger Outlets Sevierville is a pleasant shopping destination with over 100 top brand-name outlet stores. Early morning and weekdays are the best time to go if you want to avoid heavy crowds. www.tangeroutlet.com/sevierville