When most people think of Gatlinburg, they immediately think of the changing leaves of fall in the Great Smoky Mountains, the rushing waterfalls at the end of wooded trails, and beautiful lights draping the city during Christmas. The hundreds of shops, great restaurants, and dozens of variety shows and attractions are also a huge part of the allure of the city. So, while there are many things that visitors expect to see and do while they are in the area, there are also several things Gatlinburg offers that you might be surprised to find.
A kilt – While Gatlinburg is quite a cultural melting pot because of the visitors who come for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year, you might not expect to find authentic Celtic goods in this country town. But if you stop in Celtic Heritage at The Village Shops along the Parkway, you will find Irish, Scottish, and Welsh goods such as jewelry, tartans, wedding bands and Celtic music.
A water park – Located in the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort, Wild Bear Falls is the South’s largest water park resort, and the country’s 5th largest. A lazy river, water slides, a hot tub, and a toddler area make this a great place for every age.
A University – Smoky Mountain University (a faux university) was founded by volunteers to educate people about the Great Smoky Mountains, and to raise awareness about what people can do to keep from harming the environment. SMU encourages people to volunteer to help pick up trash and help with local events.
Sharks – You wouldn’t expect to find sharks in the middle of a town surrounded by mountains and woods, right? Well, at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, visitors and locals can get up close and personal with sharks, jellyfish, and stingrays, without any of the danger.
A shrunken human head – This is probably one of the last things you would expect to find just about anywhere you plan to travel, but at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, you will be freaked out and wowed by many more incredible things like this.