Brrr! It’s freezing outside, so naturally, we take to the great indoors, where heaters keep us cozy, cocoa brings a smile, and TV provides entertainment. Then we do it all over again the next day, and the next, and the next…woohoo. How about changing it up this frosty season? Challenge winter head on and take your vacation plans up a notch with outdoor winter activities in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Wait a minute. Are you saying we should actually go outside when the air is crisp, holiday light displays adorn the cities, evergreens flourish in the national park, pure-white snow blankets the mountain peaks, and the…ah, point taken. While jackets and scarves may be in order, it will be totally worth it as you attend seasonal events, play at snowy attractions, and venture into the area’s natural winter wonderland — the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
While the Smokies slumber, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg come alive with whimsical light displays, holiday celebrations, and wintry treats during Winterfest — an annual winter event from early November through February in the Smokies!
Hop on the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights and see the city like never before, filled to the brim with jolly characters and creative light displays! Over 4 million LED lights add to the enchanting atmosphere, and the best part is it’s only $5 per person (children under 3 may sit on an adult’s lap for free). Or simply take a leisurely evening walk downtown to see the brilliant illuminations up close without paying a dime and with a tall Starbucks latte in hand to keep warm.
Ring in the new year at the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Gatlinburg or party at The Island’s New Year celebration in Pigeon Forge! Rally friends and family at the base of the Space Needle in preparation for Gatlinburg’s annual ball drop and spectacular fireworks show at midnight on December 31. Or choose to spend the last moments of the year playing at The Island, to feature live music and dancing, contests with grand prizes, and a celebratory fireworks display — all for FREE!
Ace Winter Attractions
Look forward to tons of frosty fun at outdoor attractions in the Smokies — from racing down snowy slopes to exploring Glacier Ridge to horseback riding through an evergreen forest!
Start things off with winter sports at Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area! Ski, snowboard, or snow tube towards the powdery bottom of the frigid slopes, ice skate or steer the ice bumper cars indoors (a nice respite from the biting breezes), and build a sassy snowman with the kiddos in the Cubbies Snow Zone. You’ll also find indoor shops and eateries along with additional attractions, so you can stay and play for hours on end!
After playing in the snow and on the ice for a day, venture to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge for an exciting Christmas extravaganza (Nov 10 – Jan 5)! Enter the brand-new winter zone dubbed Glacier Ridge — starring twinkling light displays and a 50-foot Christmas tree with video motion! Attend the Parade of Many Colors, featuring 5+ million lights, classic characters (like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), and endless mugs of hot cocoa. And don’t forget to take photos with Santa!
Now it’s time to head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (no cost to enter), where winter couldn’t be more beautiful and serene. With dark evergreens, snow-covered peaks, trickling streams, icy waterfalls, sleeping wildlife, and a calming quiet, the national park is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and rejuvenate the soul. Horseback ride, bird watch, hike, journal, sketch, photograph…the options are endless!
A Cozy Cabin for YOU
After playing outdoors in the Smokies, full of wintry fun, you’ll need a place to return to for roasted marshmallows round the firepit, muscle-soothing hot tub soaks, and snuggles by the fireplace. Whether bringing your family, coming with a small group of friends, or getting away on a large-group retreat, Cabins for YOU has you covered — with over 320 cabin options ranging from 1-14 bedrooms in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg! Each cabin features unique amenities, from game-filled rec rooms and a private indoor pool to a home theater and king-size beds. Cabins for YOU has the perfect lodge for every group and every occasion no matter the weather or the season!
Don’t hide inside this winter — make this cool season one to remember with a cozy cabin stay and cheery outdoor play in the Great Smoky Mountains today!