Arts and crafts – The arts is an integral part of the Smokies, from the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts to the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Visit either throughout the year to see the work of local artists and craftsmen, or plan a trip to the Smokies during one of the events hosted during the year. From gallery showings and arts and crafts fairs to unique pieces found in area shops, you can always enjoy a bit of the arts scene.
Black Bears – It always feels like a score when you spot a black bear in the Smokies. They might be wandering past your cabin, playing in the fields of Cades Cove, or climbing up a tree on your scenic drive, but always be on the lookout for the Smokies’ mascot!
Cades Cove – This 11-mile loop is a scenic one, a favorite of most who consider the Smokies like a second home. It’s home to historic buildings, diverse wildlife (think black bears, deer, turkeys, salamanders, and more), fields of wildflowers, mountain views, and quiet streams. Pack a picnic and spend the morning enjoying the views in Cades Cove.
Dollywood – Ride roller coasters, watch Broadway-style shows, do some shopping, eat hearty Southern meals, play carnival games for prizes, and take a ride on the train around Dollywood! They also host events throughout the year, including the tour-around-the-world Festival of Nations.
Exotic animals – The Amazing Animals Exotic Pet Show at The Comedy Barn Theater blends comedy, talented animals, music, and family-friendly fun for a night out that kids and adults will love. Watch trained pigs, dogs, a mini donkey, parrots, and more!
Fannie Farkle’s – Known for their foot-long Ogle dogs and sizzling cheesesteaks made before your eyes, Fannie Farkle’s also has an arcade for family fun and is located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – The most visited national park in the U.S., this FREE national park boasts 800+ miles of trails to explore. You can go horseback riding, hike, ride bikes, picnic, go fishing, and check out the many historic homesteads and buildings in and around the park.
Hot tubs – End your nights soaking away the stresses, soothing sore muscles, and relaxing in a hot tub at your private cabin. A hot tub soak on a cool mountain evening is a rite of passage when it comes to Smoky Mountain vacations.
Ice cream – From unique flavors like Oat Mill Cream Pie at The Old Mill Creamery and scoops of ice cream paired with hot apple fritters at The Apple Barn to donuts and ice cream at Mad Dog Creamery & Donuts and chain favorites like Baskin Robbins, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge serve up plenty of delicious, creamy options of ice cream.
Jerky! If you love jerky, the Smokies doesn’t disappoint. Pigeon Forge has a jerky warehouse and a store devoted to jerky at The Island, and Gatlinburg’s Natural House of Jerky features venison, antelope, buffalo, turkey, wild boar, elk, alligator, and more.
Kilwin’s – You can’t walk the Parkway in Gatlinburg without smelling the sweet aromas wafting out of Kilwin’s. From homemade waffle cones, creamy fudge, and old-fashioned candy to juicy chocolate-dipped strawberries, decadent candy-covered caramel apples, and kettle corn, the sweets are just the thing for family game night in the cabin!
Laurel Falls – The 80-foot-high Laurel Falls is named for the lush mountain laurel that grows all around, and it’s one of the most popular hikes in the Smokies. The upper and lower sections of Laurel Falls are separated by a small bridge, perfect for family photos and enjoying the views.
Mt.LeConte – A challenging hike with rewarding views, Mt. LeConte (via the Alum Cave Trail) is an 11-mile roundtrip hike gaining 2,763 feet of elevation before reaching its peak at 6,593 feet. It’s a strenuous hike that’s not for everyone, but awesome views on clear days make it worth it for many.
New, new new! The fun mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are always growing, adding new attractions, restaurants, shops, and events each year. No matter how many times you’ve visited, you’re likely to find something new the next time! Anakeesta in downtown Gatlinburg is the area’s newest – and one of the largest – attractions.
Ober Gatlinburg – Year-round, Ober Gatlinburg offers fun for kids and adults. Fall brings OktOBERfest, winter offers skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, and spring and summer boast the Alpine Slide, Amaze’N Maze, and kids’ play area. Year-round, you can play arcade games, ice skate indoors, or check out the Wildlife Encounter.
Pigeon Forge Rod Run – Drawing thousands of visitors each year, the Pigeon Forge Rod Run fills the streets with custom cars, classic beauties, and souped-up hot rods – twice a year. If you’re a car enthusiast – or you have a custom hot rod of your own – it’s an event you can’t miss. Plan a trip for the 2017 Fall Rod Run (September 14-16), the 2018 Spring Rod Run (April 19-21) or the 2018 Fall Rod Run (September 13-15).
Quirky shops – While you’ll find many chain restaurants and stores in the Smokies, the quirky, one-of-a-kind shops are what make it unique. If you love the offbeat and unique, the quirky shops in the Smokies will be your jam. They feature everything from fairies, dragons, black bears, and a Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum to knives, custom toys, hot sauce, and pottery. You can also get an airbrush t-shirt, take an old-time photo, pose with wax figures, and listen to live bluegrass while sipping moonshine.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – Home to thousands of underwater creatures, this top-rated aquarium features a walk-beneath-the-sharks tunnel, Touch-A-Ray Bay, dive shows, the Penguin Playhouse, and an impressive display of fish and more!
Salamanders – The Great Smoky Mountains is the salamander capital of the world, home to more than 30 species of salamander! Try to spot them in cool, wet places when you’re exploring!
Titanic Museum Attraction – In the heart of Pigeon Forge, the Titanic Museum Attraction is another can’t-miss attraction on the Parkway. Each guest gets the boarding pass of an actual passenger, touring the RMS Titanic as that person before learning their fate. Along the way, guests can touch an iceberg, try to stand on sloping decks, pose for a photo on the Grand Staircase, and see many recovered pieces from the wreckage.
Unparalleled beauty – Millions of people flock to the Great Smoky Mountains each year, and if you’ve ever enjoyed the views, you understand why. Four distinct seasons offer awesome year-round scenery: snow-covered mountains in winter, incredible changing leaves in fall, blooming wildflowers in spring, and lush green trees in summer.
Variety – The Smoky Mountains is all about variety, from the food and shopping to the cabins and wildlife. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have restaurants with food from across the world, attractions range from moonshine distilleries to kid-friendly exhibits, shops include outlet stores and boutique galleries, and the national park is one of the most diverse habitats in the world.
WonderWorks – Interactive, hands-on exhibits that focus on art, space, science, natural disasters, and more create space where kids and adults of all ages can play and explore. And you can’t miss it on a drive down the Parkway. It’s the upside-down yellow house!
Xmas shopping – Year-round, Christmas shops in downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (or in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community) offer fun holiday-centric shopping. Pick out ornaments, Santas, lights, tablescapes, decorations, cards, and more!
Young and old – Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are truly towns for all ages. Family-friendly attractions and arcades appeal to kids. Wineries, distilleries, spas, and art galleries will please adults. Restaurants offer foods for every taste, shops have everything from baby toys to hand-carved wood signs, and cabins boast amenities for all ages!
Ziplines – Whether you’re wanting a great team-building experience or just want to have some high-action fun, a zipline canopy tour is a great pick. The experienced guides at Smoky Mountain Ziplines will get you geared up and flying high above the forest floor in no time! They even offer complimentary water and soda before and after tours in their comfortable base camp.