If you’ve ever been to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge in the Great Smoky Mountains, you probably have your favorite things. From restaurants and attractions to desserts and picnic spots, there are plenty of things to love about the area. There are many things I love about the Smokies, but I have my favorites, too – with maybe a dessert (or two or three) on the list. Whether you’re looking for something new to try, need some ideas for a surprise trip for someone, or just want to see if someone else loves your favorites in the Smokies just as much, read on.
Chocolate-dipped strawberries at Kilwin’s
One of my favorite sweet indulgences is chocolate-dipped strawberries, and I can’t resist the smell of them as I pass by Kilwin’s on the Parkway in Gatlinburg. Not big on strawberries? They also have fudge, truffles, brittles, candy-covered caramel apples, kettle corn, and much more.
Driving through Cades Cove
The 11- mile loop is a favorite for many, with historic churches and homesteads, lots of wildlife (including black bears), quiet streams, and gorgeous mountain scenery all around. Stopping for a few photos in a patch of wildflowers is always on the agenda here.
Trying to break out at The Escape Game*
Heads up, The Escape Game is addictive. Once I played it and almost broke out in time, I started planning out the next time I could go. Located at The Island in Pigeon Forge, The Escape Game features puzzles, riddles, and clues you must decipher to “break out” of a locked room in an hour or less. It’s a total mind bender and so much fun.
An afternoon at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies*
I love aquariums and have visited many across the country. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is easily my favorite, and as the #1 rated aquarium in America, you don’t have to take me at my word. It’s home to thousands of underwater creatures, from sharks, sea turtles, and jellyfish to octopuses, seahorses, and creatures you’ve probably never heard of! The tunnel that runs beneath the sharks is my favorite spot, but I also love watching the penguins putter around in the Penguin Playhouse.
Sizzling fajitas at No Way Jose’s Cantina
No Way Jose’s Cantina is known for its heaping portions, and the fajitas are no exception. They’re a favorite of mine, but they also have great (and huge) burritos and an extensive menu of Mexican favorites.
Riding the Alpine Slide at Ober Gatlinburg*
Something about riding the Alpine Slide at Ober Gatlinburg makes me feel like a kid again. Take the Sky Lift up to the top and choose your own speed as you race down the mountainside!
Desserts at Dollywood
From cookies the size of your face and slices of 25-lb apple pies to funnel cakes and chocolate mousses, Dollywood has you covered in the dessert department. My sweet tooth is tough to control here, and when you see the glass cases of goodies, you’ll know why.
Music in the Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler
When there’s live music in the Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler in the heart of Gatlinburg, it’s hard not to stop and listen. The sounds of the Smoky Mountains fill the holler while onlookers tap their toes, clap along, and kick back in the rocking chairs. Bonus: moonshine in practically any flavor you can think of is just steps away. Pop in for a sample or get a jar to enjoy as you sit in your rocking chairs at the cabin later.
Canopy tours at Smoky Mountain Ziplines*
When I’m with a group, I love heading over to Smoky Mountain Ziplines. The canopy tour takes you through the trees, offering up-close views of the forest and a fun day in the great outdoors.
Watching fresh taffy being pulled at Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen
Full disclosure: taffy is not my favorite candy, but my family loves it. And I love watching them pull fresh taffy at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. The colors, the texture, the spinning…it’s kind of enchanting!
Browsing The Village Shops
Whether I’m craving cheese, need a coffee, want to pick up a fun gift for my daughter, need a special present for Mom, or I’m looking for hiking gear for my husband, The Village Shops is a must-stop. Besides the variety of shops, The Village has an old-world feel that just makes you happy.
Breakfast at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp
Besides serving waffles with a mix from a favorite old haunt, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is just a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Check out the giant cinnamon buns as you come in, and pick from a menu that has all the classics, plus some.
Spending the day in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
The artisans that make up the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community are truly talented, and it’s fun to browse their work. Leather moccasins for babies, incredible carved wood statues, amazing photography, homemade jams and jellies…I love it all.
Watching the show fountain at The Island
When I’m not chasing a toddler, I love to just sit back and relax. Those times are few and far between, but at The Island, I make time. Rocking chairs surround the fountain, offering plenty of seating where you can sit back and enjoy the show.
Cabins for YOU Partner Program*
Any of the attractions above with an asterisk (*) are Cabins for YOU partners. That means we’ve partnered up with them to save our guests money. When you book with us, ask your vacation planner about our partners. Each person on your reservation will get a discounted rate for some of the top attractions in the area! And the list above isn’t all our partners!