Lesser-known attractions offer tons of fun
Did you know that Golden Headed Lion Tamarins are some of the smallest and rarest monkeys on earth? Native to the Atlantic forests of eastern Brazil, these amazing little creatures are just one of more than 130 different species you will find at the RainForest Adventures Zoo in the Smoky Mountains!
The RainForest Zoo is one of many lesser-known attractions in and around Gatlinburg that we think you should check out on your next trip to the Smokies. You can always return to Dollywood and enjoy an annual trip up the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. But there are many attractions that don’t get as much press although they’re equally as fun! Some of the best-kept secrets of Gatlinburg are the attractions just off the map. Check out these fun places you may have never explored before.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail—The first item on our list may seem like it doesn’t belong. Driving the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of the most popular things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But what you may not realize about this sight-seeing route is that it’s also a great place to see the symbol of the Smokies, the American Black Bear. In fact, the park provides the largest protected bear habitat in the East. While we can’t guarantee a bear sighting, you’ll have much better odds when you take this trail!
Helicopter Tours—For a truly unique way of seeing Gatlinburg and beyond, try a helicopter ride with Scenic Helicopter Tours. Their most popular flight is The Gatlinburg, where you can fly over various rivers, Douglas Lake, rolling farmland, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, high mountain valleys, and the national park itself. This lesser-known way of touring the Smoky Mountains will keep you out of traffic and off your feet for a relaxing day of sight-seeing fun!
Gatlinburg Community Center—Sure, you can hit the crowded streets of downtown for exciting adventures, but did you know you can also enjoy hours of fun for the entire family at the Gatlinburg Community Center? For reasonable prices, you can enjoy all of the amenities this community center has in store, including an indoor swimming pool, a bowling center, racquetball courts, and a gymnasium. Enjoy a full day of family fun with budget-friendly admission costs and fewer crowds!
Rainforest Adventures—Close to Gatlinburg, you’ll find the RainForest Adventures Zoo, which features over 600 live animals representing over 130 different species! The Golden Headed Lion Tamarins are one of their newest additions, but other exciting mammals you will find include the Capuchin Monkey, Ringtail Lemur, and African Crested Porcupine. This exciting attraction is a great opportunity for your kids to learn and have fun all at the same time and a great alternative to visiting Ripley’s Aquarium if you’ve been there many times!
Hen Wallow Falls—A less-populated waterfall trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is this little gem: Hen Wallow Falls. This 4.4 mile (roundtrip) hike will take you through a hemlock and rhododendron forest before opening to the 90-foot waterfall at the end. This impressive falls is 20 feet wide across the base and is even a beautiful destination to visit in the winter when the water freezes into an icy column.
Ghost & Haunt Tours—Book a two-hour tour with Ghost and Haunt Tour of Gatlinburg, if you dare! This exciting walk will show you a side of Gatlinburg most visitors don’t know exists. Learn about early settlers, pioneers, and soldiers who shaped this mountain town, and explore the supernatural with their amazing tales! This attraction mixes fact with legend for a haunting tour through the streets of Gatlinburg that you will never forget!
Fishing Charters & Tours—While stream-fishing in the National Park is open to all guests with a valid permit, another way of enjoying the rivers and streams is on a guided fishing trip with Smokies Angling Adventures. Join professional guides for tours of Tennessee’s best lakes, rivers, and streams. You can also try their fly fishing adventures—a great way to try something new with the kids or just enjoy the great outdoors while you’re in the Smokies!
Gatlinburg Barrelhouse—Located on the Parkway in Gatlinburg is a lesser-known distillery with A-rated whiskey, the Gatlinburg Barrelhouse. Try Davy Crockett’s Original Tennessee Whiskey or a new flavor like Fire Tower Cinnamon Bourbon at this rustic joint. You can even catch live bluegrass music as you sip your favorite flavor of Tennessee liquor.