When you first arrive in Gatlinburg, you might find yourself wondering how a town of such a modest size could have grown to become so significant. Gatlinburg is a well-known location for vacationers, and it is not difficult to understand why this is the case.
This city serves as the primary entrance to the national park in the United States that receives the greatest number of visitors. Despite the fact that more than 12 million people visit the park every year, the quaint little town of Gatlinburg will do everything in its power to make you feel at home.
Gatlinburg is a destination that draws visitors from a wide variety of backgrounds. Get your kicks on the Gatlinburg Strip if you prefer to shop and create the scene in an environment that is reminiscent of a carnival. Ride the Space Needle to get an eagle’s view of the excitement that is taking place below you.
Best Places to Visit in Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg is the ideal getaway for couples looking to rekindle their love for one another, families looking for things to do, and individuals in need of gear and supplies to extend their mountain adventures.
It’s possible that it will come as a shock to you when you realize that the type of guest you were when you first came has changed. Pick and choose from our collection of Gatlinburg activities and sightseeing opportunities.
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Walking down a creekside or taking a shuttle bus can get you to the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is located near Gatlinburg. You can get an idea of everything there is to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park by consulting this center and the attentive rangers who work there.
Make a pitstop at the Oconoluftee Visitor Center if you are coming from North Carolina, and while you are there, keep an eye out for herds of elk that might be foraging nearby.
2. The Observation Tower atop Clingman’s Dome
The summit of Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the highest point in the state of Tennessee. From the city center, the ascent to the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower, which stands at 6,643 feet, takes one hour by automobile.
The best times of day to witness views that extend for 100 miles across the misty mountains are sunrise and sunset on days when the sky is clear.
3. Cades Cove Loop Road
Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers visitors the opportunity to take a picturesque drive or bicycle trip through the park’s pastoral countryside by traveling to Cades Cove Loop Road.
The 11-mile drive can take anywhere from two to four hours to accomplish, depending on factors such as the amount of time spent in slow-moving traffic and the number of stops made along the way.
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Due to the fact that there are more than two million tourists annually, you should plan to get there quite early in the morning. The queue of people waiting to enter can extend for many miles, particularly during the season when leaves are changing color.
4. Aquarium of the Smokies, operated by Ripley’s
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies transports you to an underwater world where having a good time is the most important aspect of your interaction with the aquatic life there.
Huge exhibits that display a variety of aquatic organisms, both large and small, will be all around you the entire time. Ripley’s Glass Bottom Boat Adventure provides visitors with a unique angle from which to view marine life.
The Cherokee word “high ground” translates to “Anakeesta,” which is the name of an award-winning theme park in which guests can choose to spend a few hours or the entire day.
The treetop skywalk and the 880-foot sky bridge are two of the most popular attractions here. Both are suspended 50 feet above the 70-acre rainforest below. On the dueling zipline trip, you and your companion will compete against one another. Ride the Rail Runner Mountain Coaster and make your way down 1,600 feet.
The ski resort and entertainment park known as Ober Gatlinburg is open throughout the year for guests’ enjoyment. The complex offers a chairlift ride to a picturesque overlook that takes thirty minutes, an indoor ice-skating rink, ski runs, an alpine slide, mini golf, and a place called Kiddie Land. Take the Aerial Tramway, which is a two-mile ride, to Ober Gatlinburg from downtown Gatlinburg rather than driving up the steep and winding route to the top of the mountain.
6. Take a Ride on the Space Needle, then Take a Stroll down the Gatlinburg Strip
The Gatlinburg Strip is a miniature imitation of the Las Vegas Strip that features a dense concentration of attractions along its one-mile stretch.
In addition to places to stay, the strip features a jumbled assortment of attractions such as wax museums, escape games, arcades, axe-throwing competitions, craft exhibitions, candy workshops, carnival rides, and a million stores in the back lanes.
Every year, endless amounts of pizza slices and scoops of ice cream are consumed, and countless amounts of dollar bills are stuffed into the hats of musicians who are performing on the street.
7. Skylift and Skybridge at the Gatlinburg Convention Center
Skylift Park features Skybridge, which is widely considered to be Gatlinburg’s most exciting stroll. The world-famous Skylift is an open-air chairlift that takes passengers from the Gatlinburg Strip to the park on the summit of Crockett Mountain.
You’ll be able to get a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking scenery that surrounds Gatlinburg when you visit Skylift Park, which features some impressive feats of engineering.
8. The Motorized Portion of the Roaring Fork Nature Trail
After leaving downtown Gatlinburg on Old Cherokee Road, you will arrive at the beginning of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which is a one-way trail.
When people travel to the Smoky Mountains, one of the most common things they do is drive around on this circle route. Plan on spending hours in order to complete the 5.5-mile loop because it features trailheads as well as historical pitstops along the tight, winding route.
9. Come See What the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community Has to Offer
During your time in Gatlinburg, you will come across several references to the town’s thriving arts and crafts community. The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is home to the most impressive assortment of self-sufficient artists found anywhere in North America.
In a loop that is eight miles long and is located to the east of Gatlinburg, you can meet local artists in their studios and galleries and examine the works that they have created. If you are shopping for gifts, there are more than one hundred shops for you to peruse.
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Grab a seat on the Gatlinburg Trolley, and when you get off, take the yellow path. There are several stops throughout the eight-mile Glades and Buckhorn Road loop that are included in this tour.
10. Museum of the Hollywood Star Cars
People of all ages can have a good time visiting the Hollywood Star Cars Museum while strolling down the Gatlinburg Strip. The collection contains more than 45 automobiles that appeared in Hollywood films.
Some of the films included in the collection are Gone in 60 Seconds, The Fast and the Furious, and Days of Thunder. Herbie, the character from the Disney film series with the same name, and the original Batmobile from the 1960s television show Batman (along with a Batmobile from the 1992 film Batman Returns) are a couple of the other well-known vehicles that fans adore.
Activities in Gatlinburg are set against a picture-perfect backdrop provided by the misty mountains of east Tennessee. This little slice of paradise offers some of the best mountaintop thrills, distinctive animals, outdoor activities, and family-friendly attractions that you will find anywhere.
Gatlinburg, which is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and can be found in Sevier County about 30 miles east of Knoxville, is a popular tourist destination. Additionally, it is the second most popular destination for weddings, after only Las Vegas.