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14 Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg, TN


14 Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg is a small town in Tennessee. It has a population of about 3,750. It is a popular tourist destination as it sits nestled in a picturesque valley, just a short drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The town is the perfect destination for those looking to get out into the wild in comfort. You can explore nature without needing to worry about packing a big bag. There are plenty of day hikes from the town, and lots of different routes. You’re sure to find something that suits your level. There are also plenty of things to do in Gatlinburg itself if hiking and the outdoors aren’t your thing.

14. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

Salt and Pepper Shaker Museumflickr/SparkySpirit

The Gatlinburg Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world! Although they do admit to having now opened a sister museum in Spain. The museum has more than 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers and a large collection of pepper mills.

At the museum you can explore the different materials used to make salt and pepper shakers around the world and take a close look at the intricate ornamentation. The museum is on Brookside Village Way, close to lots of restaurants and accommodation.

They are open every day of the week to visitors for a small admission fee. If you buy a salt and pepper shaker set at their gift shop your admission fee goes towards your purchase!

13. Wild Bear Falls Waterpark

Wild Bear Falls Waterpark© dreamstime

If you’ve come to Gatlinburg on a family vacation, the Wild Bear Falls Waterpark is a great option for a fun family day out! The waterpark is attached to a resort; it could be a possibility for your accommodation needs too.

There are slides, swimming pools, a café, and lots of places to lounge. If you’re tired of running around, but the kids are still full of energy, you can watch them from your deck chair. The waterpark provides the perfect balance of relaxation and play!

Wild Bear Falls Waterpark is open seven days a week, for most of the day. The waterpark is indoors and heated, so you can have fun splashing about even on a rainy day.

12. Gatlinburg Space Needle

Gatlinburg Space Needle© dreamstime

The Gatlinburg Space Needle opened in 1970. The observation tower is 407 feet tall! From that high up you can enjoy the views of Gatlinburg below and the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. The observation deck surrounds the needle, offering 360 degrees worth of magnificent, panoramic mountain scenes.

Attached to the Gatlinburg Space Needle, there is an amusement center with all kinds of arcade games, a theater that does magic shows and a restaurant where you can stop for a quick bite before continuing your adventures!

Whether you’re looking to spend the afternoon taking in Gatlinburg’s stunning views, or you’re looking for activities to keep the kids happy, the Gatlinburg Space Needle is the ideal destination.

11. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!© dreamstime

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum is right next to the iconic Gatlinburg Space Needle. The museum is just one of 8 entertainment centers in town run by Ripley’s. The museum has 12 themed galleries and is a place for the curious.

With over 500 weird and wonderful artifacts from around the world on display, there’s enough to keep the whole family entertained. There are cars made of crystal, mummified heads that have been shrunk down, and so much more!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not displays are sure to spark curiosity, disbelief, and awe in its visitors. It’s also surrounded by lots of Gatlinburg’s other tourist destinations, so you can easily combine your visit to the museum with other popular activities and stops in town!

10. Hollywood Star Cars Museum

Hollywood Star Cars Museumflickr/Todd Fowler

Do you love TV and cinema culture? Are you a car fanatic, captivated by old classics and speedy sports cars? This is the holiday destination for you!

The museum transports the visitor into the movie scene by using special lighting and sound effects at each car display. Most of their cars were built by George Barris. The most iconic car on display is the 1966 TV Show Batmobile.

They also have cars from the Ghostbusters, Sir Paul McCartney’s Cadillac, and lots more famous cars from TV and cinema classics! You can save some money by booking your tickets online in advance.

9. Tennessee Cider Company

Tennessee Cider Companyphoto/Tennessee Cider Company

A more recent addition to Gatlinburg is the bustling cider bar. The Tennessee Cider Company was the first cidery to open in town and it’s proving to be quite popular!

They serve locally crafted ciders every day from 10am until 11pm, so you can fit a quick drink in between activities or go and spend the evening sipping on your favorite cider. They have a variety of ciders, from mulled ciders to fruity summer flavors and meads, there’s a drink for all tastes.

The cidery is on Gatlinburg’s Downtown Parkway Street, so it’s easy to find. They offer free tasters all day long. The Tennessee Cider Company is definitely worth a visit!

8. The Village Shops

The Village Shops© dreamstime

Are you tired of being out in the hills and looking for something a bit more glamorous? Is there something you forgot to pack that you desperately need for your trip? The Village Shops has you covered!

Made up of nearly 30 boutiques, restaurants, clothes shops and galleries, the Village Shops offer a unique shopping and dining experience. The surroundings are designed to transport you into the past, with stone cottage and Tudor style buildings and narrow cobbled streets.

The Village Shops sits in Downtown Gatlinburg, on Parkway Street. It’s the perfect place to buy lots of lovely souvenirs from your trip to take home or give to family and friends!

7. Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area

Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Parkflickr/Patrick Chan

One of the top tourist destinations of Gatlinburg! The Ober in Gatlinburg is famous for being the only skiing and snowboarding facility in the local area. They also have fun winter sports like snow tubing that the whole family can do!

But this big outdoor amusement park isn’t just great in the winter, there’s lots to do all year round. There is a wildlife center where you can visit a family of black bears, bobcats, and otters among other local fauna. There are rollercoasters, alpine slides, ice-skating and much more!

The most popular attraction at the Ober Gatlinburg is the Aerial Tramway that runs 2.7 miles from Downtown Gatlinburg and reaches up to 300 feet of the ground during its trajectory into the scenic mountains!

6. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park© dreamstime

The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park offers lots of great ways to get into the outdoors with the whole family. The SkyLink yellow ski lift sweeps you up into the air, lifting you up above the treetops.

You can walk on the SkyBridge, the longest suspension bridge in North America. It’s 680 feet long and hangs over the picturesque valley. At its highest point it is 140 feet above the forest floor! There’s another bridge at the center that has a 30 foot long glass floor in the middle. The bridges at SkyLink Park aren’t for the faint of heart!

If you want to visit the center to soak up the scenery and get into the outdoors, but you aren’t looking for something extreme (or high up) then you can take a stroll on the SkyTrail and admire the views of the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg in the distance.

5. Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook

Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook© dreamstime

Gatlinburg is full of fantastic indoor and outdoor amusement parks, shopping centers, and countless adventure experiences. But the town’s biggest appeal is its proximity to the Smoky Mountain range, a short drive away.

The Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook is a viewpoint on the Gatlinburg Bypass that runs between Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a great place to stop off on your way to or from Gatlinburg. The views are stunning, offering panoramic views of the distant mountain ranges and the town below.

There is plenty of parking at the viewpoint, and there is no admission fee! Cheap and easy, why wouldn’t you visit the viewpoint during your Gatlinburg holiday?

4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park© dreamstime

Fishing, hiking, swimming, wildlife watching – the Smoky Mountains National Park has it all. The area is known for its outstanding beauty and exceptional nature. The National Park is a hotspot for nature and wildlife enthusiasts from around the world.

The Park is home to a variety of native species, such as salamanders, coyotes, deer, black bears, bobcats, and elk. If you’re lucky, you might even spot one on your hike! But be careful, they’re not all the kind of animals you want to bump into unprepared.

There are 2,900 miles of streams within the National Park, and anyone with a valid fishing license is permitted to fish in any of the streams half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset.

3. Ole Smoky

Ole Smoky© dreamstime

Gatlinburg’s Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery is famously America’s most visited distillery. The Ole Smoky distillery is in the hills above the town of Gatlinburg. The distillery produces and sells all of the brand’s signature whiskey flavors. If you like whiskey and being in the hills, the Ole Smoky is the perfect day trip for you!

You can take a tour around the distillery with a local who will talk you through the process of how the whiskey is made. The smell of whiskey in the air is strong, luckily there are lots of free tasters available to visitors.

Tours of the distillery are accompanied by tasters, a great and affordable day out for couples and friends who want to try something different.

2. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley's Aquarium© dreamstime

The Ripley’s Aquarium is one of eight Ripley’s venues in town. It has displays of local and exotic fish, crustaceans, and aquatic mammals. The aquarium is a great family day out, fun and educational all at once!

There are unique opportunities like sleepovers with sharks offered to scout groups, and lots of educational day and overnight activities for kids.

The Aquarium is great for families but has also found a clever way of appealing to young students and groups of friends on holiday. The Aquarium hosts the “Sips and Sharks” and “Pints and Penguins”, two 21+ all night events.

1. Sugarland’s Distilling Company

Sugarland’s Distilling Companyflickr/daveynin

Another of Gatlinburg’s famous distilleries is the Sugarland’s Distilling Company. The distillery is more accessible than the Ole Smoky as it’s in Downtown Gatlinburg, on Parkway.

If you want to visit a distillery or buy local whiskey but you can’t make it into the hills, then the Sugarland’s Distillery is perfect for you! There are also plenty of options of things to do at the distillery.

There is a bar that makes unique cocktails created by the company, a gift shop where you can buy your favorite bottle of whiskey to take home, and the distillery itself. The company offers tours of the distillery, and the chance to meet the local distillers.

Map of Things to Do in Gatlinburg, TN