Nine Fun Things to Do On Your Gatlinburg Vacation

Gatlinburg is one of Tennessee’s most popular tourist destinations, boasting expansive scenery and unique attractions. Here are 9 amazing things to do on your Gatlinburg vacation.

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Gatlinburg is one of Tennessee’s most popular tourist destinations, boasting expansive scenery and unique attractions. Its shopping malls, museums, and mountains attract tourists from throughout the globe.

If you are considering a trip to Gatlinburg, you may be unsure where to begin. Should you visit the major attractions to check them off your bucket list? Should you seek out local, lesser-known hotspots where you may avoid crowds but still have fun? Should you do both?

To help you out, here are a few fun activities to do in Gatlinburg to make the most of your visit. You will find popular and not-that-popular attractions on this list, so there is something for everyone.

1. Visit The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most picturesque locations in the United States, boasting a diverse landscape that includes mountains, valleys, hills, rivers, and flowers that bloom throughout the year.

A trip to this national park, which attracts more people than any other in the United States, is a must for everyone visiting Gatlinburg. Amazing scenery, including distant mountains and wildlife, may be seen from any vantage point.

The fact that the park is open to the public without charging admission is a major plus. You won’t have to shell out any cash to visit this national park, making it unique among the others in the United States.

You shouldn’t miss The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, whether you plan to spend the weekend camping there or just want to go to the top of a mountain to see the sunrise. Because of its grandeur, peace, and elegance, it is one of the most popular attractions in Gatlinburg.

2. Take a ride on the Gatlinburg Sky Lift

One of the best ways to see The Smokys is from the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. This chairlift takes you up 500 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain for stunning views. On a clear day, you can see for miles. In addition to that, the Gatlinburg Sky Lift is a great place to watch the sunset. So especially for the best experience, get there early and snag a spot on one of the benches. Although the views from the top are amazing, the ride up is just as pretty. 

3. Shop til you drop 

Gatlinburg is well-known for its shopping experience, given that it is a mountain town. The main drag, dubbed “The Strip” or simply “The Parkway,” is lined with souvenir shops, clothing stores, and more. You can find everything from T-shirts to handcrafted pottery. Many stores offer Gatlinburg-themed gifts, such as keychains and shot glasses. And if you’re looking for something unique, check out the stores selling Appalachian folk art. Moreover, the prices on the Parkway are generally negotiable, so don’t be afraid to haggle. 

4. Sample the local cuisine

Gatlinburg is home to great restaurants, serving everything from home-cooked meals to gourmet goodness. If you’re in the mood for a barbecue, stop by The Smokehouse. Or try the Mexican food at No Way Jose’s. For something a little more upscale, try The Peddler Steakhouse. In addition to good food, The Peddler has an impressive wine list. And if you have a sweet tooth, be sure to sample the fudge at The Fudgery. You’re sure to find something to your taste with many delicious options. And to add the cherry on top, most Gatlinburg restaurants have views of the mountains. 

5. Take a break at Gatlinburg Brewing Company

After a long day of sightseeing, you may want to relax with a cold beer. If so, head to Gatlinburg Brewing Company. This local brewery offers a variety of handcrafted beers, such as the IPA, stout, and wheat ale. In addition to beer, Gatlinburg Brewing Company also has a full menu with pub favorites like burgers and wings. And if you’re looking for something to do after dinner, the brewery often has live music. And who doesn’t love live music? 

6. Enjoy the nightlife

Gatlinburg comes alive at night. The Parkway is lined with bars and clubs, many with live music. If you’re looking for a more low-key evening, try one of the local pubs, such as Patrick Sullivan’s or Smoky Mountain Brewery. Or catch a show at Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery. No matter what you’re looking for, you will find it in Gatlinburg. Another reason to visit Gatlinburg at night is to see the lights. Every evening, the Parkway is lit up with twinkling lights. It’s a truly magical sight.

7. Soak up the history at the Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle is one of the most popular attractions in town. This 400-foot observation tower offers 360-degree views of The Smokys. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunrise or sunset. Or you can enjoy the views of the mountains and the town below. The Gatlinburg Space Needle also has a history museum on the first floor. So if you’re interested in learning about the area, check it out. 

8. Visit Sugarlands Distilling Company

After a long day exploring Gatlinburg, you may want to relax with a drink. If so, head to Sugarlands Distilling Company. This local distillery offers a variety of handcrafted moonshines and whiskeys. You can also tour the distillery to see how the moonshine is made. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the moonshine tasting flight. Whatever you do, be sure to stop by Sugarlands Distilling Company for a truly unique experience. 

9. Take a scenic drive

One of the best ways to see The Smokys is by car. The area is home to some of the most scenic drives in the country. For breathtaking views, take the Newfound Gap Road. This road takes you through The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And for even more views, take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This loop drive takes you past waterfalls, old-growth forests, and historic buildings. So whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff, you will find something to love on this scenic drive.


There are plenty of family-friendly activities and attractions in Gatlinburg, from world-class museums and rides to some of the best shopping and dining in the country. So now that you know what to do on your Gatlinburg vacation, start planning your trip. The mountains are calling, and it is time to pack your bags. 

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