Are you searching for some fun things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee? Well, get ready to load up your itinerary because we have found 20 exciting and entertaining things to do in Gatlinburg! You will love visiting Tennessee because it is absolutely gorgeous and Gatlinburg is the perfect destination as it has so much to offer in scenery and attractions.
Whether you crave the outdoors, history and museums, cozy cabins and comfort food, or action packed adventure you can find it all in Gatlinburg. Each of these fun things to do in Gatlinburg are so awesome that you just might have to make a second trip to do all of them!
20 Fun Things To Do In Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park spreads out over 800 square miles in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. It is recognized world wide as the most bio-diverse park in the national park system. Plenty of photo opportunities to be had as you just might see bears, elk, deer, and even snakes.
There are many places to visit within Great Smokey Mountains National Park. You can check out Cades Cove for historic log cabin homes, churches, smokehouses, and barns.
The Deep Creek area of the park is well known for its stunning streams and waterfalls. Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill are both perfect for learning about the history of the land.
There is a visitors center with rangers on duty to help answer any questions you might have about the park. You can fish, hike, camp, and go horse back riding all in one place with the most breathtaking scenery surrounding you which is why it tops our fun things to do in Gatlinburg list!
Drive The Roaring Fork Motor Trail
The Roaring Fork Motor Trail provides a really unique experience of being able to drive along side a gorgeous stream and through some of the most beautiful terrain. The trail gets its name from the mountain stream that “roars” through the land. It is a one-way looping trail that is approximately 6 miles long.
We definitely suggest packing a picnic to enjoy at one of the scenic turnout locations. Getting to eat your lunch while taking in the incredible waterfall view is just one of the really fun things to do in Gatlinburg.
There is one drawback that we must mention, the only vehicles allowed on the trail are cars. Trucks, RVs, and trailers will not fit and therefore they are not allowed.
Ride The Aerial Tramway
Get the most amazing views aboard the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway! It operates year round and can accommodate up to 120 passengers. This very convenient attraction frequently departs from downtown Gatlinburg and travels up to the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park.
The Aerial Tramway is one of the more thrilling things to do in Gatlinburg and provides a great time for all ages. Riding the tram is an experience all by itself, but the fun doesn’t stop there!
Once you reach the top, you can enjoy a meal or drink at the restaurant and lounge. Or perhaps you are feeling a bit daring? Well, then you won’t want to miss meeting some animals at the Wildlife Encounter.
Ride The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
While you are in the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area, you should definitely check out the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. Quick turns and dips reach speeds of up to 25 mph! The ride lasts a little over 5 minutes providing thrilling excitement with a stunning view of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Riders control the speed of their cart with a hand brake, so this is perfect for all ages. You can take a leisurely coast if you just want to relax or have little kids aboard, but you can also go pretty fast if want a little adrenaline boost. This is a really fun and affordable thing to do in Gatlinburg!
Taste Whiskey And Moonshine At A Distillery
The Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery, better known as “The Holler”, is a great spot for moonshine/whiskey tasting and a distillery tours. The Holler will take you through how they make moonshine from beginning to end. Moonshine samples are available for only $5, so this is really unique and affordable thing to do in Gatlinburg.
Head on over to the Sugarlands Distillery for more whiskey and moonshine learning opportunities. They have year-round tours and tastings available, but they really stand out with their Blended Cocktails Tour and their hands on Meet The Distiller Tour.
Go On A Ghost Walk
Do you adore spooky things? Are you intrigued by all things paranormal? Well, then you will absolutely love going on a ghost walk!
A ghost walk is one of the more creepy things to do in Gatlinburg and they are always so much fun. Ghost walks are for all ages and all interests!
Gatlinburg offers many different types of tours including history/war based, big foot tracking, latern-led ghost stories, family-friendly and even pub hopping with plenty of goose-bump inducing banter.
Go Skiing At Ober Ski Mountain
Ober Ski Mountain is Tennessee’s only skiing destination and it is located on Mount Harrison. It has been operating since 1962 and provides 9 ski slopes.
Ski season in Gatlinburg runs from mid December through early March. If the slopes aren’t quite ready during your trip, don’t worry as there are other fun winter things to do in Gatlinburg. Ice skating is available year-round and snow tubing tends to open up a bit earlier around Thanksgiving.
Touch Sting Rays At Ripley’s Aquarium Of The Smokies
Not only can you touch sting rays at Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies, but you will also get to see sharks, piranhas, turtles, poisonous dart frogs, penguins, and many other fascinating animals. This is one the best kid-friendly things to do in Gatlinburg.
There is a really neat glass bottom boat adventure that takes guest out onto the shark lagoon for a real up-close experience! Special reservations can be made to have a penguin encounter that includes a souvenir photo.
Get A Bird’s Eye View At Space Needle
The Gatlinburg Space Needle offers incredible 360 degree views of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. The Space Needle is 407 feet tall and has a glass elevator ride to the top.
The viewing deck includes free view finders and educational exhibits. Once you have fully soaked in the stunning views and taken lots of pictures, you can also enjoy the on-site arcade, escape games, and Iris Theater.
Visit The Hollywood Star Cars Collection
Our next attraction is perfect for those movie and TV buffs out there! The Hollywood Star Cars Collection is an eclectic car collection from some of your favorite TV shows and movies.
Make sure you bring your camera because you won’t want to miss taking pictures with the Bat Mobile, the Delorean from Back to the Future, and Bumblebee from Transfomers! This is definitely one of the more touristy types of things to do in Gatlinburg and we think it is just so cute and fun!
Take A Relaxing And Peaceful Hike
The Gatlinburg Trail is a really great trail for those looking for a nice and easy path to hike. It is very flat and well paved so you don’t have to be a hiking expert to enjoy it.
The trail is just under 2 miles long, so along with being very smooth it is also not extremely long. It is one of the free things to do in Gatlinburg, so it is great for filling an afternoon lull without affecting your budget!
Smoky Mountain Winery
The Smoky Mountain Winery is the oldest winery in east Tennessee and it produces wines that have won awards regionally, nationally, and even internationally! The award wining wines are all available for purchase in the gift shop as well as other novelty gifts.
The Smoky Mountain Winery is another free attraction that even includes free wine tastings! This one of the more romantic things to do in Gatlinburg and a great place to pick up an edible souvenir.
Play All Day At Anakeesta Theme Park
The Anakessta Theme Park is a very unique theme park that includes zip lining, tree top sky-walk, treehouse adventure, a mountain coaster, and gem mining. There is so much outdoor family-friendly fun to be had at Anakeesta!
Once you’ve enjoyed all of the activities and attractions, you can relax in one of the scenic garden areas or grab a bite to eat in one of the 3 on-site eateries.
Go White Water Rafting
Okay, let’s get that adrenaline pumping with this next activity. White water rafting is one of the more electrifying things to do in Gatlinburg. Whether its your first time or you’re a seasoned pro, don’t worry because there are several options for beginners as well as many moderate and extreme tour packages.
There are a few different local companies that offer white water rafting, so you will want to find the one best suited for your needs. Smoky Mountain Outdoors is just one of the Gatlinburg rafting companies that has been in business since 1993.
They offer a 5.5 mile lower river scenic route tour that is absolutely perfect for families. If you want more thrills, then you can check out their extreme upper river rafting package.
Wild Bear Falls Water Park
Water parks are such wonderful attractions, but they usually depend on good weather. Now, make that water park indoors and you never have to worry. That’s why the Wild Bear Falls Water Park is one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg!
It is a mountain themed indoor water park with heated pools for the most perfect splashing temperature. Plenty of fun to be had sliding down giant slides, playing in the interactive tree house, and floating along the lazy river.
Shop In The Gatlinburg Arts And Crafts Community
Looking for the perfect souvenir or holiday gifts? You’re in luck! The Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community is a small part of Galtinburg that has been home to artists and craftsmen for over 70 years.
Visitors can stroll about the area and see tons of homemade gifts and goods for sale. Some of the artists specialize in glassblowing, painting, sculpting, and broom making.
Ride The Gatlinburg Trolley On The Parkway (Seasonal)
There are quite a few fun free things to do in Gatlinburg, but riding the Gatlinburg Trolley is probably one of the most convenient. The trolley departs frequently and runs from 10am until 10pm daily.
The trolley is a fun twist on public transportation that allows you to relax and enjoy sightseeing a bit. There’s just something about a trolley that makes both kids and adults smile! Also makes for a great photo opportunity!
Eat Some Award Winning BBQ
Southern BBQ is some of the best comfort food out there, so that’s why you must stop by Bennett’s Pit BBQ for some award winning eats! Locally owned and operated for over 26 years which makes it one of the most authentic things you can do in Gatlinburg. The meat is hickory smoked for over 14 hours making it juicy and full of tons of flavor.
Not a meat eater or lover,not too worry! They have a fabulous line up of southern breakfast options that include french toast, savory omelets, and creamy southern grits. If you time it just right, you can enjoy their All You Can Eat Breakfast bar which is perfect for families or large parties.
Get A Good Scare At The Mysterious Mansion
If the ghost tours are just too mellow for you, then you’ll want to head on over to the Mysterious Mansion! The Mysterious Mansion is a haunted house attraction with live actors. One of the scariest things to do in Gatlinburg as some people can’t even make it past the first room!
Childern are allowed, but must be accompanied by an adult and it is not recommended for small children. It typically takes about 15-20 minutes to make your way through the scary mansion. It is a year-round scare zone with extra special events occurring around Halloween.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth At Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen
Lastly, what better way to end a day than with something decadent and delicious?! Founded in 1950, the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen has become a very popular tourist destination. It is one of the sweetest things you can do in Gatlinburg and you just might want to go back for seconds!
They really do have every tasty thing your heart could desire including brittle, fudge, taffy, gummies, pecan logs, and even moonshine flavored candies! There’s a reason why “kid in a candy store” is a phrase, its because you’ll be hard pressed to not see delight in the eyes of every customer at Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen.
Well, we hope that you are really excited to explore all of these fantastic things to do in Gatlinburg! It is such a pretty area with so much to offer that we just know you will have an amazing time.
Experiences are really what we all remember and matter the most over time, so don’t forget to enjoy each moment. The memories of laughing and spending time exploring a new place will be the most precious souvenir you could ever give yourself.
You can easily keep things simple and just soak up the outdoors with lots of fresh air or you can travel around doing all of the touristy things on the list. Either way, you can’t go wrong and you are in for a wonderful time that you’ll never forget! Safe travels and have a great time!