3 Fall Itineraries of Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains

October 4, 2021

It’s the perfect time of year for outdoor lovers to take in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with a hike to the stunning Laurel Falls or a scenic drive to Cades Cove.

Ready to tackle the top things to do in the Smoky Mountains this fall? Head to Dollywood's Harvest Festival, or trek across the famous Gatlinburg SkyBridge, and end the day with a big Southern family dinner.

 

These fall guides through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer a mix of activities for all ages and appetites.

Serene or Spooky?

Need some time to relax in nature and step away from the computer? Or are you craving a heart-throbbing spooky weekend?

Whether you want a Leisurely Weekend Getaway, Moderately-Paced Itinerary, or an Action-Packed Adventure, we've got your three-day Smoky Mountain fall trip covered!

fall foliage view of the smoky mountains

Leisurely Getaway Weekend - Smoky Mountains

Sleep: Glenstone Lodge 

Glenstone Lodge is set in the heart of Gatlinburg within walking distance of all of the best attractions, shops, and restaurants.

Day One

Where to Hike: Gatlinburg Trail Trailhead

Grab some “best ever” sandwiches from Tennessee Jed’s and head to Gatlinburg Trail Trailhead, an easy hike for little kids that runs along the Little Pigeon River.  3.8 miles roundtrip.

Where to See the View: Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

Let the kids get their energy out, make a picnic of those sandwiches you might still have, and explore the historic ruins that dot the path on your way back.

Related Post: What You Should Know Before Visiting Gatlinburg for the First Time

A 5-minute drive from the trailhead, you can wind down at the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park as you walk across North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge and catch the sunset from an 1800 ft overlook of the Smoky Mountains.

Where to Eat Dinner: Old Mill Restaurant

End the day with authentic, delicious, and plentiful Southern food at the historic Old Mill Restaurant

Day Two

Where to Eat Breakfast: Pancake Pantry

Enjoy a “variety of flapjacks” at the Pancake Pantry and have an extra cup of coffee. You’re going to need it once you drive/walk 2 minutes up the road to Anakeesta.

Where to Explore: Anakeesta

Arrive at the beautiful Anakeesta park at 8:45 am and, as you enter the park via a Chondola ride, pause to take in the awe-inspiring views of the Smokies.

Related Post: Current Events and Festivals in the Smoky Mountains

This will be one of the most peaceful parts of your day since, once the chondola stops, you will begin chasing around giggling kids as they sprint from treetop play areas to forest walks to obstacle courses and playgrounds.

Where to Eat Dinner: Smokehouse BBQ

End the day with more great views and protein at the Smokehouse BBQ restaurant located within Anakeesta. Try the brisket, pulled pork, and mac and cheese.

Day Three

Where to Go: Dollywood®

Dollywood® in Pigeon Forge, a theme park owned by Dolly Parton that is chockfull of fun activities for all ages, from babies to grandpas.

Related Post: Insider’s Guide to Dollywood®

Take the Dollywood Express, a coal-powered steam engine train through the foothills of the Smokies. Afterward, enjoy the various rides for small kids, such as the Piggy Parade!

Where to Eat Dinner: Dolly Parton's Stampede®

Dolly Parton’s Stampede® dinner is a 4-course meal with live music, animals, comedy, and pyrotechnics. A memorable way to end a family trip and the final ingredient to complete your history, culture, and nature-packed weekend!

Moderately-Paced Itinerary - Smoky Mountains

Where to Sleep: Park Place

Park Place Condominiums is homey, great for families, and has hot tubs and river views.

Day One

Where to Hike: Porters Creek Trail

A morning hike at Porters Creek Trail. A moderately easy hike for kids that features historical ruins from the early 20th century and a 60-foot waterfall at mile 2.

Abrams Falls with Fall Foliage in The Smoky Mountains - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA

Where to Eat Lunch: Split Rail Eats

From Mac n Cheese to quesadillas, burgers, salads, and beer, Split Rail Eats has something delicious for everyone.

Where to Have an Adventure: Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

An afternoon family adventure just 10 minutes from Split Rail Eats—the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. Roller coaster through the forest and take in the views at whatever speed you like—you get to control your brakes!

Day Two

Where to Have an Adventure: Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park

Get really up close and personal with fall foliage by ziplining through it at Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park!

Related Post: Gatlinburg Hidden Gems: 7 Secret Spots You Don’t Want to Miss

Great for ages seven and up, this park has hiking, 15 world-class zip lines, high ropes aerial adventures through the forest, a 60-foot challenge wall, a beautiful suspension bridge that’s perfect for photos, and a free-fall from a 55-foot tower! Also, don’t forget to stop by the Cider House for free cider tasting, apple juice, and apple pie! 

Where to Eat Dinner: Preacher's Smokehouse

Stop for dinner at Preacher’s Smokehouse, 10 minutes outside Foxfire Mountain. Then, spend the evening relaxing and recounting the day’s adventures at your hot tubs back at Park Place.

Day Three

Where to Go: Dollywood®

Dollywood® in Pigeon Forge, a theme park owned by Dolly Parton that is chockfull of fun activities for all ages, from babies to grandpas.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Dollywood®: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

Take the Dollywood Express, a coal-powered steam engine train through the foothills of the Smokies. Afterward, enjoy the various rides for small kids, such as the Piggy Parade!

Where to Eat Dinner: Dolly Parton's Stampede®

Dolly Parton’s Stampede® dinner is a 4-course meal with live music, animals, comedy, and pyrotechnics. A memorable way to end a family trip and the final ingredient to complete your history, culture, and nature-packed weekend!

Action-Packed Adventure

Where to Sleep: Park Place

Park Place River Condominiums is homey, great for families, with hot tubs and river views.

Day One

Where to Hike: The Ramsey Cascades

Wake up early, pick up coffee to-go, and some “best ever” sandwiches from Tennessee Jed’s, just 5 minutes from your hotel.

Related Post: 7 Easy Hikes in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Head to The Ramsey Cascades, the tallest and most spectacular waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. The hike to the falls is beautiful but strenuous! Once you get to the waterfall, make a picnic of your sandwiches if you still have them, and take some photos to try and capture some of the beauty around you.

ground view of mingo falls in the great smoky mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

Where to Get an Incredible View: Gatlinburg Skylift Park

Head to Gatlinburg Skylift Park, which is open until 10 pm. Take an open-air chairlift ride to the top of an 1800-foot overlook and watch the sunset over the colorful mountains below. Then, walk across the sky bridge and the sky boardwalk and, of course, take some pictures.

Day Two

Where to Eat Breakfast: Pancake Pantry

Enjoy a “variety of flapjacks” at the Pancake Pantry.

Where to Go for Adventure: Rafting in the Smokies

You could not get any more up close and personal with the Tennessee mountains than with this adventure company that offers a combo of white-water rafting, ziplining, and a ropes course.  Great for all ages, sizes, and levels.

Related Post: Top Attractions in the Smoky Mountains

Where to Eat Lunch: Smoky Mountain Trout House

Try some of that trout you were just in the water with.

Where to Get an Adrenaline Rush: Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster

Go up to 35mph on an alpine mountain coaster and soar through the colorful trees at Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster! Or go slower and admire the views—you control your brakes!

Day Three

Where to Take the Instagram Coffee Photo: Village Café and Creamery

Head to the Village Café and Creamery and sip on a lovely cup of Pumpkin Latte. Don’t forget to take a picture of it first.

Where to Go: Dollywood®

Dollywood® in Pigeon Forge, a theme park owned by Dolly Parton that is chockfull of fun activities for all ages, from babies to grandpas.

Related Post: 7 Spectacular Things to Do in Gatlinburg at Night

Take the Dollywood Express, a coal-powered steam engine train through the foothills of the Smokies. Afterward, enjoy the various rides for small kids, such as the Piggy Parade!

Where to Eat Dinner: Dolly Parton's Stampede®

Dolly Parton’s Stampede® dinner is a 4-course meal with live music, animals, comedy, and pyrotechnics. A memorable way to end a family trip and the final ingredient to complete your history, culture, and nature-packed weekend!

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