Top Attractions in Smoky Mountains

From state parks and stunning observation towers to exploring theme parks, there is so much to do in the Smoky Mountains.

1. Dollywood

Great for family trips, Dollywood is owned by renowned country singer Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment. Featuring thrilling roller coasters, kid-friendly rides and attractions, annual festivals and events, fun-themed areas, Southern dining, and much more, you’re bound to have an excellent time at this top-rated theme park.  

Related Post: Insider's Guide to Dollywood®

2. Nantahala National Forest

Lying in the North Carolina mountains and valleys, the Nantahala National Forest contains 531,148 acres of beautiful landscape and wildlife. The most expansive of the state’s four national forests, the park’s name means “land of the noonday sun” in Cherokee because the sun only reaches the valley floor at midday. Visitors to the forest can hike its trails, mountain bike, horseback ride, and use off-highway vehicles for all-day amusement. With over 600 miles of trails, visitors to the park possess innumerable ways to enjoy a day trip. Please note that your safety is your responsibility, as wildlife is present throughout the forest.

3. Hartford, TN

Known for whitewater rafting adventures, Hartford presents the perfect opportunity to get out of the city and spend the day out on the water. Residing along the Pigeon River, there are multiple agencies that offer rafting excursions. Additionally, guests can explore the canopies above the river through Pigeon River Canopy Tours. Zipline from tree to tree to catch amazing sights from above. 

4. Knoxville, TN

Brimming with history and culture, Knoxville merges the mountains with art, history, and music. Stroll downtown to witness vibrant murals by local artists and try locally sourced cuisine at award-winning restaurants like Calhoun’s On the River. Further, there are multiple museums and historic sites for visitors to check out. For instance, the downtown area features 18th and 19th-century architecture in the Market Square district. Moreover, guests can interact with exhibits at the Museum of East Tennessee History as well as view Civil War artifacts.

Related Post: Current Events and Festivals in the Smoky Mountains

5. Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park 

Home to two amazing thrill rides, Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park enables guests to soar through the treetops and zoom around the mountain for a unique experience. Sail through the trees on the original Mountain Glider, a single rail coaster that safely maneuvers through the forested area for an adrenaline rush. Then control your own speed on the Mountain Coaster, a gravity-propelled alpine coaster that reaches up to 35 miles per hour. You and your family can experience safe but fun thrills, as the coasters possess the latest Intelligent Distant Control System to ensure your well-being. Note that height, weight, and age restrictions apply for each ride.

6. Rainforest Adventures

You can reach this fun attraction in less than 30 minutes from Gatlinburg. The Rainforest Zoo in Sevierville, Tennessee houses over 600 animals and depicts over 130 species. As a great indoor and outdoor option with plenty of attractions for visitors of all ages, you can head to the zoo during any season for a quality day.

7. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you care to take in spectacular sights outdoors, head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to hike hundreds of trails as well as tour Cades Cove’s historic 19th-century buildings within the park. Also, guests can climb up to Clingmans Dome to see 100 miles of land across seven states, catch some sun whitewater rafting, or fish in Little Pigeon River. Note that you may come across wildlife such as black bears, so pay attention to wildlife and warning signs and take precautions.

8. White Water Rafting

Get out of the city and spend the day out on the water. Residing along the Pigeon River, there are multiple agencies that offer rafting excursions such as Rafting in the Smokies, Smoky Mountain Outdoors, Rafting with Big Creek Expeditions, and more.

9. Play at Ober Gatlinburg

One of the best things to do in Gatlinburg, Ober Gatlinburg invites visitors to test their skills at ice skating, skiing, tubing, and snowboarding during the winter months. Better yet, guests can indulge in innovative ways to connect like Church on the Slopes. Furthermore, during the spring and summer months, visitors can enjoy activities like riding the Mountain Coaster and Aerial Tram or tubing. And that’s not all! Dining and shopping options abound at Ober Gatlinburg, making this a perfect destination for all.

10. Head to the Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle provides incredible views overlooking downtown Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. Visitors can ride glass elevators over 400 feet to the observation deck for a 360° view of the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg. Moreover, guests can learn about the local area via the Needle’s Higher Learning exhibits, as well as participate in The Captured escape games or watch unique acts at the Iris Theater.

11.Explore Anakeesta

Ride to the summit of Anakeesta Mountain to explore Firefly Village and the acclaimed outdoor adventure theme park. The only way to get to the park is via a scenic ride on the Chondola to the summit. Along the way, guests can enjoy breathtaking views of Downtown Gatlinburg and then Mt. LeConte at the top. At Anakeesta, visitors can enjoy charming gift shops, casual dining, a new Vista Gardens botanical walk, and beautiful views. Moreover, those seeking adventure can stroll along the 16 bridge Tree Canopy Walk 40 to 60 feet above the forest floor, zip line, ride the rail mountain coaster, and more. One of the best things to do in Gatlinburg, you don’t want to skip out.

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