13 Things to Do For Your Gatlinburg Thanksgiving

September 30, 2022

Just after Halloween and before Christmas, the splendor of the Smokies truly comes alive. From heart-pounding hiking trails to vibrant fall colors of the sugar maple, scarlet oak, and sweetgum trees, Thanksgiving in the mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee is truly a treat!

Follow along as we outline all of the best things to do in Gatlinburg in November.

From the glittering Christmas lights of Dolly’s festive display to frosty adventures snow tubing down the runs at Ober, Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg is way more than turkey.

Scope out handmade crafts, wood carvings, and souvenirs at an award-winning craft show, or take in the stunning foliage from an aerial perspective.

Jam out to live Gospel and Bluegrass music, or leave the cooking to the experts when you indulge in a special holiday menu at the Old Mill.

Ready to give thanks for a very Smoky Mountain Turkey Day? Read on to discover everything there is to know about Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg 2022…

Gatlinburg at Thanksgiving

Crisp cool weather, changing leaves of vermillion, ochre, and goldenrod, plus a hint of holiday spirit. Visiting Gatlinburg in early November just might be our favorite thing! While you might have to fend off a bit of a school-aged crowd, the Thanksgiving season offers a near-ideal moment of autumnal bliss in Tennessee.

Related Post: Upcoming Gatlinburg Events and Festivals 

From cuddly llama treks to Blue Ridge Parkway views, family vacations spent here will create unforgettable Smoky Mountain memories.

Pumpkins of all different sizes and color coming out of a giant cornucopia at the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Pigeon Forge Deluxe Cabins via Facebook

Things to Do in Gatlinburg in November 2022

Worried they’ll be nothing to do in Gatlinburg, TN in November? Rest assured, there’s excitement to be had in and outdoors in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in November:

Gatlinburg TN Thanksgiving Activities and Attractions

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in November

Lace-up those hiking boots because you won’t want to miss those searing mountain views. Gatlinburg's natural beauty during Thanksgiving is an ethereal treat. It is usually around this time of year that the fall color display reaches its peak. Set your sights on the park’s mid and lower elevations, and witness the riotous colors of the sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and hickory trees.

Related Post: Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage: Tips and Guide for the Best Fall Colors Experience

Amateur shutterbugs should attempt the journey to Clingmans Dome. The highest point in the park and Tennessee, its observation tower serves up spellbinding panoramic sights of the Smokies and beyond. Take advantage of this unreal lookout now, as the road leading to the tower is usually closed by early December.

For even more fall scenery, plan out a heart-pounding hike to Rainbow Falls or Chimney Tops. Those with equestrian experience will relish the opportunity for a guided ride through Cades Cove, or for a more lowkey activity, why not try a historic wagon ride?

Feeling adventurous? From white water rafting to zipline tours, Pigeon Forge, TN, offers up a wealth of outdoor thrills. 

Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains - Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USATubing at Ober Gatlinburg

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but that doesn’t mean we need to hit pause on delightful activities! So pack those mittens and snow goggles because the frosty season is the best season to play at Ober Gatlinburg. Snag a seat on the aerial tram, and prime yourself for hours of snow-fueled activities and attractions.

In addition to snow tubing at Ober, kiddies of all sizes and ages will flip for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and their ski mountain coaster.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Ober Gatlinburg: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

Spend all day shredding fresh powder, and then trade those snow boots for mountain vistas when you tackle the 30-foot rock wall or various hiking trails. Finally, wind down your day of Mount Harrison views with a delicious apres ski refreshment from the Ober Loft Lounge. 

Wide shot of the chairs for the Ober Gatlinburg Scenic Chairlift on a fall day in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Ober Gatlinburg via Facebook

Dolly’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

It’s never too early to spread a little Christmas cheer! Mark your calendars, as Dolly’s highly anticipated annual Holiday event is back! From November 5th through January 1st, 2023, visitors of all ages will be whisked away to a whimsical winter wonderland of lights, rides, and Christmas spirit at Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas.

Sing along to your favorite Christmas carols, munch on sweet-themed treats, or sneak in a stop on the iconic Dollywood Express. Admire towering 12 ft tall Christmas trees, millions of sparkling lights, and the scenic charm of Santa’s Village. Finally, don’t forget to track down some friendly North Pole visitors at Glacier Ridge. These furry and glowing Polar Bear friends can be found sprawled across Wilderness Pass and Timber Canyon.

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

What goes great with some Dolly? How about some live theater? Soak in the drama and spectacle of Gatlinburg's best performers when you take in any of our world-class theatrical Shows in Gatlinburg, TN.

photo credit: Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol via Facebook

Scenic Helicopter Tours

Switch up your standard sightseeing when you take in the breathtaking lake, mountain, and rolling Sevier County vistas via the air. A Scenic Helicopter Tour is an exhilarating way to immerse yourself in the rugged wonder of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Choose from 8 to 36-mile tours, and allow yourself to be swept away by the rushing power of the French Broad River, Douglas Lake, and Bluff Mountain.

Related Post: Thanksgiving in Pigeon Forge: Where to Go and What to Do

Achieve soaring heights of up to 1,200 feet as you fly high above the Douglas Dam, the Chilhowee Mountain Range, and historic Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. 

yellow helicopter giving tour over pigeon forge tennesseeSmoky Mountain Llama Treks

Conquer the last thing on your Gatlinburg bucket list when you complete a Smoky Mountain Llama Trek. This unique hiking experience lets you master the mountain with your very own fluffy sherpa. Smoky Mountains Llamas are as cute (and helpful) as can be.

Let your South American pack animal carry your gear. As your expert guide leads you on flora and fauna studded adventure through the wilderness. Relax in a field of wildflowers, pick fresh berries, or document the dazzling mountain vistas. Create a romantic rendezvous by packing a special picnic lunch and perhaps even a bottle of wine. 

Got more time to fill in Gatlinburg? Amp up the Tennessee thrills when you check out our extensive list of Gatlinburg Things to Do.

Close up photo of a llama smiling with other llamas in the background as park of the Smoky Mountains llama Trek in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Scaly Adventures via Facebook

Pink Jeep Tours - Smoky Mountains

Roaring Fork, Newfound Gap, and the Foothills, oh my! Tour every inch of the Smoky Mountains in flaming rose-hued style when you reserve a Pink Jeep Tour. Leave the hiking boots at home and let the experts take the wheel when you embark on a 2-3 hour off-road adventure.

Pink Jeep Tours are fully narrated and led by certified, professional guides who can navigate the twists and turns of the Smoky Mountains with ease.

Related Post: What to Pack for the Smoky Mountains: Your Cabin Vacation Guide

Listen up as they regale you with fascinating facts and histories regarding the area's wildlife and native plant species. From cragged rock formations to soaring mountain peaks and endemic moss, you’ll see the Smoky Mountains in a whole new light.

View of the back of a Pink Jeep on a road in the woods with a wild turkey next to it in the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Pink Jeep Tours via Facebook

Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show

Searching high and low for some unique holiday gift options? Finish your Christmas shopping early when you hightail it to the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show. Held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from November 28th through December 4th, this annual handmade extravaganza is where the Tennessee craft community comes to shine.

Related Post: Complete Guide to Fall in the Smoky Mountains

The nation’s largest organization of independent artisans congregates here to create and sell thousands of handcrafted items. Stroll through hundreds of offerings, including hand-carved candles, woven baskets, leather apparel, jewelry, and more. Appreciate the artistry of painters, potters, weavers, and quilters. Many artisans here practice time-honored techniques that have been handed down for decades. 

Make the most out of your rent-a-car when you set your sights on the Best Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains for Fall Colors.

photo credit: Visit Gatlinburg via Facebook

Winterfest Lights

Piping hot bowls of chili, charming Smoky Mountain parades, and of course, tons of twinkling lights! Pop over to nearby Pigeon Forge for the illuminating excitement of Pigeon Forge Winterfest.

From November 13th through February, bundle up and admire the elaborate light displays, tours, events, and live theater events of this special holiday affair. 

photo credit: My Pigeon Forge via Facebook

Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees

Christmas trees, appearances by the big man in red, and tons of family-friendly crafts are all in the works when it comes to Gatlinburg’s beloved Festival of Trees tradition.

Related Post: 16 Unique Things to Do in Gatlinburg: Travel Like a Local

This evergreen-scented event will kick off on November 23rd at the WL Mills Conference Center. Visitors can expect a children’s craft and play area, live entertainment, and themed photos with Santa on select dates.

photo credit: Gatlinburg Convention Center via Facebook

Restaurants in Gatlinburg for Thanksgiving Dinner

Why drive yourself batty trying to recreate your Aunt Dotty’s stuffing recipe while on vacation? Leave the culinary creativity to the experts, and take the day off from cooking when you plan to eat out in Gatlinburg

Related Post: 24 Unforgettable Romantic Things to Do in Gatlinburg for Couples

From mouthwatering holiday suppers to more casual fare, Smoky Mountain’s offerings at Thanksgiving are sure to please every palate:

  • Smith & Son Corner Kitchen - burgers, ribs, and steaks may not be traditional pilgrim fare, but they sure are tasty. Load up on brewpub and bar favorites at this All-American favorite. 
  • The Park Grill - right next to the entrance of the National Park lies this serene Mountain lodge. Feast on the freshest beef, pork, and chicken as you soak in the alpine atmosphere. 
  • The Old Mill Restaurant - craving more traditional fare? Opt to dine in or take home with the Old Mill’s menu of cultivated turkey day favorites. Including corn Fritters with Maple Butter, Roasted Turkey with Cornbread Dressing, Giblet Gravy, and Cranberry Sauce.
  • Seasons of Ober - indulge in incredible views and a gourmet-worthy tasting menu at Seasons of Ober. From hand-cut steaks to their ski house sampler, Ober puts a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients and sensational flavors. 

Psst..looking for more culinary inspiration in Gatlinburg? For an A+ worthy meal, make a reservation at any of the Best Restaurants in Gatlinburg.

photo credit: The Old Mill via Facebook

Gatlinburg Hotels

With so many Thanksgiving things to do in Gatlinburg, TN in November, extending your Gatlinburg Thanksgiving vacation is an excellent call. Cuddle up and get cozy in a serene cabin in the woods, or rest your head within walking distance from downtown Gatlinburg.

Relax in a rustic resort with indoor and outdoor pools, or enjoy the awe-inspiring Great Smoky Mountains National Park views. Thanks to Tripsters' many Gatlinburg hotel options, you're never too far from a great stay. Wherever you decide to celebrate this day of feasting and family, make your booking worry-free knowing you are always guaranteed our lowest rates online. 

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

Need even more bang for your Smoky Mountain buck? Bundle your seasonal Gatlinburg attractions and accommodations with any of our sensational Gatlinburg Vacation Packages.

exterior night view of Bearskin Lodge Hotel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

Roaring Fork in a bright pink Jeep, picking wildflowers with a downy soft llama, or reveling in the beauty of Silent Night sung acapella. 

November is truly the giving season, and Gatlinburg’s many seasonal attractions deliver it all.

Tackle miles of Smoky Mountain hiking trails, learn all about leather working, or participate in a stirring Winterfest parade.

A Gatlinburg Thanksgiving in 2022 contains the perfect mix of rustic charm, outdoor adventure, and holiday spirit. 

Tell us, What’s Your Favorite Thing About Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in November?

Did we miss any of the best reasons to do Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg?

Leave us a comment below!



isis with mural in background

Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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