Gatlinburg is known for outdoor adventures, family fun, and Southern heritage. And while there are plenty of things to do with kids, adults can have just as much fun. From attractions like scenic helicopter rides and wine tasting to snow sports and ziplining, Gatlinburg has it all. Read on to discover the best things to do in Gatlinburg for adults.
1) Ride the Aerial Tramway
Looking for gorgeous views of the Tennessee terrain? The 120-passenger tramway delivers year-round picturesque sights 11,000 feet above Gatlinburg. Guests can take the 2.1-mile tramway ride from downtown to Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park for their convenience and a top-rate experience.
2) Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Other than gas money and whatever supplies you choose to bring, there is no admission fee to enter this historic forested trail. Named after its powerfully flowing mountain stream, Roaring Fork Motor Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a 5.5 mile-long loop road with stunning views and preserved historic buildings. Visitors can stumble upon wildflowers, mountain streams, and an all-encompassing hardwood forest in one of the national park areas in the United States.
Moreover, well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other structures reside along the trail as you head up to Rainbow Falls. This popular waterfall requires a 5.4-mile roundtrip hike, but it’s worth it as long as you’re dressed for the occasion.
Please note you can’t access this trail during the winter season.
3) 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.
4) Whisky & Moonshine Distilleries
The Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery’s “Holler” location in Gatlinburg brings top-notch moonshine to Tennessee residents and visitors alike. Producing traditional and eclectic flavors, Ole Smoky has been voted the nation’s top distillery and offers daily tours for interested patrons. While the authentic moonshine can cost you, you can still tour the facility and sample signature shine for fairly cheap! After you navigate the production process, treat your senses to $5 samplings and leave satisfied. Of course, you’re welcome to purchase jars of Apple Pie Moonshine or White Lightnin’ on your way out.
Another top notch distillery in the area is the Sugarlands Distilling Company. Taste award-winning moonshine and Appalachian Sippin’ Creams while experiencing a free, behind-the-scenes tour of the Stillhouse. Guests can also enjoy more flavors and seasonal, handcrafted cocktails on the Back Porch.
Last but not least, visitors to Gatlinburg can enjoy the taste of fresh English Mountain Spring Water straight from the source. Guests can stop by to sample craft corn whiskey and a variety of flavored moonshine at Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery.
5) 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.
6) Wine & Craft Beer Tasting
Sample wine, cider, and craft beet at any of these local favorites:
- Smoky Mountain Winery
- Goodwater Winery Gatlinburg
- Sugarland Cellars
- Gatlinburg Wine Cellar
- Little Bear Winery
- Tennessee Homemade Wines
- Tennessee Cider Company
- Smoky Mountain Brewery
- Gatlinburg Brewing Company
7) Horseback Riding
Saddle up in the Smokies! Experiencing awe-inspiring scenery, see roaming wildlife, and feel at peace in the outdoors. Smoky Mountain Stables and Sugarlands Riding Stables offer guided backcountry trips for guests of all ages. Both companies provide trips through the Smoky Mountains mid-March through Thanksgiving.
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:
9) Shop at the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is the largest independent organization of artisans in the nation. Guests can find over 100 artists and craftsmen offering a variety of items that reflect Tennessee culture. Whether they’re carvers, casters, potters, silversmiths, weavers, painters, or otherwise, you’ll be amazed by the talent, passion, and skillset in this community. Located on an eight-mile loop road that is a designated Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail, the community can be reached using the Yellow Trolley from downtown Gatlinburg.
10) Go Ziplining
Gatlinburg is a premier destination for outdoor adventures like ziplining. Soar through the trees with any of these well-established companies:
- Legacy Mountain Premier Ziplines
- Adventure Park Ziplines
- Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park
- Zipping in the Smokies
- Dome Ziplines
- & Several More
11) Play at Ober Gatlinburg
One of the best things to do in Gatlinburg for adults, 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 adults.
12) Fly High
Soar over scenic farmlands, Dollywood, Pigeon Forge Parkway, and much more on a thrilling airplane, balloon, or helicopter flight:
- Sky High Air Tours
- Smoky Mountain Helicopters
- Sevier County Choppers
- Scenic Flights Helicopter Tours
- What’s Up Ballooning
13) 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, guest 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. Open every day of the year, it’s one of the top things to do in Gatlinburg for adults.
14) Stay in a Cabin
Wake up surrounded by the great outdoors in comfortable, modernized cabins outside of Gatlinburg. You can experience the best of both worlds at any one of these local cabins:
- Bluff Mountain Rentals
- Cabins USA Gatlinburg
- Parkside Cabin Rentals
- Cabins for You
- Stonybrook Cabins
- & Many More
15) 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 for adults, you don’t want to skip out.
16) Visit Pigeon Forge
Chock full of family entertainment, Pigeon Forge is home to grand institutions like Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Dollywood, and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Also, Pigeon Forge sits only five miles north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so guests possess 850 miles of stunning trails in their backyard. Take the kids to famed Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood, for thrill rides galore and then head to the acclaimed Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show for premium entrées and theatrics. In addition, Pigeon Forge hosts many free activities as well.
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.
Explore Beautiful Gatlinburg
Now that you know the best things to do in Gatlinburg for adults, where will head to first?