Things to Do in Gatlinburg for Adults - 16 Must-Try Activities

July 14, 2022

Gatlinburg is known for outdoor adventures, family fun, and Southern heritage. Looking for the best things to do in Gatlinburg? We rounded up the top activities to ensure you have a smokin' time in the smokies!

Gatlinburg is an ideal vacation destination for adults looking for a little bit of everything– from bar-hopping, hiking, and white water rafting to seeing the best of the best of Gatlinburg's theater shows. This enchanting city teems with outdoor adventures, lively entertainment, and Southern heritage.

Don't miss these top things to do in Gatlinburg, TN, for adults!

16 Gatlinburg Activities for Adults

Ride the Aerial Tramway at Ober Gatlinburg

One of the best ways to take in the scenic views at Gatlinburg is to ride the Aerial Tramway.

Riding the Aerial Tramway will take you as high as 2,813 feet above sea level! That's 1,000 feet higher than any other cable lift in Gatlinburg (or the entire state of Tennessee). During the 2.1-mile ride up to Ober Gatlinburg's amusement park and ski area, you'll be able to see unobstructed aerial views of the surrounding nature.

Close up view of the Aerial Tramway in motion at Ober Gatlinburg with the trees below covered in snow in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Ober Gatlinburg via Facebook

Test Your Skills on Outdoor Sports at Ober Gatlinburg

You will never run out of fun things to do in Gatlinburg for adults. You can stay near Ober Gatlinburg for a few days to maximize your time enjoying outdoor recreational activities! 

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

Ober Gatlinburg invites visitors to test their ice skating, skiing, tubing, and snowboarding skills during winter.

Visitors can enjoy activities like riding the Mountain Coaster and Aerial Tram or tubing during the spring and summer. Dining and shopping options also abound at Ober Gatlinburg, making it a perfect destination for adults. 

For more information about outdoor adventures in Gatlinburg and things for adults to do in Gatlinburg, here are our 5 Favorite Things to do in Ober Gatlinburg.

Close up of people wearing their ski gear with the slopes behind them at Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Ober Gatlinburg via Facebook

Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail

Besides gas money and 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. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg for adults!

Related Post: When to See Peak Pigeon Forge Fall Foliage

Visitors can stumble upon wildflowers, mountain streams, and an all-encompassing hardwood forest in one of the national park areas in the United States. You can also check out 10 of the Best Waterfall Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Moreover, as you head up to Rainbow Falls, well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other structures reside along the trail. This popular waterfall requires a 5.4-mile roundtrip hike, but it's worth it as long as you're dressed for the occasion.

Roaring Fork Motor Trail MountainsWatch the Best Theater Shows and Plays

Theater enthusiasts have much to see in Gatlinburg! You have Elvis & the Superstars, the ultimate tribute show to the King of Rock and Roll. The show also features a line-up of music from big-name celebrities like Dolly Parton, Tom Jones, and Kenny Rogers.

Looking for live music and other lively evening entertainment? Head over to Country Tonite Theater in time for Country Tonite Show! Be entertained by various dynamic singing and dancing, side-splitting comedy, powerful gospel, and American patriotism. 

Here are a few more theatre shows and plays to watch in Gatlinburg for adults:

performers posing on stage at the Country Tonite show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USATour Whisky & Moonshine Distilleries

Spirits lovers have much to discover in Gatlinburg. In fact, bar hopping is one of the top things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge! Distilleries like the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery are top Gatlinburg attractions for adults. Ole Smoky has been voted the nation's top distillery for producing traditional and eclectic flavors.

Feel free to tour the facility and sample signature shine for an affordable admission fee!

Related Post: Sip & Sample at Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries in Gatlinburg

The Sugarlands Distilling Company is another top-notch distillery in the area. 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 in Gatlinburg can enjoy the taste of fresh English Mountain Spring Water straight from the source. For more imbibing, guests can stop by to sample craft corn whiskey and a variety of flavored moonshine at Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery.

In addition to these fabulous distilleries, if you happen to be in Gatlinburg with your main squeeze, we have not one but 24 Unforgettable Romantic Things to Do in Gatlinburg for Couples.

Wide shot of the exterior of the Old Forge Distillery at dusk with their lights on inside in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: The Old Mill via Facebook

Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Looking for things to do for adults in Gatlinburg? Nothing compares to the breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Fun Fact: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. It had over 14.1 million visitors in 2021.

Related Post: 10 of the Best Smoky Mountain Waterfall Hikes

If this is your first time exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we recommend booking a Pink Jeep Tour. Ride an open-air jeep wrangler and visit the top spots in the park, as well as hidden gems that your local tour guide would know of.

There are tons of things to do in the Smoky Mountains for adults. For instance, you can go hiking! A few hours before sunset, start your hike to Clingmans Dome. Lay eyes on 100 miles of land across seven states and appreciate the golden hour, providing the perfect light so you can capture the most stunning photos.

aerial view of orange yellow sunset over summer green trees of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USABar Hop for Wine & Craft Beer Tasting

Are you a wine or beer person? Why not both! Gatlinburg is home to some of the best wine cellars and breweries in Tennessee. Sample wine, cider, and craft beer at any of these local favorites:

Glasses full of different beers on a table at Smoky Mountain Brewery - Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USAGet a Kick Out of Horseback Riding

Saddle up in the Smokies!

Five Oaks Riding Stables offer guided backcountry trips for guests of all ages. Enjoy a horseback ride through the foothills of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Experience awe-inspiring scenery, get a glimpse of roaming wildlife, and feel at peace in the outdoors.

Pro Tip: The Five Oak Riding Stable horseback riding tour lasts approximately one hour. You can do this as your first activity for the day, then spend the rest of the time exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a Pink Jeep Tour

Close up photo of beautiful brown horse with a brown leather saddle on

photo credit: Micah Tindell via Unplash

Live it Up with White Water Rafting

Get out of the city and spend the day out on the water! White water rafting is a popular sport during summer vacations in the Smokies and is one of the top adult things to do in Gatlinburg. Splash your way through dozens of rapids, enjoy the views while gazing at the beauty of the mountains, and have fun with a big group!

Related Post: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Guide: What to Know Before You Go

Residing along the Pigeon River, there are multiple agencies that offer action-packed white water excursions:

People White Water Rafting with Smoky Mountain Outdoors - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Smoky Mountain Outdoors via Facebook

Shop at the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community

Did you know that there is a remarkable arts and crafts community in Gatlinburg? If you haven't heard of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community yet, drop by the organization's art center while in Gatlinburg! 

Aside from being the largest independent organization of artisans in the United States, the community also offers 8 miles of creative activities and shopping opportunities, which makes a visit to the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community one of the best Gatlinburg things to do for adults. Over 100 artists and artisans are offering various items that reflect Tennessee culture, which you can purchase or take inspiration from!

Whether carvers, casters, potters, silversmiths, weavers, painters, or otherwise, you'll be amazed by the talent, passion, and skill set in this community.

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community Sign with flowers on it for spring in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community via Facebook

Check Ziplining Off Your Bucketlist

Ride the best ziplines in Gatlinburg with arms wide open! Gatlinburg is a premier destination for outdoor adventures like ziplining.

Related Post: How to Plan the Perfect Pigeon Forge Family Vacation

There are so many great options to check that outdoor activity off your bucket list, but soaring through trees will be a breeze with any of these well-established Gatlinburg ziplining companies:

little girl with yellow helmet at Zipping in the Smokies with Rafting in the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USASurprise Your Partner with a Helicopter Tour

Enjoy the breathtaking aerial views of the Great Smoky Mountains with your special someone.

Soar over scenic farmlands, top Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge attractions like Dollywood, Pigeon Forge Parkway, and much more on an enchanting helicopter flight:

yellow helicopter giving tour over pigeon forge tennesseeTravel to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle

Here's a unique Gatlinburg top attraction you won't find anywhere else. 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.

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

A visit to the Gatlinburg Space Needle is also a fun, educational experience. Learn about the local area via the Needle's Higher Learning exhibits, participate in The Captured escape games or watch unique acts at the Iris Theater. 

Pro Tip: Grab tickets to the Gatlinburg Trolley and throw your parking cares away. There is a Park N Ride lot at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center.

Gatlinburg Space Needle is open every day of the year and is one of the top things to do in Gatlinburg for adults.

Aerial view of the Gatlinburg Space Needle ready for the ball drop on New Years Eve in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Visit Gatlinburg via Facebook

Experience Zorbing at Outdoor Gravity Park

Adrenaline junkies planning a trip to Gatlinburg need to include Outdoor Gravity Park in their itinerary! It's the only zorbing park in the USA and is one of Tennesee's most amazing adventure destinations. A complete list of things to do in Gatlinburg TN for adults is not complete without Outdoor Gravity Park.

The three different zorbing courses will take your adventurous mountain retreat up a notch. Get your heart pumping on the Fast Track course as you speed down on a 1,000+ ft hill! But if you're looking for more bumps and some serious solo action, take the Extreme Zigzag course instead! 

Related Post: When is the Best Time to Visit Pigeon Forge?

Here are a few other activities that put our smartwatches' heart rate monitors on high alert:

Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud Show & Adventure Park

7D Dark Ride Adventure

Xtreme Racing Center

Zorb Park and Zorb Rolling Down a Hill - Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USAPlay, Relax, and Unwind in 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, 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 much more. Anakeesta is a haven for adults looking for the best things to do in Gatlinburg. You don't want to skip out.

Related Post: Insider's Guide to Anakeesta

On your way to or from Anakeesta is the Gatlinburg Skylift Park. It's just a 2-minute drive via the Parkway and can easily be included as a quick stop. The Gatlinburg Skylift Scenic Chairlift Ride will take you to the top of Crockett Mountain. Once there, take a moment to appreciate the panoramic views of the awe-inspiring Smoky Mountains and the lovely town of Gatlinburg.

photo credit: Knox Daily Sun via Facebook

Explore Hidden Gems in Pigeon Forge

The neighboring Pigeon Forge is only four miles away, which makes visiting a breeze no matter where you're staying in Gatlinburg.

There are plenty of things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for adults. Visit top attractions like Dolly Parton's Stampede, Dollywood, and Titanic Museum, or explore less crowded areas that you can tell home about.

Related Post: 10 Cheap Things to Do in Pigeon Forge That are Actually Fun

You can visit places you didn't know would be entertaining, like an enlightening trip to the Alcatraz East Crime Museum or a brief Rocky Top Mountain Coaster expedition. Love to explore off the beaten path? Check out our guide to Gatlinburg Hidden Gems.

Exterior view of the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge

Titanic Museum Attraction

Enjoy These Favorite Things to Do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for Adults

Once you know where you want to go and what you want to do, the next thing is to secure the tickets! Tripster offers everything you need for a fun-filled holiday, from show and attraction tickets to your pick of accommodations.

Our low prices on places to stay in Gatlinburg and vacation packages, along with our convenient e-tickets, mean you can book with ease and head straight to the box office or front desk with no hassle.

How Do you Love Spending Time in Gatlinburg?

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Written By Nicole

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely exploring the great o ...

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2 comments about Things to Do in Gatlinburg for Adults - 16 Must-Try Activities

  1. Pat Gebbia says:

    We will be visiting in January 2023 and need to know what there is to do at that time of year. Are there any shows available in January? Just want to have a plan before we leave home. thank you for any help you can give

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