Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and thrill-seekers alike. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking scenery, family-friendly adventures, or a taste of moonshine country, Gatlinburg has something for everyone.

Things to Do Map:

Introduction to Gatlinburg, TN

Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and thrill-seekers alike. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking scenery, family-friendly adventures, or a taste of moonshine country, Gatlinburg has something for everyone.

Outdoor adventures:

  • Hike the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: With over 800 miles of trails, the Smokies offer hikes for all levels, from leisurely strolls along babbling brooks to challenging climbs to panoramic overlooks.
  • Cross the Gatlinburg SkyBridge: Walk across the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, 680 feet above the valley floor, for stunning views of the Smokies.
  • Ride the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway: Soar over the treetops to Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort and amusement park with breathtaking views, thrilling rides, and seasonal activities.
  • Go whitewater rafting: Experience the rush of navigating the rapids of the Pigeon River on a guided whitewater rafting trip.

Family-friendly fun:

  • Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies: Explore the underwater world at this immersive aquarium, home to thousands of sea creatures from sharks and stingrays to colorful fish and playful penguins.
  • Anakeesta: Take a magical journey up Anakeesta Mountain on a chondola, then enjoy mountaintop attractions like the Rail Runner Mountain Coaster, the Treetop Adventure Course, and the AnaVista Tower observation deck.
  • Gatlinburg Mini Golf: Challenge your family and friends to a game of mini golf at one of Gatlinburg’s many themed courses.
  • Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park: Enjoy classic amusement park rides, games, and shows at Ober Gatlinburg, open year-round.

Historical and cultural experiences:

  • Gatlinburg Ghost Tours: Learn about the town’s haunted history on a spooky ghost tour, perfect for a dose of chills and thrills.
  • Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community: Browse handmade crafts from local artisans at this historic village, showcasing the rich heritage of the Smokies.
  • Wine and moonshine tastings: Sample Gatlinburg’s finest wines and moonshine at local wineries and distilleries.

And of course, no trip to Gatlinburg is complete without trying some of the delicious local food! Sample some authentic Southern barbecue, indulge in a sweet Gatlinburg fudge, or sip on a cup of moonshine for a truly unforgettable experience.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your Gatlinburg adventure today and discover all the fun this charming mountain town has to offer!

Bonus tip: Gatlinburg is a popular tourist destination, so it’s a good idea to book your accommodations and activities in advance, especially during peak season.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

A Journey Through Time: The History of Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Nestled in the majestic embrace of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, boasts a history as colorful and rugged as the peaks themselves. Let’s take a chronological stroll through its fascinating past:

Early Traces (1800s):

  • Land of Paradise: European settlers first arrived in the early 1800s, drawn to the fertile land dubbed “White Oak Flats.” Families like the Ogles and McCarters laid the groundwork for community life.
  • A Controversial Figure: Radford Gatlin entered the scene in 1854, opening a general store and influencing the town’s name change to “Gatlinburg.” Despite his influence, his clashes with residents and pro-Confederate views led to his expulsion in 1859.
  • Humble Beginnings: Despite Gatlin’s departure, the town continued to grow slowly. Churches, schools, and small businesses popped up, forming the nucleus of a future mountain settlement.

Turning Point (Early 20th Century):

  • Smoky Mountain National Park: The establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934 marked a defining moment. Gatlinburg’s proximity to the park’s stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage propelled it into the spotlight.
  • Tourism Boom: Visitors flocked to Gatlinburg, eager to experience the natural beauty and Appalachian charm. Cabins, motels, and restaurants started appearing, transforming the sleepy town into a bustling tourist destination.
  • Rise of Attractions: Iconic structures like Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Ober Gatlinburg emerged, solidifying the town’s appeal for families and adventure seekers.

Modern Era (Late 20th Century & Beyond):

  • Balancing Act: Balancing booming tourism with environmental protection became a key challenge. Gatlinburg strived to preserve its natural beauty while catering to visitors, leading to initiatives like sustainable development and green spaces.
  • Diversification: Beyond traditional attractions, Gatlinburg embraced art, music, and cultural events. Festivals like the Smoky Mountain Wine Trail and Oktoberfest added further depth to the tourist experience.
  • Resilience and Recovery: Gatlinburg faced natural disasters like wildfires and floods, showcasing its unwavering spirit. Each time, the town rebuilt and emerged stronger, demonstrating its dedication to its community and visitors.

Today and Beyond:

Gatlinburg stands as a vibrant beacon of tourism in the Great Smoky Mountains. Its rich history, stunning scenery, and diverse attractions continue to enchant visitors from all over the world. As the town looks to the future, it strives to maintain its unique charm while embracing sustainable practices and innovative experiences, ensuring its legacy as a beloved mountain getaway for generations to come.

Great Smoky Mountains

Cascading waterfalls, roaming wildlife and a view that stretches out over 500,000 acres – this is the country’s most-visited national park. Vacationers often start in Gatlinburg and make their way to one of the park’s famous paths where they can find everything they’ve been looking for. A hike through the Great Smoky Mountains – whether it be on the Appalachian Trail itself, a wildflower walk, or a trip to one of the many waterfalls – will leave you with a smile and a lasting impression. Because the experience changes season to season, there’s always a new scene to come explore.

Gatlinburg Events Calendar

Top Attractions of Gatlinburg


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