While everyone loves visiting a major tourist destination, there’s something to be said for vacations to lesser-known areas as well.
And if you’re looking for a destination that’s rich with history, offers plenty of outdoor adventure, and boasts some of the most captivating scenery in the world, look no further than Gatlinburg, Tennessee!
Located at the foothills of the glorious Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the United States, Gatlinburg has activities and attractions to impress all ages.
Wondering how to spend your time in the area? These are 5 things to do in Gatlinburg that you’ll want to make sure you add to your itinerary:
“Rough It” In a Cabin
Before you start exploring the town and surrounding area, decide on your home base and get settled in.
Gatlinburg has plenty of accommodation options available for tourists, but for the true outdoor experience, nothing beats staying in a good, old-fashioned cabin.
Many cabins are located slightly off the beaten path, in beautiful natural areas. Enjoying stunning mountain views or the sound of water from a nearby creek as you sip your morning coffee is an experience like no other.
And in our modern age, there’s no need to rough it when choosing Gatlinburg cabin rentals instead of a hotel!
Available cabins in the area offer a variety of amenities ranging from outdoor Jacuzzi hot tubs to home theatre rooms. Some even offer free tickets to local Gatlinburg attractions!
And with cabins that sleep anywhere from 2 to 14 people, renting a cabin is something that’s accessible to groups of all sizes.
Feast On Pancakes at Pancake Pantry
Eating at the Pancake Pantry has been a Tennessee tradition since the restaurant first opened its doors in 1960.
At the time, it was the only pancake house in the state, and it’s still a must-eat restaurant for visitors today!
Breakfast is served all day, with diners able to choose from 24 different varieties of pancakes, ranging from classic buttermilk pancakes to orange walnut pancakes to Austrian apple walnut crepes.
The restaurant also offers a variety of waffles, omelettes, and a classic bacon and eggs breakfast for those that aren’t in a pancake mood.
But as tasty as all the items on the menu are, it’s the pancakes that still stand out as the star at Pancake Pantry. Visit with a larger group so you can share a few different varieties and try as many of the tasty cakes as possible!
Climb Clingmans Dome
Consdiering its location beside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it goes without saying that there’s no shortage of natural beauty around Gatlinburg.
And one of the best ways to experience that beauty is by hiking to the top of Clingmans Dome. This mountain is the highest one in the range, standing at an elevation of over 6,600 feet high.
The walk is a little steep, but even children should have no real issue making the climb, which takes just over 40 minutes on average.
The path to the top is paved, and includes plenty of benches along the route, allowing you to catch your breath and take in the crisp mountain air and picture-worthy views.
And the view from the top is worth every bit of effort spent making the climb!
On a clear day with no pollution, Clingmans Dome offers not just a full, 360-degree view of the mountains, but views that extend into seven different states!
The historic Appalachian Trail also crosses Clingmans Dome, making it the highest spot of any point of the trail.
Best of all, Clingmans Dome is completely free to visit and explore, making it a perfect activity for vacationers on a budget.
Spook Yourself On a Ghost Tour
Gatlinburg was first settled over 200 years ago, so it’s not surprising that it’s a town with plenty of history. And part of that history involves folklore, dark stories, and even murder.
So, if you’re the type that enjoys shivers down your spine, make plans to head out on the Ghost and Haunt Tour of Gatlinburg.
This two-hour nighttime walking tour is part history lesson and part ghost hunt, letting you learn about some of the town’s most villanous, tragic, and mysterious former residents.
You’ll hear the story of the richest (and most hated) man in town, a beautiful young woman driven to take her own life, and many more, all while keeping your eyes open for any supernatural sightings of your own.
For those in the mood for even more spooky encounters, the company even offers an extended tour with additional locations, stories, and professional ghost-hunting equipment!
Check Out Ober Gatlinburg
No trip to Gatlinburg would be complete without a visit to Ober Gatlinburg, a four-season amusement park and ski resort that’s one of the most popular attractions in the Smoky Mountains.
Getting to the park can even be part of the fun, thanks to the Aerial Tramway, a 120-passenger cable car that carries visitors from downtown Gatlinburg to the resort itself.
Once you’re there, a variety of attractions will keep kids and adults alike busy all day long.
In the summer, enjoy water raft rides, wildlife encounters, rock climbing, and the Ski Mountain Coaster. Once winter arrives, attractions include snow tubing, ice skating, and skiing.
Ober Gatlinburg also offers daily wristbands that cover admission to a variety of the most popular seasonal attractions, making it a budget-friendly day trip when visiting the Gatlinburg area.
Tennessee is a well-loved state among tourists and residents alike, and places like Gatlinburg are part of the reason why.
The combination of history, natural beauty, and family-friendly hospitality is sure to have you instantly feeling at home on your vacation.
And with activities to fill all four seasons, there’s no better time than now to plan a fun-filled visit to this picturesque resort town on the edge of the Smoky Mountains.