The Great Smoky Mountains are found on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. The breathtaking region is home to diverse wildlife, stunning waterfalls, and some of the most awe-inspiring mountain vistas you’ll ever see. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just looking for a scenic getaway, the Great Smoky Mountains offer many activities and attractions to suit any taste or interest.
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In this blog, we’ll explore some top things to do around the Great Smoky Mountains, from hiking and wildlife watching to visiting historical sites and exploring charming mountain towns. But, before that, if you are coming on vacation from another town, city, or state, you must first check the available accommodation options. So, we will first start by discussing where to stay:
Where To Stay
Before preparing the list of things to do around the Great Smoky Mountains, you must sort out your accommodation booking. Though there are many hotels, lodges, and resorts where you can book your stay, we recommend staying in a cabin in the heart of the mountains. Staying in one of the Great Smoky Mountain cabins offers a unique and immersive experience, allowing you to connect with nature and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the mountainous surroundings. Enjoy breathtaking views, relax in a hot tub, roast marshmallows by the fire, and wake up to birds chirping. Plus, many cabins in the Smokies are often located near hiking trails, waterfalls, and other outdoor activities, making it a convenient and enjoyable base for exploring the area.
1. Visit Dollywood Theme Park
Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge offers a unique blend of thrilling rides, entertaining shows, and delicious food, all set against the stunning Smoky Mountains. Visitors can enjoy world-class roller coasters, water rides, and other attractions and explore the park’s various themed areas, such as Craftsman’s Valley and Wildwood Grove.
2. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a multitude of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including hiking, scenic drives, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting. Visitors can explore the park’s 800 miles of trails, enjoy stunning views of the mountains and valleys on its two main roads, and learn about its rich cultural history.
3. Visit the Titanic Museum
If you’re looking for a unique and educational experience during your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains, consider stopping by the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. The museum replicates the infamous Titanic ship and allows visitors to explore its history and legacy through various interactive exhibits and artifacts. You can walk the grand staircase, view real artifacts from the ship, and even touch an iceberg to get a sense of what it was like for the passengers and crew.
4. Take A Scenic Drive
With the Great Smoky Mountains winding roads and breathtaking views, visitors can immerse themselves in the stunning landscape while enjoying a leisurely drive through the mountains. Numerous routes offer spectacular vistas of rolling hills, forests, and rivers, from the historic Cades Cove 11-mile Loop Road to the scenic Foothills Parkway or Newfound Gap Road.
5. Go Shopping
The area around the Great Smoky Mountains has a variety of shopping destinations to suit all tastes and budgets. For those looking for upscale boutiques and high-end retailers, The Island in Pigeon Forge is a must-visit destination, featuring stores such as Southern Charm, Emery’s 5 & 10, and The Paula Deen Store. For those looking for unique souvenirs, The Old Mill Square is a must-visit destination, with shops such as The Old Mill General Store and Pigeon River Pottery offering a variety of handcrafted items.
The Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall is also a popular shopping spot, offering great deals on clothing, shoes, and accessories from top brands.
6. Visit the Hollywood Wax Museum
With its fun and interactive atmosphere, the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge is the perfect place to spend an enjoyable afternoon or evening with friends and family.
Divided into different themed sections, the museum showcases lifelike wax figures of famous stars from classic films, TV shows, horror movies, music legends, and superheroes. The museum’s highlight is the opportunity to take photos with the wax figures, allowing visitors to pose with their favorite celebrities and even pretend to be Hollywood stars.
7. Take a Day Trip to the Forbidden Caverns
Located just a short drive from the heart of the Smokies, Forbidden Caverns in Sevierville are underground caves that allow visitors to explore another worldly landscape filled with stunning rock formations, sparkling streams, and underground waterfalls. During a guided tour of the caverns, you will learn about the geology and history of the area. The Forbidden Caverns are also home to various rare and fascinating creatures, such as blind cave salamanders and cave crickets. You can see them up close during the tour.
8. Play In The Outdoors Around Rowdy Bear’s Smoky Mountain Snowpark
Rowdy Bear’s Smoky Mountain Snowpark in Pigeon Forge allows visitors to take a ride on the thrilling tubing hill, where you can slide down the slopes at lightning speeds or try your hand at the exhilarating outdoor laser tag course, where you can put your skills to the test in a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping battle. If you’re feeling particularly daring, take a spin on the Mountain Glider, a unique roller coaster that lets you soar through the trees and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
9. Go Zip-Lining
If you’re not afraid of heights, embarking on a thrilling zip-lining adventure in the Smokies is an absolute must. With some of the longest zip lines in the area, the Great Smoky Mountains offer an exhilarating experience as you soar through the air at a height of approximately 450 feet. Not only will you have the chance to take in the breathtaking views of the mountainous landscape and spot various birds, but multiple safety precautions and restrictions are also implemented to ensure your safety during the zip-lining activity.
The Great Smoky Mountains offer a plethora of activities for visitors to enjoy. From hiking to fishing and exploring historical sites to experiencing the unique culture of the surrounding towns, there is something for everyone. With its breathtaking natural beauty and diverse range of activities, the Great Smoky Mountains is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best outdoors. So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a relaxing getaway, be sure to put the Great Smoky Mountains on your travel list.