Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and visitors to Gatlinburg behold lots of it! With acres of incredible foliage that changes with each season, this “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains” is the ideal travel location for sightseers of every age. The area’s floral artistry along with its friendly residents and entertaining festivals make it a favorite destination for vacationers from all over the world. In spite of the spectacular year-round scenery, the optimal time for a trek to Eastern Tennessee is perhaps in autumn when the weather is perfect and the leaves are turning shades of yellow, orange, and brown.
If you choose to come here in October, you’ll find endless fun things to do in Gatlinburg. When you’re ready to leave your comfortable abode at a luxury Gatlinburg hotel and see what the town has to offer, check out some of the following attractions and festivities.
Gatlinburg Farmers Market
For guests who are fortunate enough to arrive during the first week in October, the local Farmers Market is still in full swing. On Saturday morning beginning at 8:30, you can have access to everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to artisanal products. Freshly cooked food and baked goods are available as well. You may even catch an arts and crafts demonstration if your timing is right.
The Sugarlands Spirits Stage
The Sugarlands Distilling Company is a place for sampling whiskey and moonshine, but out back it has the Spirit Stage where you can watch a show for free. Benches and rocking chairs are placed under shelter so that the spectators can be protected from the sun and rain. The entertainers may have to compete with the rowdy sounds coming from inside the building, but most of them capture the attention of the audience easily. The performing bands represent nearly every genre of music including bluegrass, soul, hip-hop, and folk.
At Ole Smoky, you can be a witness to the process of making old-fashioned moonshine in a federally licensed establishment. The distillers produce moonshine with a number of signature flavors. Even outside the building, you can smell the grains fermenting. After observing the procedures and having your questions answered, you are invited to taste the product. You may have a chance to try special flavors that are not available elsewhere.
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
A mixture of music and art draws a crowd each year for about two weeks in mid-October. The Gatlinburg Convention Center houses artisans from across the U.S. for the annual craftsmen’s fair. Guests often like to relax and listen to the live country or bluegrass music after browsing through arts and crafts tables. At a typical fair, more than 200 booths fill the venue with items like ceramics, blown glass, jewelry, and even baked goods.
No view of Eastern Tennessee’s fall foliage compares to one’s perspective from a zip line. After you’ve signed up for a ride in Gatlinburg, you are harnessed and taken by two guides up a mountain to the site of nine fabulous zip lines. You start your ride on a skybridge then progress to a training line before you’re ready to soar above the trees. Your experience is captured in photos for your lasting memories. If your sense of adventure still hasn’t been satisfied when you are finished, then you can do a Tree Trek with 27 obstacles.
A trip to Gatlinburg is not complete unless you spend at least one day at Ober Gatlinburg. Throughout the month of October, the OktOberfest celebration dominates the festivities. Bavarian food, dress, and culture are all a part of this popular event. If you like German folk dances and yodeling, then you won’t want to miss it. The aerial tram that takes you to the amusement park at the top of a mountain is an experience that rivals the attraction itself; it gives you a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape with its spectacular fall colors.
The Gatlinburg Space Needle is a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike. In addition to providing an awesome view of the Smoky Mountains from an elevation of 407 feet, the grounds include a two-story playground for the youngsters and the Iris Theater that hosts a spooky magic show about the haunted Weiss Manor. “Shocktober” promises to keep you laughing as the characters lead you through an eerie investigation and ghost hunt.
Ripley’s Fright Nights
Get into the Halloween spirit at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. Fright Nights occur every weekend leading up to the 31st. While young patrons enjoy the evening character parade, the older audience gets its kicks from the scary but thrilling performance that follows. Shows run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the entire month. The experience will not be easily forgotten.
October is the perfect time of the year for a scary escape challenge. If you can work puzzles, find trap doors, and follow clues, then you may be able to survive Gatlinburg’s famous escape room. It is appropriately named “The Captured” and is based on the fictional story of cannibal Sebastian Craft who “captures” guests and leaves them in his holding cellar. In order to keep from being eaten for dinner, you must escape from the cellar. Then you enter “Scarlett’s” room and begin to look for a way out to avoid being broken like a toy.
Gatlinburg’s Mysterious Mansion
The Mysterious Mansion is perhaps the spookiest spot in town. Your self-guided tour will lead you into dark hallways and chambers where danger lurks. Ghosts from residents past may show up at the most inopportune moments. Although you can visit this haunted turn-of-the-century house on a spring or summer day, its chilling effect reaches farther and wider during the hair-raising month of October as Halloween night approaches.