The little mountain town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee is known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But it has hundreds of restaurants, shops, and attractions people come from all over the world to experience. This town has a wealth of family-friendly activities, and we want to share some of the best ones with you. Check out these top 9 Gatlinburg attractions.
1. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies remains one of the most popular Gatlinburg attractions. The facility provides visitors with the opportunity to glimpse the mesmerizing world that lies beneath the sea. Tanks holding close to 1.5 million gallons of water serve as replicated homes to more than 350 species of marine life. Gaze in awe while strolling through the 345-foot tunnel in the Shark Lagoon. Here, nurse, sandbar and sand tiger sharks glide through the water along with an array of colorful tropical fish. See jellyfish gracefully float up and down. Greet the comical, friendly penguins in their iconic tuxedos. The Discovery Center offers all the chance to hold horseshoe crabs and touch the velvety soft bodies of the stingrays.
2. Gatlinburg SkyLift
The Gatlinburg SkyLift enables guests to get a bird’s eye view over the spectacular terrain. From Gatlinburg, the lift makes the gradual 1,800-foot ascent toward the peak of Crocket Mountain. After arriving at the summit, visitors can enjoy exploring the mountain. Get a close-up look of the surroundings through one of the viewers, then make your way across one of the most popular Gatlinburg attractions: the SkyBridge. Browse through the gift shop and indulge in some ice cream before taking the ride back down to Gatlinburg.
3. Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
Your Gatlinburg visit is not complete unless you take the time to explore the eight-mile loop named the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Over 120 artisan shops are located along the looped road, and many of the crafts presented are time-honored traditions of the mountain folk. You will encounter everything imaginable, from candle-making and wood carving to basket weaving to ceramics and pottery. Handmade brooms, dolls, jewelry, leather work, and silversmithing are also among the masterpieces found here. The location additionally features a series of cafes, restaurants, soda fountains, and tea rooms.
4. Ole Smoky Moonshine
Nothing says mountain tradition like real moonshine. The Ole Smoky Moonshine distillery depicts local heritage and remains one of the must-see Gatlinburg attractions. Upon approaching the facility, mountain music performed by local musicians fills the air along with the aroma of processing grains. Come face-to-face with a real working still. Inside, guests are encouraged to tour the museum, which tells the tale of the moonshine legend. Stop at the sampling bar and taste the varieties of 100 proof beverages. You will also learn a little about the historic process, which creates each flavor. Choose from the original recipe, white lightning, apple pie, or cherries.
5. Hollywood Star Cars Museum
Whether you are an automotive enthusiast or a nostalgia buff, the Hollywood Star Cars Museum is sure to entertain. Over the years, the facility compiled a collection of more than 40 vehicles, which were featured in memorable Hollywood movies or popular TV shows. Some once belonged to famous celebrities. The museum owners continually add to the collection, so the exhibits are always changing. Some of the many attractions include:
• General Lee from ”The Dukes of Hazard”
• Batmobile from ”Batman Returns”
• Herbie from ”The Love Bug”
• Delorean from ”Back to the Future”
6. Sugarland Riding Stables
What better way to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park than by an old-fashioned horseback ride? Never fear. You need not be an experienced equestrian to enjoy the adventure at Sugarland Riding Stables. The guides are experienced and patient while the horses are well-trained and gentle. Your journey takes you through breath-taking scenery of mature, tree-lined paths, bubbling streams and the forested hills beyond. While off the beaten path, there is a good chance to encounter wildlife. Along the way, your guides offer a bit of information to make the trek that much more interesting.
7. Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Stop at the visitor’s center and get a guide for the five-mile journey along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Travel along the Roaring Fork Stream while enjoying the forest views, hills, and mountains along with historic buildings. Breathe in the fresh air while hearing the birds in the trees and the sun glistening through the branches.
8. Hillbilly Golf
Two 18-hole miniature golf courses are the ideal way to spend some time having whimsical but challenging fun. The Gatlinburg attractions make a gradual descent down the mountainside. Each hole features a unique backwoods theme nestled within the picturesque forested terrain. Play around and through covered wagons, moonshine stills, outhouses and tractors along with hillbilly mountain folk and other obstacles. Getting to the location simply requires a scenic tram ride up the side of the mountain.
9. Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium
Robert Ripley spent his life finding some of the strangest and most unique exhibits on the planet. The tradition continues at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium. The facility is perfect for a rainy day activity and is sure to amaze, intrigue and intellectually stimulate all who enter. See mind-boggling illusions, hear shocking stories and witness nature’s oddities. More than 600 exhibits are on display to entertain guests of all ages. Memorable exhibits include a rope spanning more than 6,000 feet in length and made entirely of bubble gum wrappers. See a replica of the space shuttle created using jelly beans. Be amazed at the portrait of Jesus Christ made from scripture passages.
Now you know about some of the top Gatlinburg attractions you won’t want to miss on your next vacation. Have you started planning your trip? Start today by booking one of our downtown Gatlinburg hotel rooms now!