Hear that? The mountains are calling you. It’s time to explore the wilderness, endless mountain views, the coziest hotels, and everything in between. Pack your bags and plan a memorable trip to the country’s most visited tourist attractions in Gatlinburg. Over 14 million people visit the Smokies every year at Gatlinburg, with each one of them recounting their own unique experiences.
Here is a complete guide to help make your vacation at Gatlinburg unforgettable!
Depending on your budget and the areas you intend to visit, there are several transportation options you can choose from. Consider renting a car if you plan to go around a lot and can afford to do so. Taxis are another option for tourists. You can opt for the Gatlinburg Trolley to get around and about. The trolley service runs on three routes to cover the maximum possible locations and offers convenient access to hotels, malls, restaurants, museums, and more. The trolleys operate daily, all year round.
- You can get a trolley on the Yellow Route to get around Gatlinburg downtown. Trolleys on this route run along River Road and have stops at the Gatlinburg arts and crafts community.
- Running along the East Parkway, you’ll find the Blue Route. The stops on this route are Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Rocky Top Sports World, and the community center area.
- The Purple Route goes alongside North Gatlinburg Parkway. Its stops are pinned on some parts of Ski Mountain Road and at the Spur Welcome Center.
Where to Stay?
Three types of accommodation options are available in Gatlinburg, i.e., lodges, hotels, and cabins. Before choosing a hotel, go through what they have to offer. There are many Gatlinburg hotels with indoor pools and hot tubs, and they also offer an array of amenities. However, if you are traveling in peak season and unable to find a hotel on your dates, you can book your stay in lodges.
Besides, those traveling with family or with a large group on a budget can consider renting a mountain cabin. The mountain cabins are spacious and are located amidst the beautiful nature in the Smokies.
Make sure wherever you plan to stay, calculate the commute cost and time to reach your preferred destination.
Plan your stay at a place from where all the fun spots are easily accessible. Hire a cab, get a car on rent, or opt for the Gatlinburg trolley to get you around and about. Also, make sure you have access to transportation wherever you decide to stay.
There is so much to do, explore and experience at Gatlinburg. What you decide to do amongst all the offered entertainment is up to you. However, you can go through the following tourist hotspots and include them in your to-do list in Gatlinburg:
- Skylift Park & the famous Sky Bridge
Skylift Park offers exotic views of the Smoky Mountains through the Skydeck amphitheater by carrying visitors in the iconic yellow chair lift from Crockett Mountain. You can brace yourselves for a walk along the Gatlinburg Skywalk, the longest suspension pedestrian bridge. The bridge is about 680 feet long and hangs 140 feet above the ground in the air.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
These mountains are home to one of the most visited and the only free-admission national parks. The park offers miles of hiking and biking trails and camping options. It also holds the title of the largest protected habitat for black bears. The park offers scenic and breathtaking views of nature and is an ultimate getaway for all age groups.
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
This aquarium has several exhibits, from the Savage Seas and Mysteries to Tall Tales. Experience interactive sessions with crabs, jellyfish, stingrays, and other sea creatures. Get to admire the spectacular ocean life in glass bottom boats or explore through underwater tunnels the sea turtles, 12-foot sharks, and more. Voted as one of the best aquariums on USA Today, this place is a must-visit place.
- Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area
The family-friendly amusement park includes a breathtaking skiing area and snowboarding resort, operational during winter. Also, you can enjoy indoor ice skating and wildlife encounters. During fall and summer, you can access the hiking trails and enjoy water rides.
You can reach the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area via the aerial tramway, accessible from Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg.
- Gatlinburg Space Needle
Get on the glass elevator to reach the 407-foot-tall observation deck at the heart of Gatlinburg. The deck offers 360-degree views of the Smoky Mountains and downtown Gatlinburg. The needle houses dine-in options and several entertainment hangouts and is open all year round.
WonderWorks, located about 20 minutes from Gatlinburg in Pigeon Forge, is one of the fun places to visit with friends or family. It is often referred to as an “amusement park for the mind” featuring a disorienting adobe. There are six wonder zones in WonderWorks, followed by a 4D simulator, laser tag arena, and an indoor ropes course.
- Dollywood Theme Park
The Dollywood Theme Park is easily reachable from downtown Gatlinburg a 20-minute drive from Pigeon Forge. The park offers 50 exciting rides and spans 150 acres surrounded by the Smoky Mountains. You can also enjoy live entertainment or your favorite food at one of the eateries in the theme park. You’ll find the Dollywood Splash Country Water Park next to the theme park, which operates from May to September. It is one of the best outdoor water parks with thrilling rides and water activities.
Things to Consider When Planning a Trip to Gatlinburg
- If you plan to visit Gatlinburg in the summer, expect more crowds and traffic than usual.
- Plan your stay in a cabin, lodge, or hotel and book in advance before arrival.
- Wear comfortable shoes so you can easily walk through steep inclines and slopes in Gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg is one of the most visited small mountain towns for its attractions and fun activities for all age groups. Plan your vacation to Gatlinburg with friends or family and make the most of your time in nature at the Great Smoky Mountains, indulge in fun-filled activities, go shopping and eat at some of the best eateries in downtown Gatlinburg. Happy Vacations!