In this article, you will discover the top attractions that you must see when visiting Gatlinburg. From breathtaking natural wonders to adrenaline-pumping adventures, I will guide you through the must-visit spots. Whether you’re a nature lover, a thrill-seeker, or a history buff, this article will provide you with a list of attractions that cater to your interests. Get ready to explore the beauty and excitement that Gatlinburg has to offer!
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Top Gatlinburg Attractions to See
Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a charming mountain town nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Known for its natural beauty and wide range of attractions, Gatlinburg offers something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, art and crafts, or thrilling rides, this vibrant city has it all. In this article, we will explore the top Gatlinburg attractions you must see when visiting.
Cades Cove is a must-visit destination within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains, abundant wildlife, and well-preserved historical buildings. As you drive or bike through the 11-mile loop road, you’ll have the opportunity to spot white-tailed deer, black bears, and wild turkeys. Don’t forget to stop by the Cable Mill, where you can learn about the area’s history and visit the grist mill and other historic buildings.
If you’re up for a challenge and love breathtaking views, hiking up Mount LeConte is a must-do. Standing at 6,593 feet, it is the third-highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains. The journey to the summit is a challenging but rewarding experience. You can choose from multiple trails, each offering unique sights and terrains. The Alum Cave Trail is a popular option, taking you through scenic landscapes, natural arches, and rock formations. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
For a scenic drive through lush forests and cascading streams, take a trip along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This 6-mile loop allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Smokies. Along the way, you can stop at various trailheads, such as Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls, which lead to stunning waterfalls. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including black bears, deer, and salamanders. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail provides a peaceful escape into nature while offering countless opportunities for hiking and photography.
Begin your adventure at Ober Gatlinburg by taking a ride on the Aerial Tramway. This scenic cable car departs from downtown Gatlinburg and ascends 2.1 miles to the mountaintop ski resort. As you soar above the treetops, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the city and the surrounding mountains. The Aerial Tramway is the perfect way to start your day of exploration at Ober Gatlinburg. Not to mention the tramway gives you plenty of time to plan out the rest of your trips to see various Gatlinburg attractions.
Skiing and Snowboarding
During the winter months, Ober Gatlinburg transforms into a winter wonderland. Strap on your skis or snowboard and hit the slopes for an exhilarating day of winter sports. With nine slopes of varying difficulty levels, there’s something for beginners and seasoned veterans alike. If you’re new to skiing or snowboarding, don’t worry – Ober Gatlinburg offers lessons for all skill levels. Experience the thrill of gliding down the slopes surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. So you are not going to miss any of the Gatlinburg attractions in winter.
At Ober Gatlinburg’s Wildlife Encounter, you’ll have the chance to get up close and personal with a variety of fascinating animals. From playful otters to majestic red wolves, the Wildlife Encounter showcases the diverse wildlife native to the area. Learn about these animals through informative exhibits and interactive presentations. Don’t miss the opportunity to observe black bears as they frolic and play in their natural habitat. The Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg is an educational and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages.
Gatlinburg Space Needle
For unparalleled views of Gatlinburg and the surrounding mountains, head to the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Take the glass elevator to the observation deck, situated 407 feet above the city. From here, you’ll have a 360-degree panoramic view of the stunning scenery below. The observation deck features free viewfinders that allow you to zoom in on various landmarks. Whether you visit during the day or at night when the city lights twinkle, the view from the Gatlinburg Space Needle is truly breathtaking and allows for more views of other Gatlinburg attractions.
After taking in the view from the observation deck, head down to the arcade at the base of the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Here, you can unleash your competitive side and enjoy a variety of classic and modern arcade games. Challenge your family and friends to a game of air hockey, skee-ball, or racing games. Whether you’re a kid or just young at heart, the arcade at the Gatlinburg Space Needle offers hours of fun and entertainment.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity, why not engage in a thrilling game of laser tag? The Gatlinburg Space Needle features a state-of-the-art laser tag arena where you can test your skills and teamwork. Navigate through the futuristic battleground, strategically aim at your opponents, and rack up points. Laser tag at the Gatlinburg Space Needle provides an exciting and immersive experience for visitors of all ages.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Step into the fascinating underwater world at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Begin your journey in the Shark Lagoon, where you’ll come face-to-face with incredible sharks and other marine creatures. Marvel at the massive tanks filled with colorful reef fish, mesmerizing jellyfish, and graceful sea turtles. The Shark Lagoon offers a unique opportunity to learn about these majestic creatures and their importance in the ocean ecosystem.
Visit the Penguin Playhouse exhibit at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies for a delightful encounter with adorable penguins. Observe these playful birds as they swim, dive, and interact with their environment. Learn about their natural habitats and conservation efforts to protect their species. Don’t forget to attend the penguin feeding sessions to witness their lively antics up close.
Giant Ocean Tank
The Giant Ocean Tank at Ripley’s Aquarium showcases the wonders of the ocean in a massive 1.4 million-gallon tank. Walk through a tunnel surrounded by schools of tropical fish, graceful stingrays, and mesmerizing sharks. Watch in awe as these incredible creatures glide above you, providing an immersive experience that makes you feel like you’re exploring the depths of the sea.
Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is home to the iconic SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. Step onto the glass-bottomed bridge and feel like you’re walking on air as you take in the magnificent views of the Smoky Mountains. As you cross the 680-foot-long bridge, you’ll have stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and the lush forests below. The SkyBridge is a must-see attraction that offers a thrilling and unforgettable experience.
After crossing the SkyBridge, head to the SkyDeck for even more breathtaking views. Enjoy the panoramic vistas from the observation platform, where you can take stunning photos, relax on the seating areas, and soak in the beauty of the mountain scenery. The SkyDeck is the perfect spot to appreciate the natural splendor of Gatlinburg and its surroundings.
Before leaving the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, make sure to stop by the gift shop. Here, you’ll find a variety of unique souvenirs, including apparel, jewelry, and locally made crafts. Take home a memento of your time in Gatlinburg and support local artisans and businesses. The gift shop at the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park offers a wide range of items to suit every taste and budget.
Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
Gatlinburg is home to the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, the largest group of independent artisans in North America. Take a leisurely stroll through the eight-mile loop road and explore the numerous studios and shops. You’ll have the opportunity to meet skilled artists and craftsmen as they create unique pieces of art. From pottery and paintings to jewelry and woodwork, the Arts & Crafts Community offers a diverse array of handmade treasures.
While exploring the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, don’t miss the chance to browse the various craft shops along the loop road. These shops showcase a wide range of handmade items, including quilts, candles, leather goods, and much more. Whether you’re looking for a special gift or a one-of-a-kind souvenir, you’re sure to find it in one of the craft shops in Gatlinburg.
Workshops and Demonstrations
Immerse yourself in the world of art and crafts by attending workshops and demonstrations in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Learn traditional techniques such as pottery throwing, candle-making, and weaving from seasoned craftsmen. Gain a deeper appreciation for the skill and dedication required to create these beautiful works of art. Participating in a workshop or watching a demonstration is a unique and enriching experience that allows you to connect with Gatlinburg’s rich artistic heritage.
Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
For an adrenaline rush like no other, hop on the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. This exhilarating ride offers twists, turns, and drops as you zoom down the mountain on your own coaster sled. Control your speed as you navigate through the thrilling track, providing a customized and exciting experience. The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is a must-try attraction for thrill-seekers visiting the area.
As you race down the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Feel the cool mountain breeze against your face as you take in the scenic beauty of the Smokies. The combination of thrilling speed and breathtaking views makes the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster an unforgettable experience.
For a unique twist on the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, try riding at night. The coaster track is illuminated with vibrant lights, creating a magical and unforgettable night-time experience. As you descend the mountain, the colorful lights create a mesmerizing visual display. Riding the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster at night adds another level of excitement and wonder to this already thrilling attraction.
Haunted History Tour
Embark on a fascinating journey into the supernatural with the Gatlinburg GhostWalk. Led by knowledgeable guides, this haunted history tour takes you through the streets of Gatlinburg, sharing chilling tales of ghostly encounters and paranormal activity. Learn about the city’s haunted past, including stories of restless spirits and mysterious occurrences. The Gatlinburg GhostWalk offers a unique and spine-tingling experience for those seeking a taste of the supernatural.
During the Gatlinburg GhostWalk, you’ll have the opportunity to hear a collection of ghost stories that will send shivers down your spine. From haunted hotels and mysterious apparitions to unsolved mysteries and local legends, these stories will captivate your imagination. The skilled storytellers create an immersive experience that makes even the bravest souls question what lies beyond the realm of the living.
For those fascinated by the unknown, the Gatlinburg GhostWalk may offer the opportunity for a paranormal encounter. With its rich history and reported ghostly activity, Gatlinburg is the perfect setting for supernatural experiences. While not guaranteed, some participants have claimed to witness unexplained phenomena during the GhostWalk. Whether it’s a cold breeze, an eerie sound, or a fleeting shadow, be prepared for the possibility of a spine-chilling encounter.
Gatlinburg offers a wide range of attractions that cater to different interests and preferences. From the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the thrill of rides and activities at Ober Gatlinburg, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Visitors can explore the local arts and crafts community, immerse themselves in the underwater wonders at Ripley’s Aquarium, or take in breathtaking views from the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. Whether it’s history, adventure, or leisure, Gatlinburg has it all. Plan your trip to this charming mountain town and prepare to be captivated by its beauty, charm, and unique attractions.