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Gatlinburg: Gateway to the Smoky Mountains

The city of Gatlinburg is a perfect mountain getaway for your family reunions.

By John LimboPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Often referred to as the gateway to the Smokies. Gatlinburg is a town of just 4,200 residents set in the Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee, but don't be fooled by its small population. Gatlinburg is one of the most visited towns in America.

You'll be amazed by all of the fun things to do in Gatlinburg and the nearby Smoky Mountains from whitewater rafting to skiing, to sipping craft beer and moonshine. There is truly something for everyone in Gatlinburg, whether you crave the outdoors history and museums, cozy cabins and comfort food, or action-packed adventure.

These fun things to do in the Smokies are so awesome that it is best to enjoy this Gatlinburg tour with friends or family. So here is the list of the best things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Whitewater Rafting on the Pigeon River.

If you're looking to get your adrenaline fix during your trip to Gatlinburg, then how about a little whitewater rafting? In fact rafting, the nearby pigeon river is considered one of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains. Most rafting outfitters in town offer two different trips on the pigeon river.

The upper Pigeon River is the more exciting and more popular of the two trips over through outlets. You'll wrap through 60 plus Rapids, including 12 class three Rapids. And three heart-pounding class, four Rapids kids generally need to be at least eight years old and weigh over 70 pounds to wrap this section of the pigeon river, the lower pigeon river is a much more mellow 5.5 mile float that is geared towards families with young children or anyone that prefers taking in the beautiful mountain scenery over navigating class four Rapids.

The Hollywood Star Cars Museum

The Hollywood Star Cars Museum houses 40 cars from Hollywood movies and TV shows on the hour-long tour this exciting museum visitors have the opportunity to view the jalopy from the Beverly hillbillies to Batmobile is one from the original TV show. And one from Batman returns, the Ghostbusters Ecto, one van, the DeLorean made famous in Back to the Future.

Recent acquisitions include cars from the Fast and the Furious movies, Paul McCartney's Cadillac, and the 1955 Thunderbird that belonged to the Beach Boys. The museum has a gift shop and offers visitors a chance to pose commemorative photos in cars from the museum's collection.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

The best of many Ripley's attractions in Gatlinburg, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies features plenty of exotic marine life from around the world. Highlights include a submerged acrylic tunnel, allowing visitors to see sharks and other ocean predators up close, and interactive exhibits, including the always popular Touch-a-Ray Bay for a truly memorable experience.

Consider signing up for one of the fun penguin experiences, including petting one of these amazing creatures or donating your bathing suit and swimming with the stingrays. According to recent visitors, the tunnel, the sharks, and the resident mermaid were a hit with kids.

Over Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area

Over Gatlinburg has so much mountaintop fun to offer visitors and locals. Getting to the peak in an enclosed tram car is part of the fun, and there are many ways to enjoy the descent. Even more. The ski mountain coaster is a family-friendly ride. It takes five and a half minutes and travels over a mile.

There are two Alpine slides, 1,800 feet in length that traveled through the woods to the mountains. Space visitors, young and old, can play mini-golf, get lost in the maze. Try out chair swings, ride an indoor carousel or let the kids run around the kiddie playground, winter visitors raved about the ski instructors, but the Mon the long lines and lack of tickets for snow tubing on weekends and during holidays, when the demand for this activity far exceeds the available reservation times.

Over Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway

Over Gatlinburg are a ski resort and amusement park offering year-round recreational activities. The complex includes a chairlift indoor ice skating. Seeing an Alpine slide, kitty land and the wildlife encounter habitat for native creatures, such as black bears, river otters, and possums.

Getting there is half the fun with most visitors often for the two-mile long aerial tramway, which departs from downtown Gatlinburg and offers superb views along the way. The chairlift from Over Gatlinburg includes a 30-minute ride to the summit with its scenic lookout. Although most recent visitors said the views were amazing.

Gatlinburg Space Needle

If you can't get enough of the scenery in Gatlinburg, you won't want to miss the Gatlinburg space needle. It rises more than 400 feet in the air and provides 360 degrees aerial views of both the city skyline and the mountains looming beyond it. So it's one of the top 10 things to do in the area. Take the glass elevator to the very top of the observation deck and enjoy the landscape stretching before you. You'll be able to see for miles on a clear day, the viewfinders are free of charge too, so you won't even need to buy a pair of binoculars.

Sweet Fanny Adams Theater

Laugh until your sides are sore at the sweet Fanny Adams Theater. It's the only live comedy theater in Gatlinburg and it'll offer all of the songs, dances, jokes, and poofy skirts that you'd expect from a vaudeville-style performance. This isn't the kind of theater where you sit in respectful silence at the tear-jerker tale being depicted in front of you. Instead, you'll be dragged right into the fun with audience participation segments in various skits and musical numbers. The actors will be loud. The crowd will be even louder. The comedy routines will vary, but they'll always show you a good time.

Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community

If you are looking for the perfect souvenir or holiday, you're in luck. The Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community is a small part of Gatlinburg that has been home to artists and craftsmen. For over 70 years, visitors can stroll about the area and see tons of homemade gifts and goods for sale.

Some of the artists specialize in glassblowing, painting, sculpting, and brew, making most recent visitors say this was a great way to find special souvenirs, unique to the area. Several shoppers recommended picking up the complimentary map and advance to help you decide which of the more than 100 shops and galleries to visit.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a forested region with impressive mountains reaching more than 6,500 feet high. A central range of the Appalachians East-West, the Smokies get their name from the mist that frequently rises out of the valleys like smoke signals, travelers.

Enjoy the mountains year-round hikers and mountain bikers during spring, summer, and fall and skiers in winter. Several excellent visitor centers, offer guides and easy access to the most scenic areas. And numerous campsites are dotted around the park.

One of the highlights is the Park's flora, a mix of deciduous and conifer forests as well. As more than 1,400 species of flowering plants, including mountain Magnolias, wild azaleas, mountain laurels, orchids, and rhododendrons all told more than 900 miles of hiking trails, crisscross the park, and many visitors also come for the fly fishing widely considered as some of the best in the country.

These are just a few of the things you and your family can enjoy on your trip to the Smoky Mountains. You can also visit the nearby cities of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge for a more memorable vacation. Gatlinburg may be a small quaint town, but it surely has a lot to offer for its guests. No matter the season you visit, you will surely enjoy the beauty of the mountains.

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