Attractions in Gatlinburg include numerous family amusements and entertainments, a vibrant arts and crafts community, and all the glories of the Great Smoky Mountains. You'll find a world-class aquarium, arcades, miniature golf, white water rafting, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, shopping, and sightseeing.
Gatlinburg sits right at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which offers an endless variety of things to do. You can explore the park by car, or go hiking or horseback riding on the trails. There are over 800 miles of trails to choose from, including many "quiet walkways" easily accessible from the main roads.
Take a tour of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, accessible from Cherokee Orchard Road in downtown Gatlinburg. This motor trail has numerous turnouts where you can explore historic cabins and the many streams and waterfalls in the area. Or go a little farther into the park and rent a bicycle at Cades Cove and tour the loop road. Fishing, picnicking and gawking at wildlife are also popular activities.
You can explore the Smoky Mountains on your own or hire a guide to take you hiking, fishing, or white water rafting.
Ripleys Aquarium of the Smokies is without a doubt the largest most impressive attraction in Gatlinburg. This salt-water aquarium features over 10,000 exotic sea creatures, hourly dive shows, petting pools and interactive exhibits. Located downtown at traffic light # 5.
Gatlinburg has a long history of traditional arts and crafts such as carving, basket making, broom making, quilting and pottery. The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community continues that tradition by bringing a large number of artisans together in one place.
Located just 3 miles from downtown, the Community forms an 8 mile loop at Glades and Buckhorn Roads. Over 100 craftsmen have shops here, and you can even watch some of them at work. You'll find all kinds of arts and crafts, both traditional and modern. There's plenty of free parking, or you can take the trolley.
You can get an eye-popping view of the Smokies by taking one of these aerial rides, which are offered year round.
The Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway goes from downtown Gatlinburg to Ober Gatlinburg, taking you up over 1,000 feet. The enclosed cars carry up to 120 people. If you're still hungry for great scenery when you get to the top, you can take the Scenic Chairlift to get even higher. You can board the Tramway downtown at 1001 Parkway (at Traffic Light # 9).
The Gatlinburg Sky Lift takes you on a chair lift from downtown up 500 feet to a viewing platform on the top of Crockett Mountain. You can board the Sky Lift at 765 Parkway, in the center of town at traffic light # 7.
If the thought of being suspended from cables hundreds of feet above the ground gives you the willies, you might want to try the Space Needle instead. It gives you a panoramic view of the city and the Smoky Mountains from its observation deck at 342 feet high. An elevator takes you up to the deck. At the base of the Needle is a fun center which includes a virtual roller coaster, arcade, lazer tag, and more.
Located on Mount Harrison overlooking the city of Gatlinburg, Ober Gatlinburg offers downhill skiing in the winter and an amusement park in the summer. Indoor ice skating is available year round. The skiing in Gatlinburg is iffy at best. Mount Harrison is only 3,491 feet high, the climate is mild, and snowfall is sporadic. As a result, Ober Gatlinburg often has to make its own snow, and sometimes the weather's too warm for that. Be sure to check on ski conditions before going to avoid disappointment; call the snow report line at (800) 251-9202.
Of the amusements, the ice skating and alpine slide are the most popular. There's no admission fee; attractions are individually priced. You can take the Aerial Tramway from downtown Gatlinburg or drive up, though you may at times have trouble finding a parking spot.
Museum Attractions in Gatlinburg
Museums in Gatlinburg are of the tourist variety. They include the Guiness World of Records Museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, Hollywood Stars Cars Museum, and World of Illusions. The names do a pretty good job of describing what you'll see at these museums. All are located on the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg.
Family attractions in Gatlinburg include arcades, family fun centers, miniature golf, go carts, laser tag, haunted houses, motion simulator rides, and more. Most of these attractions are right on the Parkway, so they're not hard to find. For an evening's entertainment, try Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, which offers outrageous and original musical comedy for the whole family. Located at Traffic Light #3 on U.S. 441.