Gatlinburg, Tennessee is an outdoorsman’s gateway to picturesque mountains, national parks and hiking trails. With their national parks and Pigeon Creek River, it offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the great outdoors while also enjoying a thriving resort town that is fun for the whole family.
10. White Water Rafting
The perfect start to any cool outdoor vacation is an adventure down a powerful river. Towards the upper Pigeon River is Rafting in the Smokies, a white water rafting experience. For the price of $42 per person (plus tax) a family of 6-7 can ride down exciting currents. The track is about five miles which takes about an hour and a half. An experienced guide oversees each group to ensure safety and life jackets and helmets are included. The minimum age requirement is 8 years old, or be over 70 pounds. Open season is April-September with guaranteed rafting days on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. This place is good for families and friends alike.
9. The Mysterious Mansion
The fun of going to a resort town is seeing all the tourist attractions in Gatlinburg, but far too often, most places end up being another Ripley’s Believe it or not that everyone has seen a thousand times. Another issue often is that there is little to do at night that doesn’t involve breaking the bank. The Mysterious Mansion is a unique, local attraction that promises big time scares at an affordable price to spice up the night. Tickets are $13 for adults and $9 for kids (plus tax). Halloween is right around the corner, and The Mysterious Mansion promises to be a worthwhile trip.
8. Gatlinburg Ziplines.
What outdoor adventure would be complete without the zipline? They offers 9 zipline tours for the whole family. A child as young as five or a grandparent pushing 80 can enjoy soaring from tree to tree on guided zipline tours. They offer early bird specials from 8a.m. to 11a.m for $45 per person. The same deal is offered in the evening from 5 pm to 8. Not interested in ziplines? No problem, a 27 piece tree trek obstacle course is also offered. Guest can swing, climb and balance their way through this fun and adventurous obstacle course for $40 per person.
7. The Sky Lift
If you want to get the best view of the city while also feeling the sensation of flight, then the Sky Lift is an excellent choice. Built in 1953, the Sky Lift offers visitors the chance to get a bird’s eye view. Visitors are taken up on a ski rail 1,800 feet to the Crokkett Mountain to experience an incredible scenic view of the city along with breath taking views of the mountains and the valley. This destination is a quick and affordable stop with tickets only being $15.50 for adults and $12 for kids. This destination is best experienced at night, when the mountain side is quiet you see the glowing city lights, making this stop a great romantic moment maker.
6. Ripley’s Aquarium
Of all the places in Gatlinburg, the ultimate kid friendly destination for undersea life is the Ripley Aquarium. While visitors may be in land locked Tennessee, you can still see the exotic sea creatures. Kids can be amazed at the 12 foot sharks and hundreds of other exotic sea creatures. You can visit different regions such as the Tropical Rain Forest. There is even a touch pool where visitors can touch a real manta ray The aquarium offers affordable group rates and annual passes. If you book your trip online today, you can get $2 off their trip.
5. LeConte Lodge
Like many places to visit in Gatlinburg, LeConte Lodge offers a night in the secluded Smoky Mountains. Mount Le Conte is the third highest peak in the mountains, and the LeConte Lodge offers the peace and serenity of the mountain tops. This is the destinations for hikers to travel through LeConte’s day hikes. Visitors are offered different options for lodging, which includes a cabin for $140 per person, a 2 bedroom lodge (which can hold up to 10 people) for $756 per night (includes meals), and a 3 person lodge for $1134 per night. The booking season for 2015 ends November 24th. The operating season for 2016 is from March 21st to November 22nd.
4. Bent Creek Golf Village
For those looking for more of a relaxing vacation, the Bent Creek Golf Village is for you. Located across from the Smoky Mountains National Park, the Bent Creek Golf Village is a resort for a low key destination where the star attraction is the 72 par golf course designed by three-time Masters and British Open Championship Winner Gary Player. Of course there is a wide arrange of activities such as on site basketball, playground and BBQ grills for guests to use. The nightly rate for their deluxe one-bedroom suites is $152 dollars a night.
3. Gatlinburg Space Needle.
You don’t have to travel Seattle to see the space needle when Gatlinburg has its own. The 407 foot tower offers a 360 degree view of the city. Guests can ride the glass elevator that takes you all the way up to the top. The needle offers individual prices ($9 for adults with special prices for seniors and veterans) and group rates. Once there, guests can enjoy a wide array of entertainment and dining options including Arcadia, the Space Needle’s own arcade. Visitors can also enjoy live shows each month. Visit the events page on their website for more info.
2. Ober Gatlinburg
The jack-of-all-trades amusement park is high up on the mountain, accessible though the sky rail that takes you and your family up to the amusement park and ski area. While riding the rail, you can get a stunning view from this amazing vantage point. Once at the amusement park, guests have a wide range of activities including ice skating, wildlife encounters ($7 for adults, $5 for kids) and the alpine slide($7 per person), a large concrete slide that you ride down on a cart. Ober offers affordable family fun for all types of people. This destination is perfect for a weekend family getaway with plenty for kids and adults
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Of all the things to do in Gatlinburg, you should go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This grand park borders the states of North Carolina and Tennessee with lush flowers and wildlife. The things you can do constitute a whole separate article, but activities include horseback riding, camping, bicycling, and historic buildings and sights like Cades Cove and Cataloochee. The kicker is that the park is a few national parks with no entrance fee; bring the whole family for free. Activities however, are charged for overnight fees such as camping (ranging from $14-$23 per night).
Gatlinburg is the gateway to many natural wonders. Northerners that want a taste of natural beauty and enjoy fun outdoor activities need not go all the way to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, rather, you just have to go to Tennessee to experience it all. Traffic can be a bit hectic, it is recommended that if you must drive, familiarize yourself with the back roads and try to get around without going on main roads. There are a lot of booking options, be sure to do your research on sites like Trip advisor to take advantage of some discounts. Try to stay at a hotel that is near your destination, the city is relatively small so other attractions may be within walking distance especially around the city.