For the sake of Gatlinburg fun, add these things to your list

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From sculptures to scenic lookouts, Gatlinburg has something for everyone, including those looking for something a little more adventurous.

Gatlinburg was virtually built for visitors to the Tennessee side of Smoky Mountain National Park. A vast collection of attractions, restaurants and shops line the downtown streets, which come alive no matter the season. Best part of all? The views of the Smokies saturate the tourist town and Gatlinburg makes it easy for any traveler to enjoy the majestic scenery. This well-rounded list of attractions in Gatlinburg guarantees fun for all ages.


ten Anakeesta

Guests can live out their fairytale dreams in the trees at Anakeesta, a family-friendly theme park in the mountains. An expanse of bridges suspended above the ground transports visitors through the trees to appreciate nature in a way not typical without a set of wings. The storybook sculptures blend beautifully into the beautiful Botanical Garden, which houses an impressive collection of flourishing flora. Thousands of meters of ziplines and America’s only single-rail roller coaster, the Rail Runner, await the thrill-seeking adventurer.

9 Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community

Easily spend a day dining and exploring an impressive 13 km loop of over 100 shops and galleries in the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. Eighty years of history paint the streets of America’s largest independent craft community. From handcrafted pottery and jewelry to homemade sweets and leather goods, there’s something for everyone. Several shops even offer courses for anyone who wants to take home a souvenir that is undoubtedly unique.


8 Ober Gatlinburg

The thrill of sledding is alive all year round in Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort that has more to offer than gentle slopes. The attraction is home to an aerial tram, where guests will have the best view of the Smokies without crossing them. Those with a competitive spirit can hurtle down the Alpine Slide on sleigh-like carriages, controlling their speed through the mountainous landscape on nearly 2,000 feet of track.

The Amaze’n Maze challenges visitors’ problem-solving abilities, while the climbing wall tests their strength. For even more fun, guests can visit the resident black bear family, play a round of mini golf, and fly high on the swings. Ober Gatlinburg transforms into a snowy oasis ideal for skiing, tubing and ice skating in the winter.


seven Ripley’s Smokies Aquarium

The awe-inspiring Ripley’s Aquarium in the heart of Gatlinburg is an ideal escape from the sticky Tennessee heat in the summer and the blustery cold in the winter. Animals usually hidden underwater swim through perfectly clear glass tanks, delighting children and adults alike. Several exhibits spread over two levels showcase aquarium favorites like sand sharks, stingrays, penguins and jellyfish. Ripley’s even offers its guests the option of spending the night with the sharks, an experience that is sure to make a stay in Gatlinburg a memorable one.

Related: 10 Must-See Aquariums In The United States


6 Doc’s 321 Café and Market

A person doesn’t have to be a Deadhead to profit Doc’s 321 Cafe. The restaurant near Cosby allows weary visitors to the bustling streets of Gatlinburg to unwind in style. Most travelers stumble upon the restaurant because the bright colors contrast with the greens richly saturated with the region’s natural flora. Doc’s offers a unique dining experience inside whimsically decorated school buses with a Grateful Dead theme. The bohemian vibe immediately invites patrons for a cooling pill, but it can be hard to stay cool when tasting the truly heart-smoky inspired barbecue by Doc himself.


5 Hollywood Star Car Museum

Get up close to the most recognizable automobiles at the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. The gas-filled archive features famous favorites like the Batmobile, orange Dodge Charger from Dukes of Danger, and the fast Volkswagen Bug named Herbie. The museum also has an entire exhibition devoted to the Fast and furious franchise and cars of famous people like Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.


4 Salt and pepper shaker museum

The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is something people didn’t know they needed until they walked through the door. Dedicated collector Andrea Ludden presents her remarkable assemblage of shakers as a way to demonstrate how the evolution of civilization can be observed even in the most unexpected places. The result is a dizzying array of decades-old spice decanters, separated by theme, color and material.




3 Ole Smoky Moonshine

At Ole Smoky Moonshine, customers can try before they buy a bottle or two of Tennessee’s Choice Liquid Courage. The rustic distillery brews a range of tasty moonshines and whiskeys that are sure to satisfy. Bloody Marys gets an extra bite of moonlight-infused pickles, and the charming Ole Smoky logo candles are great keepsakes to remind guests of their time in Gatlinburg. The trendy place features live music on a regular basis, making it a great place for adults to spend an afternoon before heading out for a satisfying dinner.

Related: These Are The Best Bourbon Tours In Kentucky That Are Worth Your Cocktail Hour


2 Believe it or not from Ripley!

Add a little quirk to the holidays with a trip to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! The museum is a masterful display of kitsch, strangeness and weirdness. Hundreds of artifacts fill the “Odditorium”. Guests will be able to see a 19th century vampire slaying kit, license plates from across the country writing the national anthem, a collection of authentic shrunken heads, and much more.


1 Mysterious mansion

Scary Season is every season at the Mysterious Mansion. The elaborate haunted house serves up spooks in a spooky Victorian mansion outfitted with hidden doors and spooky monsters on three floors. The family attraction has provided top-notch scares for over 40 years, bolstering her dedication to every dreadful detail.

Next: Hiking Guide: The Best Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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