This post is sponsored by Moon Travel Guides. All opinions and tips given are as always, my own.
If you are looking for a fun family vacation immersed in the beauty of the natural world, Smoky Mountain National Park may be just what you seek. Spanning along the central border of Tennessee and North Carolina, Smoky Mountain National Park is a natural magnet for those in the midwestern states who want to breathe in the fresh mountain air, but can’t travel as far West as they would like.
This National Park has a wide variety of activities to satisfy any interest. Some you would expect like hiking, wildlife watching and chasing waterfalls. Other activities are a little more off the beaten path and hard to come by, which is where a good guidebook comes in handy. I suggest Moon Great Smoky Mountains National Park travel guide, if you are looking for a comprehensive guide with lots of tips.
Part of the fun of any vacation is venturing out and doing things that you wouldn’t normally experience in day to day life. Hitting destinations off the beaten path and discovering new experiences is what we love no matter where we travel. The Smoky Mountains give us plenty of chances to explore and play. Check out our list of things to do to make your Smoky Mountain vacation one to remember.
Check out these 7 Things You’d never thought of doing in the Smoky Mountains:
The Highest Point in Tennessee
The highest point in Tennessee, and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is Clingman’s Dome. The summit of the mountain towers at 6,643 feet tall. An observation tower offers stunning 360° views of the mountains and Park. Be mindful that temperatures on the Dome can be quite chilly, even in summer. Make sure you bring a jacket.
It can also get quite crowded at Clingman’s Dome, but if you take our advice you can beat some of the crowds. Take the dirt path to the left, instead of using the concrete stairs. This entails a bit of a steep hike, but the relief from the crowds is worth the effort!
Get Back to the Grind at Mingus Mill
This historic mill gives visitors a glimpse into the way things were for those living in the area in the late 1800s. Catch an on-site milling demonstration and purchase some freshly ground cornmeal. Anything that shows kids that food doesn’t just magically appear on grocery store shelves is a bonus in my book, and the people at Mingus Mill put in the hard work. You might even spot some elk in the fields nearby!
Stay Overnight in a Cabin
While there are plenty of lodging options around the Smoky Mountains National Park area, nothing beats staying in a rustic cabin surrounded by nature. Even though cabins don’t have all the amenities and extras provided by hotels and lodges, they are still the way to go, especially if you are taking a family trip. Curling up next to a fireplace or fire pit with some smores, sitting out on the deck with a cup of coffee watching the sun rise, or playing around in the hot tub, a cabin experience has all the makings of great vacation lodging. If you want to know even more about cabins in the Smokies, check out our article What You Need To Know About Booking A Cabin In The Smoky Mountains.
Visit a Baked Bean Factory
Yeah, we said it. Sitting right in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains lies Dandridge, Tennessee. And Dandridge is home to Bush’s Baked Beans Visitor Center. There are a lot of interactive exhibits at the museum, including seeing how the product is made. How often do you get the chance to say that you got up close and personal with baked beans?
Check out the Synchronous Fireflies
One of the most magical experiences in the Smoky Mountains, the synchronous fireflies event is breathtaking. While tickets to the main event are procured through a lottery and hard to obtain, all is not lost. Occurring in the summer, visiting three days before or after the scheduled event will still give you a chance to catch the show without a ticket.
Get out and find a new favorite trail or waterfall.
You didn’t think that we would get away with not mentioning taking a hike or going to find a breathtaking waterfall, did you? This is where using a quality guidebook like Moon Great Smoky Mountains National Park, comes in handy. There are plenty of hiking trails within the park, many leading to historic buildings, waterfalls and streams, and looming forests. The trails that you pick don’t have to be the most touted or well travelled. Pick one that you think that will suit you and your family the best because you are sure to find spectacular sights no matter what you choose.
Get a History Lesson
Cherokee, North Carolina is a town steeped in Native American history and lore. If you are visiting the Smokies, a trip to Cherokee is a must. You can’t fully understand the beginnings of North America nor the importance of the area until you have visited the Museum of the Cherokee Indian or the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Immerse yourself in Native American culture and life in the 18th century.
Tell us, we would love to know what your favorite thing to do in the Smoky Mountain National park?
If you want more ideas of things to do in the Smoky Mountains, check out our article about things to do with kids in Gatlinburg.