Things to do in Gatlinburg, TN

Smoky Mountains

Things to do in Gatlinburg Tennessee

People from all over flock to Gatlinburg year round, but their busy season is definitely Fall!

There is so much to do in the great Smokey Mountains you won’t have to look very hard to keep the little ones entertained. The only downside that we’ve experienced in Gatlinburg is that you need to be ready to drop some serious cash, especially if you plan to stay more than just a few days.

Where to stay in Gatlinburg

Things to do in Gatlinburg TNThere are hundreds of gorgeous chalets to choose from if you want to stay up in the mountains. Most chalets have amenities like hot tubs, all have beautiful views! Be careful when walking around the chalet, though, as the Smokey Mountains are home to more than 6,000 bears!

This is a great option if you want to enjoy nature, hunker down for the evening and enjoy some relaxed family time of board games, or wake up to coffee overlooking the mountains.

When we have gone with the kids we have stayed in Sevierville, at a place called the  Wilderness at the Smokies.

My family has been to several waterpark hotels around the country and this one is our favorite! Not only does it have a well-kept indoor waterpark, but there is also the Adventure Forest.

The Adventure Forest features a 3 story ropes course, multi-level laser tag, black light mini-golf, mega arcade. If you are visiting in the summer there is also a huge outdoor area, including several pools, and a lazy river. This hotel offers a pretty good value. However, if you are going to stay here make sure you have plenty of time for the waterpark.

We have decided that if we go back we would do the Wilderness at the Smokies for 1 night then get a chalet for a few nights so that we can enjoy the best of both worlds!

Meet the stars of The Dixie Stampede in Gatlinburg TN
Meet the stars of The Dixie Stampede

Where to eat in Gatlinburg

Well, chances are you probably know that Gatlinburg, TN is famous for its flapjacks, pancakes, hotcakes, griddlecakes, or whatever you chose to call them.

Stop by Flapjacks Pancake Cabin (there’s one on every corner) for breakfast at least once, and don’t fret if you don’t want pancakes, er flapjacks, because everything there is good.

For dinner, there are a lot of good local restaurants and some chains if you want to stick with something more familiar.

We really like The Peddler Steakhouse in downtown Gatlinburg. The steak is good, but the salad bar is AMAZING. My kids who never eat salad, ate until I thought they were gonna blow! Also, you should definitely check out the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and are famous for their apple fritters which are complimentary. You can also dine on Tennessee favorites like fried chicken, chicken n’ dumplings, country catfish, meatloaf, pork chops, and more! The desserts looked great, but just go ahead and accept the fact that you aren’t going to have room left in your gut to accommodate a cobbler or pecan pie. No matter where you want to grub for dinner I recommend someplace with reservations or call ahead seating.

Aquarium in the Smokies
Aquarium in the Smokies

Things to do in Gatlinburg

There is so much to do in Gatlinburg. It’s like entertainment overload. I’m just going to tell you what we did but that’s only the tip of the iceberg!

The aquarium in downtown Gatlinburg is really nice. It’s not much different than other aquariums I’ve been to, but it’s a nice indoor option for a rainy day, especially if you haven’t been to an aquarium in a while. It was pretty crowded when we went, but then again everything in this town is crowded.

No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a dinner show and there are several to choose from. If you want to do a dinner show make sure you plan for this months in advance! We took in Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. The kids loved it, we were all whooping and hollering, it’s a great time. In the interest of time the meal is you get what you get. It’s decent, but my kids are super picky eaters so they didn’t eat. So I feel like I left about $20 laying on each the plate. Oh well, we were paying for the experience, not the food, right?

Take the Sky Lift into the mountains in Gatlinburg Tennessee
Take the Sky Lift into the mountains!

For the full Smoky Mountain experience make sure you do the Gatlinburg Sky Lift! Unless of course, you are afraid of heights. I may have been holding so tight my palm was sweaty and my daughter kept saying, “Mom you’re squeezing me,” but you wouldn’t believe the number of people on there crying. If you’re afraid of heights then spare us all and don’t get on it.

Boys and men, in particular, will love the million go kart tracks in Pigeon Forge. These cars are fast! And some of them have multiple levels so it’s like you are speeding around a parking garage. Haven’t you always wanted to do that?

Let us know your favorite Gatlinburg activity!

Things to do in Gatlinburg TN
Beauty all around in the Smoky Mountains


P.S. Don’t forget to enjoy the natural beauty!  With teenagers or an adult only weekend look into ziplining and white water rafting.

Things to do in Gatlinburg Tennessee with Kids