Nothing compares to going on a trip to spend some time living in the mountains as far as great vacations are concerned. The experience is calming and tranquil due to something about the mountains’ untainted beauty. Standing amidst such giant peaks and deep valleys, one feels very grounded and humbled. And as far as mountain towns go, Gatlinburg is at the top of the list of places you can visit to witness the Great Smoky Mountains in all their glory. 

Gatlinburg is a small town in Tennessee with a population of just over 3500 people. It is surrounded on three sides by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States. Not only is it lush with natural beauty, but this small town also has several other attractions for its numerous visitors. There are various places you can book for your stay and several restaurants and cafes where you can eat the most delicious meals you have ever had. Here is a list of things you can do and places you can visit to make your vacation to Gatlinburg fun and memorable.

Rent a cabin

On your list of things detailing what to do in Gatlinburg, the first should be renting the perfect cabin. Living in a cabin is much more fun than living in a hotel, as you enjoy a comfortable, private space away from other guests. Many amenities are offered in most cabins, like hot tubs, indoor pools, game rooms, home theaters, and great views from private porches. Gatlinburg has a variety of cabins you can choose from where you can retreat every night after the activities listed below to relax and recharge for the next day. 

Go Hiking Through the National Park

Probably the first and foremost activity in Gatlinburg is to take a hike through the sprawling Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This national park has hours of hiking trails for different experience levels across the 800 square miles it spans. No matter which trail you take, you will be surrounded by the natural beauty this place has to offer. Nine historic sites in the national park have been preserved, and guests are invited to learn their history. Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the state, is also situated in the national park and is one of the most popular attractions. 

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

This aquarium is a family-friendly place to visit that hosts more than 350 different species of aquatic life. You will be able to see sting rays, turtles, eels, and much more. You can even buy a painting made by the penguins that live at the aquarium. There is a moving 340-feet long glide path on which visitors can travel to experience what it is like on the seafloor. In the shark lagoon, only a few inches of glass separate you from giant sharks, allowing you to observe them and admire their beauty closely. Senior citizens also get a discount on passes, so it’s truly a place for the whole family to visit together.

Dollywood Theme Park and Water Park

Dollywood is a theme park and water park partly owned by the popular singer Dolly Parton. Situated snuggly in the Smokies and spanning over 150 acres, you can enjoy beautiful views of the mountains. At the same time, you explore everything that Dollywood has to offer. From rollercoasters, delicious food, seasonal festivals, and live music show to a wave pool, and water slides, you will participate in the most fun activities. Also, there are more than 20 shopping areas in Dollywood where you can shop till you drop.

Skiing and Ice-Skating

Ober Gatlinburg was developed in 1962 and started as the first ski resort in the South of the USA. Its ski hill is blanketed with fake snow and is only a short drive from Gatlinburg. Even in the summer, it is a year-round fixture of the neighborhood. With two quad lifts and ten runs available at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, this activity has something for everyone. A new terrain park was added in 2009, providing ample opportunities for freestyle snow sports. For those who do not own skiing equipment, there is an option to rent whatever they need. Guests can also opt for snow tubing, ride the aerial tramway or chairlift, visit the arcade or the small zoo at Ober or glide down the Alpine Slide.

Gatlinburg Space Needle

It is an observation tower that is 407 feet high. As beautiful as the mountains look from the ground, the sights from the top of the space needle are breathtaking. You will ride to the top in glass elevators, enjoying the views on your way up, where you will see a 360 view of the Great Smoky Mountains and the town of Gatlinburg. It can be quite an educational tour where you will see exhibitions about the area’s rich history. This site also has a 25000 square foot playground called Arcadia, packed with fun video and redemption games. 

Rafting at the Little Pigeon River

Located very close to Gatlinburg, the Little Pigeon River is the perfect spot for rafting. Multiple companies provide the guidance and the gear needed to raft along the river. Even novices can confidently venture out to the river because of the guides’ significant regional rafting experience. It will undoubtedly be a thrilling encounter you can brag to your friends about.


There is so much to do at Gatlinburg that you will not have even a moment of dullness or boredom during your entire vacation. You will experience the charms of a small mountain town while living in a luxurious cabin. There will be so many attractions to choose from on your vacation that you will want to extend your trip to experience it all. There is much to do, from Ripley’s aquarium to the space needle to the multiple eateries you can dine in. Many seasonal events are also hosted in and around this town. Hence, if you plan your trip at the right time, you can enjoy those too.