The Smokies is a beautiful place to visit year-round, but its wide elevation range can contribute to unpredictable weather patterns. Some days it feels like you experience all four seasons in one day — with rain at any given moment.
In fact, according to the National Park Service, the Smokies averages about 8-11 days of rain out of the month in the spring and summer. That means it’s raining for almost one-third of the month! Fortunately, there are plenty of things in the area to keep you entertained when rain falls down on your vacation. Here is our pick for the top 10:
#10 — Hollywood Wax Museum
Have you ever wanted to be a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show? Or sit on a park bench with Forrest Gump? Maybe you would rather sing on stage with Dolly Parton. It’s unlikely you will get any of these opportunities — but you can pretend to do all of those things at the Hollywood Wax Museum. This entertainment center also features the Maze of Mirrors (seems self-explanatory), Castle of Chaos (an interactive 3D-reality experience) and Outbreak (a “stop the zombie” experience). All access passes are available to see all four attractions and get you through the entire rainy day.
Location: 106 Showplace Blvd, Unit A | Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Hours: Mon.-Sun.: 9 a.m.-12 a.m.
Price Range: $10.99- $32.99
#9 — Try an Escape Room!
Escape rooms seem to be a fairly recent trend that have taken tourist towns by storm. So while it is not unique to the Smokies, the Big Maw Bertha’s Fussin’ & A’ Feudin’ Moonshine Hill Hootenanny room, about making illegal moonshine in a redneck’s shack at Gatlin’s Escape Games, is pretty niche. Escape rooms are a fun way to bond with family and friends on a vacation (or get in a fight). Either way, it’s a great experience and there will be plenty to talk about after you escaped — or didn’t
Location: 716 Parkway in Reagan Terrace Mall | Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Hours: Open daily at 10 a.m.
Price Range: $32.99-$35.99
#8 — Alcatraz East Crime Museum
This museum is a great stop for any crime show enthusiast. This self-guided tour is filled with 25,000 sq-ft of informative — and disturbing — American history about crime and punishment. This museum offers five separate galleries with more than 100 interactive exhibits. Alcatraz East also brings in temporary exhibits and guest speakers — so be sure to check the calendar before planning your trip! You can also park for free at The Island.
Location: 2757 Parkway | Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Hours: Sun.-Thurs: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. | Fri.-Sat: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Price range: $14.95-$24.9
#7 — Sevier Air Trampoline Park
Trampoline parks can be a great way to release energy for kids and “big kids” alike. Sevier Air is a 38,000 sq-ft indoor adventure park which features rock climbing, basketball, dodgeball and junior or advanced Ninja Warrior courses. If you’re one of those people who enjoys exercise on vacation — and all that jumping around isn’t quite cutting it — they also offer workout classes in the morning. Afterwards, you can refuel with pizza and ice cream to regain all those lost calories. For the younger kids, they offer a 3-story net system for children as young as two.
Location: 266 Collier Drive | Sevierville, TN 37862
Hours: Sun-Thurs: 10 am–9 pm | Fri.-Sat: 10 am-11pm
Price range: $12.00-$29.00
Photo by Morgan Overholt
#6 — Tanger Outlets
While the walk between shops will involve a little “outdoor” time, the savings you’ll find once inside will make up for hitting a little rain on the way. This outlet center features more than 3,000 outlet stores which are owned by popular, brand name manufacturers. Visit their website before you shop for special offers and coupons.
Location: 1645 Parkway, Suite 960 | Sevierville, TN 37862
Hours: Mon.-Sat: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. | Sun: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Price range: Varies by level of self-control
#5 — The Comedy Barn
If you’re looking for clean entertainment for the entire family, The Comedy Barn has been a tried and true tradition in the area for more than 20 years. The Comedy Barn is an award-winning variety show which features magicians, ventriloquists, jugglers, talented animals and more. This show delivers family-friendly fun that is clean, yet witty, for all ages. For some variety, check out their related shows such as Hatfield and McCoy, Smoky Mountain Opry, Magic Beyond Belief and Amazing Animals.
Location: 2775 Parkway | Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Hours: See website for show times
Price range: $9.95-34.95
#4 — Dolly Parton’s Stampede
No trip to the Smokies is complete without a Dolly Parton experience. A true staple of the South, a ticket to the Stampede includes dinner and a show (without utensils as a warning my fellow clean-freaks out there) and features music, dancing and horse riding stunts. Choose a side to sit on in a friendly North vs. South rivalry while enjoying a four-course, southern-inspired feast of vegetable soup, corn on the cob, rotisserie chicken and dessert.
Location: 3849 Pkwy | Pigeon Forge, TN 38963
Hours: See website for show times
Price Range: $24.99 – $44.99
Photo by Morgan Overholt
#3 — Ole Smoky Moonshine
There are several wineries and distilleries in the Smokies area — and it’s hard to pick a favorite! Ole Smoky Moonshine is a solid choice because the Gatlinburg location, also known as, “The Holler,” produces all of the company’s flavors and is the country’s most visited distillery. See the authentic moonshine stills in person and learn more about the history of moonshining in Tennessee. While learning, enjoy samplings for only $5. You will never think of moonshine the same way again after trying flavors such as Lemon Drop and Apple Pie. Remember to enjoy responsibly.
Location: 903 Parkway Suite 128 | Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Hours: Mon-Sun: 10 a.m.–11 p.m.
Price range: $5 – $26
#2 — Titanic Museum
This historic journey will transport you more than 100 years back in time and make you feel like a passenger on the real, ill-fated ship. Upon arrival, you will receive a boarding pass with the name of a passenger from the real Titanic and find out that passenger’s fate at the end of the tour. Step onto the cold deck and touch an iceberg or walk down the grand staircase and view the mesmerizing outfits from that time period. The website offers resources such as scavenger hunts to download in advance to enrich your experience even more.
Location: 2134 Parkway | Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Hours: Hours vary by season
Price Range: $13.00-$26.00
#1 — Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
This aquarium is one of my personal favorites — and voted the best aquarium in North America! This aquarium features thousands of exotic sea creatures, 350 individual species and many hands-on opportunities. Special exhibits include the Touch-A-Ray Bay, Penguin Playhouse, a shark tunnel and a tropical rainforest. Live shows and special experiences are also available — including hand paintings — or webbed-feet paintings— by a penguin. (Yes, really.)
Location: 88 River Road | Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Hours: Open 365 days, hours vary by season
Price Range: $7.99 – $32.99
Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.