Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are known worldwide as family attractions. As such, the majority of entertainment, attractions and dining are designed to include the young or young at heart.
But what about that couple on a romantic getaway? What about the group of friends looking for a fun night on the town? What about mom and dad who need a quick vacation from the kids while on vacation?
Well, my friends, don’t despair. Not everything in the Smoky Mountains comes designed for people with the attention span of tsetse flies.
Here are some adult friendly – but not necessarily kid exclusive – things to do in the Smoky Mountains.
Anakeesta bills itself as Gatlinburg’s theme park and it does come with a zip line and mountain roller coaster – both at extra cost to admission – but this ain’t Six Flags, and I mean that in a good way. Anakeesta, located atop a mountain behind the Arrowmont School, offers fantastic views, quality dining, drinks and some shopping. There are things for the kids to do, but mostly they strike me as something of a diversion. Something to keep the kiddies entertained in a relatively confined space while mom and dad vacate. Above all, Anakeesta is an excellent place to chill the eff out and remember the reason for the season, so to speak. Sure flashing lights and diverting whirly gigs are fun, sure Cooter from the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ played a significant role in many of our formative years, sure it’s fun to go look at some fish, but ultimately none of things are why Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge became must see vacation destinations. Ultimately, it’s still about the mountains, and there is something incredibly relaxing about taking in the sunset with a good meal and a couple of drinks, chilling in a rocking chair and then taking the quiet and soothing chondola ride back down the mountain into the neon madness that is Gatlinburg during a high traffic time.
Location: 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Hours: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. weekdays or 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekends, may vary by season
Price Range: $17.99-21.99 for admission; add-ons range from $12.99-29.99
4. The Peddler Steakhouse
There are a lot of good restaurants in the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge area but relatively few great ones. And, of course, great is a relative term. The Peddler ain’t winning a lot of Michelin Stars, but it is probably the best restaurant in the area. The menu is comparable to high end chain steakhouses and the restaurant welcomes kids – but it is not the kind of place that serves smiling pancakes or has, let’s say animatronic singing chickens. Call ahead seating is pretty highly recommended and, occasionally, walk-in traffic is treated with a certain level of incredulity. Still, you want a nice, adult night out? The Peddler is your best bet.
Location: 820 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Hours: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Friday, or 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
Price Range: $22.99-42.99 (per entree)
3. Moonshine tastings
Sheeeeeeeeewwwww boy! Now, this is some serious no-kids-allowed business but, fair warning, it’s a long damn way from Pigeon Forge to the Napa Valley. Usually the folks participating in the Moonshine tastings are fine, calm and polite adults looking for a fun night out. However, you are tasting moonshine – homogenized though it may be – and you are more likely to have some personalities with varying goals for the evening. Legal moonshine is the hippest thing going in Sevier County right now, so there are a lot of options. I don’t have a personal favorite and can’t tell a lot of difference between the two or three that are generally considered top tier (listed below). I’d recommend checking out the websites and seeing which is closest to your motel or a trolley stop – for practical purposes.
Ole Smoky Moonshine (3 Locations) – Visit website
Location: 903 Parkway Suite 128, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Location: 131 The Island Drive, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Location: 650 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Price Range: $5 tastings, moonshine prices vary
Sugarlands – Visit website
Location: 805 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Hours: Open 7 days a week: 10am-10:30pm
Price Range: $5 tastings, moonshine prices vary
2. Get a cabin
Yeah. You can do this with kids, too. But let’s get real. When it comes to weddings and honeymoons, Gatlinburg is the Vegas of the Smoky Mountains. There are dozens of nice, quiet cabins, some equipped with hot tubs that you can crank the heat up enough to sterilize before climbing in, that are perfect for a romantic getaway overlooking the chaos of Gatlinburg down below. There, you can prepare a romantic meal – or get one delivered – and spend a nice quiet adult only weekend, week or hell, six months. Just whatever you need. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas but in Gatlinburg, folks are a lot better about minding their own business to begin with. Below are a few of TheSmokies.com’s favorite rental agencies:
Aunt Bug’s Cabin Rentals – Visit website
Location: 3121 Veterans Blvd. Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Fireside Chalets & Cabin Rentals – Visit website
Location: 2612 High Valley Drive Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Hapey Cabin Rentals – Visit website
Location: Sevierville, TN, 37876
Toy stores have been chiefly killed by the retail leviathans Amazon & Walmart but for adults looking for a little retail therapy on vacation, this is a good thing. For generations, kids being dragged into shopping trips with the family have whined to go to the toy store or the music store – hey, kids we used to have to go to a brick and mortar store to buy the latest Dead Kennedys cassette. “But I’m boooored,” they’d say, while sagging to the ground like the very spot on which they stood was suddenly imbued with the gravitational pull of Jupiter and ignoring the fact they’d begged to come in with hopes of scoring a new toy they could leave in the hotel room and cry for about six hours on the ride home. But, those days are almost chiefly gone! Unless the kids are old enough to enjoy shopping for clothes, and/or beef jerky, there are few enticements left for them to beg to come along on, only to be struck by crippling boredom 15 minutes in. What Gatlinburg, Sevierville and Pigeon Forge do offer is a wide range of outlet shopping, trendy specialty shops and touristy knick-knack and curio stores. So leave the kids behind and get started on some early Christmas shopping or, just have a fun, diverting day looking for deals.
Location: 1645 Parkway Ste 960, Sevierville, TN 37862
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sundays 10 a.m.-7p.m.
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.