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 Great Smoky Mountains comes designed for people with the attention span of tsetse flies.
Here are some of the best things to do for adults (that are not necessarily kid exclusive) in the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg:
5. Visit Anakeesta in Gatlinburg
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 vacation.
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 it’s fun to go look at some fish and whatnot – but 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.
Anakeesta is located at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Admission ranges from $21.99-24.99; add-ons may cost extra.
Hours vary by season and are typically more limited January-March. Check the calendar for more information.
4. Eat some of the best steak in Gatlinburg at The Peddler
There are a lot of good restaurants in the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge area. But there are 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 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.
The Peddler is located at 820 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Visit the website to check out their menu.
3. Sample some Smoky Mountain moonshine
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, if you are tasting moonshine – homogenized though it may be – 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 (mentioned 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 has three locations in the area, and Sugarlands is also one of the more popular options for a fun sampling experience.
2. Enjoy the outlet shopping
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, sagging to the ground as if 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 which will inevitably be left behind in the hotel room.
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.
1. Rent a cabin in Gatlinburg
Yeah. You can do this with kids, too. But let’s get real.
When it comes to weddings and honeymoons, downtown 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.
What are YOUR tips for an adults only vacation in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge? Let us know in the comments!