Things to do in Gatlinburg, TN: The gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Gatlinburg space needle

Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s also known for its bustling downtown vibe and walkability to local attractions like the Anakeesta, Gatlinburg SkyPark (home of the famous SkyBridge) and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. We often refer to downtown Gatlinburg as, with great affection, “hillbilly Vegas”. There’s a plethora of late-night entertainment along the strip (and by late in the Smokies we mean 11 p.m.). And the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community (just a short drive from downtown), showcases local artisans, and local restaurants serve traditional Southern comfort cuisine. Book a cabin in the mountains of Gatlinburg for the best views in Sevier County.

Benefits: Walkability, Proximity to GSMNP, Mountain Views

Drawbacks: Traffic, Crowds, Expensive Parking

Our Insider Tips:


aerial view of anakeeseta attraction and mountains in gatlinburg tn

By: John Gullion, Staff Writer

17 Best Things To Do in Gatlinburg

As a local, I have barely scratched the surface of what’s available in Gatlinburg. And so how do visitors do it all? The answer is you can’t. You’ve got to prioritize what you want to do and let the things that don’t make the cut go. Below, I will break it down for you based on recommendations, the things I think you should put at the top of your list. Without further ado, here are my suggestions for the best things to do in Gatlinburg …

Top Things To Do by Category: Mountain Coasters, Mini Golf, Scenic Overlooks, Moonshine Distilleries, Dog Friendly, Trails

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a lobster from chesapeake's

By: John Gullion, Staff Writer

20 Best Restaurants in Gatlinburg

In essence, Gatlinburg’s economy is built upon a three-legged stool of tourism commerce: Lodging, entertainment and food. And it’s probably not in that order. People come to Gatlinburg to do a lot of things, but eating remains dang near the top of the list. As such, there is a cornucopia of options. Indeed, a plethora of choices. In fact, a smorgasbord of … well, smorgasbord. 

Top Restaurants by Genre: Steak, BBQ, Italian, Pizza, Mexican, Breakfast, Live Music

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hilton garden inn in gatlinburg tennessee

By: John Gullion, Staff Writer

13 Best Hotels in Gatlinburg

In the traditional sense of the word, many of the Gatlinburg hotels would likely not qualify as luxury hotels. Particularly when compared to some of the places in New York or London or even Atlanta. Luxuries in the mountains are different things I suppose. Still, there are quite a few really nice hotels. So unless your hotel standards are of the several thousand dollars per night variety, you should be able to find plenty of quality accommodation in the best hotels in town …

See Also: Hotels On The Strip, Pet-Friendly Hotels, Cabins Within Walking Distance

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the gatlinburg trolley

By: Alaina O’Neal, Staff Writer

21 Best Free Things To Do in Gatlinburg

Vacationing on a budget can be tough. And even if you’re planning on hitting most of the major attractions, it’s nice to build in a day that is free from financial obligations and strict schedules. Luckily, there are plenty of free things to do in Gatlinburg TN and the surrounding area of the Smoky Mountains that are family-friendly and won’t break the bank. Here are some of my top suggestions: 

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Don’t forget to order attraction tickets online and bundle for the best deals. Note: Offers below are subject to change.


Save $2 per ticket at Anakeesta

Anakeesta discounts

Save up to $2 on general admission at Anakeesta (chondola ride included).

Save $5 per ticket at Impossibilities Magic Show

Impossibilities Show discounts

Save up to $5 per ticket on the Impossibilities – Magic Mind Reading and Mayhem show in Gatlinburg.

Save $2 per ticket on Ober Mountain Aerial Tramway

Ober Mountain discounts

Save $2 on Aerial Tramway tickets at Ober Mountain