Top 6 things to do in the Smokies this Memorial Day weekend 2020

Sevierville courthouse
The Sevierville courthouse (youkatan/Shutterstock)

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Because the Smokies is just now entering phase two of reopening after the coronavirus, this Memorial Day weekend may look a bit different than the celebrations in years past. 

But, rest assured, if you’re in the Smokies this weekend, there will still be plenty to do to keep you entertained. 

Most notably, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park began their phase 2 of reopening this weekend, which means several trails and picnic areas are now accessible to park-goers. 

Here’s our list of top things to do in the Smokies this Memorial Day, weather permitting:

1 – Visit The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S., and it’s a great way to spend the holiday weekend. Cades Cove Loop Road opens daily at 8 am, and arriving early is a good way to avoid the crowds and offers guests a good chance at catching a glimpse of a black bear. The National Park Service is encouraging social distancing measures as much as possible.

2 – Go ziplining

Adventure parks such as CLIMB Works, FoxFire Mountain Adventure Park, Adventure Park Ziplines and Legacy Mountain Ziplines are all now open in the Smokies. Note that some of these facilities may have some restrictions and safety measures in place due to the coronavirus.

3 – Try tubing or rafting

Memorial Day is notorious for enjoying outdoor activities, and rafting or tubing is a great way to partake — as long as the weather holds up! Rafting in the Smokies and  Smoky Mountain River Rat are now open for the summer. Additionally, Smoky Mountain River Rat is introducing food truck lineups for the summer, and this weekend will feature Empire Pizza of Knoxville. 

4 – Play mini golf 

The Smokies is full of great mini golf destinations. Both of Ripley’s mini golf courses, Davy Crockett Mini Golf and Old Macdonald’s Farm Mini Golf are now open for business. If you’re looking for a local treasure, Hillbilly Golf is also open as weather permits. If the rain does come, Crave Golf, a candy-themed course with an indoor course, is also open for business.

Read more: An overview of Hillbilly Golf: If you haven’t been, have you really been to Gatlinburg? 

5 – Visit Ripley’s Aquarium 

If the weather does bring rain for this Memorial Day, Ripley’s Aquarium is a great way to spend a rainy day in Gatlinburg. There’s so much to do and see that it can easily fill your day with entertainment. See why it was rated North America’s Best Aquarium!

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6 – Go shopping at the Island or Tanger Outlets 

The Island is a great spot to relax in a rocking chair by the water feature, while Tanger is best known for its outlet stores and deals. Most retail shops are now open at both the Island and Tanger Outlets.

Read more: What’s open now at Tanger Outlets in Sevierville, a look at the new “normal”

Additionally, here are some deals to help you celebrate: 

Tanger Outlets Memorial Day Sales

  • Clarks Outlet – 2 pairs for $89 plus 50% off clearance
  • Columbia – Clearance prices and additional 20% off your entire purchase
  • Fragrance Outlet – Up to 75% off 
  • Perfumania – Up to 70% off
  • Skechers – BOGO 50% off

The Old Mill Memorial Day Sale

  • 20% off site-wide on orders of $50 or more
  • Free ground shipping on orders of $99 or more

 Puckett’s Grocery 

  • Get a BBQ family meal pack for only $49, which features two meats, two sides and bread, plus an add-on such as cobbler and sweet tea. Order online here

Calhoun’s Restaurant 

  • Stop by any Copper Cellar Family Restaurant and fill up a growler for only $6 
  • Get a family feed pack online and code “memorialday” for free gallon of tea (valid Monday, May 25) 

Smoky Mountain Knife Works

Bubba Gump’s

  • Kids eat free with a purchase of an adult entree (now through May 31) 


We honor all Americans who have lost their lives in service and humbly thank our veterans. Happy Memorial Day! 

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.

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