The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding area have thousands of acres of amazing vistas, shining waterfalls and abundant wildlife. Towns near the park, such as Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN, have dozens of exciting activities that will make for a memorable vacation. Whether your interest lies in amusement parks, dinner theaters, shopping or museums, the Smoky Mountains area has an abundance of attractions to interest travelers of all ages. Here are the top 10 can’t miss Smoky Mountain attractions:
1020 Dollywood Lane
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
This theme park, which is owned by entertainer Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, features not only a traditional amusement park and water ride activities, but also celebrates the heritage of the Smoky Mountains area through crafts and music. Dollywood is organized into 10 themed amusement areas and is also the site of the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame. Whether you are looking for an exciting day filled with thrill rides, a waterpark, or cultural experience, Dollywood is sure to be memorable!
88 River Rd.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Voted as the number one aquarium in the United States by Trip Advisor and considered by many to be the best attraction in the Smoky Mountains area, Ripley’s Gatlinburg Aquarium is home to a 340-foot tunnel where visitors can experience sharks and other sea life up close. Over 10,000 sea creatures are featured in the aquarium’s amazing interactive exhibits. Some of the more popular attractions at the aquarium include Penguin Encounter, where visitors meet these flightless creatures nose to beak, as well as Sleep with the Sharks and Splash with the Stingrays.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
P.O. Box 1490
Bryson City, NC 28713
See the Smokies in style with a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Scenic excursions that start in Bryson City, NC take visitors along 53 miles of track, two tunnels and 25 bridges that traverse river gorges, through valleys and into and out of beautiful mountains. Trips include the Natahala Gorge Excursion that travels the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers across Fontana Lake, as well as the Tuckasegee River Excursion that takes visitors through quaint towns and scenic meadows.
1339 Ski Mountain Rd.
There is an aerial tramway from downtown Gatlinburg to this ski resort, which features a 600-foot vertical drop on one of its skiing runs. However, Ober Gatlinburg is much more than a skiing destination, as it includes an amusement park, indoor ice skating, miniature golf, water rides and more. In addition to the recreational features, Ober Gatlingburg also offers a Wildlife Encounter, where visitors can get an up-close look at the local black bears.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37868
As the area’s most attended dinner show, Dixie Stampede offers live horses with trick riding, comedy, and an amazing menu. The menu includes local food such as: barbecue pork, rotisserie chicken and corn on the cob, and homemade cobbler. The admission price includes a four-course dinner, Carriage Room opening act show, and the main arena dinner show. Facilities are fully accessible for individuals with special needs.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
The world’s largest museum devoted to the Titanic features a two-hour interactive walk through experience. With over 30,000 square feet of exhibit space and special features, visitors can view more than 400 artifacts from the luxury liner that were salvaged from the ocean floor. Visitor receive a boarding pass replica of an actual Titanic passenger or crew member and experience what it was like to walk the hallways, decks, and the Grand Stairway of the world’s most famous cruise ship. The replica features full-scale replicas and was constructed from the Titanic’s original plans.
Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
P.O. Box 807
This community of artisans, founded in 1937, produce everything from paintings to pottery and baskets. The eight-mile Arts and Crafts Loop Trail allows visitors to discover the region’s unique crafts. Many of the shops are located in historic buildings and the artisans are more than willing to demonstrate their work. Shopping the trail allows visitors to purchase unique artifacts instead of the mass-produced souvenirs that are sold in the other tourist areas.
Hatfield & McCoy Feud Dinner Theater
119 Music Road
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Formerly the site of the Black Bear Jamboree Dinner and Show, the Hatfield & McCoy Feud Dinner Theater chronicles the longest running feud in American history through song and dance. Reviews from Trip Advisor note that the food here is much better than the average dinner theater experience, and the cast members who interact with the audience ensure a memorable experience.
Smoky Mountain Knife Works
2320 Winfield Dunn Pkwy.
As both a shopping experience and a tourist attraction, Smoky Mountain Knife Works is one of the area’s most visited shopping sites. Founded in the 1970s when the owners started selling pocket knives at flea markets, Smoky Mountain Knife Works grew quickly. The 55,000-square-foot showroom not only includes one of the largest collections of cutlery and trophy wildlife, but also has Civil War Displays, Native American relics, and Americana memorabilia.
1 Approach Road
Asheville, N.C. 28803
Surrounded by 8,000 acres of land, the Biltmore Estate is the largest residential home in the United States. The beautiful home boasts 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces. The Biltmore was commissioned by George Vanderbilt, who lived at the estate after his marriage in 1898 to Edith Stuyvesant Dresser. Architect Richard Morris Hunt modeled the estate on three 16th century French chateaux. Frederick Law Olmstead, creator of Central Park in New York and considered to be the father of American landscape architecture, designed the extensive grounds.