A mountain vacation is a perfect opportunity to beat this summer heat. A dreamy holiday with stunning mountain views is bound to leave you recharged and relaxed.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is home to some of the world’s oldest mountains. The Smokies are also the only national park that was once occupied by Europeans. With such a rich history, this park was the most visited U.S. national park in 2021, and understandably so. With its ever-present morning fog, miles of hardwoods, a wide variety of wildlife, and a stunning town with a range of recreational activities, Gatlinburg is the perfect holiday location for you and your family.
With more than 12,000,000 visits in 2022, Gatlinburg is bound to be a busy town. Despite all the stunning locations, no one wants to be stuck in an overcrowded tourist site. If you are also not a fan of highly crowded tourist spots and would prefer to explore some hidden gems, then you are in luck! With its long history and rich culture, Gatlinburg has a lot of hidden gems for people like you!
And there is no need to go roaming around unprepared because we have compiled a list of the perfect spots for you in Gatlinburg.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium
At Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Gatlinburg, seeing is believing. This auditorium houses over five hundred unusual and interactive exhibits. These include oddities and stunning art, pop-culture memorabilia, and unbelievably true stories of places and people!
This unusual museum has it all! From actual shrunken heads to animal oddities and even vampire killing kits with crucifixes, wooden stakes, and even silver bullets. This place is a must-visit for all ages, with galleries on history, pop culture, travel, art, and much more.
- Smoky Mountain Winery
The smoky mountains winery is the oldest in East Tennessee and still a hidden gem. This winery is the perfect place for fine wines and much-needed relaxation. This award-winning winery, located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg produces a wide selection of wine made from local produce.
This family-owned winery has a beautiful rustic charm and is a wonderful place to learn about the wine-making process. You can enjoy a tasting from their selection of twenty award-winning wines. Do not forget to visit the winery gift shop to pick up a unique souvenir or gift for a loved one!
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
We would not consider Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies a particularly hidden gem. Regardless, it does get significantly overlooked in favor of all the other attractions. This place is filled with themed galleries and displays. You can visit the Penguin Playhouse to meet these feathered friends up close or glide through the Shark Lagoon to meet some fierce sharks with fish of every shape and size. You can even touch the stars of Ray Bay, aboard Ripley’s Glass Bottom Boat Adventure, have breakfast with a mermaid, or sleepover with the sharks!
This aquarium is perfect for families and marine life enthusiasts to enjoy an immersive and unique experience with ocean creatures and their habits.
- Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum
Yes, Gatlinburg does have a wide variety of quirky museums, but they are worth the hype, and some may just be better.
One such place is the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. This off-beat museum, located on Gatlinburg Parkway, is home to more than 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers from all over the globe – which may sound absurd – but you will be amazed by the variety in this museum. This fun experience includes all kinds of shakers, from traditional ones to unique and unusual designs. That too in a variety of shapes, sizes, and themes.
This is a perfect spot for some fun and quirky photos for your Gatlinburg trip and a good laugh.
- Walker Sisters Place
This one is a must-visit for all the history buffs here.
On the creation of Smoky Mountains National Park, hundreds of families were asked to relocate from their mountain homes. All did not embrace this relocation. While some moved willingly, others, such as the six unmarried Walker sisters, fought for their homes and received a special lifetime lease to live in the log cabins where they were raised. Following the death of their sister in 1931, the remaining five created lived off their prosperous farm until all of them passed away by the 1960s.
Tourists can still visit their quaint cabin and find themselves in a much simpler era. To reach this cabin take the Little Brier Gap trail behind the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse.
- Dark Island Swinging Bridge
A 30-minute drive from Pigeon Forge will take you to Townend, a cozy little place with dainty shops and unique restaurants, a museum, a river tubing area, and some old caverns to explore.
But there is more to this sleepy mountain town. Situated behind the Lumber Museum and Little River Railroad and adjacent to the intersection of Depot Ave, you will find the dark island swinging bridge, beautifully spanning across the Little River. This is one of the last swing bridges in the area, but only four people can cross it at a time. Regardless it is a great spot to stop by for a swing.
- Riverwalk Greenway
This multi-use trail is four miles long, lined with beautiful trees on both ends, and perfectly paved, making it perfect for cycling and walking. The pet-friendly trail runs along the stunning banks of the little pigeon river, complete with cute ducks, nature, and spectacular views.
On this trail, you can also encounter the occasional infamous wildlife of Gatlinburg. The best part? This trail, located in the middle of all the chaos, is secluded and does not see a lot of tourists all year round. This tiny paradise is well-loved amongst dogs, families, cyclists, and kids, so if you check any of those boxes, stop by.
Gatlinburg is a tourist hot spot all year round. It is very well known for its popular tourist attractions. However, due to its rich history, it also houses lots of hidden gems for those looking. This place has it all. From quirky museums to breathtaking waterfalls, trails, and restaurants, log cabins and streams run throughout the area. In addition, due to the booming tourist business, this town, surrounded by majestic mountains, has grown and progressed a lot over the years. It now houses all kinds of recreational activities. There is something for all age groups, genders, and cultures.