The Great Smoky Mountains. There’s a reason this enchanting location is a hotspot for visitors and tourists every year. Sitting along the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, The Great Smoky Mountains is more than just home to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But what about all the Smoky Mountain Tennessee attractions?
From hiking trails up the mountain peaks giving hikers a magical, blue haze view of the surrounding area to the cascades and picturesque scenes at the waterfalls and riverside byways, the Great Smoky Mountains is the stuff of dreams!
Whether you are looking to vacation abroad or a little maybe a little closer to home, you owe it to yourself to do the research. We’ve put together a list of our favorite Smoky Mountain Tennessee attractions to give you the ultimate holiday experience.
Let’s dive in!
Gatlinburg SkyLift and Skybridge
Gatlinburg has its fair share of attractions, but a favorite for many Smoky Mountain visitors is the SkyLift and Skybridge.
A ride up the SkyLift to the SkyDeck gives you the most beautiful view of downtown Gatlinburg. You can also enjoy this fascinating view while you do some shopping or eat lunch with a loved one.
When you’re done, take a walk along the Gatlinburg Skybridge – the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. The glass panels right in the middle of the bridge that allows you to gaze at the world below will be the highlight of your trip.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most popular and most visited national park in the United States, and for good reason.
Where do we even begin with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
From the 900 miles of hiking trails to the enthralling scenery across and around the numerous waterfalls, creeks, meadows, and hills, and the diverse wildlife, visiting the Smoky Mountain National Park is like stepping into a scene from your favorite fairytale.
And it doesn’t matter whether you visit in the summer or winter; from Alum Cave Bluffs to Rainbow Falls, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is enchanting every season.
Here’s one of those Smoky Mountain Tennessee attractions not everyone knows about. Anakeesta is a hilltop village in Smoky Mountain plucked right out of a Disney storybook. Beginning from the 60-foot 16-rope bridges to the firefly village, you’re set for a never-ending adventure of fantasy and fun.
The outdoor play area with its streams and waterfalls is just what you need to cool off when visiting the Smokies in the summer.
The 360-degree AnaVista observation tower is our favorite part of this mountaintop-themed park. At 65 feet, it offers you the most breathtaking view of Smoky Mountain.
Do you think Gatlinburg is beautiful from the top of the SkyLift? Wait till you see it from this observation tower.
Clingmans Dome Observation Tower
Here’s another observation tower that will take your breath away once you get atop it. The Clingman Dome Observation Tower owns the sole title of being the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains.
At 50 feet, it gives you an awe-inspiring 360-degree view of seven states, including Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky.
What’s more? You can step down from this remarkable experience into a hike through nature on the Forney Ridge Trail.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Gather around outdoor lovers. Meet the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Spread over 500 acres, the NOC features every kind of fun activity you can think of, from rafting to kayaking, Zipline tours, paddleboarding, biking, and hiking.
Two riverside restaurants are the perfect spots for visitors to catch their breath after the exhilarating outdoor activities.
And if you bring kids along, the NOC treetop adventure nets – the first 100% net-based aerial playground in the United States – give your children an opportunity to join in on the fun as they navigate their way through the tunnels, pathways, and chutes of this fantastic playground.
Walk the Gatlinburg Strip and Ride the Space Needle
Gatlinburg has to be the town that offers the most magical experiences in the Great Smoky Mountains. From Anakeesta to the SkyLift, the towering Space Needle, and Ripley’s Aquarium, this mountain-top town offers visitors the best parts of Smoky Mountain and more.
Take a walk through the Gatlinburg strip and soak in the sights and sounds of the hills, streams, waterfalls, food joints, and shops.
And when you’re done enjoying the scenes on land, Riley’s Aquarium promises to give you the underwater experience of your dreams.
Finally, a trip to the Gatlinburg Space Needle lifts you from the underwater scenery and land to the clouds where all of downtown Gatlinburg spreads out below you.
The best part? There’s a pizza shop in the Space Needle where you can take a break and reward yourself with a meal after these immersive and breathtaking experiences.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
The Roaring Fork Motor Trail is a 5.5-mile loop road that offers great views of the surrounding forests, waterfalls, wildlife, historic structures from the days of the pioneers, and the iconic Roaring Fork stream.
Drive through this scenic hike and enjoy its many majestic sights. Pull over next to the Roaring Fork and take in the sounds of the gushing water.
Finally, take a history lesson as you stroll through the pioneers’ homes and the grist mill. You might even see a deer or a black bear during your adventure.
Drive the Cades Cove Loop Road
The Cades Cove Loop Road is an 11-mile drive within the comfort and serenity of nature. Green foothills, open fields, and the sights of the valley’s wildlife keep visitors company as they drive through the countryside.
Even if you don’t enjoy nature as much, an opportunity to see the black bear grazing in the fields is enough reason to take a trip down the one-way loop.
Plus, you get to experience a bit of social history, with the homes and churches left behind by the pioneers leaving you with a bit of nostalgia.
And if you’re a sucker for hiking, Abrams Falls offers you its five-mile trail to take that therapeutic stroll through the green of nature.
Hollywood Star Cars Museum
We love our action movies. We love the fight scenes involving our favorite characters and how the hero eventually triumphs over evil.
And we especially love the car chase scenes with those supercars we fantasize about driving ourselves. But have you ever thought that you’d ever get to see your favorite Hollywood car in person?
Step into the Hollywood Star Cars Museum and experience first-hand some of your favorite celebrity-owned cars from the most famous movies and TV shows of the last 50 years.
The Hollywood Star Cars Museum currently has 45 vehicles from blockbusters, such as Fast and Furious, Transformers, batmobiles from the Batman TV Show and Batman Returns, and the Ghostbusters Ecto-1.
Great Smoky Arts and Craft Community
The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is the largest independent organization of artisans in the US. It’s also one of our favorite smoky mountain TN attractions, particularly because of its diverse variety of art displays.
An 8-mile long loop, the Arts and Crafts Community have over 100 craftsmen weaving, casting, painting, and carving everything from oak baskets to dolls, candles, pottery, and natural leather goods.
Silversmiths and stained-glass artists are also part of the artisans displaying numerous captivating artworks.
But it’s not just art the community has to offer. Candy shops, historic restaurants, and tea rooms are available for visitors to take a pit stop and grab a bite after a long day admiring the beauty of craftsmanship.
Sweetwater Valley Farm
Owned by John and Celia Harrison, Sweetwater Valley Farm is Tennessee’s first Lely XL Dairy Farm, with automated systems catering to over 500 cows.
The farm specializes in making farmstead cheese using the milk gotten from its dairy cattle. A visit to the farm lets you see the cheese-making process and taste the different varieties available.
But the menu is much more than cheese. Jams, jellies, honey, ice cream, and crackers are also a part of the offerings for your taste buds.
And when you’re done with the “all-you-can-eat buffet,” enjoy The Udder Story displays at the event barn and learn the history of dairy farming through the years.
The University of Tennessee Gardens (otherwise known as UT Gardens, for short) is the official botanical garden of Tennessee.
Located in Knoxville, Jackson, and Crossville, the gardens feature over 4000 herbs, trees, shrubs, ornamental plants, tropicals, and vegetables. It serves as an outdoor laboratory for evaluating the landscape use and performance of the different plant species available.
The gardens are open and free across all seasons; as such, plant lovers can take a trip down to any one of the three locations and enjoy the green of nature.
Fontana Lake & Dam
Sitting around the southern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Fontana Lake is the largest lake in Western North Carolina. The dam, on the other hand, is the highest dam east of the Rocky Mountains.
This 238-mile area is a hotspot for swimming, fishing, boating, picnics, hiking, and camping. Visitors can also take a walk or drive across the dam and learn the history behind its construction in the 1940s from the Tennessee Valley Authority Visiting Center.
There’s also the Fontana Village Resort, with lodges, cabins, restaurants, and outdoor pools to give tourists the perfect vacation experience. And let’s not forget the hundreds of houseboats on the lake serving as vacation rentals.
The Devil’s Bathtub
What do you think about getting your feet wet while on a hike? Fancy it? Then, you should take a trip to the Devil’s Bathtub.
This seven-mile-long hike begins from the Devil’s Fork Loop Trail, past 18 stream crossings, cascading waterfalls, and boulders, and into the Devil’s Bathtub – a swimming hole with crystal-clear, aquamarine, and insanely cold water.
On a hot summer day, though, the water is ideal enough for a quick drive.
Some quick notes of warning, by the way: you should make the trip on days when water conditions are significantly low and when the trail isn’t so crowded (since the Devil’s Bathtub is one of the most popular hiking destinations around Smoky Mountain).
Don’t forget your water-resistant hiking boots, too.
The Biltmore Estate
Stretching across 8,000 acres, the Baltimore Estate is famously dubbed America’s largest home. Despite being over a century old, this historic edifice continues to attract visitors from across America and worldwide.
From the majestic Baltimore House to the 250 acres of gardens, the Antler Hill Village, Bass Pond, and the Wine Tasting Room, the Baltimore Estate gives visitors an exquisite taste of royalty.
Outdoor activities to enjoy at the estate are never in short supply. You can take your pick of carriage rides, horseback rides, river trips, biking, sporting clays, and falconry during your stay.
If you’re considering a romantic getaway with a lover, the Baltimore Estate is the perfect location in the Great Smoky Mountains to give them the royal treatment.
The Knoxville Sunsphere
Built during the 1982 World’s Fair, the Knoxville Sunsphere is a 266 feet high structure with a gold-colored glass sphere located in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Inside the hexagonal steel truss wonder, visitors get a 360-degree view of Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains. If you’re looking to see the smokies in all their glory, a trip to the observation deck of the Knoxville Sunsphere might be what you need.
Kyker Farms Corn Maze
How would you like to get “Kornfused”? Well, that’s the experience you’re promised when you visit the Kyker Farms Corn Maze during the fall.
Join the many families who have found joy and fun exploring the majestic cornfields on this two-century-old farm. Aside from the maze, take your kids on a hayride, visit the petting zoo and pumpkin patch, or jump on the swings and slides in this agricultural wonderland.
Roan Mountain State Park
The Roan Mountain State Park spreads across 2,000 acres of hardwood forest land below Roan Mountain. With its wide variety of wildflowers and wildlife, it offers hikers an opportunity to stretch their legs across its 12 miles of hiking trails.
Mountain bikers can also enjoy the park’s three miles of biking trails, and if fishing is more your thing, the Doe River offers an abundance of rainbow and brown trout for your fishing hooks.
You’ve heard the story of the doomed British passenger liner that sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912, but how about experiencing it yourself?
Yup, you read that right; at the Titanic Museum in The Great Smoky Mountains, you can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the famous RMS Titanic.
With more than 400 artifacts on display alongside the various corridors and cabins of the legendary ship, the Titanic Museum is one of those smoky mountain TN attractions you shouldn’t pass up.
Throw in the captain and his costumed crew, the icebergs, the waters that give you a taste of the icy Atlantic, and the flooded stairway stimulator that’ll have your nerves on edge, and it’s almost like you were on the ship on that tragic night on April 12, 1912.
Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud
Have you ever considered time travel? Well, experience it first-hand at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud.
Watch two families – the Dawson’s and the McGraw’s – in an end-of-season feud in the days when logging was the prevalent craft in the area now known as the Great Smoky Mountains.
And after the show, participate in your own lumberjack feud with your family at the Lumberjack Feud Adventure Park. It’s family fun like you’ve never experienced before!
Located along Little River Road, the Sinks is a cascading waterfall created in the 1800s when loggers in the Great Smoky Mountains lit off some dynamite to free jammed logs.
Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the smokies. A quick note of warning, though: do not swim in the water. The river is quite deep, and the waterfall creates a suction effect that drags swimmers to the bottom.
The Apple Barn
Located in the Apple Barn Village, the Apple Barn offers a series of shops (including Candy Factory and Creamery), the Apple Barn Winery, and the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Farmhouse Grill.
Stroll in and enjoy a tasty collection of wines, apple pie, apple cider, apple butter, and all things yummy made of apples.
Are you visiting Gatlinburg for the holidays? Then take a trip to any one of Ripley’s for a never-ending adventure.
From Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Moving Theatre, Ripley’s Mirror Maze, and Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini-Golf, you’re set for a vacation you’ll not forget in a hurry.
Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider
The Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider is the world’s first mountain glider. Located in Pigeon Forge, TN, this in-air coaster offers you the ultimate hang gliding experience through the treetops of Rowdy Bear Mountain.
And if you’re up for it after the exhilarating ride, you can also try out the avalanche snow coaster and the alpine mountain coaster. What’s more? If you visit during the winter, You can enjoy an unforgettable ride at the outdoor snow tubing hill.
Drive The Foothills Parkway
The Foothills Pathway is a 72-mile pathway connecting US Route 129 with Interstate 40.
Located just around the northern Great Smoky Mountain, it offers breathtaking views of the smokies and the Tennessee Valley.
And if you ever get tired of driving through the pathway, step out of your car at Lock Rock and enjoy a quick hike to one of the overlooks. There’s also a picnic area if you feel like grabbing a snack with your pals before heading back on the road.
Cabins in Smoky Mountain
Smoky Mountain is a popular vacation hotspot for tourists across the US. As such, cabins and vacation rentals are usually in high demand.
If you’ve been considering investing in the rental property market, Smoky Mountain real estate and vacation homes are excellent options to add to your portfolio.
Smoky Mountain Tennessee Attractions: Conclusion
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about these Smoky Mountain Tennessee attractions. Now, buying real estate in Smoky Mountain can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time investing in vacation homes.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, the short-term rental investment team at the Short Term Shop might be your best bet at pulling off your first investment successfully.
Led by Gennifer Mix, the Short Term Shop team possesses years of expertise in the rental market in the Great Smoky Mountains. Why go it alone when you can hire a team of real estate professionals to help you navigate the tricky market?