Fun Things to Do and See Around In Gatlinburg

If your next vacation is in Gatlinburg, TN, we recommend you spend (at least) a week in this majestic city. However, even if it’s just a day trip, the place won’t disappoint you. There are plenty of things you can do in just a short time! 

We have compiled the ultimate itinerary for 24 hours in Gatlinburg to help you get the most out of your visit. Let’s check these out!

Visit the Downtown Gatlinburg

It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time visitor or someone who has been here; downtown Gatlinburg deserves your time. If you don’t know where to start, the shopping and dining opportunities, fun attractions, and more will overwhelm you.

This lower part of the town has great options for dinner. You will find a range of barbecue options, steakhouses, and pizza places. There are over 60 candy shops here, many of which are over 60 years old!

Shopping in the downtown area is a must for anyone who visits here. Visit The Village, where you’ll find over 27 unique boutiques, clothing stores, eateries, galleries, and more. From catering to all your outdoor apparel needs to selling the best-scented candles for your cabin here or back home, the place has it all. 

Enjoy the day indoors

Gatlinburg condos and cabins are the best part of the trip as the amenities these abodes come with make your stay ten times better.

The cabins are perfect for adventure junkies. Located in the foothills of the mountains, these are equipped with fabulous features such as hot tubs, theater rooms, arcade games, pool tables, and even more. 

If you’re not a fan of the wilderness and prefer a luxury urban stay, plan a getaway at one of the Gatlinburg condos that has all the luxury and privacy you need. Scattered throughout the downtown area, these houses are just four steps away from all the fun. And the most amazing part is, with all the many amenities they come with, they come at a really affordable price. 

Visit the Clingmans Dome

As the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome rises 6,643 feet. This trek is not for the weak of heart (or legs), but the payoff is well worth it. The scenery is 360-degrees and 100 miles long, allowing one to see the Smoky Mountains from every angle.

Experience Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Gatlinburg’s most popular attraction is Ripley’s Aquarium, which features over 10,000 different beautiful animals. Waiting to be explored, it is voted as one of America’s best aquariums!

A Luncheon at Wild Plum Tea Room

You must go to the Wild Plum Tea Room for lunch if you’re into arts. This unique cafe with scratch-made food and a picturesque natural setting has been ranked one of the top ten restaurants in Tennessee. However, due to its popularity, reservations may be hard to come by. To ensure a reservation here, you must do so 24 hours in advance.

Commune with nature at Cades Cove

Mostly known for its waterfall, Cades Cove is among the most popular attractions in the national park. Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, it is a serene valley that features an 11-mile looped road. Depending on the weather, the area allows drive-through between sunrises to sunsets, which is a sight for sore eyes. Sitting in the car with your loved one, gazing at the setting sun coupled with the majestic waterfall, makes for an otherworldly experience.

Visit Anakeesta

The best time to check out Anakeesta, the newest Smoky Mountain attraction, is later in the afternoon. From downtown, scenic chairlifts or gondolas take you up to Anakeesta, located high up in the hills overlooking Parkway. The activities you can do here include sky bridges in the trees, riding dueling zip lines, mining for gems, and doing some shopping at Firefly Village.

Souvenir Shopping in the Arts & Crafts Community

There are more independent artisans in Gatlinburg than anywhere else in the country. A 10-minute drive from Ripley’s Aquarium, this 8-mile loop off of East Parkway features shopping, art studios, and galleries showcasing local artists’ works. You’ll find handcrafted souvenirs here if you’re looking for them!

Walk The Strip

The downtown Parkway is definitely worth walking along if you only have one day in Gatlinburg. A fun strip of shops and attractions line the center of town, also called “The Strip.”. Here are a few things we enjoyed doing on the Strip:

  • At Fannie Farkle’s, you can play old-fashioned arcade games.
  • The Village offers 27 unique boutiques so that you can do some shopping.
  • Enjoy some authentic white lightnin’ at a moonshine distillery in Gatlinburg and listen to live music.

See a Show

A show in Gatlinburg is perfect for those looking for a laugh after dinner! It’s a comedic production with an air of humor that’s reminiscent of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Carol Burnett’s Show. Another great place to enjoy live entertainment in Gatlinburg is the Iris Theater at the Gatlinburg Space Needle. 

Take a trip up the Gatlinburg Space Needle

The smoky Mountains offer a view that is majestic from every single angle. You can experience these views in the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Starting in a glass elevator that climbs 400 feet above the ground, the experience eventually leads to an observation deck that provides 360-degree views of the city and national park.


Among Gatlinburg’s top attractions are shopping, dining, and attractions along the Main Parkway. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just up the street from downtown activities, you will be amazed by the sound of nature. The national park is both beautiful and peaceful, making it a favorite among adults and children alike. Fishing, hiking, and picnicking are some of the most popular activities in the town. Make your plans to take a genuine vacation and explore all the things to do in Gatlinburg, TN, Don’t lose focus because even one day here will be worth the trip.

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