Stretching from Tennessee to North Carolina and enjoying its richly deserved UNESCO status, the Smoky Mountains are an undisputed national treasure. The Forests are rich in all manner of flora and fauna and are populated by a diverse and healthy wildlife population that draw visitors all year round.
The area though boasts much more than just an impressive landscape and although no one should visit without experiencing the astounding sights, sounds and smells that the great outdoors has to offer, there are a wealth of options to keep guests of all ages and tastes entertained.
Given the huge about of forests on offer in the Smoky Mountains, the awe-inspiring views from atop its summits, it is hardly surprising that hiking is the most popular tourist activity for those visiting the area. Each season possesses its own unique beauty, from the infinite colors of spring to the autumnal shades of fall, the snow-capped magic of winter to the life-affirming sunshine of summer, there is seemingly no end to the loveliness on display here.
Monte Le Conte is one of the more impressive routes while Andrews Bald presents trekkers with stunning views of the surrounding area and the opportunity to spot some elk, deer or even black bear on the way. There are however innumerable other options available and while those of a more independent mindset can embark on their expedition solo, for those unsure of the area or simply hoping for a little peace-of-mind, there are many tours operating that can accompany you, giving some local history and knowledge about the environment along the way.
Distillery and Winery Tours
The south’s great love affair with its liquor is well-known and with a multitude of producers scattered through the Gatlinburg area, visitors can take their pick of the region’s long liquid heritage. Sugarlands Distillery and wine cellar offer a particularly enjoyable and informative tour whilst anyone hoping to get a taste of state’s most famous concoction, the Ole Smokey Tennessee Moonshine Distillery offers up something a little stronger.
Gatlinburg’s very own Haunted House experience. Located in the center of town, this turn-of-the-century dwelling is the perfect setting for terror. The idea is simple; find your way out. Of course, with ghouls and ghosts, werewolves and vampires lurking in every room, this might not be as easy as it sounds. Be warned though, this place is not suitable for children under twelve.
With over 10,000 sea creatures on display, the Gatlinburg aquarium is hugely popular with visitors and locals alike. Special tour packages, including the opportunity to swim with the stingrays or spend a night sleeping under the watchful gaze of sharks, are available.
The Smoky Mountain is outstanding from every angle but quite possibly most impressive when seen from above. The Gatlinburg zip-lining experience invites visitors to career through the treetops high amid the foliage, marveling at the natural world below and perhaps even catching a glimpse of a passing deer or bear in the process.
Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not Museum
A world famous collection of oddities. With over 500 exhibits on display ranging from authentic shrunken heads to the bizarre Mexican vampire woman, visitors are sure to leave bewildered, perplexed but thoroughly entertained.