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Gatlinburg Tennessee is a thriving tourist destination located in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. No matter what you and your family likes to do for fun, from shopping to rafting, or from museums to dining, you’ll find it in Gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg features a vibrant downtown area with a variety of shops. Whether you want to add to your shot glass or spoon collection, are looking for the perfect tee shirt remembrance, or want to take home a unique craft item you’ll find it in the downtown area. Gatlinburg is home to a large community of arts and crafts artisans with shops in both downtown Gatlinburg and throughout the area. Hop on the trolley for a dollar and take the 8 mile trail loop that starts just outside of the main downtown area. The Village, located just past stop light #6, has an old world feel and is home to shops and dining. Be sure to check out the shops at Carousel Gardens and the Arrowmont Craft School as well. Arrowmont grew out of the first school in area and offers a good history of the crafting movement. Pottery, metal crafts including sculpture and jewelry, quilts and other textiles, and wood crafts are just a few of the craft types available in the shops at Gatlinburg.
In addition to shopping, family fun activities in Gatlinburg include a host of Ripley’s attractions including the Ripley’s aquarium, Odditorium, Marvelous Mirror Maze and Moving Picture Theater, to name just a few. The Salt and Pepper museum will tell you everything you want to know about salt and pepper shakers. It’s popular, quirky and inexpensive. Car enthusiasts will love the Hollywood Star Car museum (try saying that 5 times fast) and the tribute to Dukes of Hazard at Cooter’s Place. Delight your family dinosaur lover with the Dinosaur Walk Museum located in Pigeon Forge, just outside of Gatlinburg. Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, Cherokee Heritage Center, and Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum are all within an easy drive of Gatlinburg. Of course, one of the most popular family fun attractions in the area is the Dollywood Theme park in Pigeon Forge.
For the nature loving family, there are numerous activities. including rafting, ziplines, rope courses camping and hikes for the more active families and RVing, scenic drives, and tram rides for the less active families.
One of the world’s premier adventure rafting companies, the Nantahala Outdoor Center is located here. Nantahala offers rafting and kayaking trips for all levels on several local rivers. Rafting in the Smokies is another rafting company that offers family packages. Rafting is dependent on water levels so check with the company before planning your trip to make sure that trips are available for your rafting level. Other adventure activities include rope courses and zip line courses. Climb Works Canopy, one of several companies, offers educational tours that begin with a four wheel drive through the area and feature zip line tours through the canopy providing a squirrel’s eye view of the south eastern hardwood forest ecosystem.
Gatlinburg Tennesse is on the doorstep to Great Smoky National Park (GSMNP), one of the most popular national parks in the US. At GSMNP you can plan innumerable day hikes, biking trips, overnight camping from the car, horse or backpack, fish in the streams of one of the last wild fisheries in the east coast, tour five different car drives, visit three different visitor centers and the Cherokee Heritage Center nearby. For the history buff, GSMNP has one of the largest concentration of log buildings in the Eastern US and has several history sites within the park. In the winter, weather permitting, you can snowshoe or cross country ski the park. There are so many things to do in GSMNP your best option is to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park web site for more information and to plan your visit according to your interests.
If hunting or fishing is your idea of family fun and you want to know where all the best spots are check out The Smoky Mountain Angler in Gatlinburg. The shop offers sales, rentals and guide service. In Pigeon Forge, you’ll find Rocky Top Outfitters providing guide service for both fishing and hunting in the area.
If your family wants to take in nature but doesn’t want to hike, the Gatlinburg Sky Lift leaves from near downtown Gatlinburg and takes you, along the treetops, to a mountain top observation deck with panoramic views of Gatlinburg and its valley. The tramway to Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort and amusement park is an enclosed tram car that takes you to the top of another nearby mountain. Ober Gatlinburg features a wildlife exhibit, a year round ice skating rink, and various slides as well as a gift shop. The fees for many of the attractions are separate from the tram fee. As you can tell from the name, in the winter, Ober Gatlinburg operates as a ski and snowboard resort.
Gatlinburg is a destination hide-away in the midst of the Smoky Mountains. The attractions listed here are just a highlight of all of the available things to do and see. Whatever season or time of year you choose, you will not be disappointed, in fact, you may have trouble fitting everything you want to do into your schedule. Some seasons, like summer and leaf season, are busier than others. Gatlinburg is a vibrant little destination with something fun for everyone in the family to enjoy.