The 20 Best Things To Do in Gatlinburg, TN for First-Time Visitors


Are you planning to make a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee? If so, and this is your first time visiting the area, there are a few things that you should know before you set your itinerary. There are some amazing attractions in the area that you won’t want to miss out on, but if you’re not familiar with the area, you might not know that they even exist. We’ve prepared a short guide to help you plan your trip with 20 of the best things to do in Gatlinburg, TN for first-time visitors, for your consideration.

Little Bear Winery

20. Tour the Little Bear Winery

The latest winery to open in downtown Gatlinburg offering a distinct, contemporary atmosphere with exceptional one-of-a-kind wines. This is the wine you want to find, try, and then share with friends. Gatlinburg’s wide variety of attractions have visitors coming back, year after year. No matter your age or what you like to do, there’s something for every member of your family in Gatlinburg. Whether you want to hike through the mountains, pitch a tent in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, ride the Aerial Tramway or hang out downtown, Gatlinburg is your perfect travel destination.

Doc Colier's Moonshine Distillery

19. Visit Doc Colier’s Moonshine Distillery

Taste some legal moonshine at Doc Collier’s Moonshine Distillery. You’ll find that the original recipes used by the operation are one of a kind. This is one of the bigger attractions for first-time visitors who want to try their craft corn whiskey and flavored moonshine. There are a lot of different kinds to choose from at Doc Colliers. It leads the pack of several popular distillers in the area.


18. Tour the Smoky Mountain Brewery

If you’re a beer drinker and you are interested in touring a brewery where there is something for everyone in the family then we recommend the Smoky Mountain Brewery. The business offers a lodge type atmosphere with an amazing restaurant that expertly prepares wood roasted steaks and entrees including pizza and calzones, burgers and sandwiches made of fresh-baked bread, a huge selection of appetizers to choose from and fresh handcrafted beers. They also provide a kids’ menu and a good assortment of brewery souvenirs to take back home with you.

Sweet Fanny Adams

17. Catch a play at Sweet Fanny Adams

Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre & Music Hall is another popular tourist attraction in Gatlinburg. It’s located at 461 Parkway in the city. This is the most highly rated theatrical attraction in the city and it has been declared to be a national historical treasure. The theater is one of the oldest still in existence in the region and it’s still churning out loads of entertainment for visitors including live onstage musical comedies

Headcase Escape Adventures

16. Take the family to Headcase Escape Adventures

You’ll find Headcase Escape Adventures at 205 Historic Nature Trail in Gatlinburg. This exciting family-friendly service offers you the choice of five different escape games that the entire family can get in on playing. It’s guaranteed to be so exciting and so much fun that you will probably want to go back and do it again. Friendly staff and skilled guides are there to help you through each of the adventures.

Ole Red Gatlinburg for a meal

15. Visit Ole Red Gatlinburg for a meal

If you want to sample the authentic cuisine of the city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, then you must eat at Ole Red Gatlinburg. This is a venue where you can listen to the best country music this side of Nashville, and you’re into Blake Shelton style, then this is the place to be. You will be entertained with great music, amazing food, and cold drinks.

Fannie Farkles

14. Take the kids to Fannie Farkles

If you bring the family with you on your visit to Gatlinburg, then one of the must-sees is Fannie Farkle’s. This is a center that features some of the best family fun in the city. The service is friendly and the bathrooms are clean. It’s the premier gaming venue in all of Gatlinburg for family fun, prizes, and great food. You’ll probably want to pencil in several hours because there is a lot of stuff to do at Fannie Farkle’s. It’s located at 656 Parkway in Gatlinburg.


13. Take a ride on the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway

This scenic ride starts at 1001 Parkway in Gatlinburg. The Aerial Tramway runs year-round and it has the capacity to hold 120 passengers. You leave from downtown Gatlinburg and take the aerial tram to Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area. You’ll be able to see some of the most spectacular views of the city from the tram.


12. Go to the Nantahala Outdoor Center

Another popular attraction in Gatlinburg is the Nantahala Outdoor Center located at 1138 Parkway. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast and you’re looking forward to seeing the Smoky Mountains then this is ranked by National Geographic Adventure as one of the “best outfitters on earth.” You’ll find everything that you need along with raft tours of the Lower and Upper Pigeon River and a variety of different trips and adventures through the great outdoors.


11. Go to Westgate Wild Bear Falls

If you’re into water fun then you might want to take the family to 915 Westgate Road to enjoy the fun and thrills of a 60,000-foot indoor waterpark. It doesn’t have to be in the summertime either, because the waterpark is open all year round. They offer toddler only areas along with swimming pools, a 900 foot long lazy river, body slides, tube slides, and more.

t Atlanticus Miniature Golf

10. Play a game of miniature golf

Another popular place to visit for fun in Gatlinburg is Gatlin’s Mini Golf. If you enjoy playing miniature golf, then you must visit this course. It features two 18- hole miniature golf courses in a serene setting that is located on a lovely landscaped hillside. When you’re done playing, you can also get a bite to eat. It’s located at 716 Parkway in Gatlinburg.

Appalachian Ghostwalks

9. Tour with Appalachian Ghostwalks

Gatlinburg Tennessee is known for its haunted venues. Appalachian Ghostwalks is located at 959 Parkway where they make their tour departures. This outfit provides their tourists with nightly Ghost Tours that depart every night from the TGI Friday’s location. If this is something that you’re interested in doing then you will need to make reservations in advance because they fill up quickly and it’s almost impossible to get on board as a walk-in. During the tour, you will hear some of the most compelling stories about the haunted places of Gatlinburg.


8. Take A Walk In The Woods

A Walk In The Woods is the only REI Top Guides in the East outfit offering guided nature walks and more. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast then this is a company that you’ll want to contact ahead of time to make your reservations. They also offer overnight trips, day hikes, and more, along with shuttle services to get you where you need to be when your adventure draws to its close. A Walk In The Woods is located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

7. Go to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

If you’re a fan of aquariums then Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is the Best US Aquarium in the country. Here you’ll see thousands of exotic seas creatures including playful penguins, a giant sea turtle, 12-foot long sharks and much more. It’s located at 88 River Road in Gatlinburg, and you can get your tickets in advance. If you look you might also find some useful coupon codes that offer great discounts on the ticket prices for admission.

Salt and Pepper Shaker

6. Visit the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

Gatlinburg is full of interesting museums. The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum offers a collection of more than 20,000 different sets of salt and pepper shakers from all over the world. If you’re a collector, then this is a must-see for the entire family. It may inspire you to begin collecting yourself if you don’t already. This is a pet-friendly museum so you can bring your dog along with you.


5. Visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle is another popular tourist attraction. The highest point of the Gatlinburg Space Needle takes you to a 407-foot tall observation tower that gives you the absolute best views of the city. You won’t find any better views of Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas than this. It offers a 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains. In addition to getting to see some of the most beautiful scenery, the Space Needle also has a lower floor that is filled with family fun. Arcadia is located just below and it is the largest family fun arcade attraction in all of Gatlinburg. There are more than 100 of the most popular games available and they also offer the largest redemption center.

Hollywood Star Cars M

4. Go to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum

Another must-see attraction, while you’re in Gatlinburg, is the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. It’s located at 914 Parkway in Gatlinburg. This museum has on display more than forty cars that are the genuine vehicles that were used in Hollywood television series’ and films. Some of the best superstar cars are displayed within recreated sets that will help you to guess which film or series they were from without having to be told. You’ll need to get tickets to enter the museum but you can usually just walk up to the venue during regular business hours and buy your tickets on the spot.

Ripley's Marvelous Mirror Maze & Candy Factory

3. Visit Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze & Candy Factory

This is yet another of Gatlinburg’s must see attractions for first-time visitors. Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze & Candy Factory is located at 623 Parkway in the city. This is a place where you can get lost but it’s always fun. You must find your way out of the maze but there will be continuous circles, rotating mirrors, dead ends, surprising corners, and more. It’s guaranteed to be some of the best family entertainment you’ve ever had. You can also pick up a bag of candy after the fun of the maze.

World of Illusions

2. Visit the World of Illusions

Another popular attraction in Gatlinburg is the World of Illusions located at 716 Parkway in suite 206. The World of Illusions is one of the largest exhibitions of its kind and it is absolutely action-packed with Grand Illusions. Visit there to discover how you can become a Genie in a bottle, how you can make your friend disappear, walk away from your own shadow and much more of the fun and interesting world of illusions. This attraction is both thrilling and intriguing and it can leave you scratching your head in wonder, but it is always entertaining. Bring the whole family to the World of Illusions.


1. Visit Dollywood

The number one tourist attraction in Gatlinburg, Tennessee is Dollywood. Created by Ms. Dolly Parton, this world-class theme park is one of the most visited places in the city. Dollywood is a venue that offers something for everybody who walks onto the premises. As a major theme park, you will find shows and entertainment, great places to eat and a huge variety of them, shopping venues, family-friendly coasters, and more thrilling amusement park rides, a water park called Dollywood’s Splash Country and much more. If you only have time in your schedule to check out one major attraction while you’re in gatlinburg, then we recommend that you make it Dollywood.

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