10 Things to Do in Downtown Gatlinburg


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Nestled amidst the scenic peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, downtown Gatlinburg offers a unique blend of natural beauty and vibrant street life that can turn any family vacation into an unforgettable adventure. This charming mountain town not only provides a picturesque backdrop but also a bustling center filled with attractions that cater to all ages. From interactive museums to thrilling amusement rides, every corner of downtown Gatlinburg buzzes with excitement and the promise of lasting memories.

1. Explore Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

A visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a journey into an underwater world filled with wonder and discovery. Here, families can marvel at the vibrant colors of tropical fish, encounter sharks up close, and learn about the delicate ecosystems of the ocean. The aquarium’s interactive exhibits, such as the Penguin Playhouse, allow children to experience wildlife in ways that books and videos can’t match. The touch tanks offer a hands-on approach to learning about sea creatures, providing fun and education for all ages.

2. Mynatt Park

Just a short walk from the bustling downtown area, Mynatt Park offers a peaceful escape where families can enjoy the natural beauty of Gatlinburg.

It provides stunning views and peaceful trails perfect for hiking and picnicking. The park features well-maintained facilities, including tennis courts and a creek for fishing, making it an ideal spot for family outings. Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the variety of birds and small mammals that inhabit the area. Its serene atmosphere, combined with convenient amenities and natural beauty, makes Mynatt Park a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Gatlinburg.

3. Stay in the Heart of Downtown

If you aren’t sure where to stay in Gatlinburg, we’ve got you covered!

Located just a few steps away from downtown, Olde Gatlinburg Place is perfect for those who want to check out city attractions like Ripley’s Aquarium and the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts.

With amenities such as an outdoor heated pool, on-site laundry facilities, and the ease of access to the Gatlinburg trolley route, Olde Gatlinburg Rentals are the perfect base for exploring all that Gatlinburg has to offer.

4. Shopping on the Parkway

Gatlinburg’s main strip, the Parkway, is a shopper’s paradise, lined with stores that cater to every taste and preference. As you stroll through this lively district, you’ll find everything from handmade crafts to trendy apparel. Local artisans offer one-of-a-kind items that are as unique as they are beautiful, providing perfect souvenirs and gifts. Whether you’re looking for handmade quilts, locally-produced jams, or custom leather goods, the Parkway offers a rich shopping experience that reflects the spirit and creativity of the Smokies.

5. Visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle is an iconic landmark that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the bustling city below. An elevator ride whisks you up 407 feet to an observation deck where 360-degree views await. For families, the excitement continues back on the ground with Arcadia, a 25,000 square foot arcade that features a variety of games and a thrilling laser tag arena. It’s not just a view—it’s an experience that combines education, fun, and a chance to make memories high above the heart of Gatlinburg.

6. Tasting at Local Distilleries

For families with adults, a visit to Gatlinburg’s local distilleries offers a taste of the region’s rich heritage. Gatlinburg is renowned for its moonshine, a traditional Appalachian spirit, and its distilleries provide insights into the history and craftsmanship behind the drink. Tours and tastings allow visitors to sample various flavors, from classic corn whiskey to innovative blends infused with local fruits and spices. It’s an opportunity to enjoy a piece of Smoky Mountain culture in a relaxed and welcoming setting.

7. Enjoying Live Entertainment

Downtown Gatlinburg thrives with a variety of live entertainment options that cater to family audiences. Street performers, live bands, and theatrical shows are commonplace along the Parkway. The Iris Theater offers magical performances and hilarious comedy acts that can captivate children and adults alike. These live shows provide a wonderful opportunity to relax after a day of sightseeing and shopping.

8. Hiking and Picnicking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

No visit to Gatlinburg is complete without exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park offers numerous trails that are suitable for families, including the Gatlinburg Trail and the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, both of which are relatively flat and offer beautiful natural scenery. For a more relaxing day, pack a picnic and enjoy one of the many designated picnic areas within the park. This is a perfect way to enjoy the serene beauty of nature and spend quality time with your loved ones.

9. Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts

Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts is not just a center for higher learning but a vibrant part of Gatlinburg’s cultural scene, offering workshops and classes that families can enjoy together. Visitors can take short classes to learn a new craft or simply visit the galleries to view the works of students and established artists. Experiencing art firsthand through both viewing and participation can inspire creativity in all family members, making it a rewarding addition to your Gatlinburg itinerary.

10. Seasonal Festivals and Events

Throughout the year, Gatlinburg hosts a variety of festivals and events that are perfect for family entertainment. From the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in April to the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair in July and October, these events showcase the best of local and regional crafts and culture. The Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament in spring and fall offers a fun and friendly fishing competition suitable for all ages. Winter brings the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, a magical experience with beautifully decorated floats and festive music. These events provide unique experiences that can enhance your visit, offering fun and festive ways to create new memories.

Conclusion: A Gateway to Family Memories

Downtown Gatlinburg serves as the perfect gateway for families looking to explore the wonders of the Smoky Mountains while enjoying the comforts and excitement of a vibrant town. Each attraction offers its own unique flavor of fun. The various attractions and outdoor activities ensure that every family member finds something to love. Gatlinburg combines the charm of a small town with the adventurous spirit of the mountains, making it an ideal destination for families seeking a vacation that balances relaxation with adventure. Whether you’re sampling local spirits, enjoying live shows, or exploring the great outdoors, Gatlinburg promises a treasure trove of memories that will last a lifetime. Come and discover this special place where every moment spent turns into a cherished memory for your family.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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17 days ago

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