Each year, over 11 million people visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee to enjoy everything our Smoky Mountain city has to offer. Featuring a bustling downtown and proximity to America’s most popular national park, Gatlinburg is truly unlike anywhere else in the world. To help you make the most of your next vacation, Visit My Smokies has put together a guide to the top seven spots for sightseeing in Gatlinburg TN and the Great Smoky Mountains.
1. Gatlinburg Space Needle
The Space Needle is Gatlinburg’s most iconic landmark. At 407 feet tall, this striking observation tower offers panoramic views of the city and the Smoky Mountains. If you’re planning a romantic escape with your sweetheart, we suggest visiting the observation tower at night, when Gatlinburg is aglow with twinkling lights. In addition to the breathtaking vistas, the Space Needle is also home to a popular theater, a fun arcade, a pizza restaurant, and an escape game.
Anakeesta is another can’t-miss destination for sightseeing in Gatlinburg TN. Located in the mountains overlooking The Strip, this awesome attraction offers beautiful views, a dueling zipline course, a forest canopy walk, a children’s treehouse playground, and excellent shopping and dining. In order to reach Anakeesta, guests can take a scenic chairlift or gondola ride that leaves from downtown Gatlinburg. Known as the “Chondola” (a mix of chairlift and gondola), this ride is an attraction in itself.
3. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is the most visited section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it’s not hard to see why! About 2 million people visit Cades Cove each year to see this stunning valley’s idyllic mountain views, picturesque fields, and historic buildings. The cove is also famous for its superb wildlife viewing. As you drive around the valley’s 11-mile, one-way loop road, keep your eyes peeled for black bears, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and pileated woodpeckers.
4. Clingmans Dome
While Cades Cove is the national park’s most popular area in the lower elevations, when it comes to panoramic views, you can’t beat Clingmans Dome! Standing 6,643 feet tall, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains and along the entire Appalachian Trail. From atop the Clingmans Dome observation tower, visitors can enjoy unparalleled views of the mountains that extend over 100 miles on clear days. The observation tower is closed for repairs until the end of 2017, but vacationers can still take in spectacular vistas from the Clingmans Dome parking area.
5. The Village
No trip to downtown Gatlinburg is complete without a stop at The Village! Designed to look like a quaint European town, this charming shopping area features a lovely fountain, brick walkways, and festive seasonal decorations. Visitors to The Village will find 27 unique shops that sell clothing, specialty foods, souvenirs, and artwork. If you’re looking for a sweet snack, be sure to pick up a pastry (or 12) at The Donut Friar.
6. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Located minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a 5.5-mile, one-way loop road that showcases the area’s stunning natural beauty. Along this short drive, tourists will see a beautiful stream, historic buildings, forested views, and a wet weather waterfall. The Roaring Fork area is also home to the trailheads for the hikes to Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls.
7. Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook
The Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook is one of the very best photo-ops in the Smokies! Situated along the Gatlinburg Bypass, this pull-off offers a striking view of the downtown area and the mountains. What makes the vista so dramatic is the huge contrast in elevation between the city and the highest points in the Smoky Mountains. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Looking for even more places to go sightseeing in Gatlinburg TN? Check out our comprehensive listing of all the attractions in the Smoky Mountains!