Best 6 Things To Do in Gatlinburg in May

Things to do in Gatlinburg in May

As lush, green foliage sprouts proudly from the earth and tree branches and the warm feeling of sun on your shoulders becomes an increasingly common occurrence, May seems to be announcing its presence in celebration. And why not? May brings with it a whole new list of activities and opportunities for fun to be had that you have to try, so keep reading to learn all about the best things to do in Gatlinburg in May.

Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains are constantly changing, so no matter how many times you visit, you’re never going to experience the same trek, people, animals or views twice. And while we love the the Smokies in all of its seasons, we think visiting in May is a must. Check out a few of our favorite mountain excursions below:

  • Cades Cove – One of the most popular destinations in the Smokies, Cades Cove Cades Cove is one things to do in Gatlinburg in Mayis an ideal opportunity to get outdoors and treat yourself to some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the area. The loop road is closed to motor vehicles until 10 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove. So whether you’re on two tires or two feet, the loop is all yours.
  • Hiking – On-foot is one of the best ways to experience all that the Smokies have to offer, and with 150 official trails to be explored, the
    mountains are practically calling your name. If you’re looking for hikes with possible opportunities for cooling off, check out our list of Smoky Mountain hiking trails with waterfalls.
  • Fishing – Offering 19 major fishing streams and some of the most diverse fish populations in the country, the Smokies are perfect for fishermen of all ages and skill level. With your waders on and fishing pole in-hand, you can enjoy the May mountain breeze from any one of your favorite Gatlinburg fishing streams while waiting for The Big One to bite.

Gatlinburg Farmers Market
From mid-May until mid-October, Smoky Mountain vendors gather to offer local produce and wares for you to purchase and enjoy. From vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries to honey, jellies and jams, you can look forward to a variety of products grown and made right here in the Smokies. For dates and location information, click here.

White Water Rafting
For the adventurous at heart, discover another side of the Smokies with a white water rafting trip. As one of the most thrilling things to do in Gatlinburg, this outdoor adventure features some of the most scenic mountain views around while offering a fun activity to cool off with. Give Smoky Mountain Outdoors a call to plan an exciting rafting trip for you and your family today.

Gatlinburg Beans & Cornbread Festival
One of the newest things to do in Gatlinburg in May, join in a celebration of Appalachia’s culinary past at the Gatlinburg Beans & Cornbread Festival presented by Bush Brothers & Company. For $10, enjoy a beans and cornbread cook off, foot-stompin’ Smoky Mountain music, fun and games, and plenty of beans and cornbread.

Dollywood’s Splash CountryTwo girls playing at a water park in Pigeon Forge
When you’re looking to cool off, there’s no better place than Splash Country. With over 20 water rides and attractions featured in the park, the entire family will have a blast splashing and playing all day long while staying cool. Some family favorite you can find at Splash Country include:

  • RiverRush – Tennessee’s first and only water coaster.
  • Bear Mountain Fire Tower – Multi-level interactive area with slides and water cannons.
  • The Cascades – Pool with active geysers, water jets, slides and waterfalls
  • Big Bear Plunge –Whitewater rafting ride that sends riders through a river expedition

Be sure to check out opening dates and times at Splash Country to plan your visit today!

Gatlinburg Stores on the Strip
Strolling along the strip in Gatlinburg offers two great benefits – you can indulge in a little retail therapy while also soaking up the lovely May weather. Whether you’re simply looking to browse and maybe enjoy a tasty treat long the way – be on the lookout for hand-pulled Smoky Mountain taffy and freshly dipped candy apples! – or load up on local trinkets and souvenirs, the Gatlinburg stores on the strip have it all in one convenient stretch of road. We’ve listed a couple of our favorite shopping spots below:

  • The Village Shoppes in Gatlinburg – Tucked into a nook downtown, The Village is a picturesque collection of quaint stores and eateries that are a must for anyone looking for great shopping – and then some.
  • Gatlinburg Mountain Mall –  A unique indoor shopping experience that is is unlike any other shopping mall, featuring an array of specialty shops.
  • Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen – Candies prepared and served the old fashioned way – homemade sold by the piece or box.
  • Wood Signs of Gatlinburg – Looking to add an authentic piece of Smoky Mountain decor to your home. Drop by Wood Signs of Gatlinburg for a gorgeous, custom sign that is sure to make your house feel like a home.

We know you’ll enjoy all the exciting things to do in Gatlinburg in May. For more events and activities, check out our Smoky Mountain events calendar.

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  • helen

    Is there a peak time to see rhododendrons? Thank you.

    • Chelsea Montana Morgan

      Thanks for commenting, Helen! Catawba rhododendron, which typically grows at elevations above 3,500’, reaches its peak of bloom in June. Rosebay rhododendron is in bloom at lower elevations in June and at mid-elevations during July.

      • helen

        Thank you. Planning trip so we could see them wasn’t sure the best time.