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Planning a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains may seem like a daunting task since it expands over 800 square miles and offers a variety of adventures for all walks of life. Have no fear! Here is a list with 8 attractions in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg you may not have known about–to help you plan a better vacation.
The Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community
Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville come complete with your favorite restaurants, shopping malls, shows, attractions and souvenir shops. But, if you’re looking for something a little more authentic to take home with you, head over to the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community just three miles from downtown Gatlinburg. This 8-mile loop hosts over 120 artisans and craftsmen and will take you through the rich culture and history of East Tennessee.
The Sugarland Distillery
Moonshinin’ seeps deep into Appalachian culture and it’s now a crime to leave without trying a little bit of moonshine. Gatlinburg’s newest distillery, The Sugarland Distilling Co. opened in March 2014 and is in the heart of downtown. Not only do you get a free sampling of their large variety of flavors, there is also a free tour of the distillery, live music on the back porch and celebrity appearances from some of the legendary distillers of Appalachia.
Dollywood is one of the most popular attractions in Pigeon Forge. It is the major theme park attractions in the Smokies, but it has a lot more to offer than just rollercoaster rides. All through Dollywood’s open season, diverse shows and festivals are available to enrich your experience in between rides. Festivals include the Festival of Nations, Barbeque & Bluegrass, and Smoky Mountain Christmas.
For more information about the festivals, take a look at the Dollywood Festival Schedule.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers approximately 150 trails to choose from for a hike. These trails vary in difficulty and length, so be sure to check out the National Park Service website for tips and information on hiking in the Smokies. While out on the trail if you happen to find a white marker on your trail known as “Blazes”, this indicates you are hiking a part of the Appalachian Trail. The AT extends from Georgia to Maine for close to 2,175 miles. It passes through the Smokies for more than 71 miles and includes the highest point of the whole trail at Clingman’s Dome.
If hiking is not an easy task for you, the national park has 384 miles of road designated for auto touring to see the beautiful landscape. However, if you’re looking for a thrill ride or want to bring your motorcycle or bicycle with you on your trip, check out the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap. This 11-mile stretch of road has 318 curves just waiting to be tamed. Auto touring roads are only open when weather permits and some are seasonal.
White Water Rafting in Gatlinburg, TN
While walking the strip of Gatlinburg or driving throughout the Smokies, you may see information about white water rafting on the Pigeon River. But, where is it? Located approximately 45 minutes outside of Gatlinburg, you’ll find the small town of Hartford, TN where most of the white water rafting adventures take off! Hartford is the home base for over 10 rafting companies all trained and certified to get you safely down the river. Check out Smoky Mountain Outdoors for a fun rafting adventure in the Smokies: http://www.smokymountainrafting.com/.
If you’re planning to visit during the colder months, don’t forget your skis and snowboard. Ober is right in downtown Gatlinburg and has a variety of activities open year round, but it is the main attraction during the winter season with skiing, snowboarding, tubing and ice skating. Also, check out the Aerial Tramway with scenic views of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Take a look at all of the attractions in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. There’s hundreds of places to visit while you’re in the area, so step away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life and step into fun in the Smoky Mountains!
Special thanks to Nicole Lucas for contributing this article for publication.