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Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains are home to some of the most popular attractions in the nation! Dollywood, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and the area’s spectacular dinner theaters attract millions of annual visitors to Gatlinburg and the surrounding cities. While we absolutely love these famous destinations, sometimes, it can also be fun to visit attractions that are a little off the beaten path. To help you make the most of your next vacation, Visit My Smokies has put together a guide to the top seven non touristy things to do in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains.
1. Hike to the Walker Sisters Cabin
The Walker Sisters Place is a fascinating piece of Smoky Mountain history. In the 1940s and 1950s, visitors to the Little Greenbrier section of the national park could visit the Walker Sisters, five unmarried sisters who lived in a log cabin that was built by their grandfather in the 1840s. These stubborn sisters insisted on living a traditional agrarian lifestyle, even after their land became part of America’s most visited national park. While the last Walker Sister passed away in the 1960s, their log cabin remains standing and is open to the public. For more information about hiking to this historic landmark, read our in-depth guide to the Walker Sisters.
2. Go Shopping in the Arts & Crafts Community
Visiting the Arts & Crafts Community is another one of our favorite non touristy things to do in Gatlinburg. Located off of the East Parkway, this 8-mile loop is home to a variety of shops, galleries, and studios that showcase the work of our talented local artisans. If you’re in search of one-of-a-kind handmade goods to take home from Gatlinburg, you simply can’t beat the Arts & Crafts Community.
3. Dine Where the Locals Eat
Of course, no vacation in Gatlinburg is complete without trying some of the area’s wonderful restaurants! To find the best places to eat in the Smokies, we recommend asking the locals for advice. Some of the hidden gems that year-round residents love to visit include:
- Blue Moose Burgers & Wings
- Hickory Cabin Seasoning Company
- Smoky Mountain Brewery
- Holston’s Kitchen
- Taste of Italy
To learn more about these great restaurants, check out our guide to where the locals eat in the Smoky Mountains.
4. See a Tennessee Smokies Games (During Baseball Season)
During the spring and summer, you can cheer on our hometown baseball team, the Tennessee Smokies! As a Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, the Smokies have the stars of tomorrow on their roster. Known as “America’s Friendliest Ballpark”, Smokies Stadium boasts a fun atmosphere, very affordable tickets, delicious food, weekend fireworks, and a variety of awesome theme nights throughout the season.
5. Explore Wears Valley
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the Pigeon Forge Parkway, Wears Valley is the perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet in the Smoky Mountains. This idyllic valley offers breathtaking views, a number of quaint restaurants and shops, and a “secret entrance” to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For more information, check out our exclusive video tour of Wears Valley.
6. Visit Pittman Center
Pittman Center is another small town in the Smokies that is definitely worth a visit. Home to just over 500 people, Pittman Center is a great place to immerse yourself in nature and local history. Visitors to Pittman Center can have a picnic in the gorgeous Greenbrier section of the national park, do some shopping at Brandywine Pottery, or learn about the town’s past at the Glenn Cardwell Heritage Museum.
7. Don’t Sit in Traffic
If you’re looking to enjoy the Smoky Mountains like a local, you don’t want to be stuck in traffic! Fortunately, the area’s year-round residents have a number of tricks for avoiding bumper-to-bumper backups. Here are the top 5 tips for avoiding traffic in the Smokies.
Looking for even more non touristy things to do in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains? Check out our guide to the top 6 hidden gems in Gatlinburg!