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Do you want to avoid some of the crowds at the popular tourist attractions in the Smoky Mountains? Spend some time enjoying places that are off the beaten path! Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are home to fun activities that you might not have thought about doing your vacation. To help you decide what to do that’s both different and exciting, we’ve made a list of 8 unique things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
1. Visit the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community
The Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community is a great place to go if you love admiring artwork or are looking for a special souvenir. This 8-mile loop has the largest group of independent artisans in the world! There are studios, shops and galleries that all feature their work. Whether you want to do some shopping or just want to see the artwork, you’ll love being able to spend time along the Crafts Loop.
2. Pet a penguin at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg
Did you know that you’ll have the opportunity to pet a penguin when you visit Gatlinburg? Head to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and try their Penguin Encounter! During this unique experience, you’ll not only get to pet a penguin, but you’ll watch it put its art skills to the test to create a painting. You can take the penguin’s painting home with you to remind you of what a great time you had at the aquarium!
3. Feed goats on a roof in Pigeon Forge
Our list of unique things to do wouldn’t be complete without including that you can feed actual goats on a roof in Pigeon Forge! The name of this attraction is “Goats on the Roof,” and that’s exactly what you’ll find when you visit. Using the attraction’s special “goat-cycle,” you can transport the food up to the roof for the goats to enjoy. You can also go gem mining, shop for souvenirs, and buy some sweet treats too!
4. Eat lunch at Wild Plum Tea Room
For a dining experience unlike any other you’ll find in the Smokies, eat lunch at Wild Plum Tea Room! Wild Plum Tea Room is an old-world style teahouse and restaurant that serves tea, sandwiches and more in a rustic mountain setting. It’s transformed from a simple tea room into a delicious lunch restaurant. Everything on the menu is homemade and made fresh daily using fresh ingredients. You’re sure to love any meal you have here!
5. Complete a glow-in-the-dark ropes course
We bet you’ve never done a ropes course that glows in the dark before! When you visit WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, you can complete a thrilling glow-in-the-dark ropes course that’s completely indoors! This activity stands 50 feet tall, and visitors will climb 4 stories of ropes with more than 50 obstacles. There are swinging steps, a tremor bridge and more. After you do the ropes course, spend time exploring the attraction’s different Wonder Zones or playing laser tag.
6. See and feed live bears
Everyone is hoping to spot a bear in the Smoky Mountains at some point! In Pigeon Forge, you can guarantee that you see live bears with a visit to Three Bears General Store. Not only can you see 3 live black bears in the store’s live bear habitat, but you can feed them too! After you see and feed the bears, shop around for the perfect Smoky Mountain souvenir.
7. Enjoy an old-fashioned dessert at Glades Soda Fountain
If you’re craving something sweet, visit Glades Soda Fountain! This shop is located in the Arts & Crafts Community and is the perfect spot to grab a frozen treat. Enjoy floats, sodas, phosphates and sundaes as you sit at the counter. You can watch as your favorite dessert is made, or relax at one of the small tables outside the shop! Popular menu items include the classic root beer float, a vanilla malt, and a banana split.
8. View more than 20,000 salt and pepper shakers from around the world
The Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum is one of the more well known, yet still unique, things to do in Gatlinburg. There are more than 20,000 salt and pepper shakers from all across the globe in this attraction. The shakers are displayed throughout the museum by themes and colors. See everything from animal shakers, to cars, to characters! Admission to the museum is only $3, and that $3 can be used towards any purchase in the gift shop. Even better news, kids 12 and under get in for free!
More Things to Do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
These are just some of the unique things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge during your vacation. For more help planning your trip, learn about the other fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains!