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What is one thing that you have always wanted to do in the Smoky Mountains but have not had the chance? Have you wanted to take a helicopter ride over the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or whitewater rafting in Gatlinburg?
At Visit My Smokies, we could not be more excited for a new year, filled with a ton of fun and excitement for families and guests to enjoy. And, to help guests get the most out of their next trip to the area, we have created our own Smoky Mountains bucket list of the top 15 things to do in the Smoky Mountains in 2015.
Do you have your own Smoky Mountains bucket list ideas? Let us know in the comments below!
Top 15 Things to do in the Smoky Mountains in 2015
Join the 900 Miler Club
It is hard to imagine a trip to the Smoky Mountains that doesn’t involve hiking a trail or two inside the national park. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that trying to join the 900 Miler Club is at the top of our list of our favorite things to so in the Smoky Mountains in 2015.
The 900 Miler Club is an exclusive group reserved for people who have hiked at least 900 miles of Smoky Mountain hiking trails. All you have to do to get started with this group is to strap on your favorite hiking boots and hit the trails!
This club is perfect for both novice and expert hikers. Another benefit is there is no time frame for when you have to have the milage complete. This means that you are encouraged to take your time and appreciate the natural beauty of the mountains.
Watch the Sun Rise in Cades Cove
There is no denying the beauty and serenity found in Cades Cove. With the combination of historic homes and scenic nature, we cannot imagine any place more perfect to watch the morning sun creep over the mountains than in this divine place.
That is why we encourage all visitors looking for fun and unique things to do in the Smoky Mountains in 2015 to wake up early one morning and witness a sun rise in Cades Cove. Watching the sun bring life to all the trees, flowers and wildlife that call this area home is the perfect start to any relaxing day of vacation.
To learn more about what to expect when you visit this historic area, be sure to read our blog on the 8 most shocking facts about Cades Cove. You may learn something you didn’t already know!
Discover Your New Favorite Moonshine Flavor
Moonshining in the Smoky Mountains is a long-standing tradition. However, folks are no longer running illegal stills in the mountains. No, as times have changes they are now allowed to set up shop and invite anyone of legal drinking age to join them as their master the recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
That being said, there are quite a few moonshine distilleries in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, each of which that boast their own set of flavors and spirits. Why not swing by one of these distilleries and pick up a jar or two of your new favorite shine to bring back home with you?
When you were a little kid, did you dream of growing up and becoming a park ranger in the Smoky Mountains? No? That may have just been us, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too late for you and your family to get involved with helping preserve our beautiful park while also learning a lot about its history thanks to the Junior and Not-So-Junior Ranger programs.
Through these programs, guests are encouraged to explore, learn, maintain and represent the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through a variety of outlets.
The Junior Ranger program is set up for kids ages 5-12 and the Not-So-Junior Program is for guests ages 13+.
To learn more about both of these programs, be sure to swing by one of the many visitor centers in the national park to pick up a book on the program.
Cruise Newfound Gap Road
Whether you are cruising with the top down on your convertible, feeling the wind on your back on a motorcycle, or simply riding around in your family’s van, nothing beats cruising Newfound Gap Road on a warm day. Along this road, you and your family or group will find a ton of scenic overlooks, a few trails heads, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial from when the former president officially opened the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This is also the roadway you take to get to Clingmans Dome.
Please be aware, this road does often close in the winter due to snow and ice for travelers’ safety.
Treat Yourself to a Pancake Breakfast
Pancakes and the Smoky Mountains go hand in hand. You can find a pancake house nearly everywhere you turn. So why not indulge yourself during your next trip to the Smokies by treating yourself to a delicious pancake breakfast!
Whether you like them drenched in syrup or filled with fruit, you will not be disappointed.
To find out more about all of our favorite pancake houses and places to eat in the Smoky Mountains, be sure to check out the Dining section of our website. There you will find a list of all of our favorite restaurants in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.
Eat Fudge in Downtown Gatlinburg
Eating fudge in downtown Gatlinburg is a vacation tradition. With so many quaint candy shops that call the area home, guests will be pleased with such a wide variety of sweets found here.
Besides, why wouldn’t you want to indulge in a fantastic fudge overload? Remember, calories don’t count when you are on vacation!
Are you a thrill seeker? Do you love feeling the wind rush through your hair as your zip, twist, turn, and drop while riding on one of the thrilling roller coasters at Dollywood? If you answered yes, then we recommend that you and your family take the chance to experience all of the exciting rides at Dollywood at least twice in 2015.
Why twice? Because they are so much fun you have to experience more than once to capture the full thrill and excitement of the rides.
Not to mention, will all the new additions and upgrades that were recently announced for Dollywood’s 30th anniversary, we are sure you and your family have a hard time finding an excuse to leave the park once you arrive!
Overlook Downtown Gatlinburg at Night From Little River Road
Have you ever stood on the edge of a mountain and looked down at all the dazzling lights of downtown Gatlinburg at night? If your answer is no, then there is no reason why doing so is not on your Smoky Mountain bucket list for things to do in the Smoky Mountains in 2015.
To get to the overlook, cruise down the Parkway in Gatlinburg toward Newfound Gap Road, take a right at the Visitor Center and follow Little River Road until you see the lights from the Gatlinburg Space Needle poking through the trees. There are two scenic overlooks you can choose from for the view.
Once you have taken in as much of the night-time beauty you can stand, you can either turn around and head back to downtown Gatlinburg or you can continue down the road and take a night drive through the national park.
If you travel during the winter months, be sure to look for snow and ice on the roads when you drive at night. The National Park Service does not salt the roads to protect the nature in the park.
Everyone needs to experience the beauty of fall in the Smoky Mountains at least once, so why not make this year that time for you and your family. The mountains truly do come to life with the vibrant reds, yellows, and orange colors of the leaves changing.
To find out what you have been missing all of these years, read our blog on the Smoky Mountain fall colors.
Sing With the Carolers During Tunes & Tales
Jump into the Christmas spirit by humming along to your favorite Christmas carol during the Winter Magic Tunes & Tales held every year in downtown Gatlinburg. This special event showcases dozens of talented singers from across the region, all dressed in early settler attire, strolling the streets of downtown Gatlinburg while entertaining crowds.
In addition to the singers, there are also a variety of storytellers and musicians that guests can enjoy.
The Winter Magic Tunes & Tales is typically held during the Winterfest Celebration in downtown Gatlinburg every year. Be sure to follow our blog for details on this event as they are released.
Are you looking for the new perfect piece to hang over your mantle at home or a nice centerpiece on your coffee table? Why not make 2015 the year of redecorating with all the exquisite art found in the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts District?
With over 120 local artisans, everyone is sure to find something they love.
Take a Stroll on the Pigeon Forge Parkway
Another one of our favorite things to do in the Smoky Mountains in 2015 is to take a stroll on the Pigeon Forge Parkway. Pigeon Forge has become one of the fastest-growing entertainment centers in the Smoky Mountains.
Here, families will find a ton of the new restaurants and attractions that have opened in the area, including Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, The Island, Hard Rock Cafe, and Old Forge Distillery.
If you don’t feel like walking, you can always take a ride on the Pigeon Forge Trolley or rent a segway to cruise up and down the roadway. However you decide to explore the city, we are sure you will not be disappointed with all the new fun and exciting things waiting to be discovered by you and your family.
Tag a Butterfly
Have you ever wanted to leave your mark on the Smoky Mountains? Now, we all know that it is illegal to mark or vandalize any of the trees or buildings inside the national park, but you can help them tag a Smoky Mountain butterfly or two.
Every year, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont invites families and guests to join them as they collect and tag hundreds of monarch butterflies. This is the perfect sunny day activity for parents with young kids.
Tags are small stickers, the size of a pea, that are attached to the butterfly’s wings that allow park officials to track the migration path of the insects.
The dates for the 2015 tagging event has not yet been released. However, you can follow the event on the institute’s website.
Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are considered the destination wedding capital of the south? That’s right! Our beautiful mountains draw thousands of soon-to-be newlyweds from around the world to exchange their vows. That being said, why don’t you and your special someone consider joining these couples in saying ‘I do’ in the heart of the Smokies?
If you are already married, you should consider renewing your vows. Or, if you aren’t quite ready to take that big step, you can start by planning a romantic vacation in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.
Either way, we are sure you and your loved one are sure to fall in love all over again when you visit the Smoky Mountains this year.
Click here to learn more about planning a wedding in the Smoky Mountains.
If you and your family need a peaceful and relaxing place to stay while you work your way through our Smoky Mountain bucket list of our favorite things to do in the Smoky Mountains in 2015, we suggest you check out the Where to Stay tab on our website. There you will find a full list of all of our favorite Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins, bed & breakfasts, campgrounds, and more!