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Here at Visit My Smokies, we typically recommend spending (at least) a week vacationing in Gatlinburg, TN. Sometimes, however, your schedule only leaves you with one day in Gatlinburg. Fortunately, there is still plenty of fun to be had even if you’re only in town for a little while! To help you make the most of your visit, we have put together the ultimate itinerary for 24 hours in Gatlinburg.
1. Pancakes for Breakfast
Gatlinburg is the unofficial pancake capital of the United States! There is no better way to start your day than with a mouthwatering stack of hotcakes at one of the legendary pancake houses in town. Here are the top four places for flapjacks in Gatlinburg.
2. Enjoy Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
After breakfast, it’s time to head over to Gatlinburg’s most popular attraction. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was voted the best aquarium in America by the readers of USA Today! This awesome aquarium is home to over 10,000 beautiful sea creatures.
3. Souvenir Shopping in the Arts & Crafts Community
The Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community is the largest group of independent artisans in the nation. Located 10 minutes away from Ripley’s Aquarium, this 8-mile loop off of the East Parkway is filled with shops, studios, and galleries that showcase the work of local artists. If you’re in search of handcrafted souvenirs, this is the place to find them!
4. Lunch at the Wild Plum Tea Room
The Wild Plum Tea Room is an amazing place to have lunch in the Arts & Crafts Community. Named one of the top 10 restaurants in the state of Tennessee, this unique cafe features scratch-made food in an idyllic natural setting. Be sure to make reservations at The Wild Plum at least 24 hours in advance.
5. Visit Anakeesta
In the afternoon, we suggest heading back to the heart of the city to visit Anakeesta, the newest attraction in the Smokies. Tucked away in the hills overlooking the Parkway, Anakeesta is accessible via a scenic chairlift or gondola ride that leaves from downtown. Once you arrive at Anakeesta, you’ll have the chance to explore a network of sky bridges in the trees, ride dueling ziplines, mine for gems, or do some shopping at Firefly Village.
6. Walk The Strip
If you only have one day in Gatlinburg, you’ll definitely want to spend some time just walking along the downtown Parkway. Also known as “The Strip”, the center of town is lined with fun shops and attractions that your whole family will love. Here are a few of our favorite things to do on The Strip:
- Play classic arcade games at Fannie Farkle’s.
- Do some shopping in The Village, a collection of 27 unique boutiques.
- Stop by one of Gatlinburg’s famous moonshine distilleries to hear live music and sample some authentic white lightnin’.
7. Dinner in Downtown Gatlinburg
When it comes to dinner, you really can’t go wrong in downtown Gatlinburg! Visitors to The Strip will find just about every type of food you could possibly want. Here are a few of the most popular restaurants in town:
- Steakhouses: Cherokee Grill, The Peddler, The Park Grill
- BBQ: Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que, Calhoun’s
- Pizzerias: Best Italian Cafe & Pizzeria, Big Daddy’s Pizzeria
8. See a Show
Anyone looking for some laughs after dinner should attend one of Gatlinburg’s excellent shows! The Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre stages zany comedies that are reminiscent of the Carol Burnett Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The Iris Theater at the Gatlinburg Space Needle is another wonderful destination for live entertainment in Gatlinburg. The Iris is currently hosting Impossibilities: An Evening of Magic, Mindreading, and Mayhem.
9. Dessert at a Candy Store
No trip to the Smokies is complete without a visit to one of the famous fudge shops in downtown Gatlinburg. The Strip is home to a number of candy stores that have been in business for over 60 years! Here are some of the best sweet shops in Gatlinburg.
10. Relax at Your Cabin
After a long day of fun in town, you will love relaxing at your cabin rental. Located in the foothills of the mountains, cabins in the Gatlinburg area come with amazing amenities, such as decks with breathtaking views, hot tubs, home theater rooms, arcade games, pool tables, and even more fun features. Whether you’re spending one day in Gatlinburg or two weeks, you’ll have a blast staying at a cabin. To start planning your getaway, browse our listing of over 600 cabins near Gatlinburg!