7 Amazing Things To Do in the Smoky Mountains Before Summer Ends

Scenic road in Cades Cove that visitors can enjoy on a Smoky Mountain vacation.
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Summer always seems to go by way too quickly! Pretty soon it will be time for back to school shopping and Friday night football games. However, before you pack away your summer adventure spirit, we at Visit My Smokies have put together a list of the top 7 things to do in the Smoky Mountains before summer ends.

1. Go Smoky Mountain White Water Rafting

White water rafting in the Smoky Mountains is probably one of the most thrilling things to do in the area. Not only does this outdoor adventure offer some of the most peaceful and scenic mountain views, but the feeling of accomplishment that comes after you and your group have successfully conquered all of the rapids is an incredible bonding experience.

A few of our favorite white water rafting companies include:

2. Visit Dollywood’s Summer Celebration

Dollywood’s Summer Celebration has quickly become one of the most popular things to do in the Smoky Mountains this time of year. In true Dollywood style, the Pigeon Forge amusement park’s festival features extended hours, nightly fireworks, and exciting summer entertainment! Some of the entertainment you can expect to see is:

  • Summer Feels: This show takes the audience on a musical journey through today’s hits. There’ll also be a few of your older favorites in the mix!
  • The Little Engine Playhouse: Perfect for children who love to sing and dance, this show brings all your kids favorite stories to life with three musicals composed by Ms. Dolly Parton herself. Each of the musicals last about 20 minutes each.
  • Dolly’s Night of Many Colors: It wouldn’t be summertime in the Smoky Mountains without some fireworks! Every night during the summer, Dollywood visitors can watch as an incredible display of fireworks lights up the night sky.

This year, Dollywood’s Summer Celebration will run from June 22 to August 4.

Before buying your tickets, be sure to read our blog on the best ways to save money at Dollywood.

3. Go Biking in Cades Cove

A trip to Cades Cove is hands-down one of the most family-friendly things to do in the Smoky Mountains. It is almost as if time stands still here because of all of the historic buildings, churches and wildlife that call this place home.

What makes Cades Cove even more special during the summer is that park officials close its 11-mile loop road off from car traffic every Wednesday and Saturday morning until 10 a.m. This allows bikers and walkers to enjoy a few hours exploring the area without worrying about the noise of cars scaring off all the animals.

Click here to learn more about how to prepare for your summer trip to Cades Cove.

4. Ride the Lazy River at Dollywood’s Splash Country

float in the lazy riverWe have already told you about all the fun and excitement you can have this summer by visiting the Pigeon Forge amusement park, Dollywood, but what about its neighbor, Splash Country?

Well, just like its sister park, Dollywood’s Splash Country is the perfect thing to do in the Smoky Mountains for families looking to experience one of the most memorable vacations possible.

At Dollywood’s Splash Country, families will find a variety of water slides, swimming pools and rides that will keep you entertained for hours.

Click here for tips on the best ways to save money at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

5. Go Night Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

We all know how fun it is to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains, but have you ever considered doing so after dark? Starting June 22, you and your family can do just that every Thursday beginning at 9 p.m.

Led by a member of the National Park Service, groups and families have the exclusive opportunity to explore the scenic Cades Cove area after the sun goes down. The night hikes in Cades Cove usually last until about 10:30 p.m., and guests should expect to walk a total of 2.5 miles.

Experience is not required to participate in the Smoky Mountain night hikes. Children under 14 years of are required to be accompanied by an adult.

To participate in the hike, guests should meet at the shelter at the entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road before 9 p.m. for orientation.

For visitors who may not be familiar with how to get to the Cades Cove Loop Road, here is a map you can use for driving directions:
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6. Listen to Smoky Mountain Music at Gatlinburg’s Tune & Tales

If you love Smoky Mountain music, then you and your family will love Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales. This unique Gatlinburg event brings talented singers, songwriters storytellers and street performers from all across the region and invites them to show off their talents in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg on the Parkway.

Visitors to Tune & Tales will get a kick out of watching the entertainers perform in their period costumes that hint of times as far back as the early 1800s. It’s one of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains in the summer!

To catch a glimpse of what to expect at this year’s Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales, watch this video:

Performances run 6-11 p.m. every night from June 21-August 3. This is a completely free Gatlinburg event.

7. Ride the Gatlinburg Trolley

From mid-June to mid-August, the Gatlinburg trolley service offers passengers a free ride on a special summer shuttle route! This specially painted, open-air shuttle operates from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It takes a special route, allowing visitors to take in all the gorgeous sights and see everything Gatlinburg has to offer. Extra stops have been established along the route to bring the total to 40 along the Parkway. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to get around Gatlinburg for free this summer!

For more information on fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains, be sure to check out the What to Do section of our website.

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