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Animal lovers are sure to have a great time in the Smoky Mountains! Whether you’re strolling through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or visiting an attraction, there is plenty of opportunities to see, and even interact with, some of your favorite animals. To guarantee you make the most of your time on vacation, we’ve put together a list of the top 8 things to do in the Smoky Mountains for animal lovers:
1. Parrot Mountain
Parrot Mountain & Gardens is a one of the most beautiful attractions in the Smoky Mountains. It is nestled on four acres of landscaped gardens and is home to hundreds of tropical birds and thousands of flowers, plants and trees. Visitors will have the opportunity to see parrot cottages and enter a secret garden, where you can see the birds in flight. You will also have the opportunity to feed the birds and have pictures taken with them if you wish. But that’s not all — there is even a baby bird nursery where you can pet the babies and watch as they are hand fed!
2. Wildlife Encounter
The Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg is a great way to guarantee you get to see your favorite Smoky Mountain wildlife during vacation. The Wildlife Encounter is home to a black bear family of four, raccoons, turtles, flying squirrels and more. You can even see river otters playing in the underwater viewing area! This attraction was created to allow visitors to have an up-close viewing of native wildlife in a safe encounter.
3. Smoky Mountain Cat House
This is a must-visit for cat lovers! Smoky Mountain Cat House is a unique gift and cat collectible store in Pigeon Forge. It’s not just a place to shop, though. It’s a place to relax, be yourself and show off your favorite cat pictures or share a story with other cat lovers! You can even pet and play with cats if you’re missing your own back home. Items in the Smoky Mountain Cat House range from cat pajamas for you, to toys and treats for your furry friend.
4. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is one of the most popular spots for wildlife viewing in the Smoky Mountains. Although it’s not guaranteed you will see anything, there is a very high chance of seeing wildlife sometime during your adventure. You can drive along the Cades Cove Loop Road and admire the gorgeous scenery, as well as the diverse wildlife, from the comfort of your car. Black bears, white-tailed deer and turkey are just some of the many animals you have a chance of spotting in Cades Cove.
5. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is rated one of the top aquariums in the country, and the recognition is well deserved. Not only can you admire a variety of aquatic animals, you can interact with them! There are a number of unique experiences for visitors that put you up close and personal to your favorite sea creatures. You can splash with stingrays, touch a jellyfish and even feed a sea turtle! There is also a penguin encounter that allows you to come face to face with the penguins and get a souvenir photo to take back home.
6. Smoky Mountain Deer Farm
The Smoky Mountain Deer Farm Exotic Petting Zoo in Sevierville is the place to go for an unforgettable experience with animals. This isn’t your typical petting zoo. You can walk with them and feed them right from your hand! Deer isn’t the only animal you’ll get to interact with. The zoo has camel, kangaroos, zebra, goats, emu and more! Make sure you bring your camera with you to capture pictures with all the animals.
7. Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud
With the addition of a pool to the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, the show introduced diving dogs! The theater has a pool that is 22 feet deep and filled with more than 200,000 gallons of saltwater. There are a total of 5 diving dogs that you can watch do tricks and splash around in the water. There is expected to be more diving animals in the future, so be on the lookout!
8. Goats on the Roof
Goats on the Roof is a unique attraction in Pigeon Forge that lets you feed goats! There are actually live goats on the roof, and you can send some food up to them! Stop by and get a can of goat food, then use the special “goat-cycle” to transport the can of food to the hungry goats on the rooftop! If you just want to observe the goats, you have a perfect view from the second level of the gift shop. While you’re there, grab a souvenir and a treat to satisfy your sweet tooth, then ride the goat coaster, a mountain coater than is nearly a mile long and can reach top speeds of 30 miles per hour!
If you love animals, you will love visiting the Smokies. Browse more things to do in the Smoky Mountains and then start planning your trip!