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When you visit the Smoky Mountains, take a break from the hustle and bustle along the parkways in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to explore some of the lesser known places in the area! Whether you’re looking for a restaurant where the locals dine or an attraction that has fewer crowds than most, we can help you find it! Check out our list of the top 8 places to visit in the Smoky Mountains off the beaten path:
1. Parrot Mountain
Drive to McCarter Hollow Road to step into a world of beautifully landscaped gardens and hundreds of tropical birds. Parrot Mountain is a unique attraction known for its beauty. When you arrive, you’ll see a replica of Thomas Kinkade’s Stairway to Paradise and paved pathways lined with parrot cottages. A highlight of this attraction is the Secret Garden, which is home to toucans, silvery-cheek hornbill, magpies and more, all flying freely. It’s an incredible experience to stroll through the gardens and take in the beauty of the flowers, plants and trees, along with the colorful birds all around you. You’ll even have the opportunity to feed and hold some of the birds!
2. Elvira’s Cafe
When you’re in the mood for delicious Southern eats in a quiet location, visit Elvira’s Cafe. This restaurant is located along Wears Valley Road in Sevierville and is a common place where locals dine. The dishes served at Elvira’s Cafe are a unique take on Southern food with a bit of Russian heritage. Items on the menu include hot cakes and omelets for breakfast, and grilled cheese, sandwiches and burgers for lunch.
3. Friendly Falls
Friendly Falls is a unique place to visit in the Smoky Mountains that is great for people of all ages. Sit back and enjoy the waterfall, bring your kids gem mining or stop by the snack shop! Kids love Gnorbert’s Magic Gem Mine, where they can grab a bucket and get to work collecting gems. Visitors also love grabbing ice cream or a meal off the picnic-style menu in the snack shop and enjoy it by the waterfall outside!
4. Forbidden Caverns
Forbidden Caverns is one of the best places to visit under the Smokies! At this attraction, you’ll go on an entertaining and educational tour of the caverns, where you’ll see sparkling formations, chimneys, grottos and a stream. The experience features special lighting effects and a stereophonic sound to make it even more enjoyable! Forbidden Caverns is located off the
5. Elkmont Historic District
Have you ever wanted to see a ghost town in the Smoky Mountains? Visit Elkmont Historic District in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! This area was once part of a booming logging industry, then became a popular vacation destination. When the national park was established, Elkmont residents had to decide whether they wanted to see their homes and relocate or sell them for a discounted price in return for a lifetime lease. Most of the leases expired in 1992, leaving the park with about 70 historic buildings and no one to maintain them. Over time, the abandoned cabins started to deteriorate, resulting in the legend of “Elkmont Ghost Town.”
To get to Elkmont Historic District, take US-411 from Gatlinburg to Sugarlands Visitor Center, where you’ll turn onto Fighting Creek Gap Road. After about 4.5 miles, you’ll find Elkmont Road.
6. Smoky Mountain Cat House
Do you have a feline friend or just love anything and everything that has to do with cats? Stop by the Smoky Mountain Cat House while you’re in the area! Located near The Old Mill, this stop features a variety of unique gifts and cat collectibles. Find everything from cat-themed apparel, bags and home decor, to items for your furry friend! You can even pet and play with a cat while you’re at the shop if you’re missing your cat back home.
7. Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum
If you love classic cars, Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville is the place for you. This museum is home to more than 90 muscle cars from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. You’ll find modern muscle cars, classic muscle cars, and even get to browse through a large gift shop! Visitors love taking a step back in time to see the collection that’s worth more than $8 million.
8. Frank Allen’s
You can find the best burgers in the Smoky Mountains in a small market called Frank Allen’s. Hidden in a Marathon Gas station on the Parkway in Sevierville, this is one of the places to visit in the Smoky Mountains that you don’t want to miss. Everyone who stops here falls in love with the burgers, hot dogs and crinkle-cut fries. If you’re looking for a quick meal that doesn’t require a long wait, this is the place to go!
Most Places to Visit in the Smoky Mountains
Still looking for more things to do in the Smoky Mountains? You’ll have plenty of options for entertainment on your vacation. Whether you want to go to one of the best places to visit in the Smoky Mountains off the beaten path or explore some of the well-known attractions, you’ll never get bored. Discover all the best things to do in the Smokies, then start planning your trip!