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White water rafters using their oars to paddle the river

18 Attractions in the Smoky Mountains to Add to Your 2018 Bucket List

With the new year approaching, it’s time to start thinking how you want to spend it. It’s the perfect time to make a bucket list of new adventures for you and your loved ones to try to make sure you have the best year yet. At Visit My Smokies, we’ve put together a list of some of the most best attractions in the Smoky Mountains, from thrilling rides to delicious restaurants, that you’ll want to try in the new year. Here are 18 amazing attractions in the Smoky Mountains to add to your 2018 bucket list.

living room of smoky mountain cabin1. Smoky Mountain Cabins

Arguably the best thing to add to your 2018 bucket list is renting a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. You’ll need a place to stay while you visit all these amazing attractions in the Smoky Mountains, and a cabin will make you feel right at home! The cabins have fully-equipped kitchens, spacious living areas and separate bedrooms with spectacular mountain views. There are also cabins with hot tubs, game rooms and theater rooms. You’ll be able to enjoy all the comforts of home along with the benefits of being in the Smoky Mountains. And the best part is you’ll be just minutes away from all the excitement the area has to offer. You’ll definitely want to add staying in a Smoky Mountain cabin to your bucket list!


2. WonderWorks

WonderWorks Indoor Amusement Park in Pigeon Forge is 35,000 square feet of fun! It’s more than just an amusement park – it’s an amusement park for the mind! The park combines both education and entertainment for you to experience in more than 100 hands-on exhibits. Visit the Light & Sound Zone and jump from key to key on the giant piano, or step into the Imagination Lab to play with a gigantic version of Lite-Brite! There’s so many exciting things to do at WonderWorks.

3. Smoky Mountain Opry

For some of the best live entertainment, makes plans to visit the Smoky Mountain Opry! The Smoky Mountain Opry is the largest musical variety show in the area. Sit back, relax, and watch a talented cast of singers, dancers, comedians and musicians, along with incredible special effects, laser lights, pyro, dazzling costumes and more! It’s guaranteed to be a performance you’ll never forget.

A young woman experiencing Shark Lagoon at the Gatlinburg aquarium.4. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

If you love sea life, you have to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies during the new year. It was voted the best aquarium in the country, and you’ll want to see why! There is a variety of fun experiences at the aquarium, from traveling on a glidepath underwater and coming face-to-face with stingrays, snappers and sharks, to interacting one-on-one with rays!

5. Greenbrier Restaurant

Looking for a unique dining experience in the Smokies to add to cross off your bucket list? Try the Greenbrier Restaurant in Gatlinburg! You’ll be able to enjoy a delicious meal in a mountain side, historic log cabin. The restaurant has a family-friendly and romantic setting, with a private room available for small groups with a reservation. The menu features a variety of meals to choose from, including prime rib, lobster, pasta and chicken!

6. Hiking Trails in the Smoky Mountains

There’s nothing quite like visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for an exciting day exploring the beautiful mountains. The Smoky Mountains has trails for every level of hiker, from beginners to professionals. Visit during the fall when the leaves change to see picture-perfect views, or go during the winter for a chance to see frozen waterfalls and snow-covered mountaintops. Some of the most popular trails include Alum Cave Trail and Laurel Falls.

camping in the smoky mountains7. Campgrounds in the Smoky Mountains

Make your hiking trip even better by camping in the Smoky Mountains! Camping is a great adventure that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. What’s better than waking up surrounded by the beauty of the Smoky Mountains? If you have an RV, there are several places you can stay, such as Up the Creek RV Camp, which has wi-fi and cable TV available at some sites, and some with a grill, sink and refrigerator! If you want to sleep underneath the stars in a tent, visit the Smoky Mountain Campgrounds in Gatlinburg, a nature-lover’s paradise. There are plenty of wonderful campgrounds in the Smoky Mountains to choose from.

8. Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle offers incredible views of Gatlinburg, with the Smoky Mountains in the background. You haven’t seen anything quite like the picture you’ll get when you clump to the observation deck of the needle 407’ above the city streets. Bring a camera to capture the picture-perfect views and hold onto the memory forever. There’s also a two-story playground, Arcadia, that kids (and grown-ups too) will love! There are more than 100 games, simulators and activities that everyone will enjoy!

9. Comedy Barn Theater

The Comedy Barn Theater has the most award-winning family comedy variety show in the Smoky Mountains. Bring the whole family for a night full of laughs and endless entertainment. The show features magicians, jugglers, live music, comedians and more! You can add dinner to your show and devour a delicious meal while you spend quality time with friends or family. The meal is all-you-can-eat and features pot roast, baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans and so much more!

A group of people enjoying white water rafting.10. Smoky Mountain Outdoors – Whitewater Rafting

Have you ever wanted to experience a whitewater rafting trip like no other? Then add a trip to Smoky Mountain Outdoors to your bucket list! Smoky Mountain Outdoors offers an unforgettable experience on the Pigeon River. Guests are guaranteed an exciting adventure down the river with class 3 and class 4 rapids! All the rafting trips include an experienced guide so your trip is safe and enjoyable! Go Upper River Rafting for a wild ride on class 3 and 4 rapids, or go Lower River Rafting for a laid-back trip down the river to take in the breathtaking views.

11. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure

If you love haunted houses and all-things-Halloween, you have to visit Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. This frightening attraction is open year-round, so you experience the spookiness at any time of the year. The haunted adventure takes haunted houses to the next level, with more than 10,000 square feet, filled with live actors lurking around every corner. If you’re in the mood for chills up your spine and heart-racing suspense, don’t miss out on Ripley’s Haunted Adventure.

12. Country Tonite Theatre

Head to Country Tonite Theatre for a high-energy show that the whole family will love. The Pigeon Forge show has been voted the best show in the Smokies. With incredible singers, dancers and comedians, on top of amazing production and choreography, it’s easy to see why so many people love it! You don’t have to be a country music fan to enjoy the show. There’s a variety of musical choices, from classic country, to gospel, to current hits! The 1,500-seat theatre offers a feel-good show that you won’t want to miss.

Mother and daughter riding on a carousel at Dollywood13. Dollywood

Dollywood is the perfect combination of thrilling amusement park rides, live entertainment, arts and crafts, and more! If you’ve never visited Dollywood, it should definitely be on your bucket list for the new year. And even if you have visited, plan another trip to guarantee incredible memories in 2018. Ride thrilling roller coasters, or relax on the carousel for a kid-friendly ride the whole family will love. Dollywood named 2018 the “Season of Showstoppers,” so guests can expect incredible live entertainment. In addition to rides and entertainment, stop by some of the many shops and delicious dining options to make your visit to Dollywood complete.

14. Dollywood Splash Country

Visit Dollywood Splash Country during the warmer months for some summer fun you’ll never forget! This awesome waterpark has thrill slides, raft rides, a lazy river, a wave pool and so much more. There’s also a children’s size water play area for some family fun! You’ll make unforgettable memories when you visit Dollywood Splash Country. Splash around all day long on exciting rides, from The Butterfly to Mountain Twist before cooling off with an ICEE at Mountain Waves Slush Factory. It’ll be a day you’ll never forget!

15. The Apple Barn

The Apple Barn in Sevierville is a must-visit in 2018. The Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store started off as just a regular barn, but has grown to be so much more. In the Cider Room, visitors can watch juicy, sweet and tart apples being pressed into delicious cider in the fall. At the Cider Bar, guests can sample hot or cold cider. There’s also an Apple Pie Kitchen, where you’ll find delicious sweet treats to enjoy or take home. The General Store features a variety of handmade mountain crafts, food items and collectibles so you can find the perfect souvenir from your trip. Also on site is the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and the Applewood Farmhouse Grill, serving delicious meals everyone will love, and the Apple Barn Winery, which specializes in apple and fruit wines. Visit the Apple Barn Village and explore all the different shops and restaurants!

Mother and son riding an alpine coaster.16. Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

You’re in for the ride of a lifetime on the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster in Pigeon Forge. You’ll twist and turn down the side of the mountain, experiencing scenic mountain views like never before. It’s the longest downhill track in the country! The best thing about the Alpine Coaster is that you get to control your own speed – you just push forward to go and let go to stop! The ride is a little over a mile, and you can go up to 27 miles per hour. You’ll have the time of your life!

17. NASCAR SpeedPark

NASCAR SpeedPark Smoky Mountains is an entertaining family-friendly attraction you won’t want to miss in the new year. There’s something for everyone at the park, including thrill rides, racetracks, kids’ rides and unlimited mini golf and indoor rock climbing! Channel your inner NASCAR driver as you race around a large selection of go-kart tracks. On the Smoky Mountain Speedway, you’ll be able to drive a 3/8-scale version of an actual Sprint Cup car – so you’ll really feel like a racecar driver! There’s also a state-of-the-art interactive arcade with more than 75 games! It’s an incredible experience you won’t want to miss.

18. Ober Gatlinburg

One place you’re definitely going to want to go in the new year is Ober Gatlinburg! Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park is a mountaintop of fun. If you visit during the winter months, you’ll be able to hit the slopes and spend an afternoon skiing, snowboarding and tubing! There’s plenty to do when it’s warm outside too, from riding the Aerial Tramway and seeing spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains, to an exciting ride weaving through the woods and ski trails on the Alpine Slide!

The Smoky Mountains have so many exciting things to do! Check out all the attractions in the Smoky Mountains you can visit in the new year, and make 2018 the best year yet.