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Our Guide to Taking a Break at One of the Picnic Areas in the Smoky Mountains

Whether for a romantic date, a family outing, or an outdoor adventure with friends, you’ll find a number of scenic picnic areas in the Smoky Mountains to take a break and relax in between hikes and exploring the national park. Keep reading to learn more about the top spots as well as some helpful tips for planning the ultimate outing!

Important Picnicking Tips

Keep these helpful tips in mind when planning the ultimate picnic:

  • Leave no trace! Pick up after yourself and the kids to ensure you don’t leave any food scraps or trash behind. 
  • Never share your picnic with the wildlife! 
  • Dogs are allowed at Smoky Mountain picnic areas but must be kept on a leash at all times; however, the only trails they are permitted on are the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. 
  • Some picnic areas have large pavilions that would make for excellent group gatherings like a family reunion or birthday party- visit the NPS picnicking page for more info about reserving a pavilion. Impromptu use is permitted as long as the pavilion has already been reserved. 

Best Picnic Areas in the Smoky Mountains

Chimney Tops

One of the most popular picnic areas in the Smoky Mountains is definitely Chimney Tops. Located on Newfound Gap Road, there are bathrooms and parking, along with beautiful views of a rocky stream. The dense forest provides near-constant shade, making it a great spot to get out of the heat. 

cades cove picnic areaCades Cove 

The 11-mile loop road offers many pull-off areas to enjoy a picnic lunch; the Cades Cove picnic area itself offers multiple picnic tables and charcoal grills, and the Campground Store is close by for last-minute drinks, snacks, or supplies if needed. 


The picnic area and pavilion in the Greenbrier section of the Smokies are perfect for large group gatherings! The pavilion can accommodate up to 70 people, with plenty of seating and grills. It’s also less crowded and tucked away from the crowds but also just a few minutes from Gatlinburg. 

Metcalf Bottoms

The Metcalf Bottoms picnic area might just be one of the most picturesque places to stop and relax for a while! Not only is it close to beautiful hiking trails, but its location on the river is ideal for fishing, spotting salamanders, and cooling off on those hot summer afternoons!

Our Top Smoky Mountain Picnic Ideas 

Now that you know about the top places for a picnic in the Smokies, here are a few ideas for the menu:

  • Grab a Family Pack of hickory smoked pulled pork, sides, buns, chocolate chip cookies, and a jug of tea from Buddy’s Bar-B-Q in Sevierville on your way to the national park!
  • Stock up at a Smoky Mountain grocery store deli counter and get picnic foods like fried chicken, macaroni or potato salad, and lemonade– it doesn’t get any better than cold fried chicken and lemonade on a hot summer day!
  • Visit a local winery in the Smokies and get a bottle to share for a romantic picnic, along with a simple meat and cheese tray with some bread or crackers (and don’t forget some chocolate or fruit for something sweet!)

We hope you’ll plan to check out one or more of these picnic areas in the Smoky Mountains during your visit. Want more vacation planning information? Take a look at more fun things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!