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Ultimate Itinerary for Your Week-Long Vacation in the Smoky Mountains

We all need an escape from the busyness of everyday life sometimes, and there’s no better place to escape to than the Smoky Mountains! Why not take a whole week off and spend it enjoying everything that the Smoky Mountain area has to offer? To help you plan the perfect trip, we’ve created the ultimate itinerary for your week-long vacation in the Smoky Mountains.

Day 1:

Eat Breakfast at the Pancake Pantry: Start your first day in the Smoky Mountains off on the right foot with a delicious breakfast! We recommend visiting the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg. As the oldest pancake house in Tennessee, this restaurant’s made-from-scratch pancakes are a breakfast staple.

aerial view of downtown GatlinburgExplore Downtown Gatlinburg: After breakfast, spend time exploring downtown Gatlinburg! Walk along the Parkway and take in the sights, see which attractions catch your eye, and browse some of the shops!

Head to the Top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle: While you’re in downtown Gatlinburg, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Ride to the top of the 407-foot observation tower and admire panoramic views of Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. After you’re finished taking in the sights, ride the elevator back down and play in the arcade! If you start to get hungry, enjoy lunch at Slice Pizza Bakery at the base of the Space Needle.

The scenic Firefly Village at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg.Visit Anakeesta: Another Gatlinburg attraction you have to visit is Anakeesta. From downtown Gatlinburg, ride the scenic Chondola to the top of Anakeesta Mountain. Anakeesta is a fun attraction for people of all ages. We recommend clearing your whole afternoon to enjoy everything at Anakeesta, from a dueling zipline adventure to a tree canopy walk! By the time you experience all the fun, you’ll have worked up quite the appetite. Enjoy dinner at Cliff Top Grill & Bar and relax until the sun sets!

Day 2:

Enjoy Breakfast at The Old Mill Restaurant: After spending your first day exploring Gatlinburg, we recommend spending your second day in Pigeon Forge. You have to try breakfast at The Old Mill Restaurant. Their award-winning Southern breakfast includes biscuits and gravy, grits, omelets, pancakes, and more.

View of the fountains at The Island in Pigeon ForgeVisit The Island in Pigeon Forge: While you’re in Pigeon Forge, visit The Island! This entertainment complex is full of fun, shopping, and dining, all for an affordable price. If you don’t mind heights, you have to go for a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. This 200-foot-tall observation wheel provides gorgeous views of Pigeon Forge and the Smokies. You also have to watch The Island Show Fountain, which gives a stunning presentation of water dance and light, perfectly choreographed to some of your favorite songs. You can also sample some signature moonshine at Ole Smoky!

Ride a Mountain Coaster: For your next adventure, ride a mountain coaster! Pigeon Forge is home to a few coasters that let you be in the driver’s seat and control your own speed. You can race down the mountain at speeds up to 35 mph, or go slower to enjoy the view. Popular mountain coasters in the area are the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, Rocky Top Mountain Coaster, and the Coaster at Goats on the Roof.

Mel's Diner in Pigeon ForgeGrab a Bite to Eat at Mel’s Diner: If you’re feeling hungry and didn’t grab any food at The Island, stop for a quick lunch at Mel’s Diner. This classic 50’s diner is a favorite among visitors. The menu includes everything from salads, to sandwiches, to burgers.

Tour a Museum: Pigeon Forge is home to some interesting and fun museums! It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon in this town. Meet the celebrities at the Hollywood Wax Museum, or experience what it was like to be a passenger on the RMS Titanic at the Titanic Museum. Both museums are interactive and informative!

outside of Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon ForgeSee the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show: Pigeon Forge is known for its family-friendly shows, so of course we put a show on our itinerary for your vacation in the Smoky Mountains. The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show is one of the best. Make sure you come hungry! As you watch the show, which features comedy, singing, dancing, and diving dogs and hillbillies, you’ll be served an all-you-can-eat homestyle feast!

Day 3:

Eat Breakfast in Your Cabin: One of the best ways to save money on vacation is to purchase groceries so you don’t have to pay restaurant bills for 3 meals every day of your trip. When you stay in a Smoky Mountain cabin, you’ll have a fully equipped kitchen! Once you’ve tried the top breakfast spots in the area, spend your morning sleeping in and cooking breakfast in your cabin.

Dollywood express trainVisit Dollywood: While you’re in the Smoky Mountains, you have to visit Dollywood! This world-class theme park is a can’t-miss attraction. From rides for the thrill-seekers to kid-friendly coasters and play areas, the whole family will have a blast here. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore Wildwood Grove, the park’s largest expansion ever! We recommend getting to Dollywood early and spending the whole day at the park enjoying the rides, shops, dining, and entertainment. You can have both lunch and dinner at this popular theme park. While you’re there, be sure to try some of the world-famous cinnamon bread at The Grist Mill and stop by the Spotlight Bakery to see the 25-pound apple pie!

Relax in Your Cabin: After a full day at Dollywood, what you need is a relaxing evening spent at your cabin. Soak in the hot tub on the deck, curl up on the couch and watch a movie, or just take in the spectacular scenery all around!

Day 4:

Eat Breakfast in Your Cabin: Enjoy another quick breakfast in your cabin before heading out to Gatlinburg to spend the day exploring more popular attractions!

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in GatlinburgGo to Ripley’s Aquarium: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has been voted the best aquarium in the country, so it should definitely be on your Smoky Mountain vacation itinerary. At the aquarium, you’ll have the chance to see and interact with your favorite aquatic animals. Touch a stingray and a jellyfish, feed a green sea turtle, and waddle with penguins! This indoor attraction is also a great place to visit if it happens to rain during your vacation.

Browse The Village Shops: When you want to do some shopping on your vacation, head to The Village Shops in downtown Gatlinburg. The Village is home to more than 25 shops and eateries. Stop by the Donut Friar to grab one of their famous sweet treats and a cup of coffee before walking around this Old World-themed shopping area and looking at the artwork, apparel, home decor, and more.

Grab a Quick Lunch: If you’re feeling hungry, there are plenty of places to eat along the Gatlinburg Parkway. Some of our top lunch recommendations are Parton’s Deli and Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que.

Gatlinburg SkyLift downtownVisit the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park: A visit to the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is a must during your vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Not only will you have beautiful views as you ride the Gatlinburg SkyLift to the top of Crockett Mountain, but you’ll have the opportunity to cross the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America!

Play Mini Golf: After your adventure at the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, play a round of mini golf with your family or friends! Gatlinburg is home to a few fun mini golf courses, including Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini Golf and Gatlin’s Mini Golf.

Dinner: For dinner, you have so many great options. If you like live music and good food, make a reservation at Blake Shelton’s Ole Red. We recommend trying the Champagne of Chicken or the Ober Gatlin-Burger! While you dine, you can listen to the live music. For something a little more upscale, visit The Peddler. This popular steakhouse has a fresh salad bar, tender steaks cut tableside, and views of the Little Pigeon River while you dine.

After dinner you can spend more time exploring Gatlinburg or head back to your cabin!

Day 5:

Cades Cove Loop RoadYour Smoky Mountain vacation wouldn’t be complete without spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so that’s what day 5 is all about! Grab a quick breakfast in your cabin before starting your day.

Go for a Scenic Drive: One of the best ways to explore the Smoky Mountains is from the comfort of your vehicle! And of course you don’t want to miss the opportunity to drive the popular Cades Cove Loop Road. This 11-mile one-way loop includes historic sites, gorgeous views, and the opportunity to see wildlife!

Have a Picnic Lunch: After your scenic drive, head to one of the restaurants in Gatlinburg to pick up a boxed lunch you can enjoy in the park! Calhoun’s will prepare some BBQ to go for you, or you can head to Parton’s Deli and grab some sandwiches. If you want to bring your own hot dogs or hamburgers to cook on one of the grills in the picnic areas, you can do that too!

Stunning photo of Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Go for a Hike: After lunch, explore the Smoky Mountains on foot! There are a variety of hiking trails for you to choose from, some for every skill level. If you’re looking for an easy trail near Gatlinburg, try the Gatlinburg Trail. This 1.9-mile trail travels along the Little Pigeon River. If you’re hoping to hike to a waterfall, try the Laurel Falls Trail. This is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. After walking along the trail for 1.3 miles, you’ll reach the beautiful 80-foot waterfall.

Dinner: For your last night in the Smoky Mountains, you should make your dinner special. If you want to stick to the Gatlinburg area, we recommend dining at The Park Grill or Smoky Mountain Brewery. Both restaurants have a casual atmosphere, so you won’t have to worry about changing into anything fancy after your day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you want to dine in Pigeon Forge, visit Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, the Pottery House Cafe and Grill, or Huck Finn’s Catfish. Or, you can visit the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in Sevierville for some homemade apple fritters and the best fried chicken you’ll ever taste!

Where to Stay

mountain view from pigeon forge cabinNow that you know how you should spend your week-long vacation in the Smoky Mountains, it’s time to find a place to stay! For the perfect home away from home, you’ll want to book a Smoky Mountain cabin. Cabins come in all sizes, from small 1 bedroom cabins to large group cabins. They also have a variety of amenities you can choose from, like game rooms, theater rooms, and even indoor swimming pools. Take a look at all of the best cabins in the Smoky Mountains to find one for your vacation.

This ultimate itinerary is your best guide to an exciting week-long vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Check out other things to do in the Smoky Mountains while you’re here to add more fun in your trip, then get ready for the best Smoky Mountain vacation!