7 Best Things To Do In Gatlinburg, TN

things to do in gatlinburg tn
| 4 min read

Gatlinburg is a tiny town situated in the Smoky Mountains. This East Tennessee resort town attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year. The main strip is only eight blocks long, but that eight blocks are packed with attractions, shops, and restaurants. The area is also home to the only ski resort in the state, Ober Gatlinburg.

Read on to find out about the top things to do in Gatlinburg, TN:

1. Gatlinburg Space Needle

Downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Blinutne used under CC BY-SA 3.0

In a beautiful place like Gatlinburg, it’d be a crime not to take in all its glory. Where better to do that than Gatlinburg Space Needle in the heart of downtown, right? This observation tower is about 407 feet (124 meters) and offers unobstructed, scenic views of the majestic Smoky Mountains.

Spending a few hours on top of the tower with your special someone looking all over Gatlinburg sure is another level of romantic. That’s not to say this place isn’t suitable for anyone else, because it is! Families, solo adventurers, business travelers with time to spare, you’re all welcome here! The tower also houses an arcade and other recreational facilities on its base.

If you wish to have more 360-degree view of this town’s ethereal beauty, why not ride the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park or visit Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook too?

Gatlinburg Space Needle

Address: 115 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, United States

Website: Gatlinburg Space Needle

Opening hours: Sun - Fri: 9am - 1:30am; Sat: 9am - 2:30am

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2. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Aquarium of the Smokies 2008
Source: Photo by user Chris Corwin used under CC BY-SA 2.0

By far, the most popular attraction is Ripley’s Aquarium. Visitors will be delighted to explore two stories of exhibits taking them through the Amazon Rainforest, the ocean depths and concluding at the Penguin Encounter. You will start your journey in the cool shade of the rainforest where you will see piranha’s and eels. Continue along the path to the Ocean Realm and discover interactive displays of sea dragons, sea horses, and other exotic sea creatures. If you are lucky, you may also meet one of their more popular residents, Sandy the Sea Turtle. From there you can choose to ride the moving walkway through the Shark Lagoon. Find yourself surrounded on all sides by these magnificent predators of the deep.

The aquarium also features the Stingray Bay where you can feed and even swim with the stingrays. Visitors can enjoy a delicious lunch in the cafe and finish your trip with shopping in the souvenir shop.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Address: 88 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone Number: +1 8654308808

Hours of Operation: Monday - Thursday: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm, Friday - Sunday: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm

Ticket Prices: Adult 29.99 USD, Children 19.99 USD

Website: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

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3. Ober Gatlinburg

Source: Photo by user Brian Stansberry used under CC BY 3.0

Located just a 10-minute drive from downtown, Ober Gatlinburg overlooks the small town and is a ski resort in the winter and an amusement park in the summer months. To get to the mountaintop you will begin with a scenic ride in the Aerial Tramway. The tram departs from downtown Gatlinburg throughout the day and is a separate attraction well worth the ticket price of 13 USD for adults and 10.50 USD for children, this includes your trip back down the mountain too.

Once you arrive in Ober Gatlinburg you can enjoy spending some time in the indoor ice rink that is open year -ound. Stop by the Wildlife Encounter and see the black bears, otters, and their birds of prey. Or indulge your need for speed on the Alpine Slide, a dipping, weaving ride down the mountain. Whatever it is you want to see here, gorgeous views await!

Ober Gatlinburg

Address: 1001 Parkway #2, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone Number: +1 8654365423

Hours of Operation: Daily 9:30 am - 9:00 pm

Ticket Prices: Start at 22 USD adults, 19 USD kids 5-11, kids under 5 are free

Website: Ober Gatlinburg

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4. H2OGO Water Experience

things to do in gatlinburg tn | h2ogo water experience
Source: instagram

Take a scenic drive down the mountain to Pigeon Forge and the Outdoor Gravity Park. Here you will find the H2OGO Water Experience. You will climb inside a giant, plastic orb or OGO. Once inside the orb, water is added to create a slippery surface and you are off down a 1,000 foot (305 meter) hill of tumbling fun. Choose between 3 different courses for beginners to those folks who like extreme sports. The water inside helps keep you protected and prevent dizziness after your wild ride through the zig zag course, just like a hamster in a ball.

H2OGO Water Experience

Address: 203 Sugar Hollow Road, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Phone Number: +1 8653662687

Hours of Operation: Daily 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Ticket Prices: 1 roll is 25 USD

Website: Outdoor Gravity Park

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5. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

One of the newest attractions in town is the thrilling Mountain Coaster. The coaster is open to enjoy both day and night. You will be taken to the top of the mountain in an uphill lift. Then you decide how quickly you want to get back down. Single and double cars are available and each is equipped with hand brakes that let you control your speed down the mountain. The track has been specially designed to eliminate noise so you will enjoy breathtaking and beautiful views of the forest and wildlife during your ride.

Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

Address: 306 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone Number: +1 8654305577

Hours of Operation: Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, Friday & Saturday: 10:00 am - 11:00 pm

Ticket Prices: Single rider 16 USD, Double Rider 27 USD

Website: Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

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6. Wild Bear Falls Water Park

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Located in the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa is the only indoor water park in town. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside because inside the water park it is always warm and wet. Enjoy 8 different attractions spread around a huge area of water fun. Little ones can enjoy the zero depth splash pad, or the interactive tree house that features two slippery slides and a huge bucket that dumps water over the entire play area. Float through Cades Cove, a lazy river for summer tubing. Thrill seekers will enjoy either of the water slides or just relax and soak your cares away in the hot tubs or indoor pools.

Wild Bear Falls Water Park

Address: 915 Westgate Resorts Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone Number: +1 8654304800

Hours of Operation: Sunday - Thursday: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm, Friday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Ticket Price: 18.95 USD, kids 3 and under are free

Website: Wild Bear Falls Water Park

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7. Amazing Mirror Maze

things to do in gatlinburg tn | amazing mirror maze
Source: instagram

The Amazing Mirror Maze is part of the Ripley’s family of attractions, located on the Parkway this is not to be missed. Try to find your way through the confusing maze of many mirrors while enjoying the stunning light and sound show. Be amazed by the many images of yourself and laugh at your friends. Don’t worry if you get lost as they send in search parties, or guides, every half hour to help you find your way out. Definitely a fun attraction for the whole family.

Amazing Mirror Maze

Address: 623 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone Number: +1 8654365096

Hours of Operation: Daily 10:00 am - 12:00 am

Ticket Prices: Adults 9.99 USD, Children 7.99 USD

Website: Amazing Mirror Maze

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One tiny town that packs a punch

Gatlinburg may be a small town. The main parkway is only eight blocks long but those eight blocks are jam packed with attractions to see, places to eat and malls to shop in. This mountain village attracts well over one million tourists every year. No wonder that a visit to Gatlinburg is like visiting one big amusement park.

If you can’t get enough of this town, these attractions and events in Gatlinburg wait for you: Rainbow Falls, Laurel Falls, Grotto Falls, Cataract Falls, Gatlinburg Trail, Gatlinburg Pinball Museum, Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, Little Bear Winery, Ole Smoky Moonshine, and of course, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Shawna is a domestic goddess living by the sea in the beautiful state of South Carolina. She has earned two degrees in Criminal Justice and Human Services but now spends her time pursuing her...Read more

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