6 Awesome Activities to Enjoy in the Smoky Mountains

April 7, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been called “nature at its finest” and “a true natural wonder.” It is the largest national park east of the Rocky Mountains, taking in over 800 square miles.

The park is on the doorstep of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and is just one of dozens of natural and man-made attractions in the Gatlinburg and Smoky Mountains area.

As you plan your summer vacation this year, consider visiting some of these exciting attractions:

Drive-by history and scenery

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of many free activities within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As you drive along you’ll be able to stop and inspect a water mill, pioneer cabins and lush green waterfalls along an eight mile route. An ideal photographic venue, especially if you’re using Instagram!

Trout fishing for kids

Tennessee’s only municipal trout farm is located in Herbert Holt Park, in Gatlinburg. Fishing in and around the park is “kids only,” and in June the city hosts a Children’s Trout Rodeo as part of their Free Fishing Week. It is suggested that you book your accommodations as far in advance as possible for the best rates.

Feeling aquatic for the Fourth?

If you’ve ever dreamed of launching a yellow rubber ducky or some other kind of buoyant article down a river on the Fourth of July, you’ll want to come to Gatlinburg’s River Raft Regatta. Held on the Fourth of July on the Little Pigeon River right downtown, it is free to register. There will be trophies for the oldest entrant and the youngest entrant, as well as other prizes for original items that don’t sink out of sight too soon.

Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts

This national art education center has a 14-acre campus on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, where they offer weekend classes year-round from practicing studio artists and university faculty. You can audit a class, as well as visit the five rotating exhibition art galleries the school maintains. Cabin rentals in the nearby Smoky Mountains offer great artistic vistas for your paint and canvas or camera while you’re visiting Arrowmont.

Visit the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community

Billed as the largest grouping of independent artisans in North America, this fascinating 8-mile loop around Gatlinburg  features a trolley ride so you won’t need to worry about parking. Or you can walk it. The collectable artwork includes scrimshaw, tapestries, ceramics, quilts, pottery and original paintings in many different media.


Owned by Dolly Parton, this well-maintained family theme park offers rides, good country food like biscuits and red-eye gravy, and plenty of foot-stompin’ musical venues. It’s right up the road from Gatlinburg, in Pigeon Forge. This quaint town got its name from the gigantic flocks of passenger pigeons that used to roost in the area around the blacksmith’s shop.