Gatlinburg Downtown

Best Things To Do In Gatlinburg

What’s In This Article

On our Gatlinburg family vacation guide, we briefly discussed our favorite place in Gatlinburg: Anakeesta. Now we’re looking at the rest of the places to visit while you’re here.

This list has our favorites, along with a couple of things you should skip.

Note: This article is just things in Gatlinburg. Check out other things on a Gatlinburg vacation, like scenic drives in the national park, and things to do in Pigeon Forge.

Best Things To Do

#1 Anakeesta

This mountaintop destination offers a variety of activities. It’s usually our first stop in Gatlinburg.

You ride a ski lift (or take a shuttle) from downtown to the top of the mountain, where there are big playgrounds, gardens, and hanging bridges to walk across.

Anakeesta Bridges
Anakeesta Bridges

As there’s not much shade at the top of Anakeesta, early morning is the best time for this attraction during summer. We’ve even seen black bears near the ski lift to the top!

Check out our complete Anakeesta guide here.

Anakeesta Playground
Anakeesta Playground

Anakeesta is our top attraction in Gatlinburg, and we usually buy season passes. See our complete guide to Anakeesta here.

#2 Skylift to the Gatlinburg Skybridge

The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park Chairlift Ride is a great way to take in the views of Gatlinburg. It is a one-mile journey up 500 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain.

At the top, you can take in the view from the observation deck, enjoy a snack at the Sky Lift Cafe or walk the Gatlinburg Sky Bridge!

Gatlinburg Things To Do Skybridge

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, 680 feet across the Great Smoky Mountains valley.

The steel bridge is supported by two massive towers, each rising 140 feet above the valley floor.

The bridge even features glass panels if you’re brave enough to walk across!

#3 Mountain Coasters

Skyland Ranch Mountain Coaster

For thrill-seekers, a Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is a must-try. These coaster zips through mountain scenery.

What is a mountain or alpine coaster?

Alpine coasters, first developed in Europe, are coaster rides on tracks built on hills or mountains. A chain system pulls you up to the top, then races back down. You control the speed of the small cart with brakes, which are simple to operate.
You push down on the levers to go and let go to slow down. These coasters are popular in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas. One adult and child can ride, with a combined weight limit that varies depending on whether the track is wet or dry.

#4 Ripley’s Aquarium Of The Smokies

One of the busiest attractions in Gatlinburg, the aquarium makes a good activity when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

We have a full review of the aquarium here. Although we enjoyed it and there are some unique things here, it’s expensive for the size of the aquarium. Speaking of expensive, you’ll also want to see our guide to things that are free in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Gatlinburg Aquarium

#5 Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Mountain is one of Gatlinburg’s oldest and most famous attractions.

You can ride the Ober Mountain Aerial Tramway, one of the United States’ longest tramways (over 2 miles), in downtown Gatlinburg and ride up the mountain to an amusement park and ski area.

We recently did a full review of Ober Mountain, and while it’s a good option for snow tubing and skiing, it needs some work. We can’t recommend for its other activities (alpine slide, snow tubing, ice skating, and ice bumper cars. )

#6 Mini Golf

Miniature golf is popular in Gatlinburg, and there are a few great options, including several indoor courses downtown and Hillbilly Golf which features an incline railway to reach it!

What To Skip

Our guide wouldn’t be complete without a couple of things to skip.

Earthquake The Ride

This Gatlinburg classic hasn’t changed much since it was built, and that’s not a good thing.

Steer clear of this earthquake simulator; it gets a 1-star review on TripAdvisor.

Gatlinburg Earthquake Ride
Earthquake The Ride Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle isn’t a terrible attraction, but it’s a tall observation tower that’s a lot shorter than the mountains around the town.

So, while it’s taller than most everything else in town, save your time and money and take a ski lift to Anakeesta or the SkyBridge instead.

The space needle looks tiny from the top of the mountains!

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