In this post, we will talk about the Top 5 places to explore if you are visiting Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is located along the Great Smoky Mountains and has captivated tourists for many years with its charming and scenic mountainous setting. Visitors, regardless of whether it’s their first time or they have been before, can enjoy an abundance of adventure, relaxation, and exploration opportunities in Gatlinburg.
This article will help you discover Gatlinburg’s top five must-see places, from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the thrilling Gatlinburg SkyBridge and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
Top 5 places to explore if you are visiting Gatlinburg
With so much to see and do, this guide will ensure you make the most of your visit to this beautiful town. Below, you will find the Top 5 places to explore if you are visiting Gatlinburg!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Millions of tourists are drawn to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park annually, lured by its natural beauty and wonder. Spanning over 522,419 acres, this park is home to a vast array of wildlife and vegetation, including black bears, elk, and over 1,800 species of plants. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, take a scenic drive, or simply relax and enjoy the breathtaking views.
The Gatlinburg Trail, commencing at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and leading visitors along the Little Pigeon River to the downtown area, is among the well-liked trails. Along the way, you’ll pass by historic homesteads and enjoy stunning views of the mountains. Other popular activities include camping, fishing, and wildlife watching.
After a day of exploring the park, head back to the Gatlinburg Strip for some delicious local cuisine, live music, and unique shopping experiences.
The ideal season to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is autumn, as the leaves change colors and the weather turns cool, providing a breathtaking experience. However, spring and summer are also great times, with wildflowers in full bloom and warm temperatures perfect for swimming in the rivers. Following Leave No Trace principles and respecting the natural environment are crucial when visiting the park. Additionally, plan your visit and know of any park closures or restrictions.
The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is a world-renowned attraction that offers visitors an unforgettable experience above the treetops. This suspension bridge, measuring 700 feet in length and 500 feet in height, has been recognized as North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. The bridge features stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the surrounding forests.
Tourists can stroll along the bridge, admire the awe-inspiring landscape, or venture onto the SkyBridge’s glass floor to witness a thrilling perspective of the forest beneath their feet. Furthermore, SkyBridge also offers visitors a variety of other activities, including a SkyDeck observation area, a SkyTrail hiking experience, and a SkyBridge Plaza.
When visiting the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, it’s essential to prepare for the weather and dress appropriately for the high altitude. Comfortable shoes are necessary, as the bridge can be quite a walk. Remember that SkyBridge experiences high traffic during peak hours, so plan to arrive early or buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid crowds.
Nestled high in the mountains above Gatlinburg, Ober Gatlinburg is a four-season attraction that provides visitors with endless entertainment and activities. The park is accessible via a scenic aerial tramway that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy various activities, including skiing and snowboarding during the winter months, an alpine slide, a mountain coaster, and an indoor ice skating rink. In addition, the park also features a wildlife encounter where visitors can learn about and observe local wildlife species such as black bears, river otters, and raccoons.
Depending on your interests, you should visit Ober Gatlinburg during the best time for your preferred activities. In the winter months, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, offering visitors the chance to ski, snowboard, and go snow tubing. Autumn presents a wonderful opportunity to witness the stunning foliage as the leaves transition to their vibrant hues. At the same time, the spring and summer months offer outdoor activities such as hiking and wildlife observation.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a world-class attraction home to over 10,000 sea creatures. The aquarium features a variety of exhibits that showcase the diversity and beauty of aquatic life, including a penguin exhibit, a shark exhibit, and a coral reef exhibit. Visitors can also participate in various interactive experiences, such as touching stingrays and horseshoe crabs, watching live dive shows, and feeding demonstrations.
It is suggested to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies during the weekdays when the crowds are smaller and the wait times are shorter. Additionally, visiting during the early morning or late afternoon can help avoid the busiest times. The aquarium is open year-round, and each season offers its own unique experiences, such as holiday-themed events during the winter months.
When visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, check the schedule of feeding demonstrations and dive shows to make the most of your visit.
Gatlinburg Space Needle
Rising high above the skyline of Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Space Needle is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the area. With a height of 407 feet, visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the surrounding area from the Space Needle.
Visitors to the Gatlinburg Space Needle can enjoy various activities, including a ride to the top of the tower in the glass elevator. The observation deck features telescopes for closer views of the mountains and the town below.
The Space Needle also houses a 30,000-square-foot arcade featuring many games, perfect for families with children. The ideal time to visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle is daytime, as the views are clearer and the wait times are typically shorter.
In conclusion, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a truly remarkable place to visit, with abundant attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. From the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the thrill of the Gatlinburg SkyBridge and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
If you’re planning a trip to Gatlinburg, plan ahead to make the most of your time. Consider the best time of year to visit each attraction, and take advantage of tips for avoiding crowds and long lines. And most importantly, be sure to experience all that Gatlinburg has to offer, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler.
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