Vacation Ideas for the Smoky Mountains
Think you might like a vacation in the Smoky Mountains but not sure what to do once you get there? Below are some suggestions we think you might enjoy, including ideas for a family vacation in the Smokies, adventurous activities to satisfy your thirst for excitement, and attractions that explore the rich cultural heritage of Appalachian settlers in the Smokies.
Family Fun in the Smokies
The Smoky Mountains are one of the most family-friendly vacation destinations in the US. For a guaranteed good time with the kids, head for Pigeon Forge where the Parkway is lined with mini-golf courses and go-kart tracks.
Spend a day eating funnel cakes and riding roller coasters at Dollywood. Or, visit Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and the WonderWorks interactive museum where the kids will have so much fun, they won't even realize it's educational too.
Great Smoky Mountain Adventure
Whether your idea of a thrill ride is a 70-foot free fall on an extreme waterslide or Class IV whitewater rapids, an adventure vacation in the Smoky Mountains is just your speed.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers half a million acres of adventure. Hiking through old-growth forests reveals secluded waterfalls and endless vistas. Trout fishing in the Park is permitted 365 days a year.
Ziplining is a thrilling adventure that will have you flying through the forest canopy at speeds up to 40mph with nothing below your feet but Smoky Mountain air. If you prefer excitement on the ground, mountain biking is allowed on designated trails in the Cherokee National Forest, at the Tsali Recreation Area in the Nantahala National Forest, and in other national forests and recreation lands outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
In winter, Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort offers downhill thrills on the Mogul Ridge and Grizzly black-diamond ski runs. For boarders, the resort features the OGFT Freestyle Terrain Park as well.
History & Heritage in Appalachia
The early Smoky Mountain settlers were inventive and resourceful. Living off the land and making what they needed by hand, they became skilled craftsmen, handing down their skills through the generations to the craftsmen of today. Visitors to the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community can witness master craftsmen and artisans using age-old techniques to work leather, carve wood, forge iron goods and more.
The Cades Cove valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was first settled by Europeans in the early 1820s. Many of the original structures still stand, and the National Park Service has restored several log cabins and barns. Historical structures in Cades Cove that are of particular note include the John Oliver Cabin, the oldest standing structure in the Park, built in 1822; the Becky Cable House, built in 1879 and originally used as a store; and the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church, constructed in 1887.
The city of Townsend, TN hosts several annual events celebrating Appalachian culture. Three Smoky Mountain Heritage Festivals are held there each year. The Spring Festival includes a wildflower walk, garden tours, and arts and crafts. The Fall Festival features bluegrass music, clogging and Appalachian skill demonstrations. Music, artisan demonstrations, talks and museum tours are traditionally part of Townsend's Winter Smoky Mountain Heritage Festival.