5 Must-Go-To Places You Have to Visit in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Published Mar 1, 2020

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a beautiful place to visit. There are so many things to see and do in this small town that you could never get bored. Here are 5 must-go-to places when you're in Gatlinburg. Whether you're a nature lover or enjoy spending time in bustling tourist traps, there's something for everyone! So pack your bags and get ready to explore all that Gatlinburg has to offer.

1. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Okay, I know what you’re thinking—a local aquarium isn’t anything particularly enthralling or unique. However, the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee isn’t a regional ‘run-of-the-mill’ aquarium with generic experiences of ‘oohing and aahing’ over exhibitions. The aquarium features incomparable experiences including a penguin encounter, splash with the stingrays, and turtle time session. Additionally, the lower level features an exotic coral reef, discovery center, gallery of the seas, stingray bay, and penguin playhouse. As visitors explore the upper level, they’ll find an imaginative landscape including an ocean realm, shark lagoon, ‘touch a ray bay’, and tropical rainforest. Also, did I mention that Ripley’s Aquarium features a glass-bottom boat, penguin paintings & encounters, camps, and even sleepovers? For children and adults alike, the breadth of rich experiences Ripley’s Aquarium has to offer is unmatched.

2. Magic in the Mountains at Anakeesta

Perhaps Gatlinburg’s most prominent and characteristic feature is its resort-like, heavenly mountains and landscapes providing both exploration and relaxation. At Anakeesta, you can experience the full breadth of adventurousness and relaxingly fresh air in the Anakeesta formation, encompassing many of the peaks in the Smoky Mountains! When I say you won’t be bored, I mean it. The dozens of listed activities will most literally outlast hours on end each day, providing you with rich opportunities to both play at your heart’s desire and relax with a content mind. For more play activities, Anakeesta hosts a gondola/chairlift ride, treetop skywalk, dueling zipline, treehouse village adventure, gem mining, and rail runner. For the instinctual shopper and eater, Anakeesta features a Cliff Top Grill & Bar, ‘Pearl’s Pie in the Sky’ restaurant, Great Outdoors Trading Company, and adventure outpost. Finally, to physically and mentally unwind at any time in the day, you can indulge yourself in Akeesta’s vista gardens, memorial forest walk, or the scenic view of the smoky mountains!

3. Gatlinburg Skylift Park

Ultimately, the Gatlinburg Skylift Park features the best of both worlds in terms of utter awe-inspiring beauty and adrenaline-rushing adventure. Located at the top of the SkyLift, the skybridge marks its place as the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, defining itself as the most spectacular experience in the Smokies. The SkyBridge quite literally extends across the sky, stretching 680 feet across a deep valley in just a single span. Additionally, the SkyBridge is 140 feet in height at its midpoint, being an unforgettable but easily attainable experience anyone will cherish for their lifetime. Although similar SkyBridges are dispersed across several state-protected environments in the United States, the SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg completely changes the game: with its 680 ft extension, viewers are sure to be awestruck by the sheer scale and greatness of the Gatlinburg SkyBridge.

4. Gatlinburg Space Needle

Perhaps, one of your most awe-inspiring and groundbreaking experiences will emerge in the Gatlinburg Space Needle, a 407’ observation tower that overlooks the mesmerizing beauty and skyline of Gatlinburg and the surrounding Smoky Mountains. Ultimately, the tower is served by two glass elevators, providing viewers with an on-demand 360 degrees view of the Smokies as they ascend to the pinnacle of the space needle. Visitors can ride over 400’ to an observation deck with a full 360 degrees view of the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg. The panorama view from the Gatlinburg Space Needle is unmatched in terms of beauty and sheer scale, enabling viewers to embrace the goosebumps of the Gatlinburg skies and the Smokies. Additionally, the space needle’s property houses Arcadia, a 25,000 square-foot playground with the most cutting-edge video and redemption games including the region’s largest redemption center, The Captured escape games, and the Iris Theater, featuring some of the most disruptively unique acts in the Smokies. Also, did I mention?—it’s open 365 days a year, meaning you can immerse yourself in the space needle experience at any time and nudge at the shoulder! Attendance cost at the space needle starts at $12.95 for adults, $7.95 for children, and $9.95 for seniors and military members. Ready to initiate one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life?

5. The Village: 27 Unique Shops

The Village Shops in Gatlinburg, Tennessee have been regarded and widely acclaimed as “Gatlinburg Shopping at Its Best” or “An amazing success story in village-themed shopping and exploration.” Ultimately, the Village Shops in Gatlinburg feature one of the most memorable shopping experiences in the region and, perhaps, in the Tennessee area! Just past traffic light #6 lies The Village where visitors can indulge themselves in a collection of 27 unique shops and eateries set in a quaint European village-themed atmosphere. The village’s ornamentation most literally transports visitors back in time whilst still shopping for a beautiful assortment of items and clothing, ensuring that shoppers experience the utter joy of shopping and the atmosphere. Whether visitors or shoppers are looking for a remembrance of their visit to Gatlinburg or something refreshing to eat or drink, The Village will exceed their expectations.

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