7 Must See Attractions in Gatlinburg TN and the Smoky Mountains

The outside of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is absolutely overflowing with wonderful things to see and do! Located on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, our charming city is home to some of the biggest attractions in the Southeast. With so many amazing destinations in the area, it can be hard to narrow down your vacation itinerary. To help you make the most of your escape, Hearthside Cabin Rentals has put together a guide to seven must see attractions in Gatlinburg TN and the Smoky Mountains.

1. Ripley’s Aquarium of the SmokiesA father and son watching fish at an aquarium.

Voted the best aquarium in America by the readers of USA Today, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is not to be missed! Located in downtown Gatlinburg, this awesome aquarium is famous for its interactive exhibits. Guests will have the chance to crawl through transparent tubes in the Penguin Playhouse, pet a real live stingray, and take a glass bottom boat tour of Shark Lagoon. With over 10,000 sea creatures to see, it’s not hard to spend two or three hours exploring this hugely popular attraction.

2. Dollywood

Dollywood is the #1 ticketed attraction in the state of Tennessee, and it’s easy to see why! This phenomenal theme park is co-owned by country music legend (and Smoky Mountain native) Dolly Parton, and her creative genius is evident in every aspect of the park. Dollywood is well-known for its fantastic music shows and family entertainment, which is no surprise given Parton’s influence. Adrenaline junkies will love the park’s thrilling rides, which include the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster. We recommend visiting Dollywood during one of the park’s incredible seasonal festivals, which bring special performers from around the globe to the Smokies.

Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains3. Cades Cove

Located about 50 minutes away from Gatlinburg, Cades Cove is the most visited section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Over 2 million people come to this breathtaking valley each year to see Cades Cove’s well-preserved historic buildings, stunning mountain views, and amazing wildlife. The valley can be comfortably navigated right from your car, as there is an 11-mile, one-way loop road that stops at all of the Cove’s major landmarks. As you drive around, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for black bears, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey.

4. Anakeesta

Situated on top of a mountain overlooking downtown Gatlinburg, Anakeesta is the newest and most-buzzed-about attraction in town. To reach all of the fun at Anakeesta, guests can take a scenic chairlift or gondola ride that leaves from The Strip. Once you’ve made it to the mountain’s peak, you can do some shopping at Firefly Village, explore the Tree Canopy Walk, or race down a dueling zipline course with a friend or family member.

5. Sugarlands DistilleryA vintage automobile at the Sugarlands distillery in downtown Gatlinburg.

Sugarlands Distillery is another one of the must see attractions in Gatlinburg TN. The Smoky Mountains are world-famous for their moonshine, and at Sugarlands, you’ll have the chance to sample some authentic Tennessee white lightnin’. Tastings cost $5.00, but participants are reimbursed with a $5.00 coupon that can be applied to any purchase in the gift shop. Sugarlands also offers excellent distillery tours and free live music.

6. The Old Mill

The Old Mill is a grist mill in the Smoky Mountains that was constructed in 1830. Located along the West Fork of the Little Pigeon River, this historic mill has been grinding grain for over 185 years. When you visit The Old Mill Square, you will find a number of superb shops and restaurants that make use of the grist mill’s freshly ground products. For instance, The Old Forge Distillery uses mill-ground grain in its spirits and the Pottery House Cafe & Grille makes all of its breads and desserts from Old Mill flour.

The Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge TN.7. Titanic Museum Attraction

Visiting the Titanic Museum Attraction is like stepping back in time! When you come aboard this unique museum, you will assume the identity of an actual passenger on the RMS Titanic. As you explore the museum, you will see full-scale re-creations of rooms on the ship and over 400 artifacts that were on the Titanic. At the end of your self-guided tour, you can stop by the Memorial Room to see if your passenger survived the Titanic’s fateful journey. Whether you’re a history buff or you just love the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, the Titanic Museum is definitely worth a visit.

Where to Stay in Gatlinburg

When you stay with Hearthside Cabin Rentals, you will be near all of these must see attractions in Gatlinburg TN and the Smoky Mountains. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 18 bedroom lodges, we are guaranteed to have the perfect accommodations for your vacation. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of cabins in Gatlinburg!