7 Unusual Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN and the Smoky Mountains

Great photo of downtown Gatlinburg TN.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is unlike anywhere else in the world! Located at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, our city is jam-packed with family-friendly attractions. In addition to famous destinations like Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and the nearby Dollywood theme park, Gatlinburg is home to a number of attractions that are delightfully quirky and unique. To help you make the most of your next vacation, Hearthside Cabin Rentals has put together a guide to seven unusual things to do in Gatlinburg TN and the Smoky Mountains.

1. Playing Putt-Putt at Hillbilly Golf

Hillbilly Golf is not your typical putt-putt course! First off, the mini golf attraction is situated on top of a mountain, which makes the course challenging and fun. To reach the first hole, guests take a special tram ride that climbs about 300 feet in the air. Hillbilly Golf is also beloved for its stereotypical Appalachian decorations and obstacles. Guests will play past tractors, moonshine stills, farming equipment, and outhouses. If you’re looking for a mini golf experience that you’ll never forget, be sure to put Hillbilly Golf on your itinerary. Please note that the course is typically closed from mid-December through the beginning of March.

2. Shopping at the Smoky Mountain Cat HouseA cat relaxing in an igloo.

The Smoky Mountain Cat House is a can’t-miss stop for anyone who is a bit obsessed with their feline friend! Located near The Old Mill, this popular shop specializes in cat-themed memorabilia, including jewelry, home decor, handbags, pillows, clocks, change purses, wallets, T-shirts, and just about anything else you can imagine. Visitors to the Smoky Mountain Cat House will also have the chance to play with the owner’s friendly cats, who have free reign in the store.

3. Visiting the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum may not sound super interesting, but trust us, it is definitely worth a visit! This family-run museum is home to over 20,000 pairs of salt and pepper shakers with whimsical designs. Guests will see shakers that look like U.S. Presidents, space aliens, lobsters, Egyptian pharaohs, cowboys, and bagels, just to name a few. Admission to the museum is only $3.00, and that money can be applied to any set of salt and pepper shakers in the gift shop.

A selection of gourmet hot dogs.4. Eating at Smoky Mountain Shakes-N-Dawgs

Dining at Smoky Mountain Shakes-N-Dawgs is another one of the most unusual things to do in Gatlinburg TN. When we say the hot dogs at this restaurant are “unusual,” we mean this in the best possible way! Some of the eatery’s creative offerings include a hot dog marinated in moonshine, a hot dog deep fried in a Cheez-It cracker crumb batter, and a “pizza dawg” covered in marinara sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and pepperoni. Be sure to save room for dessert, because the Amish buttercream milkshakes are out of this world!

5. Experiencing Goats on the Roof

Goats on the Roof is a unique shop in Wears Valley that lives up to its name! This store really does have goats on the roof, and you can even feed these adorable critters by hand or with a fun pulley system. In addition to their signature animals, Goats on the Roof is a great place to do some souvenir shopping, sample homemade fudge and ice cream, or ride a thrilling alpine coaster.

6. Exploring Forbidden CavernsThe sign for Forbidden Caverns.

Forbidden Caverns is the only attraction in the area that takes you underneath the Smoky Mountains. Named after a Cherokee legend that mentions a “hollow mountain of two streams…which is forbidden,” this beautiful cave is filled with interesting rock formations and centuries of fascinating history. Guests will enjoy learning all about the caverns from one of the attraction’s knowledgeable tour guides. Please note that Forbidden Caverns is closed from December through March.

7. Seeing Llamas Along the Trillium Gap Trail

On most Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, hikers along the Trillium Gap trail will be joined by some atypical guests: a herd of llamas! These animals are used to bring supplies to a remote lodge located at the top of Mount LeConte. The llamas are often spotted around Grotto Falls, which is the only waterfall in the national park that hikers can walk behind.

The Hillside Hideaway cabin.Where to Stay in Gatlinburg

When you stay with Hearthside Cabin Rentals, you will be near all of these unusual things to do in Gatlinburg TN and the Smokies. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 18 bedroom lodges, we are sure to have the perfect property for your escape. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of cabins in Gatlinburg!