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The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the most beautiful places in North America. From the look of the mountains and their many peaks to the breathtaking waterfalls and rivers, there’s no shortage of amazing things to see while visiting this region. If you’re planning a trip to this part of Tennessee or North Carolina, here are some things that are recommendable doing while exploring the Great Smoky Mountains:
Visit the Sugarlands Visitor Center
The Sugarlands Visitor Center is located in Gatlinburg, TN. It is a great place to get your bearings and learn more about the national park before heading out on your travels. There’s an outdoor nature trail, a gift shop, a restaurant, and an indoor theater showing movies about the national park.
Visiting Cataract Fall, located just behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center, is an excellent way to start your walk. A less than 1-mile walk in green trails will lead you to the 40-feet Cataract Fall.
The Sugarlands Visitor Center is open year-round and is one of the most popular destinations for tourists visiting the park. It’s also a great place to stop on your way back from hiking in Cades Cove or during a picnic lunch at Big Creek.
Spend a Day or Two Exploring Gatlinburg, TN
The Smoky Mountains are most famous for their breathtaking views, natural beauty, and wildlife. However, if you have time to spare while visiting the mountains, consider spending a day or two exploring Gatlinburg. It’s a mountain town with plenty of shopping and dining options to keep your attention. Here are some highlights:
- Spend some time at the artsy shops along Historic Downtown Main Street. You can also find art galleries along Parkway East where you can shop for local work from artists like Andy Warhol or Thomas Kinkade.
- Take a roller coaster ride with family and friends at Mystery Mine Coaster Expressway. You can also enjoy an old-fashioned hayride tour through Smoky Mountain National Park. These attractions cost $30 each person per session and are operational 365 days per year.
- If it’s summertime, then stop by Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg. You can enjoy live music here too.
- Don’t forget about cabin rental options nearby. Gatlinburg offers everything to visitors. From wood-burning fireplaces to cabins to luxury villas. However, to enjoy the peace of nature, hikers choose rental cabins. It is recommended to explore Smoky Mountain vacation rentals and book your accommodation online before you leave for the vacation at Gatlinburg.
Go Hiking Along the Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking is one of the best ways to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hikers have several options for trails here, ranging from relatively easy walks to strenuous hikes covering a lot of ground.
If you’re planning on hiking, be sure to do some research beforehand and ensure you have the right gear before setting out on your trip. Be prepared for rain and cold temperatures; even if it’s warm outside when you arrive in Tennessee, it may not stay this way long. Remember that most trails in the park are unpaved or narrow dirt paths with steep drop-offs on both sides. Hence, walking without proper footwear could result in painful injuries like twisted ankles or sprained knees.
Check Out Some of the Amazing Waterfalls
One of the best things to do when visiting the area is to check out all the amazing waterfalls. There are so many that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see them all, no matter how long you stay in the area. Some of the famous waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains are Laurel Falls (80 feet tall), Baskins Creek Falls (40 feet tall), Grotto Falls (40 feet), and Fern Branch Falls (60 feet tall).
The best way to get there is by driving and then walking down a short path into each waterfall area, although some require additional climbing on rocks or staircases. Unfortunately, it also makes them less accessible for those who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids. But those who can walk can enjoy an intimate experience with nature.
Take a Guided Horseback Ride Through the National Park
One of the best ways to experience the Great Smoky Mountains is on horseback. The national park offers guided horseback rides for all levels of riders, and they run year-round. Schedule your ride as early as possible if you’re interested in trying out this activity. It also helps if you have experience riding horses or training that can help convince the rangers that you know what you’re doing.
Fees for a guided horseback ride start from $30 for an hour with restricted age and weight.
Play Miniature Golf
If you’re looking for a fun and inexpensive activity that can be done with friends or family, then consider playing miniature golf. There are many places to play mini golf in Gatlinburg, such as Smoky Mountain Fun Park. This course is open daily and offers various courses with varying difficulty levels.
If you want to take your mini-golf experience up another notch, check out the indoor mini-golf complex at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort in Pigeon Forge. It may not seem like much at first glance, but once you are inside, it becomes clear that there’s no other place like this one on Earth.
Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
If you’re traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains, visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a must. This aquarium has over 20 exhibits and more than 2,000 animals. It also features one of the largest aquariums in North America.
The aquarium is open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Parking can be tight during peak hours. Therefore, it’s recommendable to get there early if possible. In addition, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies offers educational tours at 10:30 am. You can learn about different aquatic life and how they interact while on display at this unique attraction. The visit fee for an adult is $40 per person for the age of 12 and above. At the same time, it’s $25 per child between 6 and 12 years and $10 per child between 2 and 5 years.
Have Fun at Dollywood and Splash Country
Dollywood is a theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN. It’s owned by Dolly Parton and has something for everyone. You can ride roller coasters and other thrill rides, watch a show or two, visit all the shops, eat at one of the many restaurants on-site, and much more.
Splash Country is an amusement park located in the same area as Dollywood. However, splash Country offers a more mellow experience than its sister park. It has fewer thrill rides but plenty to do for those who want to swim or cool off under waterfalls at this beautiful resort destination.
You Love to Explore Natural Places While Having Fun – Visit the Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a beautiful area for you to travel to and explore. There are many things to do, see and explore in this area. The Great Smoky Mountains have many attractions that will keep you busy for days. The natural beauty of this region will leave you speechless. The wildlife is incredible. It’s a great place to travel at any time of the year with plenty of outdoor activities. The Great Smoky Mountains have so much to offer, from great hikes and waterfalls to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Dollywood. You should check it out if you’re planning on traveling through Tennessee.