5-Day Gatlinburg Getaway
Day 1 You'll See:
- Gatlinburg Space Needle
- Olde Gatlinburg Golf and Game
- Ripley’s Odditorium
Day 2 You'll See:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Roaring Fork
- Aerial Tramway
- Smoky Mountain Trout House
Day 3 You'll See:
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
- Mysterious Mansion of Gatlinburg
- Gatlinburg Ghostwalk
Day 4 You'll See:
- Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community
- Wild Plum Tea Room
- Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
Day 5 You’ll See: Pigeon Forge
- Pigeon Forge Mill
- Titanic Museum
Gatlinburg Space Needle - The Gatlinburg Space Needle is the perfect way to start your trip! This Seattle mock-up is definitely not a let down as you take in the absolute best views of the city and the Great Smoky Mountains. This 407-foot tall observation tower comes with an amazing outdoor observation level where you will get all the great 360 degree views. An "unequaled panorama of beauty year-round," this stop is also actually an information packed learning experience, complete with new state-of-the-art higher learning exhibits. Get all the educational facts and historical tidbits you can while up here, the entire trip a great geographical hands-on adventure. SeeCoast has provided several viewfinders at the top so you can really get close proximity visuals, making your odds of seeing a black bear, wildflower bud, or small jutting stream within the mountains much better. You may also want to bring your own binoculars or camera to really see it all!
Olde Gatlinburg Golf and Games - Let loose and have some fun on your next Gatlinburg essential stop, Olde Gatlinburg Golf and Games. This large complex of fun games and arcades is a sort of tourist and family fun paradise, a small community of the city’s largest indoor and outdoor mini golf attractions. Here you will find a total of three different courses, two of those outdoors, storytelling, and prize-winning games. The entire complex offers you and your group over 45 holes of fun set in a unique smoky hillside setting, with downtown Gatlinburg as the background. The black light course that brings so many guests around daily has a fun "under the sea" theme, with dolphins, mermaids, and other aquatic life dotting your golfing path. You will even get interesting history lessons about the city’s past through these courses, as well as the opportunity to explore the state-of-the-art video arcades during and afterward!
Ripley’s Odditorium - There’s nothing like a little bit of odd to end your fun Gatlinburg night, especially when your last stop of the day is the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium. This super fun stop along Parkway Road in Gatlinburg allows you and your group to see kitschy oddities on display within their museum, with such things inside as human shrunken heads and rare animal skeletons. The Odditorium holds three floors, or 16 galleries, of over 500 exhibits and artifacts within their 12,500 square foot establishment, the perfect place to spend your night exploring and discovering! The Ripley’s Odditorium is the "perfect fusion of edutainment and interactivity, with a generous sprinkling of ‘Shut the front door!’’, as they like to say. Inside you will explore such oddities and illusions as the Mexican Vampire Woman, a 12-foot tall Transformers sculpture of scrap car parts, and an authentic vampire killing kit!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in all of America, and for good reason too! This gorgeous and mountainous park straddles the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee, a sprawling landscape filled with lush forests, wildflowers, streams, rivers, waterfalls, and abundant scenic hiking trails. The entire park encompasses an impressive 815 square miles, most of those miles filled with the absolutely breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains. This park also contains a significant segment of the Appalachian Trail, with a culture-filled history and local impact you will honestly have to see to believe. There are several different activities you and your group can do while visiting the national park, such as informative and scenic auto tours, biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, and even various daily offered workshops and classes! Take plenty of time to enjoy this magically mountainous wonderland!
Roaring Fork - Roaring Falls is a mountain stream larger and faster than any other in the surrounding parkland, earning its apt name from the overflowing stream in the mountainous woodland. The streamlines the narrow and winding Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, the absolutely breathtaking 5.5 miles long one-way road that highlights the vistas of the surrounding forest and historic buildings. The various streams, old growth forest, log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings here along the motor trail and hiking trail-heads make this a favorite visitor side-trip in Gatlinburg. Take the trail-head at Rainbow Falls for a semi-strenuous 5.4-mile round trip to see one of the park’s most popular attractions, the massive cascading 80 footfalls, the highest in the park! Be sure to bring good hiking boots, plenty of water and sunscreen, and a camera to capture all the gorgeous Smoky Mountain moments along the way!
Gatlinburg Sky Lift - Next up prepare yourselves for a ride aboard "the best seat in Gatlinburg," an ascent to the top of Crockett Mountain for a 1,800 foot trip into the sky. This is the cities number one scenic overlook, providing absolutely breath-taking views and a truly exhilarating ride to a mountain top. The sights of the city will make up one side of your 360-degree vision, the other three exploding with the colors and life of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. See beautiful lush forest and misty mountains during your ride, views of a lifetime that you won’t soon forget! At the top you will find binoculars on an overlook platform, completing a truly memorable Smoky Mountain experience. If you happen to take the ride during the night prepare yourselves for a completely different but still completely gorgeous view, the dazzling lights of downtown Gatlinburg sparkling your vision.
Smoky Mountain Trout House - End your night by filling your belly at Smoky Mountain Trout House, the quaint local Gatlinburg classic that serves the freshest trout in the region, ice packed and delivered directly to the eatery. This delicious fishery opened in 1975 based on the same philosophy that the first Smoky Mountain pioneers had toward fish: fresh, pure, and flavorful. Here you will find Rainbow Trout prepared any way you like it, the trout are grown in the Smokies and either grilled, broiled, pan-fried, moonshine sauteed, Parmesan-topped, smoked, blackened, or whole! Try the Trout Eisenhower, the favorite pan-fried "old-timey way" with cornmeal breading and bacon! If you aren’t feeling fish for dinner don’t worry, you will also find the best prime rib, ham, ribeye, catfish, or shrimp! Save room for dessert though, the key lime, coconut cream, and lemon icebox pies are to die for!
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies - There is no way you can visit Gatlinburg and not stop at the Aquarium of the Smokies, one of three aquariums in the world under Ripley’s name. Located along River Road, this family-oriented educational attraction spotlights aquatic habitats from around the world, presents live animals shows, and allows guests to partake in hands-on activities and exhibits. Find over 10,000 exotic sea creatures here from 350 different individual species, more fish than people in the entire city of Gatlinburg! Enjoy such exhibits as the tropical rainforest, shark lagoon, touch a ray bay or penguin painting! The glide path to the ocean realm is almost worth the trip alone, a watery tube filled with barracudas, octopi, moray eels, and giant sharks! Enjoy all the conservation and ecological fun you can and then head to the Cargo Hold Gift Shop or Feeding Frenzy Eatery before you go for the perfect ending to this marine adventure!
Mysterious Mansion of Gatlinburg - Welcome to the Mysterious Mansion of Gatlinburg, the city's "oldest and scariest haunted house." This creepy, yet highly popular, the local attraction has been scaring visitors to the Smoky Mountains for over 30 years, right down the street from the Aquarium. Within this fun stop you can get a guided tour of this classic turn of the last century haunted mansion, each exciting, informative, and scary tour available daily year-round (except on holidays, of course). As you will soon learn, this once-grand Gatlinburg abode is today host to several secret passageways, dark corridors, winding staircases, massive chambers, and of course, restless residents that love to be visited. The home was first designed as an early 1900s style Victorian manner, a style still kept up meticulously today, as again, you will see!
Gatlinburg Ghostwalk - If you are looking for a bit of excitement or thrill while in Gatlinburg look no further, the Appalachian Ghost Walks Haunted History, Gatlinburg Ghostwalk has you covered! This trek through all the "history, mystery, and Smoky Mountain Adventure" you can handle in Gatlinburg will take you back in time to the hardships of the local homesteaders, providing you with a quick glance at those who settled this town early in the 1800s. Learn all about the times between the settlement and the town’s incorporation in 1945, as well as about the rich Native American heritage and early pioneers who paved the old frontier trails. This is one seriously informative, and spooky, city tour! Hear local lore mixed with fastidious facts about the former actress haunting guests, Cherokee Indian burial grounds within the misty hills, and just early settlement history in general. This is real history at its best!
Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community - Today you are in for a true Gatlinburg treat as you and your group explore the various shops, studios, galleries, and cafes of the historic eight-mile loop known as the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. This fun culture and shopping area within the city is considered to be the largest group of independent artisans in North America, with over 120 local craftsmen and artisans contributing to the scene. This spot is a well-deserved member of the Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts Trail, created in 1937, a trail that features cultural heritage, natural local talent, and the stories and arts of the people that shaped Tennessee. Explore all the fine local candles, quilts, pottery, jewelry, fashions, fine photography, food, and lodging while here, with several onsite restaurants, cafes, tea rooms, soda fountains, and candy stores!
Wild Plum Tea Room - You and your group definitely don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to grab a quick lunch, snack, dessert, or drink at the Wild Plum Tea Room while in the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, the locally loved establishment providing some of the tastiest regional treats! Within this old-world style teahouse, you will find such fares as tea, sandwiches, and muffins, each served with a smile in this "rustic mountain setting" of the Smokies. This particular teahouse was inspired by the Austrian-style tea houses overseas, a place where guests can truly "sit back, relax for a while, take in the area, and eat good food!" Enjoy such options as the daily chef specials, soups, salads, or sandwiches (the big three S’s of lunch cafes), each option really fresh and delicious. The down-home delicious meals are all local and homemade, from the fresh salmon burger to the wild plum chicken salad!
Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum - This next stop is a truly Tennessee unique one, a visit to the one and only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. Within the confines of this quirky museum, you will find shakers from all of the world, and from many different time eras. Each different salt or pepper shaker within are made from a wide range of materials, with a total of over 20,000 sets inside! Learn all about how this is the world’s only museum of its type, the only other ways to see such a collection besides in person with an online virtual tour or visit to their sister museum in Spain. You will see shakers from the 1500s, 1800s, 1920s, '40s, '60s, and even today as you explore the floors full, and you will even get those burning question on the top of your head answered, such as "which shaker has the most holes: salt or pepper?"
Day 5 - Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge Mill - Welcome to Pigeon Forge Mill, otherwise known as The Old Mill, a 1830s Grist Mill located just 16 minutes away from Gatlinburg. This attraction is a unique opportunity to get to know the local history of the region, an immersive experience that shows you the ins and outs of the mill with a tour and dinner straight from the frontier days. This entire complex contains country cooking eateries, the historic mill, a pottery store, candy store, and even a clothing and toy shop. Located on Old Mill Avenue, fittingly, this is the premier place in Pigeon Forge to have some good ole fashion family fun, as well as eat culturally significant foods and admire local artisan pottery! You will really get the sense of the welcome present in their motto "from our door to yours since 1830". This is a really great balance of fun, history, culture, food, and shopping all in one!
Titanic Museum - If you are interested in the Titanic, the Titanic Museum is the perfect attraction to visit. The location is considered to be the world’s largest living museum as the structure is shaped like the Titanic herself but it is scaled down to half the original size. Guests will have the opportunity to climb aboard the ship as part of the experience and see over 400 artifacts and enjoy interesting interactive displays. In the course of the visit, visitors will also have the opportunity to do activities such as walk on an actual size replica of the Grand Staircase, look at pictures that more or less come to life, touch the surface of a simulated iceberg, and steer the ship. You will even visit the Communications Room where guests may be able to send SOS signals and you may even receive communication from the Coast Guard!
Dollywood - Your next stop is an award-winning park well-known for great live shows, good food, friendly staff, and an abundance of amazing rides, the perfect ending to your Gatlinburg vacation! Dollywood continues to wow visitors on a yearly basis, the entire establishment founded and owned by country music performer Dolly Parton. This Pigeon Forge theme park offers 150 acres of Great Smoky Mountain fun for the whole family with over 40 rides, 15 shows, and five amazing festivals: Dollywood is sure to delight your student group. New in 2016 is the world's fastest roller coaster, Lightning Rod, which rockets along the 3,800-foot track at a thrilling 73 miles per hour. If you're not quite up for the daunting ride, try the Daredevil Falls log flume, Dollywood Express locomotive ride, or the Mystery Mine dark roller coaster. There are plenty of things to keep you occupied at wonderfully themed Dollywood, where everything feels like 19th century Tennessee.