Top 5 Attractions in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Publish date:
Pigeon Forge Putt Putt Golf Attraction

Pigeon Forge Putt Putt Golf Attraction

Gatlinburg and its sister town, Pigeon Forge, are packed full of family-friendly attractions, putt putt golf courses, arcades, and old-time photo shops. First-time visitors might get overwhelmed at the choices of entertainment. Here’s our top recommendations, each of which have enough activities to last an entire day.

1. Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

See the bizarre and unique at multiple Ripley's attractions under one roof. The Odditorium features shrunken heads and a vampire-killing kit. You can touch sharks and stingrays at the Aquarium of the Smokies. See a movie with digital effects and motion seats at the 5D Moving Theater. And tour a spooky mansion at the Haunted Adventure.

2. All Things Dolly Parton

Another franchise with multiple attractions is co-managed by country-music superstar, Dolly Parton, and Herschend Family Entertainment. The singer’s hometown is in the Pigeon Forge area, so the town was already an attraction for her fans. Today the Dolly experience includes a theme park, a water park, a lumberjack dinner show, and a horsey music review. Beyond the attractions, Dolly’s name is also on a resort and a community of vacation cabin rentals.

Related story: Dollywood’s Roots in the Great Smokies

3. Titanic Museum

Totally unexpected in a tiny town in a land-locked state is the world’s largest Titanic museum attraction. Experience what it must have been like to walk the famous luxury liner. Visitors get a passenger experience that includes touching a real iceburg, standing on a frighteningly sloping deck, and sitting in a lifeboat.

4. Ober Gatlinburg

This popular wintertime ski area with ice skating and snow tubing, also features year-round attractions. Board the scenic tramway in Gatlinburg and watch the mountain landscape from up high. At the top, ride the Ski Mountain Coaster and visit Ober’s Wildlife Encounter. While no wild animals were captured for this licensed zoo, you can view rescued or zoo-born black bears, bobcats, river otters, and other animals up-close.

Related story: Ride the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway

5. Hollywood Wax Museum

A tribute to the film industry, the wax museum is a fun place to pose with your favorite movie stars and view a Hollywood version of Mount Rushmore. Make your family’s visit competitive by using the museum’s movie-star quiz as a scavenger hunt list. After browsing the lifelike sculptures, stop next door to the entertainment center for attractions such as a mirror maze, horror house, and a moving-chair movie experience.

Of course we feel that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most grand attraction of all. Be sure to balance the glitzy of town with some natural fun. The Gatlinburg entrance gives you easy access to Laurel Falls and Cades Cove.


The sculpture honoring Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, outside the Museum of the Cherokee Indian was cut from a single sequoia tree log.

Top 6 North Carolina Attractions near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When you can tear yourself away from the scenery on this quieter side of the national park, hit these local attractions including museums, breweries, and rafting.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Top Timeshare Resorts in Gatlinburg: Getaway to the Smokies

Stay in a Gatlinburg timeshare for an unforgettable vacation in the Smokies. Here are the some of the best resorts offering timeshare accommodations.

The Ober Gatlinburg tram ascending from Gatlinburg, Tennessee in autumn next to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Ride the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway

From one of America’s largest aerial tramways, you’ll see the Smokies rolling in every direction, a view that is especially spectacular in the fall.

Mural in Maryville, Tenn, celebrating Smoky Mountain music.

Top 4 Cultural Destinations in Blount County, Tennessee

From art galleries to theater performances, plan on spending time on the quiet Tennessee side of the park including the towns of Maryville and Townsend.

Float past Tom Branch Falls along Deep Creek's 2-mile tubing section.

5 Top Ways to Get Wet in the Great Smoky Mountains

Stay cool in summer at these water hot spots including swimming holes under waterfalls, boating in a fingered lake, and floating down creeks.

Log cabin in the mountains.

5 Romantic Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The park is a fantastic place to spend a romantic weekend, celebrate Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, or to just spend time together.

Sunset view at Newfound Gap in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Top 4 Vistas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you want to feel like you are on top of the world, here are four fantastic views including a tower, a gap, and a sunrise-sunset hike.

Scenic chairlift overlooking Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Northern Gateways to Great Smoky

Full of souvenir shops, restaurants, and attractions, the bustling towns can be a sensory overload or a rollicking good time, depending on your perspective.

Laurel Falls in the winter in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

4 Things to Do in Winter in the Great Smokies

Snow just makes it more of an adventure. See our list of to top things to do in winter in the park and nearby – one of which is just a fun way to get around