Five Festive Thanksgiving Weekend Ideas

Turkey Day is fast approaching, and you’ve decided to spend it in the beautiful Smoky Mountains.

That means that in addition to putting back enough pecan pie to wipe out the calories burned on a 15-mile hike, you’ll want to check out some of Gatlinburg’s best seasonal activities. Although some businesses operate on holiday schedules, the area boasts a number of things to do on Thanksgiving– and some businesses are actually still open, too (we recommend calling ahead).

Keep reading for our suggestions on our five favorite ways to spend Thanksgiving weekend in the Smoky Mountains!

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Ride the Trolley of Lights. Whether you choose to take part during your Thanksgiving visit or wait for Christmas, the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley of Lights is a must-do for visitors. You’ll see snowmen, flora and fauna, and other delights in this spectacular LED light display. The trolleys are climate-controlled, which means you’ll stay nice and toasty. Trolley rides begin November 11 and run through January 31.

Akio Utsu making his first cuts during the Oregon Divisional Chanisaw Sculptuing Championships 2009 in Reedsport Oregon. Akio is from Japan

Browse the Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show
Step aside, shopping malls: The annual Thanksgiving show put on by the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community promises to let you check Christmas shopping off your list. Local artisans and craftspeople use century-old techniques to create items like quilts, woven baskets, ceramics, paintings, and handmade jewelry. (Whether or not you’re keen on doing your Christmas shopping here, a gift to yourself is in order.) The show is held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from November 24 through 29.

Festival of Trees

Attend the Festival of Trees
A beloved Smoky Mountains institution that was in danger of disappearing after losing its sponsor in 2014, the Festival of Trees is happily returning in 2015 with new sponsor Hospitality Solutions. It’s never too late to ring in some Christmas cheer with a bunch of decorated Christmas trees – and Santa Claus! The Festival of Trees takes place at the WL Mill Center from November 24 through 29, and officially kicks off on the 22nd with the Candy Canes and Cocktails Reception.

Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey on a Plate with Stuffing and Potatoes

Eat Homestyle Turkey and Fixin’s at the Applewood Farmhouse. Don’t feel up to cooking a 15-pound bird in your chalet? That’s okay: The Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in Sevierville offers a full Thanksgiving Day spread complete with turkey, prime rib, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and – of course – their famous apple fritters and apple butter. The Old Mill restaurant is open on Thanksgiving day, too. Just be prepared to wait in line!


Visit Ober Gatlinburg. Once you’ve had your fill of turkey, take the aerial tramway from downtown Gatlinburg to Ober Gatlinburg — you’ll relish the chance to sit back as you take in the impressive views of the mountains and downtown Gatlinburg as you’re ferried up. Once you’re at the resort, hit the slopes, go snow-tubing, or visit the huge indoor ice-skating rink.

Haven’t booked your Thanksgiving weekend trip yet? It’s not too late! Browse our list of Smoky Mountain properties.