Must-Do Activities in Gatlinburg, TN This Summer

Gatlinburg is a Smokies summer paradise. While this charming mountain town provides plenty of year-round activities, it really comes alive during the summer months. With so much to do and see, however, it can be difficult to prioritize. It’s sadly impossible to do it all, but there’s plenty of time to explore the area’s most iconic attractions.

We’ve highlighted a few of the best below:

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Photo Credit by on Instagram

Discover a whole new world within Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. This magical underwater setting is truly teeming with life: marine life of course, with over 10,000 sea creatures calling the aquarium home. These are housed in a variety of themed galleries, which you can explore at your leisure. There’s something to love about each area, but the biggest draws are easily the shallow Touch a Ray Bay and the unique shark tunnel.

There are also a few interactive experiences available, including a penguin encounter that encourages you to become best buddies with the aquarium’s favorite feathered friends. Another unique offering is the glass bottom boat, which brings you into the Shark Lagoon so you can get a unique perspective of sharks and several other memorable sea creatures.


Mountaintop fun awaits at Anakeesta, which brings you to new heights with a delightful ride in the Chondola or Ridge Rambler. These unique takes on the gondola concept will provide exceptional views as you head toward the main attractions. Once you’ve made it to the summit, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a variety of unique landmarks.

Discover even better views at the Anavista Tower or new thrills while navigating the Treeptop Skywalk. You can also enjoy a casual stroll in the multi-sensory Vista Gardens. The Rail Runner Mountain Coaster is a must, as it provides both amazing views and lots of twists and turns on its exhilarating single-rail track.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

yellow skylift coming down skylift

As Gatlinburg’s longest-running attraction, SkyLift Park provides yet another chance to explore unique attractions following an awe-inspiring chairlift ride. The SkyBridge beckons a stroll, as it is North America’s longest pedestrian cable bridge. This links to the SkyTrail, which lends you access to a lovely stroll along a ravine. Be sure to also hit up the Tulip Tower for sweeping views. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop, where you’ll find unique souvenirs to commemorate your summer visit.

Ober Mountain

Gatlinburg offers yet another chance to take a lift to the top of the mountain and participate in a variety of family-friendly activities: the iconic Ober Mountain, which has been a local favorite for decades. This all-seasons attraction is an obvious draw during the winter but is certainly not to be avoided when the snow melts.

With summer comes the chance to ride the mountain coaster or take a trip down the alpine slide. Other favorites include chair swings, a carousel, and a rock wall. For a more active adventure, try mountain biking, which provides plenty of thrills and great views. Don’t forget to stop by the wildlife habitat, where you’ll have the chance to hang out with river otters, flying squirrels, and black bears.

Sugarlands Distilling Company

Distillery visits are always a blast when visiting the Smoky Mountains and, with several excellent options available, you might struggle to choose just one. The Sugarlands Distilling Company is always worth a visit, as this is where you’ll blend the best of the tasting experience with live music. The setting is impressive: a rustic, industrial-chic barn house, where the bartenders are always happy to provide insight into memorable selections such as butter pecan or banana pudding.

Hillbilly Golf

small orange hill incline railroad to next hole of mini golf

There are plenty of amazing mini-golf courses in Gatlinburg and nearby communities, but nothing quite matches the unique appeal of Hillbilly Golf. This memorable experience begins with a short cable car ride, bringing you to the mountainside where you can enjoy lovely scenery along with the impressive decor.

The course might not be all that challenging, but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided. If anything, the relatively easy nature of this course makes it more compelling for some, as it’s merely a supplement to what you appreciate the most: the view and the unique decor.

Moonshine Mountain Coaster

Get your thrill on at Gatlinburg’s Moonshine Mountain Coaster, which careens around an exciting track and provides spectacular ride opportunities both day and night. The excursion only lasts a few minutes, but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth as you navigate the wild twists and tours. You’ll have full control over the brakes, but the experience is a lot more exciting if you leave them alone and let your car travel quickly down the mountain.

Dollywood’s Splash Country


On a hot day, nothing beats a classic water park experience. There’s more to Dollywood’s Splash Country than water slides, however, and you could easily dedicate an entire day to this refreshing destination. As one of the nation’s most highly-rated water parks, this attraction was inspired by Dolly Parton’s experiences swimming in local rivers as a child.

These days, Splash Country provides plenty of exciting drops for thrill seekers along with endless opportunities to relax as you soak in the sun. The styling isn’t as distinctive as at Dollywood itself, but it’s still a bright and cheery place that is sure to have you and your loved ones smiling from ear to ear.

Visit the Farmers Market

A beloved Saturday tradition between May and October, the Gatlinburg Farmer’s Market encourages healthy mountain living with a vast selection of fresh and delicious produce. If you are passionate about the locavore movement, this is where to stock up, as everything sold at this market is produced by regional farmers.

In addition to delectable fruits and veggies, you’ll find fresh flowers, jam, honey, and even a few crafts. This weekly event isn’t as well-publicized as other happenings around Gatlinburg — but if you show up across the street from Food City, you’ll spot the various vendors and have plenty of time to browse their many offerings.

Outdoor Gravity Park

Zorbing might be a New Zealand hit, but Outdoor Gravity Park proves that it’s just as enjoyable in Gatlinburg. This may be your only chance to try zorbing in the US, so it’s not to be missed. Get ready for a quick and thrilling trip down the hill in a huge inflatable ball — an unforgettable experience that some have compared to a human-sized washing machine.

It’s impossible to truly convey the excitement of orbing; you have to try it for yourself to discover the appeal. There are several courses available at Outdoor Gravity Park, so don’t be afraid to experiment. You’ll love hitting up Extreme Zig Zag for solo thrills, Fast Tracks for the ultimate in speed, and Funnel for a great mix of speed and adventure.

Aquariums, farmer’s markets, mountain coasters, and more: Gatlinburg has all the makings of the perfect summer adventure town. Treat yourself to a delightful experience as you make amazing memories.