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The Smoky Mountains is one of the most popular travel destinations in the United States. In fact, more than 11 million people visited the Smoky Mountains in 2017.

The Smoky Mountains are by far the most popular national park. Nearly 7 million more people visited the mountains spanning from North Carolina to Tennessee than the Grand Canyon.

The mountains see substantially more visitors than Yosemite and Yellowstone as well. While the other national parks are beautiful, there are simply so many things to do in the Smoky Mountains.

Read on to learn the top 10 things to do in the Smoky Mountains. From hiking to amusement parks, there is a never-ending to-do list.

1) It All Starts With Renting a Cabin

Mountain Top View - an easy to access cabin rental

Everyone needs a home base on a vacation. There is no better way to experience the Smoky Mountains than renting a cabin.

In a cabin, your family can still enjoy modern luxuries and sleep in comfort. At the same time, you do not sacrifice the nature experience.

Best of all, your cabin is ready for you immediately. No need to pitch a tent or prepare a campsite. All of the amazing things to do in the Smoky Mountains can start and end with a cabin.

2) Go Visit One of the Many Waterfalls

There are dozens of waterfalls to take in. The Smoky Mountains feature roughly 2900 miles of gorgeous streams.

Take your loved ones on a hike to these majestic waterfalls. Laurel Falls is one of the most popular options in the park.  Laurel Falls is actually 80 feet high!

There are a few waterfalls that can be accessed by vehicle. Meigs Falls and The Sinks are two perfect examples.

Snap a selfie with your spouse or child with a waterfall in the background and put it on social media. It will be a memory that you will never forget.  To see all the incredible waterfall hikes we recommend, click here!

3) Auto Touring

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of very few parks without an entrance fee. You can drive all over the National Park for free! Take the scenic Little River Road over to Cades Cove, stopping at the many pull offs to observe waterfalls.

If mountain views are what you crave, drive the highest road east of the Mississippi River and head up to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee!

The Foothills Parkway running from Wears Valley all the way over to Chilhowee Lake is a great option for sports cars and motorcycle enthusiasts! Drive the world famous Tail of the Dragon on highway 129 while you’re there!  We have plenty of scenic drive options for you and your family.

4) Hiking Is One of the Best Things To Do In The SmokyMountains

The Smoky Mountains are perfect for hiking. There are kid-friendly trails, in addition to some more challenging paths.

The most popular destinations for hikers are Alum Cave Bluffs and Rainbow Falls. Hiking is not limited by the seasons either. The Smoky Mountains see hikers all year long.

The spring is a great time as the flowers bloom and the wildlife emerges from winter hibernation. If you want to hike overnight, make reservations to stay in the national park’s backcountry.

5) Try Zip Lining in the Smoky Mountains

Zip lining is growing in popularity around the world. Adventure seekers can try zip lining in Gatlinburg. The rush from a zip lining path is a feeling that is hard to replicate.

It is also a great way to see the mountains from an epic vantage point. There are also things to do for children at the zip lining locations in the Smoky Mountains.

6) Visit the ghost town of Elkmont

This is a great day trip for the entire family to take. Elkmont Ghost Town is a historical vacation village dating back to the early 1900s.

The National Park Service is currently refurbishing many of the old abandoned houses. Visitors are intrigued by seeing how the village’s residents lived more than a century ago.

Additionally, there is a relic cemetery nearby and several hiking trails around the village. Elkmont is a great place for a family picnic to split up the day.

7) Horseback RidingA brown horse grazing in a green field

This is another activity to get the blood flowing. There are a number of riding stables in and around the Smoky Mountains.

Many of the stables accommodate riders of nearly all ages. The horse rides generally take 45 minutes to 2 hours. There are at least four different stables spanning from North Carolina to Tennessee.  One visitor favorite is the stables in Cades Cove.

The guided horseback rides take you on a scenic tour of the Smoky Mountain trails. These tours typically run from March to November so long as the weather is permitting.  If you want to know the best places to go horseback riding, be sure to read our post all about it!

8) Go Fishing

Do you love to fish? Fishing is one of the most popular outdoor things to do in the Smoky Mountains.

As mentioned earlier, there are over 2900 miles of freshwater streams in the mountains. The Smoky Mountains feature one of the last habitats for wild trout in the United States.

As long as you possess a Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license, access is granted to fishermen year round. Make sure you know the rules and regulations of fishing in this very special biosphere reserve before you go! The freshwater streams are well-known for brown and rainbow trout.

9) Hit the Old Forge Distillery for a Drink

Sometimes you need an alcoholic beverage when on vacation. Take a trip to Pigeon Forge and visit the Old Forge Distillery.

This attraction is award-winning and has been serving drinks since 2014. There is a tasting bar and a gift shop famous for its moonshine jugs. Come tour this 100+ year old building!

10) Gatlinburg Space Needle

Forget Seattle and visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle. This is one of the best ways to see the Smoky Mountains from a high vantage point.

This is especially true if you are not fond of hiking, but still want to see the mountain range. The Gatlinburg Space Needle provides elevator access to the top for a 360-degree view of the mountains. This is a great option for visitors of all ages including children and the elderly.

Book a Stay

A top 10 list does not do the Smoky Mountains justice. Between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, there are so many activities to do. It is impossible to do everything in a single trip.  When you’re tuckered out from a long day of sightseeing or adventures, you need a comfortable place to rest your head.  American Patriot Getaways can help!  Check out all our cabins on our website, or give our talented Reservationists a call at 800-204-5169 and let them help you find the best cabin for your trip.

For more vacation guides, be sure to check out all our blog posts.  You can even follow us on social media – we’re active on Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest!

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