If you’re looking to take a break from the traditional beach vacation, the Smoky Mountains is the perfect place to visit. There are plenty of activities for the family to enjoy, from whitewater rafting and water parks to biking, hiking, and spending time downtown. To make planning easier, here’s a list of some of the most unique things to do in the Smokies during your summer vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
Go whitewater rafting
A trip to the Smoky Mountains wouldn’t be complete without an exhilarating Tennessee whitewater rafting experience. Plan your half-day raft trip at Pigeon River, which has been rated one of the top whitewater rivers in the country. Upper Pigeon River is perfect for an adrenaline-rushing thrill, while the lower area provides a more family-friendly experience. And don’t worry; experienced guides will lead the way and tell you exactly what to do on-board.
Make a splash in Tennessee
Cool down during the hot Tennessee summer at Dollywood’s Splash Country, an award-winning water park. Featuring 35 acres of exciting attractions, dining options, beautiful scenery and more, this park has something for everyone. Be sure to purchase the multi-park super pass to also enjoy the Dollywood theme park, where there are even more thrilling rides and attractions as well as a wide variety of shows and musical guests.
Go biking at Cades Cove
Head out on a pleasant 11-mile bike ride at Cades Cove, arguably one of the best areas to find things to do near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Not only is it great exercise, but it allows you to see all of the sites and some of the best mountain views. If you don’t have bikes of your own, the park offers rentals. The best times to visit are Wednesday and Saturday mornings from May through September when the paths are closed off to motorists.
Visit Gatlinburg, TN
During your stay, visit Gatlinburg, a bustling town that’s home to some of the area’s best restaurants, distilleries, shopping and attractions. Unique things to do in Gatlinburg or the Smoky Mountains include Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze and Candy Factory, Ripley’s Aquarium, Ober Gatlinburg, the Guinness World Records Museum, IRIS Theater, and much more. Be sure to stop by on summer nights for Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales Nights, where you can see a band of entertainers, story-tellers and musicians performing in the streets.
Hike trails in the Smoky Mountains
If you’re looking for more unique things to do near the Smokies, take in the wilderness and head to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to experience the mountain’s best hiking trails. Make it an all-day trek up to the scenic peak, or opt for an easier route through some of the milder trails. With so many hiking guides available, it’s easy to find the best trails suited for you and your hiking partners. After working up a sweat, cool off with a swim at one of the mountain’s beautiful streams, where misty waterfalls act as natural air conditioners.
Catch a Smokies baseball game
What better way to take in the warm weather than by enjoying a baseball game? Catch the Tennessee Smokies and cheer them on just like a local at Smokies Park Stadium in nearby Kodak, Tennessee. Depending on when you visit, the game may be followed by a fireworks show.
Start planning your summer vacation in the Smokies by browsing these cabin rentals.