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Top 20 Smoky Mountains Attractions that You Do NOT Want To Miss [part 1]

Planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains? Here’s part 1 of the top 20 Smoky Mountains Attractions that you do NOT want to miss!

A list of the top 20 Smoky Mountains Attractions that you definitely do NOT want to miss on your next visit.

I received complimentary tickets to some of the Smoky Mountains attractions mentioned, but was under no obligation to share them in this post.  All opinions are 100% my own… the Smoky Mountains really are my beloved second home!

I’d like to call myself a Smoky Mountains local tourist.  Maybe a Pigeon Forge Weekend Transplant?  I’d go so far as to say Gatlinburg is my home away from home.  Ok, so I think you get the point!

I’ve been a Dollywood Season Passholder for as long, well, as long as I can remember.  My Mom says that I used to tell friends that we had a second home in Pigeon Forge, TN – this was in grade school, and we did kind of.  We had a small camper that was left in the campground for the Summer and we visited every weekend!

So to say the area is special to me is… an extreme understatement.

I take pride in east Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains, and I can’t wait to share with you…

The Top 20 Attractions that you do NOT want to miss on your next visit to our area…

from a local tourists’ perspective!  These are in no particular order, but are all attractions that the area is known for and places that my family frequents!

1.  Dollywood

Quite possibly the most famous of all Pigeon Forge, TN attractions, Dollywood really put the area on the mainstream map.  If you’ve never been, I highly, highly recommend visiting.  It truly is a theme park for all ages and you’ll never meet nicer hosts and hostesses!

6 Reasons Why Dollywood Should be Your Next Family Vacation

2.  Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede

You can’t talk about the Smoky Mountains or Dolly without mentioning the Dixie Stampede. It’s a Dinner Attraction type show that will keep you entertained from the moment you sit down until it’s over. Not only are you served one of the finest meals in the South [a Rotisserie Chicken for each person!], you get to enjoy it utensil-less, and drink from a boot!  That’s right, you dig in with only your hands and believe me, it’s finger-licking good!

dixiestampedeboot dixiestampede

The Dinner Show is just as much fun as the food too.  From stunt riders, to audience participation, it’s a show that changes each time you see it, making you want to go back again and again!

3. Ober Gatlinburg

In the Winter, Ober Gatlinburg transforms into a skier’s paradise.  Getting to the attractions is half the fun when you take the Aerial Tramway to the top of the mountain!

4. Parrot Mountain



images courtesy of Parrot Mountain and Gardens.

Speaking of mountains, there’s a special one located in Pigeon Forge, TN that houses some of the most beautiful parrots and birds you’ve ever seen!


You literally drive up a very, curvy mountain but are rewarded at the top with an attraction that truly is for the entire family!

5.  Cades Cove

Speaking of animals, another place to see a ton of wildlife is Cades Cove, a section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It’s an 11 mile loop {that is killer on a bicycle, let me tell you} around the Smoky Mountains that is full of wildlife.  Don’t be surprised if a black bear, deer, or turkey run right into the road path!

6.  Shows, Shows, & More Shows!

Dinner Shows are a huge attraction for the area.  Although Dixie Stampede happens to be my favorite, there are a ton of others that are worth checking out.  There are comedy shows like The Comedy Barn and Hatfield and McCoys.  Music shows like the Smoky Mountain Opry, and even more Entertainment Shows like the Lumberjack Feud.

7.  Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

You may think once you’ve seen one aquarium, you’ve seen them all.  This is not the case with the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg.  There is so much to share about this Aquarium that I wrote an entire post about our visit to the Aquarium!


8.  Shopping – Outlets, Souvenir Shops & More

Now I suppose that the ladies may enjoy this attraction the most, but it’s something that just simply can’t be missed.  The Tanger Oak Outlets, along with other shops are a great way to spend a rainy day in the mountains {or a sunny one too}.  Think deals, sales, and items that you just simply can’t find anywhere else!

9.  Wildness at the Smokies Resort


We had the opportunity to stay at the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort just a couple of weeks ago and I shared an in-depth look at the resort and it’s Indoor Water Park and on-site Adventure Forest, complete with a Family Ropes Course, Blacklight Mini Golf, and Full Size Arcade!

10.  Art Galleries

Believe it or not, there are quite a few Art Galleries of all different types in the Smoky Mountains, especially nestled in the quaint shops in Gatlinburg.  The Smokies are full of artisans that proudly display their canvas art, pottery, wood-working crafts, and more for visitors to enjoy!


Are you ready to see the last 10 on the list? Don’t miss these attractions on your next Great Smoky Mountain Vacation.

What is YOUR favorite Smoky Mountains Attractions, if you’ve already visited the area?

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Top 20 Attractions to NOT Miss on Your Great Smoky Mountain Vacation