Unique Adventures to Try in the Smoky Mountains

My family has visited the Smoky Mountains region around and near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, many times, over the years.

Each time we visit the Smoky Mountains, we run out of time before we run out of fun.

There is ALWAYS something new to discover there…along with many family favorites we try to visit each time we are in town.

The Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store Fried Pie & Apple Cider Freeze

Thanks again to Visit Gatlinburg for assisting us with our visit. This article contains affiliate links. 

Stop for a Sweet Treat at the Apple Barn

230 Apple Valley Rd, Sevierville, TN

The Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store in Sevierville is one of our favorite first stops when we visit the Smoky Mountains for a fried pie and an apple cider freeze.

The cider donuts are pretty amazing too.

The warm, fried pie is even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s even if you happen to be there around breakfast time.

The Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store Fried Pie & Apple Cider Freeze

Wander around the complex and you will find a celebration of all things apple.

There are also two more restaurants, a winery, a candy shop, and a gift shop within walking distance of each other.

zorbing at Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge

An Unforgettable Adventure at Outdoor Gravity Park

203 Sugar Hollow Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN 

Outdoor Gravity Park (Pigeon Forge, TN) is the only place in the US where you can try zorbing all year round!

Warm or cold water is pumped inside the ball, depending on the time of year and up to 3 people can ride together on the straight paths.

The zig-zag path is for single riders.

Outdoor Gravity Park Zorbing

If you don’t have a change of clothes, they are available for purchase.

There are also changing rooms on site. GoPros are available to so you don’t miss the footage from this unforgettable adventure.

Zigzag track outdoor gravity park

Zorbing is an Unforgettable Adventure

Watch my reluctant husband as he go down the ZigZag track with the sound ON. His reaction is PRICELESS!

Cades Cove Trading Biking Pigeon Forge, TN

Take a Bike Tour of Cades Cove

10035 Campground Dr, Townsend, TN 

Cades Cove is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We rented bikes from Cades Cove Trading located next to the camp store at Cades Cove.

To mix things up take in the scenery of the popular 11-mile Cades Cove loop by bicycle instead of by vehicle.

Cades Cove 11 mile loop

Seriously, riding vs. driving Cades Cove was a game-changer!

Gatlinburg Inn

Sleep at a Legendary Hotel in Gatlinburg

755 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg Inn is the oldest hotel in Gatlinburg and has hosted many famous people for overnight stays.

Another claim to fame was that the famous song “Rocky Top” was written in room 388 by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967.

Gatlinburg Inn

The decor of the rooms is like a time capsule to the past with a few modern touches like Serta Perfect Sleeper Beds and a 42″ flat screen TV.

They keep it authentic with actual keys for your door locks.

In the mornings, we took advantage of the complimentary hot breakfast buffet offered during our stay.

Gatlinburg Inn

We found the hospitality very welcoming and the central location on the strip was extremely convenient. 

The rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace were a welcomed sight after a long day on our feet.

Compare Hotels and Airbnbs Around Gatlinburg

One of my favorite options for families downtown is the Greystone Lodge on The River.

Fox and Parrot Tavern

A Unique Dining Option at Fox and Parrot Tavern

1065 Glades Rd, Gatlinburg, TN

For dinner that evening we decided to visit a local favorite about 15 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg called Fox and Parrot Tavern.

This British-themed pub has been around for 20 years and prides itself on being the region’s only Authentic British Pub.

The atmosphere is lively, but still, kid-friendly, and the food is good.

You can’t go wrong with their Fish and Chips or Shephard’s Pie.

Salt & Pepper Museum

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at the Salt & Pepper Museum

461 Brookside Village Way, Gatlinburg, TN

The Salt & Pepper Museum (Gatlinburg) has over 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers on display!

Salt and Pepper Museum Gatlinburg TN

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time if you recognize pieces similar to ones that may have been found in your grandma’s kitchen.

The salt and pepper shakers are grouped together in cases by likeness and even flow with their coloring which is a merchandising feat in itself!

Salt & Pepper Museum

Find Your Favorite Salt and Pepper Shakers

You’ll want to walk slowly and really take in all of the detail.

Each case also shares more information about some of the shakers.

The museum is FREE for kids under 12 and admission is only $3 for adults.

The cost of an adult admission goes toward salt and pepper shaker purchases in the gift shop.

If you want your kids to engage more with the displays, make it a challenge for them to find a specific shaker in each case.

This collection over 25 years, is a labor of love that covers the globe.

This is a gem to visit!

Sparky's Glass blowing

Watch a Local Artisan in Action at Sparky’s Glass Blowing

517 Glades Rd, Gatlinburg, TN

(Gatlinburg- Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community)

Watch glassblower and owner/namesake, Sparky in action while he creates a one-of-a-kind piece made from glass at Sparky’s Glass Blowing.

Sparky is full of energy and life.

It was so fun to watch him in action while he was blowing glass and telling stories.

You’ll have a greater appreciation for the intricate details on display after you watch one being made.

Bush's Visitor Center

Try Pinto Bean Pie at Bush’s Visitor Center

3901 US-411, Dandridge, TN 

Next, we headed to Bush’s Visitor Center (Chestnut Hill, TN).

I know that it might sound like a bit of an odd stop, but it was really interesting.

Bush’s Visitor Center is also perfect for a rainy day or as a destination for lunch or an early dinner.

You can learn more about the production of distributing beans from the ground to your table.

The visitor center has a variety of interactive displays housed in the original A.J. Bush & Company general store, which was founded in 1897.

You will find lots of one-of-a-kind gifts in the general store.

Pinto Beans Pie at Bush's Family Cafe

Stay for a Meal at Bush’s Family Cafe

Make sure that you try the Pinto Beans pie at Bush’s Family Cafe!

I know that sounds really odd but it tastes like pecan pie. I would also recommend trying a few more of the pies.

They are WONDERFUL and homemade.

My husband’s coconut creme actually took a little longer because it just came from the oven.

The few extra minutes were worth it because he loved it!

Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park Sevierville, TN

Scenic Waterfalls and Thrill-Seeking Adventures at Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park

3757 Thomas Ln, Sevierville, TN 

Our afternoon adventure was at Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park (Sevierville, TN) for an ATV Tour.

We’ve previously visited Foxfire and found that the property offers a lot of options for families from hiking to zip-lining or just enjoying the views on-site.

You can read more about our previous visit for a zipline adventure at Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park.

ATV Tour Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park Sevierville, TN

Our ATV tour took us to various scenic stops located throughout the property with opportunities to get out and take pictures.

The boys enjoyed testing their skills on the rope climb on one of the mountains during a stop.

I was really impressed by our guide, Jason, who handled tight, steep turns with ease and was the perfect blend of being adventurous and safe.

Free Parking Room at Go Lodge

Stay in a 6,000 Game-Themed Mansion at Go Lodge

This game-themed mansion is only 15 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg and sleeps 20!

There are 17 game-themed rooms in the Go Lodge perfect for game lovers of all ages.

Miniature Golf at Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg, TN

One of a Kind Mini Golf in Gatlinburg at Hillbilly Golf

340 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 

After our ATV tour, we decided to play miniature golf at a family favorite, Hillbilly Golf (Gatlinburg).

I love this Appalachian-themed mini-golf course because it’s so one of a kind.

Miniature Golf at Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg, TN

You take an incline up to the top, play on the mountain, and then take the incline back down to the bottom when you are finished.

If you look closely at the picture above you will see a tree with a horseshoe nailed to it in the right corner.

It’s at the edge of the mini-golf course and is a visual reminder of luck because the course was not greatly impacted by the wildfires.

Luck indeed!

Fowler's Clayworks (Gatlinburg- Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community)

Create Art with a Local Artisan at Fowler’s Clayworks

1402 East Pkwy Suite 10, Gatlinburg, TN 

Sunday morning, we visited Mike Fowler at Fowler’s Clayworks (Gatlinburg- Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community) to “make a mug.”

This is the PERFECT adventure for someone who wants to try something unique during their visit.

Mike Fowler of Fowler's Clayworks (Gatlinburg- Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community)

It’s also a great way to personally connect with a local artisan who is passionate about sharing his craft with others.

Clay Throwing at Fowler's Clayworks (Gatlinburg- Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community)

You learn about the process of making pottery and experience hands-on learning.

Mike was a great teacher and very patient while we were learning what to do.

He was very intentional in letting us be the main ones creating the mug and guiding us when we needed it.

My husband said that making the mug was one of his favorite experiences of the weekend and all of us really enjoyed it.

Mugs at Fowler's Clayworks (Gatlinburg- Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community)

Your Mug Can Be Mailed to Your Home

Each of us selected the color for our glaze and a few weeks later we received our mugs in the mail.

They were secured with plenty of bubble wrap so that they arrived safely.

Each mug had the name of its creator on the bottom along with the year.

I absolutely LOVE how they turned out!

You’ll notice that one of the mugs below has two handles because my son said that two reminded him of a trophy.

This was such a wonderful souvenir and keepsake from our adventure spinning clay on the wheel.

Gatlinburg Space Needle Observation Deck & Lunch at Old Dad's General Store

Enjoy the View of Downtown Gatlinburg at the Gatlinburg Space Needle

115 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 

We took some time for a few final views of Gatlinburg from 342 ft. above at the Gatlinburg Space Needle observation deck followed by lunch at Old Dad’s General Store.

There are a few tables available inside or you can get your meal to go and take a picnic to the National Park.

This is a great stop for a burger or deli sandwich.

Gatlinburg Skybridge

Walk Across the Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge in North America

765 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

Enjoy incredible views of the Smoky Mountains as you walk across Gatlinburg Skybridge which spans 680 feet. At the highest point of the bridge, there is a 30 ft glass bottom panel to walk across.

Your admission ticket gives you all-day access so that you can experience the bridge during the day and when it’s lit up at night.

Sugarlands Visitor Center (The Great Smoky Mountains National Park) 

Take a Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

1420 Fighting Creek Gap Rd, Gatlinburg, TN

We also made one last visit to explore a few trails near the Sugarlands Visitor Center at The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Sugarlands Visitor Center is a short distance from the entrance of the park near Gatlinburg.

The regrowth in the areas affected by the wildfires will continue to grow back even greener and also produce unique wildflowers that only occur during these conditions.

You will see areas affected by fires but overall, you will find the National Park to still be what you’ve remembered from previous visits.

Clingman's Dome

See An Incredible View From Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome has an elevation of 6,643 feet making it the highest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the highest point in the state of Tennessee.

The .5 paved trail to the observation area is pretty steep so dress in layers and bring some water.

The views are totally worth it once you reach the top!

Make Memories in the Smoky Mountains

We once again took back so many wonderful memories from our visit.

The Smoky Mountain region has a special place in our hearts.

The people in the community are resilient and the more we come back to visit the area, the more we are helping them with their comeback story. Check out some more hidden gems and unique things to do in Gatlinburg.

Unique Adventures to Try in the Smoky Mountains BINGO

Additional Adventures Around the Smoky Mountain in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

15 thoughts on “Unique Adventures to Try in the Smoky Mountains”

  1. Hello Nedra McDaniel,

    I have loved reading this early today. The Salt and Pepper Museum is worth a visit any time. Good musings there.

  2. Hi Lynda- I spoke with a rep from Visit Gatlinburg and these are her suggestions.

    Check for complete travel information to Gatlinburg. Also, download or request a hardcopy of the Gatlinburg Vacation Guide. When in the market, get the Gatlinburg app for details on the fly. Also, the Visit Gatlinburg Facebook page always provides updates on events and daily photos of the mountains.

  3. Hi, there, I’ve been doing a lot of looking around for fun and inexpensive activities to do in the Smokey Mtn area. You have certainly given me lots to add to our list of options. I’ve not seen any of these ideas on other links and sites. This looks like so much more fun than just doing the touristy things. We are planning a BIG family vacation first week of June. We will have a total of 20 people!! 10 adults, 10 children (14 – 1). We have our lodging already reserved and we plan to rent jeeps for one day, but other than that we just really want to enjoy our time together and the surrounding area. But, I know better to think they will just want to hang out at the house, so with a group that size what you have suggested sounds like it could entertain our crew. I just want to thank you for sharing your travels and experience from a family’s perspective, not a vacation pamphlet. We are all so excited. The one thing I am having a hard time finding is a calendar of events for the area, like festivals or farmer’s markets. Do you know where I could find that information? Appreciate your help and again, thanks for all your wonderful suggestions. Blessings.

  4. Hi Christine- I found some rooms for under $100 using my affiliate partner Here is the referral link

  5. Good morning! I love the smokies. It’s my favorite place. I haven’t been in years. My husband and I are planning a trip this summer. Can you give me an idea on the price per night at the inn? I know it changes depending on what’s going on at the time. Thanks! Loved the info and pics.

  6. Thanks so much Marc! I appreciate your kind words.Taking pictures is definitely my favorite part of what I do.

  7. What a great entry! I love your photography. It is a fine line between great travel pictures with personality and just showing your vacation pictures. Love the adversity of what you did too. Fun read.

  8. Looks like you had a lot of fun and unique adventures! What activities and restaurants would you put on the top of the list for a family taking a 1.5 and 4.5 year old this May? 🙂

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