If you haven’t experienced the joys of a Smoky Mountain vacation, now is the time! Throughout the Smokies, you will find exciting adventures waiting around every corner. From delicious local restaurants to fabulous souvenir shops, your family is sure to have the time of your life. In order to make the most out of your first trip, we have put together this list of 4 things to do in Gatlinburg for first-time visitors:

1. Explore Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in GatlinburgOne of the most popular attractions in Gatlinburg also happens to be one of the most highly rated aquariums in the country! Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is home to over 10,000 exotic sea creatures, ranging from bright and colorful fish to sharks that are over 10 feet long. The aquarium is also the site of a number of hands-on activities for the entire family, including the Touch a Ray Bay where you can pet and feed a stingray! You will also want to stop by the Penguin Playhouse, which is home to dozens of penguins that you can watch eat, sleep, and play.

2. Take in the Mountain Views

Gatlinburg offers a few mountaintop attractions that will present your family with incredible views of the mountain scenery. At Ober Gatlinburg, you can take in the breathtaking scenery all year round. During the winter months, the theme park is home to incredible winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. However, this Gatlinburg attraction is filled with entertainment all year round, including a mountain coaster, alpine slide, wildlife encounter, and an ice skating rink for all ages!

3. Go Shopping at The Village

The Village Shops in GatlinburgThe Village Shops is one of the top things to do in Gatlinburg whether it’s your first time in the Smokies or a yearly destination. There you will find 27 unique boutiques, eateries, and souvenir stands where you are sure to find all sorts of Smoky Mountain souvenirs for yourself and all your family and friends back home. If you get hungry while shopping, be sure to stop in at The Donut Friar for a delicious homemade treat!

4. Hit the Trails

If you have never been to the Smokies before, you will want to spend at least one day exploring the natural scenery of the area. Throughout the Smoky Mountains, you will find a ton of excellent hiking trails that encompass all sorts of nature and history. One of the best hikes for all skill levels is the Gatlinburg Trail, which travels 3.8 miles roundtrip from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to River Road in Gatlinburg. Along the path, you will follow along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River, which offers an amazing scenic view.

Where to Stay

On your vacation to the Smokies, we would love to have you stay at our family-owned Gatlinburg hotel! We provide gorgeous guest rooms that feature private balconies, river views, and cozy accommodations. Our hotel also includes an array of marvelous amenities, such as a deluxe continental breakfast, an outdoor heated pool, and a trolley stop right outside our main entrance!

Check out all the rooms at our hotel in the Smokies to stay just minutes away from all the best things to do in Gatlinburg. We look forward to seeing you soon!