Did you plan a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee only to find your vacation days drenched in a forecast of all rain and no shine? No worries. The weather here changes just as quickly as a tray of biscuits and gravy on the breakfast buffet table (which here in the south, is very quick), so there are always flexible alternatives. The mountains are calling and a little rain can’t keep you locked inside the hotel room! The list of things to do in Gatlinburg is as tall as the Smoky’s themselves, so read on for just a snippet of what you can expect to explore when the weather gets a little wet.
Gatlinburg is a hot spot for the famous Ripley’s franchises, so if you’ve never been to one and rain decides to strike, now’s your chance! These attractions are an indoor, fun-guaranteed option for everyone in your party, regardless of age. Perhaps most well known, is the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum. This “odditorium” features three stories of mind-blowing facts, record-breakers, exhibits, illusions, and installations that’ll leave you questioning everything you know. Gatlinburg is also home to the Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater, Haunted Adventure, Mirror Maze, Candy Factory, Aquarium of the Smokies (rated one of the top 5 aquariums in the world), and the Guinness World Record Adventure, all of which bring the fun indoors and offer packaged ticket deals.
If you don’t want to deal with the rainy day crowds that the Ripley’s attractions usually attract, there are numerous other museums appealing to all ages and interests within the Gatlinburg area. Touch a real iceberg at the Titanic Museum down the street in Pigeon Forge, or hit up The Hollywood Wax Museum for pictures with Marilyn Monroe, Anne Hathaway, or even the cast of Star Trek. Wonderworks is known for its interactive exhibits that are so thrilling you’ll hardly believe how much science you’re learning. If you’re the type for quirky galleries, stop by one of the world’s only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum– admission is technically $3 for those over the age of 12, but it includes your pick of any shaker set in the gift shop.
If you vowed to leave all museums back in your school field trip days however, we’re far from finished. There are plenty of things to do in Gatlinburg for everyone!
Gatlinburg is the place to catch up on some serious retail therapy. Shop local and retain a memento from your travels by hitting up one of the many gift shops, boutiques, or antique stores. The arts and crafts scene thrives here, and whether you’re perusing hand-blown vases, candles, quilts, pottery, stained glass wares, or art prints, you can rest assured it’s been made with passion and precision. From farmers markets to outlet malls and everything in between, this mountain town is surely a place to shop ’till you drop.
Feeling competitive? Spend the afternoon battling for par at Treasure Quest Golf, an entirely indoor putt-putt game. Come night, enjoy one of the many arcades located along the strip. Arcadia features two stories of new and old favorites (Skee-ball, anyone?) in addition to air hockey, a shooting gallery, and laser tag. Fannie farkles, while smaller in comparison, offers a wide array of games in addition to its world-famous footlong “Ogle” dogs! While the kids battle out their scores on Galaga, mom and dad can grab a date night touring and tasting from one of many small-batch wine shops, or munching on Calzones and sipping local craft beers from Smoky Mountain Brewery. Feeling really adventurous? Go for the Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery.
Escape room-style games have grown in popularity over the last several years, and Gatlinburg properly jumped on the bandwagon. Escape Rooms provide plenty of time for indoor laughs and adrenaline, and you have no shortage of places to choose from, including Gatlin’s Escape Game, The Captured– A Live Escape Experience, and Headcase Escape Adventures.
Dinner and a show has long been one of the most enjoyable ways to seek an evening of entertainment indoors. Catch Guy Michaels at the Gatlinburg Comedy Theater for family-friendly laughs and even hypnosis! For a bit of comedy presented musically, check out the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre and Music Hall. Perhaps most famous, is Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. It’s a can’t-miss if you’re looking to cross off the region’s most iconic attractions! Make like the residents and hit up Club 182 or Three Jimmy’s Restaurant for a more casual night of local music acts. Whether you’re looking to experience the soul of Motown, collaboratively solve a murder mystery, or have your mind blown at one of many magic shows, Gatlinburg has something that will leave everyone in standing ovations.
If you had your heart set on hiking, schedule an outing to the Sugarlands visitor center. Inside you’ll find short films, facts, and taxidermy regarding the wildlife in the area. There is also a short hiking trail leading to a waterfall located behind the visitor center. In the event showers temporarily lighten or subside, it’s a great excuse to still get outdoors and briefly experience the mountains despite inclement conditions. A few minutes down the road in Sevierville, you’ll also find a Bass Pro Shop as well as the Smoky Mountains Knife Works, which features a 2 story indoor waterfall and additional outdoor scenery. The best part about all of these attractions? They’re all totally free!
Still pouring on your last day? Not to fear. The mountains are extra beautiful cloaked in mist and darkened greenery! It’s exactly the kind of view that should be admired in its entirety– from the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Ride a glass elevator all the way up, and take in the majesty from a 360 degree observation deck. Perfect. There’s plenty of things to do in Gatlinburg on a rainy day.