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5 of the Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg this Summer

It’s summertime in the Smoky Mountains which means it’s time for a memorable vacation in Gatlinburg.  Surrounded by The Great Smoky Mountains, this hamlet offers a variety of things to do.  From attractions that dive into aquatic life to scenic spots straight out of a postcard and white water rapid adventures, the places to visit in the Smokies create an escape all their own.

The Top Five Things to Do in Gatlinburg this Summer include:

Things to Do in Gatlinburg this Summer

1) Go on a White Water Rafting Trip

Brave the Pigeon River and go whitewater rafting in Gatlinburg.  There are several outfitters to choose from, all of which provide guided services on the upper and lower section of the river.  The upper section features Class III and IV rapids, while the lower section is more leisurely with Class I and II rapids.  Choose the adventure best for you and enjoy a beautiful day on the river.

Things to do in Gatlinburg this summer

2) Take a Hike

Of course, one of the top things to do in Gatlinburg this summer is hiking. Sure, it can be hot during the summer season but you’d be surprised how cool the air can feel in those higher elevations. In addition, many of the treks are waterfall hikes so you can enjoy the mist and spray of the falls for both their beauty and natural cool down effects. Do keep in mind, however, that you’ll need plenty of water and sunscreen on for those summertime hikes.

3) View the Underwater World of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

This expansive attraction takes you on a journey through “life under the sea.”  Ripley’s Aquarium exhibits feature a variety of aquatic life and an interactive area is a fun place to play and learn with the kids.  Explore Penguin Playhouse, Stingray Bay and Coral Reef. Then, take a journey on moving 340-foot long glidepath through the Shark Lagoon.
Things to Do in Gatlinburg this Summer

4) Take the Scenic Route

Take a ride aboard the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway or the Gatlinburg Sky Lift for fantastic views of the Smoky Mountains.  With Ober Gatlinburg, you ride in a comfortable gondola to the top of the mountain, where sweeping vistas as well as an ice skating rink and family amusement rides.  The Gatlinburg Sky Lift is a more laidback approach as you ride in open air ski-lift style chairs.  At the top, you can explore the gorgeous views and a charming panormaic scene. 
Things to do in Gatlinburg this summer

5) Go Ziplining

Add some extra excitement to your vacation with a Gatlinburg zipline .  Several companies, including Foxfire Mountain Adventures and Adventure America, offer scenic zipline adventures.  Zipping through the air past lush canopies and splendid mountains is a rush I highly recommend! It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg this summer. 

Bonus: Take a day trip to Pigeon Forge. It’s home to Dollywood and Splash Country. As a result, it’s an ideal place to play during the summer season in the Smokies.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.
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