The small towns of the Great Smoky Mountains are perhaps best known for their family-oriented atmosphere and kid-friendly activities. Yet, that isn’t to say there aren’t also plenty of fun things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for adults! In fact, some of the region’s finest daytime experiences and most exciting nightlife await among the many local breweries, distilleries and specialty shops. Let this handy guide show you where to go to embrace your adventurous lifestyle!
Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg Distilleries
This neck of the Appalachian region has a long and proud history of the art of distillation — but not just with any ordinary kind of liquor. American moonshine and whiskey find their cultural roots in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina, where the Great Smoky Mountains provided isolation for illegal moonshiners to work despite state alcohol laws. Today, the craft of distillation is not only perfectly legal, but visitors come from all over to participate in whiskey or moonshine tastings in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. After a long hike in the mountains, revive your energy and delight your palate at any of these distilleries.
Junction 35 Spirits combines long-standing family traditions with modern sensibilities to create a unique flavor experience. This railroad-themed distillery prides itself in producing and distributing premium liquors all over the nation. Still, the best place to try their diverse offering of moonshine, whiskey, rum, vodka, gin and bourbon is at their locale in Pigeon Forge. A rotating menu of free samples is available at the bar every day, while their calendar of events and live musical performances keeps you entertained all week. Don’t be surprised when you walk away with more than just a few bottles, like Peach Moonshine, Caramel Apple Whiskey, Junction 35 Rum and Jalapeño Vodka.
With an Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery location on the Parkway and at The Island, you don’t have far to go for a moonshine tasting in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. At Tennessee’s first legal moonshine distillery, you can expect no less than the most refined flavors from recipes perfected since the 1800s. Stop by any day of the week to sip on moonshines like Blue Flame, White Lightnin’, Sour Watermelon, and Apple Pie. Ole Smoky Whiskey is their Gatlinburg distillery specializing in white oak barrel-aged whiskey flavors like Salty Caramel, Peach, Peanut Butter, Cold Brew, and Mango Habanero. Learn a thing or two from the Master Distiller during a distillery tour that comes with a 13-sample tasting, and then bring home a couple of your favorites.
There’s no more authentic Tennessee experience than sipping on moonshine in a barn, tapping your toes to live bluegrass music and building relationships with your community members. At Sugarlands Distilling Company, you can do all of the above! Their barnhouse location, full calendar of events, and commitment to the Sugarlands community make them far more than just another Gatlinburg distillery. Plus, their distillery is open for a Blended Cocktails Tour, where you’ll get to explore the stillhouse and learn how to make handcrafted cocktails. Afterward, grab a round of samples and let the TasteMaker help you zero in on some tasting notes or get inspired with cocktail ideas. By the end of your visit, you won’t be able to decide between interesting spirits like Chipper Jones’ Sweet Tea Moonshine, Maple Bacon Moonshine, Pumpkin Spice Latte Sippin’ Cream, and Roaming Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey.
Tennessee Legend Distillery opened in 2015 just up the road in Sevierville. Yet, that unmistakable Appalachian flavor comes through in their moonshines and whiskies just as much. The family-owned and operated distillery pulls from their Smoky Mountain heritage to concoct award-winning treasures like White Lightning Moonshine, Salted Caramel Whiskey, Crème Brûlée Cream and White Rum. Their staff will be only too happy to let you sample anything you want as you contemplate the newest addition (or five) to your liquor cabinet.
Moonshine and whiskey aren’t the only way to wind down after a full day of adventures in the Smokies. Whether you’re hiking, fishing, rafting or horseback riding in the mountains, make sure to stop at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on your way out. There you will find Gatlinburg Wine Cellar, home to a repertoire of locally-made wines, such as the Blueberry Wine, Midnight Blackberry Wine and world-famous Cotton Candy Wine. A classic pre-dinner activity with friends, Gatlinburg Wine Cellar even provides the opportunity to taste their unique and original wines, all of which are made from regionally sourced fruits.
What could pair better with your Appalachian whiskey or wine than a richly fragrant cigar? Conveniently located at The Island in Pigeon Forge, Smokies Cigar Shop is your local hook-up for premium tobacco products at competitive prices. Stock up on your favorite smoking accessories, like e-cigarette juices, fun lighters, Zippos and lighter fluid. The store associates will be happy to recommend you a cigar based on your tastes, such as a unique moonshine-dipped cigar, or an upgraded vape depending on your needs. All their cigars are stored in humidity-controlled cases, guaranteeing their freshness and full-bodied flavor.
The Mountain Mile
A lively hub of attractions, shops, restaurants, and entertainment, The Mountain Mile offers some of the most diverse things to do in Pigeon Forge for adults. At this grand indoor mall, there is no dearth of shopping opportunities. Check out national brands like Nike or REI Co-op if you forgot to bring some crucial piece of athletic or outdoor gear, or browse the local brands like Appalachian Apparel Co. and The Mountain Mile General Store for men’s and women’s apparel, home decor and souvenirs.
The Mountain Mile also houses a unique variety of adult beverage experiences, including Junction 35 Spirits and the coming-soon Azul Mexican Cantina & Brewery. Coming soon as the first rooftop bar in Pigeon Forge, Azul Mexican Cantina & Brewery will be a chic and vibrant hotspot where you can sample homemade cerveza, original Agave spirits, and handcrafted cocktails served alongside wood-grilled TexMex.
If you’re looking for a classic night out on the town with a big group of friends, Country Roads Axe Co. is for you. Axe-throwing has become a trendy phenomenon across the country, but you haven’t experienced it quite like this. Country Roads Axe Co. uses computer technology to digitally project more customizable and interactive targets than anything you’ve seen before. Challenge your friends to games like Zombie Challenge, AXE-Tac-Toe, and moving bullseyes, while the computer keeps the score for you. At the same time, indulge in a slice from West by God CoalFired Pizza and your choice of domestic or craft beer from the self-serve iPourIt system. Country Roads Axe Co. is undoubtedly not for you if you hate cold beer, delicious grub and evoking your inner Viking.
Don’t feel guilty about leaving the kids at home with a babysitter to have some adults-only vacation time with your partner or friends. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s natural to need a break from everyday life to catch up on self-care and R&R. Sit back and fully savor a moonshine tasting in Gatlinburg, indulge your guilty pleasures at the offbeat shops in Pigeon Forge, or invite a big group of friends to light up the night and throw axes. With so many things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for adults, a vacation in the Smokies will surely reignite your youthful spirit again.
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