Sunset over Smoky Mountains

When you’re traveling, sometimes the very best way to experience a new area is to visit all of the hot spots: the iconic views, the sought-after foods, and the experiences that others have said truly created a long-lasting memory of that particular town in their minds and hearts. Other times, however, call for a different type of adventure – perhaps one that’s more off the beaten path.

Discovering the non-touristy activities in any town can be tricky, especially if the area already provides a lot of fun and adventure. The Great Smoky Mountains, and the charming small towns nestled within them, are no different. Most people who have visited Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville have come home with great memories about the same places and experiences. However, you can craft your unique trip to the Smokies and experience the area like a local with our list of 9 Non-Touristy Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains!

Couple riding the Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider

Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider and Alpine Coaster

Offering locations in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Rowdy Bear Mountain is a must-do for those who love the outdoors and have an inclination towards adrenaline, as well. The Gatlinburg location boasts two unique experiences that will leave a lasting impression on you and your family: the Mountain Glider and the Alpine Coaster!

The Alpine Coaster reaches speeds up to 35mph, as it follows its path through the woods of Rowdy Bear Mountain! As this alpine coaster is gravity-propelled, it provides a smooth glide for its riders and allows you to control the speed of your ride down the mountain. You can ride alone or with a friend or loved one, making it a perfect Smoky Mountain getaway experience!

The Mountain Glider is a single-railed, in the air coaster that allows you to whiz through the trees lining Rowdy Bear Mountain, combining free-falling and hang-gliding experiences into one safe, exciting ride. The Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider is the first of its kind in the world, so you can be sure that it will give you an experience unlike any other.

Big Creek Expeditions - Group whitewater rafting

Big Creek Expeditions

There are many ways to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains, and rafting on the Pigeon River is one of the best! Big Creek Expeditions offers whitewater rafting trips and full-day river adventures for those who want to taste adventure in the mountains. 

For families who have children between the ages of 3 and 7, and want to experience a more relaxing river trip that still delivers all of the stunning sights, their Lower Pigeon Scenic Float is an excellent choice. Big Creek Expeditions also offers fun, non-river-themed activities, including horseback riding and kart racing! Once you’ve experienced the water, take a tour through their Adventure Park Ziplines to complete your Smoky Mountain Adventure with the exhilaration of flight.

Smoky Mountain River Rat - Women tubing

Rafting & Tubing with Smoky Mountain River Rat

For over 20 years, Smoky Mountain River Rat has been providing fun-filled tubing trips in Townsend, TN, and exciting whitewater rafting trips in Hartford, TN. There are few better ways to connect with the unique natural world of the Smokies than spending a day on the river!

For whitewater rafting, Smoky Mountain River Rat offers a challenging course on the Upper Pigeon River, as well as a more relaxed trip on the Lower Pigeon River, both accessible from their Hartford location. If you enjoy fishing and want to experience it in a new way, try their Fishing Adventure trip! Don’t forget to fuel up at their onsite local food truck, Grab it n’ Growl, and stock up on snacks and craft beer to enjoy while you float the river. 

Smoky Mountain River Rat also provides two tubing adventures at their Townsend location. They call the upper section of the river the “adventure float”, as it includes exciting rapids and fun swimming holes. This float is appropriate for kids age 6 and older, so it’s great for a family with older kids who enjoy an adrenaline boost. The lower section features a relaxing trip down the river and is appropriate for kids age 2 and up. It is also dog-friendly, so don’t forget to bring your furry friends along on this ride!

Sunset aerial view - Sky High Air Tours

Sky High Air Tours

Have you ever dreamed of watching the sunset from the open cockpit of a vintage airplane? You can make that dream a reality by visiting Sky High Air Tours in Sevierville! Aiming to recreate a piece of our unique American aviation history, Sky High Air Tours offers flights of varying lengths around Sevierville and Pigeon Forge in their authentic Waco Biplane.

Sky High Air Tours is a must-visit if you’re traveling with a loved one for a romantic getaway. The views of the beautiful Smoky Mountains you’ll experience from the open-air cockpit will be unlike any other – so don’t forget your camera!

Off-Road Vehicle - Jeeps, Wranglers & Razors

Jeeps, Wranglers & Razors

Looking for a new way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Smoky Mountains while you explore the rugged terrain around Pigeon Forge? Visit the team at Jeeps, Wranglers & Razors and they will outfit you with an adventurous vehicle and you’ll be on your way in no time.

Offering Jeep, Wrangler, Razor, and Slingshot rentals, you can select the type of driving experience you want. Choose a 2-door or 4-door Wrangler for the beloved traditional Jeep look and feel, or take off in a Razor or Slingshot for a unique open-air driving adventure!

Smoky Mountain Paintball - Man playing paintball

Smoky Mountain Paintball

Everyone loves a chance to get outside and engage in some healthy competition with friends and family! Get your blood pumping with a fun and exciting game of paintball. Whether you are new to the game or a seasoned expert, you’ll find something to enjoy at Smoky Mountain Paintball.

With a wide range of areas to play, including a wooded course and a hybrid speedball field, Smoky Mountain Paintball offers the best paintball experience in East Tennessee! Groups of all sizes, from church events to corporate bonding outings and bachelor/bachelorette parties, can enjoy a memorable day in the beautiful Smoky Mountains.

Top hat and briefcases - Smoky Mountain Relic Room

Treasure Hunting at Great Smokies Flea Market, Smoky Mountain Relic Room and Sandman’s Workshop

Finding the perfect treasure, whether it’s a gift for a loved one or a special item for your home, creates a unique sense of satisfaction. If that treasure is full of history, and maybe even a story, that feeling multiplies!

You never know what you might find during a visit to the Great Smokies Flea Market in Kodak, the largest flea market in Tennessee. One-of-a-kind items, including antiques and collectibles, abound in this ever-changing marketplace.

The Smoky Mountain Relic Room in Sevierville offers minerals, fossils, and artifacts of all kinds, all of which are full of the Smoky Mountain region’s history. They also offer antiques and collectibles from ages past! Find them downstairs inside Smoky Mountain Knifeworks.

If you’re looking for a personalized gift, Sandman’s Workshop in Pigeon Forge is the place to visit. Their talented artisans can create a carved rock or stone to commemorate a special occasion or a memory to share with your loved ones.


There are so many options for exciting, fun, and unique experiences in the Smokies! With our list, you can be sure that you can craft a getaway, unlike any other. The memories you make in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville won’t be based on tourist attractions – they will be filled with adventure, inspiration, and bonding experiences for you and your family.

Content on this page is subject to change. Please contact the locations mentioned to see if promotions, hours, pricing, etc. are still valid.

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller is a native Tennessean who currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina. She loves spending time in the great outdoors, such as camping, hiking, and mountain biking. She also enjoys exploring all that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

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