The Great Smoky Mountains encompass one of the most beautiful and unique regions in the United States. Offering richly diverse flora and fauna, and one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Great Smoky Mountains are not to be missed. 

Whether you are traveling through the region with a focus on nature, food, culture, or thrills, you are sure to encounter unforgettable adventures. Here are our picks for the most scenic places to visit in the Smokies!

Andrew's Bald - Great Smoky Mountains

Andrew’s Bald

The Great Smoky Mountains region is part of a unique type of ecosystem: a temperate rainforest, which is an unusual occurrence in the world. The moderate temperatures, rainfall and, of course, the eponymous misty smoke that hangs over the mountains most days, create an opportunity for rare plants and animals to thrive.

Take in unforgettable views with a hike along the Andrews Bald trail. Accessible from the Clingmans Dome area of the Smokies, the Andrews Bald trail is a 3.6 mile, out-and-back hike with an elevation change of 1,200 feet. The climax of this trail offers views comparable to Clingmans Dome – the highest point in the Smokies.

Families with older children can enjoy the moderately strenuous journey, but make sure to bring plenty of water – especially in the summer months! And the beautiful views from the top of Andrews Bald (fittingly, unobstructed by trees) make it the perfect spot for sunrise, sunset, or an afternoon picnic.

spread of food - J.O.E. and Pop's Sub Shoppe

J.O.E. and Pop’s Sub Shoppe

Hiking can work up an appetite, and the grassy meadow atop Andrews Bald is a great place to stop and replenish with delicious sandwiches from J.O.E. and Pop’s Sub Shoppe. Cold subs, cheesesteak sandwiches, and specialty recipes like Reubens and hot roast beef stacks round out their menu with something for every taste.

J.O.E. and Pop’s Sub Shoppe makes takeout easy with their online ordering system. Feed a group with their sandwich platters, made with the freshest ingredients, whether you are refueling after a hike or while exploring Gatlinburg. They also offer delicious chicken wings and hot dogs – traditional comfort food, done right!

Horses at Big Rock Dude Ranch

Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa

Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa is the place to be for adventurous souls who love fresh air, nature, and the majesty of horses. Just a short drive from Gatlinburg and Sevierville, Big Rock Dude Ranch offers trail rides, gem mining, and fishing, as well as a beloved petting zoo!

If you are interested in history, there’s truly no better way to experience the Smokies than on horseback. Let the seasoned guides and amazing horses take you and your family on an unforgettable ride through some beautiful scenery in the Smokies, and you will feel connected to nature like never before.

Southern food to-go - Mama's Chicken Kitchen

Mama’s Chicken Kitchen

When it’s time to chow down, the shaded picnic area at Big Rock Dude Ranch is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, southern-style. Pick up fixings for the whole family at Mama’s Chicken Kitchen and enjoy your meal at the ranch’s picnic area along Little Cove Creek. 

Mama’s makes picnicking easy-as-pie. With their online ordering, you can skip the line and quickly pick up your favorite southern dishes like fried chicken, dumplings, and mashed potatoes on the way. They also offer chicken wings and handcrafted salads, so no matter the hunger level of your group, Mama’s Chicken Kitchen has just what you need!

Chair lift overlooking mountains - Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

Experiencing the beauty of the Smokies from a bird’s-eye view has never been more possible. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park offers multiple opportunities to take in the gorgeous surroundings from their SkyBridge, their SkyDeck, and, of course, the SkyLift – a Smoky Mountain landmark since 1954.

The SkyLift is open year-round, and an exhilarating ride up the mountain will lead you to even more fun! The SkyLift Park contains the SkyLift, as well as the SkyBridge and the SkyDeck. The SkyBridge allows you to experience the thrill of heights and fresh air high above the ground, and the SkyDeck offers unforgettable views from the high peaks in the Smokies in a relaxing environment. A day spent on the mountain provides unbeatable vistas, thrilling experiences, and memories to last a lifetime!

Man riding ATV through forest - Bluff Mountain ATV Rides

Bluff Mountain ATV Rides

Get your fill of adrenaline and nature at the same time on a guided ATV tour from Bluff Mountain ATV Rides! Experience the natural wonder of the Smoky Mountains on an adventurous ride through woods, across streams, and over 6,000 acres of Tennessee trails. 

Bluff Mountain ATV Rides offer 60 or 90-minute guided trips over rugged terrain, offering a truly unique look at the spectacular views these mountains have to offer. Families with older children will find a perfect day trip at their fingertips and will make memories to last a lifetime.

Group of people white water rafting - Rafting In The Smokies

Rafting in the Smokies

Take an exciting trip down the Pigeon River with Rafting in the Smokies whitewater rafting tours! The rivers in the Smokies are beautiful, wild and exhilarating forces in the natural environment, and you can get right in the middle of the action by navigating a raft through the rapids.

The well-trained guides at Rafting in the Smokies offer river tours for large or small groups. The Upper Pigeon River brings the excitement with higher-class rapids, and the Lower Pigeon River caters to those who want a more relaxing experience in nature. Families with kids three and older can find a tour that suits their needs, but adventurous kids with a thrill-seeking streak seem to appreciate the experience the most.

Man preparing to zipline through forest - Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park

Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park

Ziplines, a swinging bridge, and rope courses? Foxfire Mountain is the place to be for adventure seekers who want to test the limits of their courage and skill! 

Their multiple tours and adventure packages encompass waterfall zip lines and the swinging bridge, as well as five of the fastest, most extended zip lines in the country, taking you through the dense and lush Tennessee forest. Foxfire Mountain also offers ATV rides through the rugged terrain, a 60+ foot climbing wall, and an aerial ropes course.

When you’re ready to wind down and relax, stop at the cidery for a one-of-a-kind tour and taste their handcrafted ciders! You can experience the agility ropes, the climbing wall, and the Bridge to Prosperity with the Total Challenge Pass!

The Smoky Mountain region is a beautiful place to visit for individuals, couples, families, and larger groups. As you can see, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. For more can’t miss activities, be sure to check our lists of things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville.

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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