Spring break evokes images of endless leisure and adventures under the sun – a stark contrast to many of us currently emerging from the winter blues. As college campuses clear out and families plan getaways, the countdown to a well-deserved break begins.

The key to a memorable spring break isn’t just the time off; choosing the best places to visit for spring break promises an unforgettable experience. This guide explores why Gatlinburg, nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, should be at the top of your spring break destination list.

Overlook view of Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg: The Ultimate Spring Break Escape

Finding the ideal spring break destination is an art. Some prefer the pulsating energy of crowded places, while others look for the tranquility of the mountains. In Gatlinburg, you’ll discover a harmonious blend of both.

Known for its breathtaking natural beauty, Gatlinburg offers many warm-weather outdoor activities that cater to the adventurous spirit and give you the space to relax and rejuvenate in a serene setting.

Hiking Trails and Outdoor Adventures

For the outdoor enthusiast, spring break in Gatlinburg is a paradise. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers scenic drives, plenty of wildlife, and boasts over 800 miles of hiking trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging treks.

Hiking Trails

Abrams Falls Trail is a five-mile round-trip hike that leads to a magnificent 20-foot waterfall. The Laurel Falls Trail is perfect for families, with its paved path, beautiful waterfall, and park views, and is famous for enjoying the stunning spring wildflowers. 

Scenic Drives and Wildlife Viewing

Gatlinburg offers several scenic drives for those who prefer to take in the beauty of the mountains from the comfort of their car. Keep an eye out for the blooming wildflowers that carpet the forest floors and line the roads in vibrant colors this time of year. Spring is an excellent time to explore and spot wildlife awakening from winter hibernation.

Check out the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which is incredibly picturesque with colorful spring blooms. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a six-mile loop that winds through the lush forests and offers spectacular views of waterfalls. Watch for black bears, deer, and other wildlife along the way.

Hikes like the Alum Cave Trail and the Chimney Tops Trail offer excellent wildflower viewing opportunities. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the wonderful diversity of flowers that herald spring in the Great Smoky Mountains. The floral show is short-lived, so plan your trip soon to experience the majesty of spring.

Moonshine barrels held up in rafters

Spring Events and Attractions

Gatlinburg offers several spring-specific events and attractions. Many family-friendly attractions reopen for spring break, often with special deals.

In April, you can celebrate mountain cuisine and culture with live music and crafts at the Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival. Or, you can explore Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery, which offers spring cocktails, distillery tours, and live music at each location.

Thrilling Attractions and Amusement Parks

If you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping fun, Gatlinburg doesn’t disappoint.

The area is home to many year-round attractions, including the famed Gatlinburg SkyPark’s SkyBridge, a 680-foot-long suspension bridge with glass-bottom panels, and Ober Gatlinburg, a resort that transforms into a playground in the spring with mountain biking, hiking, rafting, and more.

Conquer the untamed waters of the Smokies with our world-class whitewater rafting experiences, guaranteed to deliver the adrenaline rush of a lifetime. Soar above the lush canopies on zip lines, where you’ll witness the awe-inspiring splendor of Gatlinburg from a vantage point reserved for the bold.

Mountain cabin in the woods

Accommodations and Amenities

Gatlinburg provides a range of lodging options, from the rustic charm of cabins nestled deep in the woods to modern downtown hotels. Many offer spring break promotions for families and college students, and for those seeking a back-to-nature experience, camping in the national park is an option, complete with serene nights under a blanket of stars.

Dining and Entertainment Offerings

Whatever your palate may crave, Gatlinburg’s culinary offerings are diverse. Indulge in local comfort food, such as trout or BBQ, and take advantage of the pancake houses for a hearty breakfast.

Nightlife in Gatlinburg is vibrant and mellow, with live music performances and bars that offer a relaxed atmosphere to wind down after a day of exploring.


Shops on the Gatlinburg Strip line the street, selling artisan crafts, homemade fudges, and unique souvenirs perfect for commemorative trinkets.


When the sun sets, downtown Gatlinburg lights up with a different sort of brilliance. Patrons can enjoy diverse entertainment, including street performers and Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar.

Accessibility and Convenience

Gatlinburg is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, making it a perfect place for millions of people to visit yearly.

Proximity to Major Cities and Airports

Gatlinburg is an accessible escape from urban life. It’s only a day’s drive from many Southeastern cities, including Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte. The McGhee-Tyson Airport is an hour’s drive away for those flying in.  Gatlinburg also offers many direct flights from major cities across the United States, such as Houston, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Cincinnati, Minneapolis / St. Paul, Orlando, Cleveland, Newark, Detroit, Memphis, Washington DC, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

Ease of Transportation

Navigating Gatlinburg is straightforward, and the trolley system provides a convenient way to explore the city without worrying about parking. Rental cars are also popular. They offer the flexibility to explore the mountains at your own pace. Additionally, visitors can rent RZRs, Slingshots and Jeeps to cruise the parkway.

Making the Most of Your Gatlinburg Spring Break

Gatlinburg is an exceptional destination with something for everyone. The blossoming of the Smoky Mountains in spring is not only a feast for the eyes, but it also allures you with its seasonal transformations. Plan your visit to coincide with local spring events and ensure you add hidden gems like the Sugarlands Distillery to your itinerary.

Best Places to Visit for Spring Break

Gatlinburg embodies the spirit of spring break, offering a diverse array of activities in a setting that is as serene as it is spectacular. With its accessible location, safe environment, and friendly population, Gatlinburg stands out as one of the best places to visit for spring break.

Plan your visit to Gatlinburg this spring, and embrace all the wonders this mountain oasis has in store. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or need some tranquility, Gatlinburg is ready to fulfill your every spring break dream.

Safe travels, and may your spring break be as magical as the season itself!

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

About Sierra W.

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