The rolling mountains of Gatlinburg are an ideal destination for a fall getaway. Temperatures are still warm enough to take full advantage of the plentiful outdoor activities, while the cooler evenings are perfect for cozying up around a fire. Fall also sees the landscape in and around Gatlinburg come alive with brilliant reds, oranges, and golds, turning an already beautiful landscape into a stunning backdrop for outdoor adventures. Whether you plan to shop and dine your way through a fall getaway to Gatlinburg or take full advantage of this outdoor playground, be sure to add some of our favorite fall activities in Gatlinburg to the itinerary!
Fall days in Gatlinburg are made for enjoying the changing leaves, whether from the comfort of your vehicle on a scenic drive or from the packed dirt trail with the brilliant canopy spread out overhead. While it varies each year, the best time to see fall colors in Gatlinburg generally tends to be from mid-October to early November. If your visit is planned for earlier in the season, head to higher elevations to catch sight of those autumn colors. In the mountains and forests that can be found in and around Gatlinburg, the black maple tree’s leaves transform to glowing yellow, the sugar maples to a brilliant orange-red, and the hickories to a deep golden bronze.
For those who prefer to enjoy fall foliage in comfort, options abound. Take the Aerial Tramway on a 2.1-mile journey from Gatlinburg’s downtown to Ober Gatlinburg, soaking in aerial views of Gatlinburg’s best fall foliage along the way as you climb 1,472 feet in elevation. The Gatlinburg Space Needle is another ideal location for enjoying a breathtaking aerial view of Gatlinburg in the fall, with the area’s brilliant colors spread out beneath the 407-foot observation tower. To enjoy the fall foliage from the comfort of your vehicle, plan a drive down Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway. And of course, for those who enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of a good hike, getting out on the trail provides an up close and personal fall experience!
The Andrews Bald Hiking Trail is a great trail for leaf peeping while also enjoying the exhilaration of hiking through gorgeous terrain. This 3.5-mile round trip hike offers panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding highlands, made especially stunning when fall colors are at their peak. Sugarland Mountain Trail is another destination for experiencing the beauty of Gatlinburg’s fall foliage while on foot. With a round-trip distance of 7 miles, this lengthier hike allows for the quiet and solitude of making your way through forestland that has been transformed by fall colors. This is definitely one of the all-time favorite fall activities in Gatlinburg!
Whether you’re an experienced angler or are looking for a laid-back way to spend your days with the family in Gatlinburg, fishing is a great option during fall months. With the appropriate permit, fishing opportunities are available in areas such as the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River, LeConte Creek, Roaring Fork Creek, and Dudley Creek. With Great Smoky Mountains National Park as Gatlinburg’s neighbor, you’ll also want to explore the many waterways within the park, most of which allow fishing. Only single-hook lures and flies as bait are permitted in both Gatlinburg and the park. If you don’t plan to bring along your own fishing gear, check out The Smoky Mountain Angler in Gatlinburg for all the supplies you’ll need to enjoy a day out on Gatlinburg’s waters!
You’ll find a wide variety of fish at the end of your line when you fish in Gatlinburg. Brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, rock bass, and panfish are all common. Gatlinburg regularly stocks its waters with trout, so although that means there is no fishing permitted on Thursdays when restocking occurs, it also means the waters are consistently teeming with fish. In fact, the Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament is often held at the beginning of October, when trout fishing in the Smokies is at its best.
Fall Events in Gatlinburg
Celebrate Oktoberfest throughout the month at Ober Gatlinburg, where the food, drinks, and music will quickly put you in a festive fall spirit. Feast on Bavarian-style food while watching The Smoky Mountain Oompah Band perform traditional folk dances in full costume. The Bier Garten is the perfect place to indulge in a schnitzel and Bavarian beer before exploring all the rest that Ober Gatlinburg has to offer!
If you’re looking for an extra spooky way to celebrate Halloween this year, consider attending one of Ripley’s Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. Set in a renovated mansion that definitely evokes a spooky feel, this haunted adventure takes the traditional haunted house to the next level. Though families are welcome, children must be at least six to enter. The Ripley’s franchise boasts eight separate Gatlinburg attractions including the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, world-class aquarium, a 5D moving theater, a mirror maze, and themed mini-golf courses.
In search of Gatlinburg accommodations or more ideas for your fall getaway? Contact us at Smoky Mountain Realty Partners for more information!
The beautiful town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee is known as the gateway to the Smoky Mountains, bringing tons of visitors every year seeking to reconnect with nature and explore the stunning surrounding mountains. In addition to great scenery, Gatlinburg features tons of outdoor attractions such as theme parks, water parks, and outdoor adventure trails. At first thought, you may think that a rainy day is sure to spoil any fun you’ll have here. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Although filled with outdoor fun, Gatlinburg also has amazing indoor attractions and destinations that will keep the fun going, no matter the weather. Keep reading to find out our top picks for rainy day activities in Gatlinburg.
Explore the Local Distilleries and Other Fun Activities in Gatlinburg
Part of the rich local culture of Tennessee is the history of its many moonshine distilleries. Moonshine’s history began outside of the law, although today the many distilleries in Gatlinburg are licensed and operate legally. There are many great moonshine distilleries to choose from in Gatlinburg, and a rainy day is a perfect opportunity for a tasting tour (or two!) around town. Sugarlands Distilling Company is the top-rated distillery in town and is a great place to start on your rainy day moonshine tour. Open daily from 10 am to 10:30 pm, it’s a great place to drop in for an impromptu tasting at $5 a pour or book their blended cocktails tour for a 30-minute tour of their distillery, complete with two hand-crafted cocktails. No matter which option you choose, Sugarland serves up great whiskey and moonshine! Another popular distillery is Ole Smoky, which boasts the distinction of being the first federally licensed moonshine distillery in Tennessee. They also offer tours Mondays-Fridays at 11 am and 4 pm. Here, you’ll receive 13 sample tastings of the various whiskeys and moonshines distilled here. No matter which distillery you choose, you are sure to have a great time with great spirits on a rainy day in Gatlinburg!
Believe It or Not at Ripley’s
Just because the rain is keeping you indoors doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any of the wow factors of Gatlinburg. A popular series of destinations in Gatlinburg are the multiple attractions here from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Ripley’s has a wide variety of attractions here, including their classic museum of unusual artifacts known as the Odditorium. Explore over 500 exhibits and artifacts on three floors of fun, featuring unique items such as shrunken heads, a 19th-century vampire hunting kit, a dragon made out of scrap metal, and all kinds of other interesting finds! In addition to the Odditorium, Ripley’s has their Aquarium of the Smokies, which features over 10,000 sea creatures in over 250 species, from sharks and penguins to stingrays and pufferfish. The aquarium is one of the top attractions in Gatlinburg, and with one visit here, it is easy to see why! Ripley’s Aquarium features seemingly endless colorful exhibits of fish and offers tons of hands-on experiences that are sure to delight everyone in the whole family! In addition to the Odditorium and the Aquarium, Ripley’s also has a mirror maze, haunted house, moving theater, an indoor arcade, and a couple of outdoor attractions as well. Best of all, you can bundle your tickets for multiple attractions, ensuring you save money and have tons of fun!
Live Like a Local at the Village Shops
A rainy day is a perfect excuse to head into town and spend some time living like a local. In Gatlinburg, there is no better place for that than at the Village Shops. Here you’ll find lots of local favorite places for shopping and dining. The Village Shops is consistently a favorite destination for both locals and tourists alike, winning a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award in 2020. The Village Shops features European-style storefronts, an old-world atmosphere, and is home to 27 boutiques, restaurants and cafes, and art galleries. It’s a perfect place to spend the afternoon browsing for a unique souvenir for your trip to Gatlinburg! For bites, consider heading to Boudicca’s Celtic Pub, The Donut Friar, or the Hofbrauhaus restaurants. You won’t find any chain restaurants here; each dining destination is unique to Gatlinburg. For shopping, there are many great places, from food-themed such as Zi Olive and The Cheese Cupboard to jewelry at The Silver Tree and a wide variety of personalized items available at U Name It. No matter what you are looking for, the Village Shops is sure to have it and is one of the best destinations in Gatlinburg, rain or shine!
Gatlinburg is a fantastic vacation destination, and a rainy day or two certainly isn’t going to ruin your fun here! Enjoy tons of indoor attractions, dining, and shopping in beautiful Gatlinburg. Contact us to book your vacation today!