Gatlinburg: Gateway To The Great Smoky Mountains

In the southeast corner of Tennessee at the foot of The Great Smoky Mountains lies Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This quirky little vacation wonderland has something to offer everyone. From theme parks and amusement rides to live entertainment, this town will keep you on the move. Oh, there’s also that little old national park next door.

When you drive into Gatlinburg, and neighboring Pigeon Forge, you can’t help but notice all of the amusement rides and attractions. While downtown Gatlinburg offers fun parks with go-carts, mini golf, and the other usual suspects, Pigeon Forge has larger scale parks. There are three story go-kart tracks lining the main drag in Pigeon Forge, as well as the massive Wilderness at the Smokies Water Park. This colossal park features towering water slides that twist and turn throughout the largest indoor park in the state. It gets even bigger outside with a whole other park full of water slides, rock climbing walls, and ropes courses. You could literally turn this park into its own vacation, as it is its own resort. With quality rustic lodging, great dining options, and even shopping, there’s no need to leave.

But the star of the amusement parks in the area is Dollywood. Located in Pigeon Forge, on Dollywood Dr. of course, this awesome amusement park offers traditional roller coasters, bumper cars, and carousels as well as unique rides like The Dollywood Express. This five mile journey on an authentic coal train winds through the foothills of The Great Smoky Mountains. There’s also a sanctuary for bald eagles and other wildlife. Finally, Dollywood keeps the contenders in check with its amazing water park, including a log flume themed roller coaster.

When you’re done with the parks, go check out some of the many family themed live shows. With themes ranging from magic acts to stand up comedy, family jug bands to dueling pianos, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have a ton of fun in store for visitors of all ages. And don’t forget, there’s always the chance that Dolly Parton will show up!
Find a ride into downtown Gatlinburg by going to and head into the Ripley’s aquarium. This impressive and educational aquarium has all kinds of beautiful animals on display. From glow in the dark jellyfish to their penguin habitat, this aquarium boasts a wide array of aquatic life. They even have a walk through tunnel in their massive shark tank! Don’t feel like walking? No problem! Just stand on the moving floor. Exit through the gift shop and head out to the main strip of Gatlinburg. Out on the strip, you’ll find exciting bars and restaurants, great gift shops, and lots of arcade and mini golf courses.

Last but certainly not least, head into The Great Smoky Mountains and enjoy one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. With trails leading up above Gatlinburg, you can get great views of the two cities and all of their quirky, fun parks and architecture. You can also find some great fishing streams and swimming holes in the summertime!

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