By Guest Blogger Emily Kottak, Sophomore at UNCC

Gatlinburg, Tennessee has so much to offer and is a great place to visit anytime of year. We were able to spend three nights there in August 2020.

We packed each day full of activities which kept us busy, but there is so much to do in Gatlinburg and we wanted to maximize our time. On our first morning, rain was expected and so we thought the Ripley’s Aquarium would be a good way to do an activity while being inside. We got there early to avoid the crowds which was definitely the way to go because when we left it started to get really crowded. Ripley’s Aquarium has been voted “Best Aquarium in North America.” There are so many amazing animals and exhibits and you get to see the animals very up close. There is an option to feed and pet stingrays which we did. The aquarium is a great experience for all.

Ober Gatlinburg was another activity we tried. You ride a tram up to the top where there are a lot of rides and activities to do. Ober Gatlinburg is good for kids of all ages. We thought the tram ride up was the best part. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the top but the views along the way are spectacular as you are high above the trees and get a great view of the mountains. I would recommend eating before going up because lunch options are limited. Some of the rides include the mountain coaster (which had a 2 hour wait), indoor ice skating, outdoor maze, scenic chair lift, water slides, summer tubing, alpine slide and more. Each ride requires a ticket or wristband and so if we went there again we would look at all the rides and then decide about getting a wristband.

We have never been to a more fun minigolf place than Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg. Golfers ride a small tram up the mountain and play golf at the top. The course is so well-kept, clean and nicely done. It is shaded and scenic. The staff is super friendly and they have wonderful customer service. You can also get a discount if you play there again within a couple of days. We absolutely love Hillbilly Golf and it is our favorite place to play golf.

If you are looking for a thrill, try out indoor skydiving. We went to Flyaway Indoor Skydiving in Pigeon Forge. We called ahead and reserved an appointment time because it does fill up fast. We were given a tutorial and instruction on what to expect and what we needed to do in the skydiving tunnel. Our instructor was amazing and made our experience 10/10. Each person gets around 3-5 minutes of dive time. It was such a fun and different experience and was one of the best things we did.

Gatlinburg has many ropes courses but we found one last year when we went to Gatlinburg that we really enjoyed and returned to it this year. Gatlin’s Rugged Ropes Adventure Course is a step up from the average ropes course. There are a lot of different levels and obstacles and it is easy to transition between obstacles. It’s also nice for parents because they can sit below and watch while relaxing in rocking chairs.

The Island, filled with restaurants, shops and activities is nice but was almost too crowded this time. The Island is located in Pigeon Forge. All of the restaurants had long wait times and the whole place was packed. There are a lot of shops that were fun to walk around to, but with so many people it was hard to find parking and a place to eat.

We also enjoyed simply walking the streets of Gatlinburg. Popping into shops, grabbing ice cream, etc. Once again, it was quite crowded but it’s a fun atmosphere to be a part of and there is so much to do in downtown Gatlinburg.

Whether you stay for two nights or two weeks you are sure to find some great opportunities for fun activities in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It’s such a family-friendly area with a happy, upbeat environment!


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