The Smoky Mountains stretch out along the eastern end of Tennessee and running over into North Carolina. They make for an amazing holiday location, particularly as you head into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with its excellent roads, trails, and views. However, the park is only one of the fantastic places to visit in the Smoky Mountains.
If you are planning a vacation for the coming summer or autumn season, the Smoky Mountains should be on your must-see list. When you visit, you can enjoy a lot of the best places in the Smoky Mountains, along with all of the unforgettable activities.
The Towns Are Some of the Best Places to Visit in the Smoky Mountains
While there are a lot of natural sites we’ll consider as a must-see in the Smoky Mountains, the charming and fun-filled towns also qualify. After all, it is here that you find Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, Cherokee, and even the nearest city – Knoxville.
Each of these areas qualifies as top places to visit in the Smoky Mountains and are filled with an almost endless list of things to see and do. For example, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are where you find some of the most famous Smoky Mountains places to visit, including:
- Ripley’s Museums
- The Island in Pigeon Forge
- Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
- Gatlinburg Space Needle
- Ober Gatlinburg (skiing and summertime outdoor fun)
- Endless options for shopping
- A trolley system that takes you to the best shopping, dining, and fun
- The Arts and Crafts Loop, and more
In fact, those two towns alone are home to many of the Smoky Mountains attractions ideally suited to family adventures. You can find an almost endless number of activities within the area, and there is (as mentioned) the free shuttle that runs you all of the way from Dollywood to the heart of each town.
Now, if you are looking for one of the best places to visit in the Smoky Mountains if you want lots to see and do, then the towns are certainly a wise choice. However, if you are looking for the best places to go in the Smoky Mountains for the outdoor enthusiast, you are still in luck.
This is because the park awaits, and it is a hiker’s paradise.
The Park is One of the Best Places to Visit in the Smoky Mountains
It really goes without saying that the national park rates as one of the most significant of the Smoky Mountains must-see destinations. Home to the Appalachian Trail, it is also a spot for anyone who wants to enjoy a truly unique natural setting.
Some of the Smoky Mountains’ best places can even be seen by car or enjoyed by those with limited mobility because of the excellent roads, paths, and paved walking areas. Here are a few of the top places to visit in the Smoky Mountains National Park:
Easily ranking as one of the most visited spots, it is also wildly scenic and beautiful to behold from a car or on one of its trails. It is comprised of thousands of acres of former Cherokee Indian land. Homesteaders preserved the pristine beauty of the valley and surrounding landscape, and today there are 11 miles of trails that let you pay a visit to old homesteads and historical sites while also savoring some of the lushest landscapes imaginable.
The area is still home to lots of wildlife, including wolves, bears and a few elk, and the rolling fields are a sight to see when in bloom.
A motor trail, it is ideal for the family with little ones unable to do a lot of hiking or those unable to get out and do a lot of exploration on foot.
Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Close to Gatlinburg, this is a six-mile drive that takes travelers to some of the most scenic locations – including two different waterfall areas (Grotto and Rainbow) – past homesteads and through some of the loveliest landscapes of the area.
NOTE: If you are determined to photograph stunning waterfalls, these are a good option, but Laurel Falls near Gatlinburg is one of the most popular sites for waterfall photos and enthusiasts. It involves a bit of a hike along a two-mile trail and then leads to an amazing view.
This is the highest point in the entire state, and that is saying something when considering the mountains all around. It sits right at the border and requires a half-mile walk (which has been made accessible for all). It promises stunning views and you may be able to glimpse seven different states if you get there on a clear day.
Great Smoky Mountain Railroad
If you like an old-fashioned train ride, this is the thing for you. It departs from Bryson City and takes you through western North Carolina and then back into the mountains. There is a fascinating museum that train fans of all ages appreciate.
Blue Ridge Parkway
This slow-paced and scenic drive is a must and stopping at one of the many visitor’s centers allows amazing scenery to be enjoyed. Those with a taste for adventure can also hop on their motorcycles and find roadways like the Tail of the Dragon, which is scenic and full of curves and bends. There is also the Foothills Parkway to enjoy.
Appalachian Mountains vacation spots are abundant and a cabin in the mountains is a common choice in accommodation. However, you can also do day trips from other parts of the state and use the excellent roads to travel to and fro.
And if you are eager for a more tropical spot away from the cool of the woods, there are luxurious beach villas awaiting. For example, a trip to St Barts or Barbados might be your preferred option, and you can save a trip into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the autumn when color is at its peak and crowds have dispersed.