What are the Most Popular Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains?

December 14, 2022

Planning your first visit to the Smokies? You’re probably on the hunt for things to do in the Smoky Mountains, and we want to share some of the most popular activities with you! From hiking through the woods to planning a picnic at one of the top spots, you’ll find plenty of things to keep you busy as you explore the national park! Keep reading to learn more about the most popular things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hiking

laurel falls in the smoky mountainsThe top activity in the area is hiking. With all of the incredible scenery, it’s easy to see why! There are over 850 miles of trails in the park, so there are plenty of hikes to choose from.

If you’ve never been hiking before or it’s been awhile, you probably want to start out with a nature trail or an easy hike. Some of the simplest trails include Cataract Falls Trail, the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, Laurel Falls, and Gatlinburg Trail.

Anyone who hikes regularly and has bested the easy trails will probably be on the hunt for more moderate options. We recommend trails like Grotto Falls, Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave Trail, and Abrams Falls.

Avid hikers will want to try some of the most challenging hikes, and there are plenty to choose from! You can’t go wrong with Charlies Bunion, Ramsey Cascades, Gregory Bald, and any of the trails that take you to the summit of Mount LeConte!

Driving

hyatt lane in cades covePeople looking for things to do in the Smoky Mountains but aren’t able to hike (or want to give their body a break) should go on a scenic drive! You’ll still get to take in the incredible sights of the gorgeous mountains all from the comfort of your car. Plus, no one said you had to stay in your car! Most scenic drives in the Smokies have plenty of places where you can pull off, get out, and stretch your legs!

Some roads will take you from place to place but are beautiful due to the scenery along the way. Our favorites are Little River Road and Wears Valley Road. Other roads have several stops along the way that you may want to make, like Cades Cove or Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Newfound Gap is another incredible drive that people love to make, and it takes people from the Tennessee side of the Smokies to the North Carolina side. You can’t go wrong with any of these beautiful drives!

Picnicking

picnic table in the smoky mountainsOne of the best ways to spend time with family and friends is around a table sharing a meal. Who said you had to contain that to your cabin or a restaurant? Take your meal to the mountains by going on a picnic!

There are several popular picnic areas in the national park, including ones at Cades Cove, Look Rock along the Foothills Parkway, and at Metcalf Bottoms. These areas have several picnic tables and charcoal grills visitors are able to use. But the good news is, you don’t have to keep your picnic in these areas. You’re more than welcome to pack a lunch and when you see a good spot (whether you’re driving or hiking), you can stop and enjoy the meal!

Many people love to pack their own food and make sandwiches or grill burgers and hot dogs. This is fun for the whole family since they can be involved. But another option is to pick up some food from one of the restaurants in town, like Boss Hogg’s BBQ or Mama’s Chicken Kitchen. No matter what kind of food you bring with you, you’ll never forget your picnic in the mountains!

Fishing

fish being held by a personAnother popular thing to do in the Smoky Mountains is fishing. Visitors are able to get a special fishing license for a day (or a few days) so they can fish anywhere in the park. Once you acquire your license, you are able to fish in any stream, creek, pond, or body of water you see. The park allows guests to fish from sunrise to sunset all throughout the year. Some of the fish you might see that are catchable include smallmouth bass and rainbow and brook trout.

These popular things to do in the Smoky Mountains could keep you busy for the entirety of your trip! No matter what you decide to do, you’ll have fun exploring the national park. Since you have an idea of what you will do when you’re here, you just need to finish planning the rest of your vacation! Look through our cabin rentals in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, and book one that’s perfect for your trip!