When it comes down to it, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in an amazing location. The conditions are perfect for growing gorgeous forests, misty rolling mountains, meadows full of wildflowers and year-round waterfalls. It's actually the most visited National Park in America. But just because it's such a popular destination doesn't mean there aren't hidden gems and undiscovered places to explore all around the Smokies. While the scenery is utterly breathtaking, there's even more to The Great Smoky Mountains than just Pigeon Forge, Clingmans Dome and Blue Ridge Parkway, it's a park that's loaded with Southern Appalachian history, mountain culture, and endless fun!
609 West Park Street, Cedar Park, United States
Old Tyler Road, Nacogdoches, TX, US
Levee Rd, Delta, LA, US
3201 Clay St, Vicksburg, MS, US
Fronting Mississippi St, Between N President And N West Sts, Jackson, MS, US
1400 Patten Rd, Lookout Mountain, GA, US
220 Apple Valley Rd, Sevierville, TN, US
Either on your way to or from the park, stop at the Apple Barn and Cider Mill. The wait at the restaurant might be long during peak season, but the free apple fritters and apple juleps are worth it. Like a lot of places here, there's plenty to look at while you're waiting on a table. There's a winery, a Christmas shop, a candle store, a candy store, an ice creamery, a bakery and a general goods shop where you can pick up cider, mixes, pickles, and souvenirs.
164 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge, TN, US
The Old Mill is just like the Apple Barn, but with a mill instead of an apple orchard. Instead of apple fritters, you get equally delicious corn fritters. The food here is no-frills, down-home Southern grub, and you can walk it off exploring the stores here, which include a really cool pottery shop.
340 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN, US
There are loads of mini golf courses in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, in addition to the shows and arcades. Hillbilly Golf is a fun, kitschy option set into a hill, so you get views along with your usual obstacles and characters.
634 Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN, US
Pro tip: Get cash, go here, pick up a few donuts (especially crullers if they have them), and bring them into the park. They're the perfect reward for a hike or a traffic-logged drive.
903 Parkway, Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler, Gatlinburg, TN, US
The tasting costs a few bucks, but you're rewarded in coupons afterwards, so it's basically free if you buy something. The kids who run the tastings are a lot of fun, and you'll get to sample a lot of different stuff, from the jet fuel moonshine to the creamy coffee flavored varieties.
1002 Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN, US
Cherokee Grill is a steakhouse-y place for a nicer dinner. The fried chicken is unreal, and the sides are to die for, especially the blue cheese grits.
1103 Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN, US
Pancakes are kind of the Smokies' "thing". There are loads of joints that serve up big, Southern breakfasts, and Crockett's Breakfast Camp is one of the best. It's reasonably priced, the portions are huge, and they even have some meals with vegetables in them, which is a relief from the sweets and fried food found all over.
107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN, US
Travel tips for visiting the Smokies: -Hiking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and more are all fun activities within the park, but it's also one of the best parks for taking scenic drives. There are hundreds of miles of road that twist and wind through the mountains. -Additionally, the Southern terminus for the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic drive that links the Smokies with Shenandoah National Park, is found at the edge of the park. -Get to the park early in the morning to see why they're called the "Smoky" Mountains...the mist is so peaceful. -Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, two cities near the park, are loaded with all kinds of kitschy tourist fun, kids especially will appreciate the cultural attractions and shows.
Little River Road, Gatlinburg, TN, US
The hike to this popular waterfall is a doable 2.6 miles there and back, and the trail is paved. The falls are an impressive 80 feet tall, and a bridge crosses between the upper and lower cascades, so you can get up close and personal with it. Be careful to not climb on the rocks, as they get slippery, and don't litter, as bears frequent the area.
1471 W. Millers Cove Rd., Walland, TN, US
Your first stop is Blackberry Farm, which has to be some kind of heaven on Earth. Check into this inn that's set on a 4,000 acre working farm, and stay in one of the charming, antique-furnished rooms that come with drinks, snacks, and enjoy three meals a day, from their delicious, farm-to-table, Southern cookin' restaurant. Plus, expect to be pampered like royalty.
17555 Tapoco Rd, Robbinsville, NC, US
10042 Campground Dr, Townsend, TN, US
Pack a picnic for Cades Cove, a valley meadow that has a one-lane road that's a super popular scenic route. Along the drive, you'll find little historic buildings that you can explore and gorgeous views of the surroundings. In the spring, it blooms with tons of wildflowers.
Little River Gorge Rd, Gatlinburg, TN, US
There are hundreds of miles of streams in the Smokies, but The Sinks are a notably gorgeous stretch in between Gatlinburg and the park. A short trail leads to this stretch of river where you can watch the water bubble, rush and roll over rocks and through pools. It's a great spot to stop and stretch your legs while enjoying the views.
Little River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN, US
When most people think of the Great Smoky Mountains, they usually just think of the mountains, but there are some interesting things hidden among the peaks and valleys...like a ghost town! It's called "Elkmont" and it's actually a historical district with abandoned cabins and the ruins of resort hotels, dotted throughout the town.
The best time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: There's no bad time to visit the Smokies: summer brings great weather, and the park is still accessible in the winter, with the added bonuses of lesser crowds and snowy vistas. Fall is far and away the most popular time to visit, thanks to the incredible foliage, but it can get very crowded. Spring is a delightfully underrated time to visit, blooming wildflowers and mild weather make it perfect.