Creative Things To Do Near Gatlinburg, Tennessee + Great Places To Eat

There are many fun, creative and educational activities in the Smoky Mountains that children and adults can enjoy together.  If you are vacationing in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge or Sevierville, these places are within driving distance and are worth the visit.

Arts & Crafts Community of Gatlinburg

We make an effort to visit the Arts & Crafts Community each time we are in the area – there is always something new to find!  Read more details about the artists, handcrafters and the community on the Arts & Crafts Community’s web site, and in my article: Historic Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community.

Quoted from the Arts & Crafts Community’s web site: “The largest group of independent artisans in North America. This historic 8-mile loop has been designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail. Established in 1937, these artisans whittle, paint, sew, cast, weave and carve to create original collectibles such as candles, baskets, quilts, brooms, pottery, jewelry, dolls, ceramics, scrimshaw, silver smithing, leather, stained glass, wearable fashions, fine photography, frameable art, oils and watercolors, also lodging, restaurants, cafés, tea room, soda fountain and candy shops.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg is one of the finest aquariums I have ever visited.  The tunnel with the moving walkway is particularly enjoyable.  It is a little expensive, (at the time of this writing, $25 per adult and $6 – $12 for children, plus a few dollars for parking) but it is an excellent indoor attraction for the whole family on a rainy or hot day.  There is fast food available for purchase.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies®
88 River Road
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738
Traffic Light #5
(888) 240-1358

Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Cades Cove Loop Road Auto Tour is a relaxing drive featuring beautiful scenery, wildlife and historical homesteads.  “The Cove has been preserved by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to look much the way it looked in the 1800’s. Once home to a small mountain community, whose settlers came from mainly from Virginia, North Carolina and upper east Tennessee, Cades Cove is today the largest open air museum in the entire Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Cades Cove has original pioneer homesteads, barns, businesses, pasture and farmland–a fitting tribute to the hearty people who lived here in the days of yesteryear.”

No Admission Charge

Map image provided by the Cades Cove web site.

Special Occasion Dining In Gatlinburg

Park Grill Steakhouse and Greenbrier Restaurant in Gatlinburg are two of our favorite places to dine.  We save these for special occasions, as both are a bit pricey.  The food and service at the Park Grill Steakhouse are outstanding, and this restaurant features a wonderful salad bar.  The Greenbrier Restaurant is located on a beautiful wooded hillside in a log cabin built in 1939.  The food is delicious and the ambiance is perfect for a special meal.  Reservations are recommended for both restaurants (often not necessary during off-season).

Park Grill Steakhouse
1110 Parkway
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738
Phone: (865) 436-2300

Greenbrier Restaurant
370 Newman Road
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738

Photo provided by the Park Grill Steakhouse restaurant web site.

Best Easy Day Hikes Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Best Easy Day Hikes Series)

Photographing the Great Smoky Mountains: Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them (The Photographer’s Guide)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Thirty Years of American Landscapes

The Old Mill Square in Pigeon Forge

The Old Mill Square is a pleasant, relaxing place to visit and features two restaurants, several shops and the historic Old Mill, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   The stream near the mill is a beautiful place to rest, take a walk and feed the ducks.  There is a covered picnic area and a large grassy area to enjoy, also.

The General Store adjoining the mill sells fresh-ground grains, jams, jellies, gifts and more.  The Old Mill Pigeon River Pottery features pottery made onsite by local artists.  You can watch them creating the pottery in their studio adjacent to the store (click here to view a video online). The pottery also provides the plates, bowls and other dishes used in the The Old Mill Pottery House Café & Grille.  We’ve eaten at the Pottery House a few times and it has always been delicious.  For great Southern cooking (or a big, wonderful breakfast) try the Old Mill Restaurant – you’ll love the free muffins!

Other shops include The Old Mill Farmhouse Kitchen, The Old Mill Creamery, The Old Mill Candy Kitchen, The Old Mill Toy Bin, and Sassafras.

The Old Mill Square
175 Old Mill Avenue at Traffic Light #7
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37868

Dollywood in Pigeon Forge

Dollywood is a theme park for all ages and features rides, various attractions, entertainment, dining, shops and crafts.  I particularly enjoyed the bird attraction and show, pottery shop, and Craftsman’s Valley.  In Craftsman’s Valley master craftsmen give live demonstrations in glass-blowing, wagon-making and more.  Blacksmiths, hand-tooled leather, pottery and candle-making are also featured.  Every Fall the Harvest Celebration brings more artisans and crafters to Dollywood.  Oh- and the rides were fun, too!

One-Day Admission
Adult $54.00
Child Ages 4-11 $42.00
Senior Ages 60+ $49.00

When using a GPS enter “1198 McCarter Hollow Road, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37862” to locate Dollywood’s entrance.
(Dollywood’s mailing address is 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.)

Parrot Mountain and Gardens in Pigeon Forge

Parrot Mountain and Gardens is a lovely bird park with beautiful landscaping located near Dollywood and Splash Country.  The spot in front of the small waterfall would be a great place to take your annual family picture!   Although there are rather steep areas to walk, (hence the name Parrot Mountain) many pleasant, shady areas to rest are provided.

Several opportunities are given to feed and hold the birds, and don’t miss the baby bird nursery.  If your little ones are scared of loud noises or small animals, you may want to wait until they are older to visit this attraction – the birds are very loud and quick.

Sandwiches and hamburgers are available to purchase; you can lunch on the deck overlooking the gardens.

Admission (as of June 2012)
$15.95 – Adults (12 years old and up)
$7.95 – Children’s (2 – 11 years old)
$13.95 – Seniors (65 years old and up)

Group Rates (10 and up) (as of June 2012)
$9.95 – Adults (12 years old and up)
$6.95 – Children’s (2 – 11 years old)

$1 Off Coupon

Parrot Mountain and Gardens
1471 McCarter Hollow Road
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37862

Pigeon Forge Travel Guide (Kindle Edition)

Camping & Hiking Equipment

Sarah and the Art Contest (Great Smoky Mountains Storybooks)

Tennessee Museum of Aviation in Sevierville

The Tennessee Museum of Aviation is located near the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport.  The 35,000 square foot hangar houses many historical aircraft and is another wonderful indoor educational activity. The museum’s exhibit gallery “traces aviation history from before the Wright Brothers [and] includes the timelines of Military Aviation History and Tennessee Aviation History. Explore a touching Faith and Courage exhibit, paying tribute to U.S. Military Chaplains from World War II through the present. The exhibit gallery includes the General Jimmy Doolittle Medal of Honor, along with thousands of historic artifacts, and Tennessee’s Aviation Hall of Fame.”

Tennessee Museum of Aviation
135 Air Museum Way
Sevierville, Tennessee 37862

ADMISSION RATES (as of June 2012)
General Admission: $12.75
Seniors (60+): $9.75
Children (6-12 years): $6.75
Children Under Age 6: Free

RainForest Adventures Zoo in Sevierville

RainForest Adventures Zoo is a fun indoor/outdoor activity that is open year-round (except Christmas Day).  It is reasonably priced at $12.00 per adult (as of June 2012; $10 with the coupon online or in area coupon books).   “Featuring over 600 live animals, representing over 130 species, the RainForest Zoo is home to unique and beautiful creatures from the Rain Forests of the world.”  The zoo also features an “Aussie Walkabout” which houses many different animals and birds from Australia.  Visitors can view a kangaroo and have a chance to feed the baby goats and the sheep in the Walkabout, too.

RainForest Adventures Zoo
1430 Hurley Drive
Sevierville, Tennessee 37862

Amazing Tennessee : Fascinating Facts, Entertaining Tales, Bizarre Happenings, and Historical Oddities about the Volunteer State

Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton

Decorating with Papercraft: 25 Fresh and Eco-Friendly Projects for the Home

Your Scrapbook Superstore & Clearance Center in Sevierville

Your Scrapbook Store is the largest scrapbooking store that I have ever seen!  The Clearance Center itself is worth the visit.  Scrapbookers and papercrafters should allow at least two hours to shop both stores.   (There are other gift shops and a nice bookstore at the other end of the mall for the non-crafters in your family.)

Your Scrapbook Store and Clearance Center
Located at Governors Crossing Plaza
250 Collier Drive
Sevierville, Tennessee 37862
Phone: 865-428-9980

Photo provided by the Your Scrapbook Store and Clearance Center web site.

Apple Barn Village in Sevierville

Located on beautifully landscaped grounds near a stream, Apple Barn Village includes two restaurants: Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Applewood Farmhouse Grille (plan to wait for your table).  After dining, take a relaxing walk near the stream and rest in the beautiful gazebo.  Or, go shopping!  Included in the village is the General Store, Winery, Apple Barn & Cider Mill, Creamery, Christmas Shop and Candy Apple & Chocolate Factory.

Apple Barn Village
220 Apple Valley Road
Sevierville, Tennessee 37862
Phone: (865) 428-6850
Toll Free: 1-866-428-6850

Photo provided by the Apple Barn Village web site.

Copyright 2012 Kathryn Depew

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