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Top 5 Things to Do in Gatlinburg During the Summer

Summer in Gatlinburg is for catching fireflies, hiking until your boots have holes in them, cooling off in the river, and so much more. With our list of the top five summer activities in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains, get ready to let your inner child out!

Downtown Gatlinburg in Summer

1. Explore Downtown Attractions

To try homemade taffy, stroll across North America’s longest pedestrian cable bridge, and get up close with a shark… look no further than downtown Gatlinburg. 

Do some window shopping at The Village Shops and stop into a homemade candy shop to watch the confectioners pull taffy right in front of you. Here, you’ll also find plenty of unique shopping opportunities from kid-friendly toy stores to local outdoor gear boutiques!

If you’re ready to take the fun to new heights, head to Anakeesta, a mountaintop theme park, or Skybridge, a record-breaking cable bridge—both accessible by Chondola (chair lift and gondola) or SkyLift—right in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg. 

Round out your Gatlinburg itinerary with a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium where you can spot fascinating aquatic creatures, from stingrays to sea turtles.

2. Set Out on a Hike

With over 150 miles of hiking trails throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’re sure to find the trail that’s perfect for you. From shorter, more gradual hikes, to ones with glistening waterfalls or panoramic mountain views, hiking in the Smokies is an experience you’ll never forget.

As always, keep an eye out for local wildlife, like black bears and bobcats, and be sure to practice trail safety.

Don’t want to travel far? Margaritaville Gatlinburg’s Edge of Paradise riverfront patio is complete with hammocks and a fire pit, offering a picturesque location to hang out along the backs of the river and soak up the views. 

Biking near Gatlinburg in Summer

3. Take a Scenic Bike Ride at Cades Cove

Biking The Loop at Cades Cove is a local tradition and can’t-miss activity for visitors. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 7-10am, the park shuts down the 11-mile one way stretch of meandering road for walkers and bikers. Along the way, rolling meadows, breathtaking mountain views, and historic structures provide the perfect excuse to take regular breaks. 

You can bring your own bicycle or rent one from a local business near the entrance to Cades Cove.

4. Spend a Leisurely Day River Tubing

In Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains, hundreds of rushing mountain streams gather into greater waterways, creating the opportunity for leisurely river fun. On a hot summer day, you’ll find The Little River and The Little Pigeon River dotted with colorful inflatable tubes making their way downstream. There are several lively tubing outposts along the water to rent your tube and hit the water, like the Smoky Mountain River Rat

Horseback riding near the Great Smoky Mountains

5. Explore Nature By Horseback

Set out to explore winding forested trails and the wild backcountry on a guided horseback excursion. Riders of all ages are welcome at The Sugarlands Riding Stables on the Parkway in Gatlinburg, as well as the Five Oaks Riding Stables on the Parkway in Sevierville. For an entirely new way to experience Cades Cove, stop into the Cades Cove Riding Stables near the entrance to The Loop to schedule your guided trail ride. 

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