Free Activities

Top 10 Free Things to do in Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg, TN is known for the Smokey Mountains, beautiful scenery, and of course shopping. There are so many events, activities, and shows going on all the time in Gatlinburg that you can attend without breaking your budget. Most importantly there are plenty of FREE things to do while in Gatlinburg. To check out where to go, what to eat, how to get there – visit

1. Window Shop / People Watch

Downtown Gatlinburg is where you can find all the great stores, places to eat, and things to do. With over 400 shops to visit it can be hard to pass up any deals you find but it is fun to explore. When you get tired of walking around, you can take a break anywhere and people watch. There are millions of visitors that come into this town each year.

2. Gatlinburg Moonshine Distillery

There are a couple Moonshine Distilleries that you can visit here in Gatlinburg, the Sugarlands Shine and the Ole Smoky Moonshine. Both of these places offer FREE tours of the distillery but they may charge a small fee for the tastings. They have so many different flavors to choose from. Try as many as you can! They are both open 7 days a week with limited hours on Sunday.

3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

If you get tired of all the walking from shopping and people watching, then it is time for you to take a drive down the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trial. This drive is a 6 mile one-way loop that will give you some of the best scenery’s. There are hiking trials around to get and explore here as well. There are two popular waterfalls on this trail that you can hike to. The Rainbow Falls is a 5.4 mile round trip hike to the 80 foot waterfall and boy is it worth the view! *The Roaring Fork Motor Trail is closed in the winter*

4. Cades Cove

Cades Cove is an 11 mile one-way loop that can take you a couple hours to explore (especially if you hike some). You can grab a self-guided booklet at the entrance to show you a map and give some more information about Cades Cove. Not only do you get breathtaking views but you may also see white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, coyotes, and many other wildlife. Cades Cove also offers hiking, biking, and camping.

Take a camera to capture all the views!

5. Newfound Gap Road

Newfound Gap Road is the mountain route that is 31 miles of pure mountain landscapes. It starts in Gatlinburg and ends near Cherokee, North Carolina. Because of the elevation, the temperature can be around 10 degrees cooler than downtown Gatlinburg so be prepared! There are many stops you can take while on the route including Clingman’s Dome.

6. Clingman’s Dome

Clingman’s Dome is about .1 mile south of Newfound Gap Road and it is 7 miles until the Dome. The highest part in the park is at the Dome at 6,643 feet. The walk to the Dome is pretty steep (they have benches to rest at) but the view is absolutely worth it. It is a full 360 degrees of the Smokey Mountains. You can also see good from the parking lot but the walk is highly recommended!

7. Festivals

Gatlinburg’s festivals are always a fun time. They are all year round in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. They have so many of them that it is best to check their calendar and to plan your visit. Just click the season and you can find a list of events/festivals.

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8. Arts & Crafts Community

The Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community is small section of downtown Gatlinburg that has many art and craft shops.  You can find glass workers, painters, leather workers, sculptors, and many more. You will find many unique items for sale here so it may be hard to not buy anything. It may even give you some craft ideas! They have been doing this since 1937 so it is definitely worth checking out.

9. Hiking

Gatlinburg offers so so so many hiking trails through out the Smokey Mountains.

Here are trials to hike while going down the Roaring Fork Motor Trial.

  • Baskins Creek Falls
    • 3 miles round trip
  • Brushy Mountain
    • 6.8 miles round trip
  • Bullhead Trail
    • 5.9 miles round trip
  • Grotto Falls
    • 2.6 miles round trip
  • Rainbow Falls
    • 5.4 miles round trip
  • Trillium Gap
    • 13.9 miles round trip

Make sure to have good hiking shoes before you go on your adventure!

10. Scenic Overlook

The Scenic Overlook is a MUST. From the overlook you can see downtown Gatlinburg and a great view of the mountains. It is located on the Gatlinburg Bypass and it is open 24/7 unless the weather is absolutely terrible. I think it is the prettiest to visit in the fall when the leaves are changing.

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