Ultimate Guide: 25 Awesome Things to Do in Gatlinburg for Couples

Aerial image of Gatlinburg, Tennessee in USA Downtown Skyline

Located in the shadow of the magnificent Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, on the western edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is an idyllic destination perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway. Gatlinburg’s charm lies in its immediate access to outdoor adventures. With 800 miles of trails weaving through the national park, couples can explore lush hiking trails leading to stunning viewpoints showcasing waterfalls and mountain peaks. Activities like ziplining and horseback riding are readily available for those craving excitement. Let’s dive into the many things couples can do and see in Gatlinburg so you can start planning a romantic getaway you’ll both always remember!

Stargazing at Clingmans Dome

Clingman's Dome in Gatlinburg Tennessee

For a bewitching experience, consider stargazing at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Tenessee. A beautiful drive followed by a short walk will take you to the observation tower. From this high elevation and under clear skies, you can enjoy an unparalleled view of the stars above.

Visit on a new moon night and you might catch the Milky Way painting a luminous streak across the dark sky. Armed with a warm blanket, immerse yourselves in the celestial spectacle, turning stargazing at Clingmans Dome into a tranquil retreat for romance under the stars.

Enjoy Romantic Strolls & Hikes

Gatlinburg Trail – A Romantic Retreat

Gatlinburg Trail

Experience romance on the Gatlinburg Trail, stretching from River Road to the Sugarlands Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A favourite among couples, this trail is one of two in the National Park, allowing bicycles and pets. Follow the gentle path through the forest along the Little Pigeon River, with a charming footbridge for added allure.

Trails at Herbert Holt Park – Nature’s Embrace

Herbert Holt Park, a city-owned haven off Gatlinburg Parkway on North Park Lane, invites couples to discover romance amidst scenic walking trails. After a stroll, enjoy an intimate outdoor lunch at the park’s picnic tables.

River Road – Tranquil Oasis for Two

Escape the Gatlinburg Parkway’s hustle for an intimate experience on River Road. A sidewalk along the river provides breathtaking views, making it a serene retreat for couples. Savour a romantic stroll along this peaceful riverside escape, enjoying unique perspectives of the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway overhead.

For those couples who love hiking, you’ll always have options from Gatlinburg! Here is a link to the National Park Service’s website containing various maps such as trail maps, park maps, campground maps, and more to help you find the perfect trails and plan your hike: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/maps.htm

Picnic Escapades in the National Park

Picnic Basket in a Park

Consider a picnic and heading to the beautiful National Park, where you’ll be spoiled for choices on where to settle for a few hours.

Start by stopping by Old Dad’s General Store, a local treasure trove where you can gather all the necessary supplies. It has delicious snacks, refreshments, and gourmet treats that promise to sweeten your romantic picnic experience in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The park offers a multitude of scenic spots – choose from one of the many picturesque spots by a babbling brook or under the shelter of towering oak trees.

Adventures on the Gatlinburg SkyLift

SkyLift overlooking the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg

Ascend the mountain peaks with your partner on the Gatlinburg SkyLift, a unique Gatlinburg experience couples should not miss.

Ride the yellow chairlift up to enjoy stunning views of Gatlinburg and walk across the SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America.

Once you’re done with the SkyBridge, hike the SkyTrail to the observation area at Tulip Tower. You can also relax at the SkyDeck amphitheatre, buy souvenirs, and grab a meal at the SkyCenter.

At night, you can have a unique experience on the SkyLift. Take in the beautiful lights of downtown from the SkyBridge, sit by the fire pit, and enjoy the holiday lights from the summit of Crockett Mountain.

To enhance your experience, you can use your SkyLift ticket twice in one day to capture vibrant daytime views and return for the tranquil sunset.

Go Chasing Waterfalls

Fall Leaves Line waterfall - Grotto Falls in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are known for having some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the South. Some waterfalls you may want to visit are:

The Sinks: Offering a unique drive-to waterfall experience, it is one of the more popular waterfalls, so you will want to visit early to dodge the crowds. The falls’ unusual shape stems from dynamiting during the logging era, creating a pool suitable for swimming—exercise caution due to strong currents. No hiking is needed, but the nearby Meigs Creek Trail offers a serene walk to the 18-foot tall Meigs Creek Cascades.

Directions: From Gatlinburg, take Little River Gorge Road towards Cades Cove for 13.5 miles.

Rainbow Falls: Situated on Mt. LeConte’s slopes, Rainbow Falls lives up to its name with vibrant colours. This 80 Ft waterfall is more spectacular after rain, providing a breathtaking sight.

Directions: Access it by driving to Cherokee Orchard’s parking area, an initial stop on Roaring Fork Motor Trail. The 2.6-mile Rainbow Falls Trail leads to the falls.

Laurel Falls: This waterfall is undoubtedly the most stunning one in the park. The hike to reach it is a 2.4-mile roundtrip on a paved trail that is suitable for all levels of hikers. However, the trail can be steep and uneven in some parts. To avoid the crowds, planning an early morning visit is recommended.

Directions: From Gatlinburg, drive 6 miles on Little River Gorge Road towards Cades Cove.

Zip Lining

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, ziplining propels lovebirds through the treetops, offering a unique perspective of the Smoky Mountains. CLIMB Works is Gatlinburg’s most highly rated zipline company (at the time of publishing) and is situated just across the street from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; this unique experience not only promises excitement but also offers breathtaking views of one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Drive The Roaring Fork Nature Trail

Waterfalls in Roaring Fork, Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

The Roaring Fork Nature Trail is an excellent launchpad for park exploration, conveniently located just minutes from downtown Gatlinburg. Enjoy a leisurely drive along the 5.5-mile loop road, taking in the sights of lively mountain streams, ancient forests, and several impeccably preserved log cabins and grist mills. Numerous stops along the road provide opportunities for on-foot exploration, including a 5.5-mile hike to Rainbow Falls and a 5-mile hike to Grotto Falls—a unique waterfall with the option to walk behind it.

Go Horseback Riding

Located in the beautiful landscapes of Pigeon Forge, just a short distance away from Gatlinburg lies Big Rock Dude Ranch. For those seeking an authentic cowboy experience, the ranch offers horseback riding adventures amidst the stunning Smoky Mountains. Accompanied by skilled wranglers, riders confidently traverse trails while marvelling at the awe-inspiring natural beauty that surrounds them.

Eat & Drink Gatlinburg:

Gatlinburg boasts an array of dining establishments where you can indulge in delectable Southern comfort cuisine and regional delights. One dining gem not to be missed is Southern Comfort. This eatery and bar is a must-visit for its exceptional cocktails and menu brimming with Southern-inspired delights such as southern fried chicken, Cajun classics, BBQ, and an outstanding mac n’ cheese experience.

Or book an evening at The Greenbrier—a fusion of history and elegance crafting a dining atmosphere that is grand yet intimate. Perfect for couples seeking a lavish meal amidst the Smoky Mountains, this restaurant promises a blend of tradition and culinary excellence. Rich wood panelling and soft lighting evoke a bygone era, adding a touch of forgotten stories and a timeless romance.

Gatlinburg is known for its delicious pancakes, and Pancake Pantry is famous for being Tennessee’s first pancake specialty restaurant and has been a staple of Gatlinburg’s famous Parkway since 1960. For breakfast lovers, this restaurant is a must-visit!

Couples seeking a leisurely pace will enjoy the local breweries, where you can spend a relaxing afternoon sampling artisanal brews and learning about the brewing process. Two noteworthy options are Smoky Mountain Brewery and Gatlinburg Brewing Company.

Raise a Glass With Moonshine

Tennessee is renowned for its moonshine, and you can explore a myriad of options at two distinct distilleries situated within a short distance of each other on the Parkway. Ole Smoky, recognised as America’s most visited distillery (also known as the Holler), provides guided tours of its facility culminating in tastings of 13 diverse moonshine and whiskey varieties, ranging from butter pecan to sour watermelon flavours.

For those eager to expand their tasting experience, a short stroll down the street leads to Sugarlands Distilling Co., where you can sample their offerings, including moonshine, whiskey, vodka, and the unique Appalachian Sippin’ Cream—an alcoholic dessert in a jar.

Discover the Vibrant Arts & Crafts Community

Alternatively, delve into Gatlinburg’s vibrant culture at the Arts & Crafts Community, where numerous local artisans showcase their masterpieces. As you meander through studios and galleries, you’ll gain an appreciation for the town’s creative spirit.

art - artist painting closeup on palette and oil paint

Founded in 1937, this distinctive community is celebrated for its deep cultural roots and unwavering dedication to preserving traditional Appalachian crafts. Encompassing an 8-mile loop, this lively centre highlights the superb artistry of local artisans, presenting a beautiful array of handcrafted treasures. From intricate pottery to striking woodwork and lively paintings to intricate jewellery, each store radiates its distinct allure, showcasing the vibrant legacy of Appalachian craftsmanship.

Sunrise and Sunset Spots

Sunset over smoky mountains in Gatlinburg

Imagine a tranquil morning with hues of pink and orange spreading across the sky as you and your partner witness the day’s beginning on the crest of the Smokies. Similarly, a sunset paints a masterpiece of colours, bidding farewell to the day, a perfect backdrop for closeness and reflection. Both experiences offer a genuine connection with nature and each other.

For sunrise, venture out to the Newfound Gap, where the ascending sun lavishes the landscape with golden light. This elevated pass offers an unparalleled panoramic view and a serene atmosphere to share a warm embrace. As dawn breaks, the silhouettes of the mountains gradually gain detail and colour, creating a perfect moment to capture with a camera.

In contrast, the Gatlinburg Overlook provides a scenic stage for sunset. Here, you can watch as the sun descends behind the rolling peaks, casting a gradient of colours across the open expanse. Time your visit an hour before sunset to secure a prime viewing spot and enjoy the tranquil transition from day to dusk.

Related: The Best Honeymoon Destinations in the USA

Wine Tasting

Celebrating Christmas days toasting wine glasses during a celebration day at our vacations during lunch time in a vineyard at Casablanca, Chile

Embark on a delightful journey through Gatlinburg’s wine country, indulging in locally crafted wines. Notable options include Tennessee Homemade Wines, celebrated for its hundred-year-old family recipes and sweet wines like Niagara and White Knuckle Grape. Or head to the heart of Gatlinburg to Gatlinburg Wine Cellar, where they’ve been providing free tastings since 2017.

As you can see, with a perfect blend of nature’s beauty and exciting activities, Gatlinburg is the ideal backdrop for a romantic escape with plenty for couples to see and do.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Charming Honeymoon in Tennessee

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