The Great Smoky Mountains hosts millions of vacationers on an annual basis. Particularly during peak season, crowds are in abundance and waits frequent at restaurants and attractions. However, another side of the Smokies exists for travelers looking for a Smoky Mountain vacation that strays from the norm. Secluded Smoky Mountain cabins, quaint boutiques, delightfully hidden dining, and breathtaking views without the crowds – these are some of the hidden gems of the Smoky Mountains that wait for those who take the time to look for them.
Luckily for those who don’t have time to scour for things to do in the Gatlinburg off the beaten path, this list of 10 hidden gems of Smoky Mountains offers a good place to start. But make sure to do some exploring on your own as well. You’ll be surprised what unique things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
1. The Secret Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Many of you could not know regarding the secret entry to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As opposed to driving through Pigeon Forge as well as Gatlinburg as well as working your means right into the hills, there’s one area that provides the best views as well as quick accessibility right into the national forest.
If you’ve never taken a drive via Wears Valley right into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you are really losing out on the beauty of the Smokies! The Wears Valley entrance is a secret area, normally where many of the citizens will go to get in the national forest.
Throughout the peak periods, this entryway is a fantastic way to bypass the crowds as well as head straight into the park. At the entrance, you will certainly drive on a bridge over a river, and you’ll have the ability to watch the surroundings change from views of the national forest to sights of the woody forestry.
2. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
Andrea Ludden and her family moved to Cosby, Tennessee, expressly to open a museum for her salt and pepper shaker collection. That building displayed 12,000 pairs, then 14,000, then 16,000. After only three years, the Luddens had to move. Andrea’s collection was just too big.
Their new building, in nearby tourist mecca Gatlinburg, displays over 20,000 pairs. And Andrea frets that the collection again threatens to explode in a sneezy cloud out onto the surrounding streets.
3. Gourley’s Pond in Cades Cove
Cades Cove is full of spectacular scenery, but one of its frequently overlooked spots is Gourley’s Pond. This beautiful pond isn’t visible from the road, so it is quite literally one of the hidden gems in Gatlinburg TN!
4. Friendly Falls
The falls is Friendly Falls Food & Stuff, a unique outdoor restaurant on Cove creek in beautiful Wears Valley, TN. Order inside and eat in the garden or on the deck overlooking the river and their very own waterfall!
5. Mountain Lodge Restaurant
Mountain Lodge Restaurant is one such gathering place and eatery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Up past the main strip of Gatlinburg, this local diner style restaurant is tucked in the curve at 913 East Parkway. On any given weekend cars are wedged in all manners in front of and around this restaurant. Mountain Lodge Restaurant, a hidden jewel that many tourists may overlook, serves breakfast and lunch.
6. Cakes by Bakin’ Bishop
Anyone with a serious sweet tooth will love Cakes By Bakin’ Bishop! This amazing bakery uses only the best ingredients to create desserts that are out of this world. Popular items include cupcakes of all sizes and flavors, whoopie pies, ice cream, and cinnamon rolls.
7. Wild Plum Tea Room
Inspired by Austrian-style tea houses, lunch at The Wild Plum restaurant and tea room is a must for any visit to Gatlinburg. With a delectable daily menu. Swing by this charming restaurant near the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community and enjoy some delicious wild plum tea with your delicate peach schnapps dessert. Located in the historic Arts & Craft Community, they offer fresh home-made and delicious food unlike any other restaurant in Gatlinburg.
8. Whole Earth Grocery
Those looking from unique the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains will be pleased with the destination. Besides boasting the best selection of organic, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan foods in the Smokies (as well as some fragrant handmade soaps), Whole Earth Grocery is great for those looking for a cozy cafe setting and delicious, healthy lunches.
9. Aunt Debbie’s Country Store
When looking for Smoky Mountain gifts, vacationers may find that the same offerings can be found at most souvenir shops on the Pigeon Forge Parkway. If you’ve had your fill of massed produced black bear mugs and Smoky Mountain t-shirts, step off the beaten path and into Aunt Debbie’s Country Store. Featuring a little bit of everything, this store prides itself in providing it’s customers with quality products, most of which have been crafted by local Smoky Mountain artisans.
10. Smoky Mountain Candy Makers
Specializing in delicious taffy wrapped on an old-fashioned taffy wrapping machine built in 1940, vacationers might overlook one of the sweetest hidden gems of the Smoky Mountains as the bright signs and big attractions overshadow this tiny candy shop on the Parkway. Open since 1973, Howard Reagan Sr.’s two sons currently operate the life’s work of their father. Try the family’s delicious taffy in cotton candy, peach, maple, strawberry, sassafras, watermelon, and many other flavors.