So you have your day all planned for the great outdoors, and then the sky opens up, leaving you trying to come up with rainy day activities, instead of enjoying the Smoky Mountain air. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of things for the whole family to enjoy when the conditions are less than ideal. Here is my list of the best things to do in Gatlinburg when the weather is gloomy.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Voted on by visitors as one of the top aquariums in the entire country, the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a fantastic option for kids and adults. It’s an indoor sea treasure with many different creatures roaming the incredibly controlled environment. Wander past the windows gazing at all the different fishy fellas, and get interactive with stingrays and penguins. The ultimate experience with these requires an additional cost, but it’ll be worth it for memories that’ll surely stick with your kids as well.
While it’s still a bit of a hot button issue, the critics have been silenced a bit by the success of 3 moonshine businesses that are also great activities in Gatlinburg during periods of rain. The big 3 are Sugarlands Distilling Co., Ole Smoky Moonshine, and Doc Collier Moonshine.
Sugarlands is our favorite, because not only is the moonshine of the best quality, but the “tastemakers” that dole out the hard stuff make it an entertaining—and quite educational—experience that you’ll be talking about to your friends. They are famous for aligning themselves with some true moonshiners from the television show. I love the designs on their jars of shine too, and we still have every bottle we’ve bought from them. (My tip: They make great change jars).
Ole Smoky Moonshine spearheaded the moonshine run on Gatlinburg, and they show no signs of slowing down. The Ole Smoky Holler is the place to be for live music, merchandise, and of course, moonshine tastings. They aren’t my favorite, as far as the moonshine is concerned, but I absolutely love their broad selection of merchandise—I even have a couple shirts from their Whiskey Barrelhouse on the Parkway.
Doc Collier Moonshine is often overlooked because of its location, but you should seek them out when you visit. It’s a much smaller place than the other two, but that just means a more intimate experience—one where I, as an introvert, am not afraid to ask questions. Their moonshine is made from fresh spring water, and they are eager to point this out, as they say it makes their shine superior. I’m not sure that it’s the best, but it’s still worth it to buy, as I have.
Hit the Arcades and Indoor Attractions
There’s not as many arcades here as there are in Pigeon Forge, but there’s enough to make it a great rainy day activity in Gatlinburg. Fannie Farkle’s is great, because when you need a break from the games, you can grab a big bite out of their wonderful dual threat: their foot-long Ogle Dog and giant sausages with peppers and onions. Yep, they make these fantastic treats facing the sidewalk, which ultimately drives the customer inside for an irresistible invitation for some gaming.
Another place that knows a little something about offering the tourist options is Arcadia, or best known as the place to go when you want to visit the Space Needle with its incredible views. It’s one of the best rainy day activities in Gatlinburg, because it’s a quadruple action location. That’s right, four: The Space Needle, arcade, Impossibilities, and…pizza—Slice Pizza Bakery, that is. So, here you have the best and biggest arcade, where you can then catch a magic show (fantastic, by the way) at the Iris Theater, featuring Erik Dobell and Chris Collins; then, at some point, you can have yourself a massive slice of New York style pizza. Whew! That sounds like a pretty good rainy day to me—and it has been for us!
Put on a Poncho and Shop It Out
Who cares if it’s cruddy outside when you have this many activities in Gatlinburg to do. Stick out the rain and buy a poncho at one of the numerous shops in Gatlinburg, if you neglected to bring one. Unless it’s just a massive and windy thunderstorm, you really shouldn’t let a little rain stop you from enjoying all the unique shopping places in town.
The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) is a massive multi-level sporting goods store that you can easily spend an hour of browsing. And it has everything you could possibly want for hiking, sporting apparel, and vital accessories you may have forgotten to bring in preparation for a hike.
Our favorite place for shopping is the other-wordly place called The Village—an old World village with neat architecture and lovely little shops best known for the fountain in the middle. Also, can I just say that someone from The Food Network, or other cooking and baking personality needs to recognize the iconic Donut Friar. Gosh, I mean, is it too hard to see how many visitors have come here through their decades-long success in creating the best donuts I’ve EVER tasted, with many others agreeing as well.
There you have it! By no means is this a complete list of activities in Gatlinburg. I just don’t want to write a 10,000-word book on it. Wait, maybe I will. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading, and I do hope you’ll stick around, as you’ll be seeing more frequent posts. At least, that’s the plan. I welcome your kind words, and I appreciate all of my friendly and loyal followers. Happy travels! See you next time!