sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

4 Exciting Things to Do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge For First-Time Visitors

April 17, 2024

If you’re planning your first trip to the Smoky Mountain area, you’re in for a great time! Millions of visitors come every year because they love all there is to see and do. Let us make the planning process a little bit easier. One way we do this is by providing information about activities in the area. Start deciding how you want to spend your vacation days as you explore this list of 4 exciting things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for first-time visitors:

1. Go on the Glass Bottom Boat Adventure at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

If you love the ocean and its animals, you’ll love the Glass Bottom Boat Adventure at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. It is located in the aquarium’s Shark Lagoon, which is home to over 8,500 aquatic animals representing more than 75 different species. Passengers on the boat get the chance to see these creatures swim about right at their feet. What’s more? Learn about them as you hear from the aquarium’s knowledgeable staff during the ride. Along with the Glass Bottom Boat Adventure, other things to do at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies include seeing penguins waddle around in The Penguin Playhouse. You can also touch the smooth backs of stingrays as they glide about in Touch A Ray Bay. Whatever you decide to do, be prepared for a “fin-tastic” time!

2. Ride the SkyLift to Explore Gatlinburg SkyPark

The Skylift in Gatlinburg

Conquer your fear of heights when you ride the SkyLift. It takes visitors from the heart of downtown Gatlinburg to the top of Crockett Mountain, which is 1,800 feet above sea level. At the end of the ride, you’ll be at the SkyPark. It is home to the SkyBridge! It stretches 700 feet across a deep valley in a single span, making it the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America. If you’re feeling brave, you can go to the bridge’s halfway point to stand on 30 feet of glass and see the distance to the ground. There are also plenty of places to enjoy the fresh air on the SkyDeck.

3. Ride the Roller Coasters at Dollywood

If you love the SkyPark and are looking for another thrill, spend the day riding roller coasters at Dollywood! Options include the Tennessee Tornado in the Craftsmen’s Valley area of the park. Reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour, the track goes upside down 3 times and has a 128-foot drop. There is also the Wild Eagle roller coaster in Wilderness Pass. It definitely lives up to its name as riders sit under an eagle’s wings to experience the thrill of flight. The track has many exciting elements, such as a 135-foot drop, and the ride itself reaches speeds of 61 miles per hour. Besides the rides, visitors can also watch one of Dollywood’s entertaining shows. They have singing, dancing, comedy, and even animals.

4. See a Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge

Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud

There are many great dinner shows in Pigeon Forge. For example, watch as feuding families settle their differences in unique ways during the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud or Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud. Additionally, see majestic horses prance about to great music and see a stunning aerial performance at Dolly Parton’s Stampede. As for food, all of these shows have excellent meals. Devour entrees of fried chicken, barbeque, and more with equally delicious sides and desserts! It’s safe to say there is no wrong choice when choosing a show!

We hope you enjoyed learning about some fun things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge during your first visit! If you’re looking for more activities closer to our hotel, check out our other list of what to do in Gatlinburg!