sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

4 Gatlinburg Attractions First-Time Visitors Must Experience

Skybridge in Gatlinburg TN
September 2, 2021

If you are planning your first ever trip to Gatlinburg, it can be overwhelming to try and figure out the best things to do in the area. Luckily, we are here to help narrow down your list and make sure you get the most out of your first visit to the Smokies. Here are 4 Gatlinburg attractions first-time visitors must experience:

1. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Voted as the second best aquarium in the country by USA Today, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is one of the attractions that everyone should visit while in Gatlinburg. What makes Ripley’s Aquarium one of the best places to go is the amount of activities you can try while you are there. The aquarium is full of hands-on activities that will leave both kids and adults having a great time. One of the most popular exhibits at Ripley’s Aquarium is the Touch a Ray Bay. This interactive activity gives everyone the opportunity to pet a ray. As the marvelous creatures swim around in a shallow pool, guests can reach down and feel the silky smooth skin of the rays while being taught all about them! If you are visiting Gatlinburg for the first time, you need to take a trip to one of the country’s best aquariums!

2. Gatlinburg Space Needle

Space Needle

This iconic Gatlinburg landmark is one of the best things to do in order to encounter the great views of the Smoky Mountains. The Gatlinburg Space Needle is a 407-foot observation tower that overlooks all of Gatlinburg and the Smokies. When you arrive, you will take a glass elevator to the top of the observation deck where you will be met with an unimaginable sight. At the top, there is a 360-degree view of downtown Gatlinburg that is not available anywhere else. Not only is this a great way to take in the views of the Smoky Mountains, you can also learn some history while you are there. There are placards set up all the way around the observation deck that will tell you all about the fascinating history of Gatlinburg! The Space Needle is one of the great Gatlinburg attractions that the whole family will enjoy!

3. Gatlinburg SkyBridge

If you are looking for another great way to take in amazing views, you might as well walk on the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. Located at the top of the SkyLift, the Gatlinburg SkyBridge offers an unforgettable experience! The bridge stretches out 680 feet across a deep valley. If you are feeling a little anxious about being that high up in the air on a suspension bridge, don’t worry because you can walk across at your own pace and can turn back at any point. However, one of the coolest parts of the bridge is the 30-foot stretch that is made of glass panels. This allows you to look down through the floor to see exactly how high up you are. If you are brave enough, this is one of the most exciting things you can experience in Gatlinburg!

4. Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg

Who says you have to wait until winter to enjoy playing in the snow? At Ober Gatlinburg, you can enjoy a winter wonderland no matter what time of year you are visiting. Whether you want to go skiing, snow tubing, ice skating, or just enjoy a family snowball fight, there is something for everyone at Ober! There are enough activities at Ober Gatlinburg for your family to spend the whole day enjoying the snow, even in the middle of summer!

Want to know what else you should do as a first time visitor? Check out these hiking trails in Gatlinburg!

Now that you know about some of the Gatlinburg attractions that you must see if you are a first-time visitor, be sure to check out all the other fun things to do for your second trip! We hope you enjoy your first visit to the Smoky Mountains!