sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Top 6 Things to Do on Your Gatlinburg Summer Vacation

Stunning mountain view in Gatlinburg.
May 26, 2023

Gatlinburg, TN is the ultimate summer vacation destination! Located at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, our charming city offers some of the most breathtaking natural beauty in the country. In the summer months, Gatlinburg comes alive with special events, traditions, and attractions. To help you make the most of your next getaway, Sidney James Mountain Lodge has put together a guide to six of the best things to do during your Gatlinburg summer vacation.

1. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains


No summer trip to Gatlinburg is complete without spending some time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Home to over 800 miles of beautiful trails, the Smokies offer hikes for every ability. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the park by taking a scenic drive through the mountains, having a picnic beside a stream, or going bicycling in Cades Cove or along the Gatlinburg Trail.

2. Visit Anakeesta

One of the most popular outdoor attractions in Gatlinburg is Anakeesta! This mountaintop adventure park features an incredible chairlift ride, a zip line adventure, a mountain coaster, treehouse playground, a shopping area, and so much more. You won't want to miss the chance to enjoy one of their signature summer cocktails while taking in views of Mount LeConte, or watching the sunset while you relax after a full day of fun. It is also home to Astra Lumina, an incredible night walk amongst the stars. 

3. Ride the Gatlinburg Trolley

The Gatlinburg Trolley in front of Sidney James Mountain Lodge

If you’re looking for a convenient way to get around the downtown area during your Gatlinburg summer vacation, it’s hard to beat the city’s trolley system! The Gatlinburg trolleys are completely free to ride on the Parkway. Whenever you need a break from walking The Strip, you can simply hop on one of the city’s shuttles and take a relaxing ride to wherever you want to go! This is a great way to avoid parking fees in downtown Gatlinburg.

4. Go Out for Ice Cream

Eating ice cream is a summer vacation tradition! Gatlinburg is home to a number of wonderful creameries and parlors where you can enjoy a scoop (or two). Located right on the Parkway, Kilwin’s is one of our favorite places to get ice cream because they offer over 40 flavors and they bake their own waffle cones each day.

5. Enjoy Live Music on The Strip

Much like the rest of Tennessee, Gatlinburg is a very musical place! In June and July, visitors to downtown Gatlinburg can hear live country and bluegrass as part of the Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales festival. Each evening starting at 6 p.m., the area’s best musicians take to The Strip to perform free concerts for everyone to enjoy.

6. Swim at Our Pool

The outdoor swimming pool at Sidney James Mountain Lodge in Gatlinburg.

Going for a swim is the perfect way to cool down during the dog days of summer! Sidney James Mountain Lodge has two awesome outdoor pools that are ideal for soaking up the sun and splashing around. If it’s raining outside, we also have a great indoor pool that your kids are sure to love.

When you stay at Sidney James Mountain Lodge, you will be near all of the best things to do during your Gatlinburg summer vacation. Our hotel is located on Historic Nature Trail, just a short walk, drive, or trolley ride from all of the fun on the Parkway. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of Gatlinburg hotel rooms!