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Ripley's Aquarium

3 of the Best Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains for First-Time Visitors

Are you currently planning your first-ever trip to the Smoky Mountains? If so, you’re in for a fun time because it is a great vacation destination for all ages! Let us tell you more about the area and its fun activities. Here is a list of 3 of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains for first-time visitors:

1. Experience Fun Rides and Entertaining Shows at Dollywood

Dollywood signThe Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge was founded in 1986 in partnership with Sevierville native and country music superstar, Dolly Parton. Visitors have endless fun with the variety of activities here. Thrill seekers can ride great roller coasters like the Tennessee Tornado and the Wild Eagle. A more laid-back ride is the Dollywood Express. This is an old fashioned train ride on which visitors can see all the beautiful scenery of the Smokies. Along with the rides, the park also has a collection of entertaining shows. For example, visitors young and old will enjoy listening to hits of the 50’s and 60’s at the Dreamland Drive-In. If you get hungry during your visit, head to Aunt Granny’s Restaurant for some classic Southern comfort food. It is on USA Today’s list of “Top 10 Best Theme Park Restaurants in the Country.”

2. Learn About Marine Life at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Another one of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains for first-time visitors is to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg. You’ll learn new things about all kinds of marine life through activities like the Glass Bottom Boat Adventure. As the name implies, you have a whole marine ecosystem under your feet when you step aboard. See colorful schools of fish and huge 12-foot sharks swim about. The aquarium’s staff is on board to tell you about all the creatures as well as all that goes into maintaining the facility. Additionally, this attraction is also home to the Penguin Playhouse which is regarded as one of the best penguin exhibits in the world. Kids will enjoy crawling through the tunnels to watch the penguins waddle about. Visitors can also get tickets to  the Penguin Painting Experience to watch them create works of art using their feet as the paint brush. You get to help create one and take it home with you. What a unique souvenir!

3. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

hiking trail in the smoky mountainsWhile the attractions in the city are great, one of the best parts about coming to the Smoky Mountain area is being outdoors. The Smokies are some of the oldest mountains in the world, yet their beauty remains timeless. See it for yourself when you go for a hike at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are more than 850 miles of hiking trails that vary in difficulty. Another way to enjoy the scenery is by taking a scenic drive. A popular route is Cades Cove Loop Road. It is an 11-mile loop jam packed with gorgeous scenery, some of which includes historical buildings. You may even have the opportunity to see live animals!

Now that you know of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains for first-time visitors, it’s time to find a comfortable place to stay while you’re in town! Explore this detailed guide to staying in our Smoky Mountain cabins!