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Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg in the Fall

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is known as one of the best places to view fall foliage in the United States. This mountainous town is found on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is America’s most visited national park.

The town of Gatlinburg is full of both adult and family-friendly activities from wine and moonshine tastings to shopping and dining, plus mountain coasters, mini golf, haunted houses—you name the autumn activity and Gatlinburg probably has it.

The city of Gatlinburg surrrounded by fall foliage mountains
Fall in Gatlinburg is beautiful! (Credit: Visit Gatlinburg)

One of the best times to visit Gatlinburg is during the fall when the surrounding mountains wave to the town below with a blend of colorful leaves.

The town is decked out with pumpkins and scarecrows, while shops along the street compete for the best fall decor.

Gatlinburg is also one of the best places to find a cozy cabin stay as there is an abundance of cabins providing beautiful fall foliage views of the Smoky Mountains.

So, are you planning on visiting Gatlinburg to see the colorful leaves and beautiful mountain views?

Below we will list out a few of the best things to do while visiting Gatlinburg in the fall — from places to stay, things to do, and more! 🍂

Visiting Gatlinburg in the Fall

Places to Stay

Staying in a cozy cabin in Gatlinburg will provide you with some of the most exceptional views of the beautiful Smoky Mountains within a private setting.

Enjoy a cup of hot coffee as you watch the sunrise over Gatlinburg or relax in a hot tub on a crisp evening while viewing the sunset.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a large cabin for a family gathering, or perhaps a fun cabin for a bachelorette party — Gatlinburg has them all!

1. Stairway to Heaven

cabin overlooking the smoky mountains and Gatlinburg, TN
Credit: Stairway to Heaven via VRBO

Stairway to Heaven is a perfect cozy cabin for a romantic getaway in Gatlinburg. You won’t have to worry about privacy with this cabin as it’s within a private setting with no other cabins in sight.

Guests who stay here rave about the fantastic views — add the fall foliage to that and you’re guaranteed to have a cozy romantic stay! Amenities include a hot tub, a king-size bed, and mountain views.

2. Bear in Mind

Inside the kitchen of a cozy cabin in Gatlinburg TN
Credit: Bear in Mind via VRBO

Bear in Mind Cabin sleeps up to 6 people which would be great for a family or staying with a few friends.

This cabin is in a convenient location and within close proximity to a grocery store and dining options and is just a few minutes from downtown Gatlinburg.

Amenities include a game room, hot tub, and a convenient location.

3. Pawnderosa Cabin

cabin with large outdoor area with outdoor games.
Credit: Pawnderosa via VRBO

Pawnderosa Cabin is a perfect cabin for large groups of people staying in Gatlinburg as it can sleep up to 20 people.

This cabin provides an abundance of amenities including an indoor heated pool, mini golf, giant chess, sauna, hot tub, and more!

More Cabin Stays: 15 Cozy Cabin Rentals in Gatlinburg for Your Smoky Mountain Getaway

Fall Things to Do in Gatlinburg

1. Ride the Aerial Tramway to Ober Gatlinburg 🚡

Aerial Tramway at Ober Gatlinburg with beautiful fall foliage
Credit: Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is both an Amusement Park and Ski area, providing loads of entertainment for the entire family.

There are two ways to get to Ober Gatlinburg — one way is to drive 17 miles up the mountain or you could take the scenic route and ride the Aerial Tramway (pick me, pick me!).

The Aerial Tramway is approximately a 2.1-mile ride from downtown. This scenic ride will have you in awe as you’ll have a 360-degree view of the Smokies and Gatlinburg’s fall foliage.

Once you reach the top, Ober Gatlinburg provides visitors with multiple fun activities, dining, and shopping. Daily activities include ice skating, ice bumper cars, a wildlife exhibit, rock climbing, mini golf, and more!

However, during the fall season, you can experience Ober Gatlinburg’s OctOBERfest. The annual OctOBERfest is held from the end of September through the end of October. Experience some of Munich, Germany’s traditions right here in Gatlinburg!

Taste Bavarian foods from schnitzels to strudels and indulge in German-inspired beer at the outdoor Bier Garten. Live music is also performed by the Smoky Mountain Oompah Band, performing Bavarian folk dances, yodels, etc, while wearing the iconic lederhosen apparel.

*Aerial Tramway departs every 20 minutes.

2. Walk Along the Gatlinburg SkyBridge

Gatlinburg Skybridge with people walking along the bridge in the background
People walking along the Gatlinburg SkyBridge

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is the longest pedestrian bridge in North America and provides some of the best views for those fall photos.

The SkyBridge spans approximately 700 feet across a deep valley and even has a section with a see-through glass bottom. Are you brave enough to walk across it?

To get to the Gatlinburg Skylift Park you’ll have to take the Gatlinburg Skylift — the first scenic chairlift in the south when it opened in 1954. The Skylift was forced to be redone in 2017 after the Gatlinburg fires destroyed most of it.

Once you reach the top you’ll find the Skydeck amphitheater which allows guests to relax and take in the sweeping mountain views while enjoying some food or daft beer from the SkyCenter.

Fall events include the Smoky Mountain Sunrise, where you can experience the sunrise over the autumn-covered mountains while listening to live music and enjoying complimentary breakfast and coffee. Smoky Mountain Sunrise occurs every Wednesday from September through October.

During the month of October, you can find the Halloween Boo Bash. Walk along the SkyTrail and see animated spooky ghosts, witches, and spiders. If you stay after dark, expect it to be spooky! 👻 Halloween movies are also played on the SkyDeck on certain dates.

3. Visit Dollywood’s Harvest Festival

dollywood tower of pumkins
Tower of Pumpkins at Dollywood’s Harvest Festival

If you plan on visiting Gatlinburg, then you more than likely will drive through the heart of Pigeon Forge. Dollywood is found in Pigeon Forge, just a short drive from downtown Gatlinburg (approximately 20 minutes).

We highly suggest visiting Dollywood’s Harvest Festival considering you’ll be so close.

Dollywood was voted as the “#1 Theme Park in the United States by TripAdvisor. The park is beautiful and the lines are not as long as you’ll find at other theme parks.

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is one of the best times to visit Dollywood! You’ll find fall-inspired foods, a giant colossal pumpkin display, artisan crafts, top-rated rides, and the Great Pumpkin Luminights show after dark — featuring over 12,000 pumpkins! 🎃

Read more about it here: Visiting Dollywood’s Harvest Festival: A Fall Favorite Activity

4. Stroll the Streets of Gatlinburg

Downtown Gatlinburg sign with bears statues
Downtown Gatlinburg

Throughout the fall season from September to November, Gatlinburg hosts its annual Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival.

Shops and businesses lined up and down the street will be all decked out with their favorite fall decor. These businesses compete against one another in the “People’s Choice Award” where you can vote for your favorite.

Downtown Gatlinburg will immerse you in the fall experience with large scarecrow displays, pumpkins, and gourds — all with the vivid colorful backdrop of the Smoky Mountains.

Many shops, dining options, and fun activities are found downtown where you could spend all day exploring. Play mini golf, tackle an escape room, play laser tag, brave a haunted house, and more.

If you’re looking for adult activities, spend all day sampling free wine, moonshine, and ciders. If you love sweet wine, then you’re guaranteed to enjoy this.

You can find moonshine tastings at both Sugarlands Distilling Company and Ole Smoky Distillery. Both are great — but Sugarlands always appears to have a longer wait.

5. Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies 🐠

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies with flowers
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is fun year-round regardless of the season. This is a great rainy day activity to do in Gatlinburg or something fun for those chilly evenings.

View the shark lagoon, touch the stingrays, watch the playful penguins, and see over 10,000 exotic sea creatures.

Ripley’s Aquarium also hosts weekly events such as the Sleep with the Sharks — a family activity where you can sleep underneath the shark lagoon. Or Pints & Penguins which is an adult-only sleepover featuring a bar, appetizers, a hot breakfast, and a penguin encounter.

As a fun Halloween activity, Trick or Treat Kickock Karnival is hosted in the plaza of Ripley’s Aquarium on October 31st from 11-3 PM. There will be a costume contest, games, candy, prizes, and more. Proceeds are donated to a local charity.

6. Autumn at Anakeesta

Anakeesta mountain top with tower
Credit: Anakeesta

Anakeesta is an award-winning theme park located above downtown Gatlinburg. To reach the top, you’ll need to ride the scenic Chondola ride 600 ft above Gatlinburg.

Year-round, Anakeesta provides fun activities for the entire family. You can find shopping, dining, a botanical garden, a mountain coaster, ziplining, and more.

During the fall season, Anakeesta launches its Hallow Mountain Event (Mid September – October 31st). Anakeesta decorates its mountain top with Halloween-themed and fall-inspired decor with spooky lights, pumpkins, etc.

Black Bear Village provides guests with Bavarian foods, live music, pumpkin-spiced foods, and more.

7. Gatlinburg Craftman’s Fair

Gatlinburg Craftsmens fair with vendors and things for sale
Credit: Gatlinburg Craftmen’s Fair

If you’re looking for something a little more crafty, we suggest adding the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair to your list of things to do in the fall in Gatlinburg.

The Craftsman’s Fair offers unique arts and crafts and hosts over 200 craftsmen from all over the United States.

Find unique crafts such as glass blowing, pottery pieces, paintings, metal works, and more. The next event is October 13-30th, 2022.

Also Read: Fall in the Smoky Mountains: A Fall Activity Guide 🍁

Do you have any recommendations on what to do in Gatlinburg during the fall season? Let us know in the comments!


*Featured Image Credit: Visit Gatlinburg

Kelly Rusk

Thursday 10th of November 2022

Hi Ladies! We are just now seeing this! Thank you so much for including us in your list of all things Gatlinburg and East Tennessee!


Sunday 20th of November 2022

You're welcome! :) Thanks for the comment and for reading our blog!