Top 10 Things to Do Outside in the Smokies
1. Go shopping. Tanger Five Oaks in Sevierville has the newest outlet shops, plus great mini-golf, several restaurants, and a Starbucks.
2. Play mini-golf. Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg is a classic, and you ride a rail car up the mountain before you tee off. Old McDonald's near Tanger Five Oaks boasts three courses and lots of bells and whistles. (The music can get annoying though.)
3. Visit the national park. Watch an inspiring movie at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and ask rangers for tips on drives and hikes. See historic buildings in Cades Cove, explore the recently abandoned ghost town of Elkmont, and walk to the top of Clingmans Dome observation tower, the highest point in the park.
4. Go tubing in Townsend. River Rat offers access to 2 stretches of the Little River and will rent you a tube and shuttle you all day for $12. The upper stretch is a little more exciting, while the calm lower stretch is great for kids.
5. See a show. Dixie Stampede wows visitors with rodeo riding and a hearty meal you eat with your fingers. (Don't even ask for silverware.) Make advance reservations, because it often sells out. Black Bear Jamboree does good clean family fun.
6. Eat pancakes. There's a pancake house on every block. You're on vacation, so order a tall stack.
7. See a black bear. Cades Cove is a popular place to spot them, but consider yourself lucky to see one.
8. Visit Dollywood. Dolly Parton's theme park couldn't be more fun or more Southern. With live shows, great rides, and delicious country cooking, this park just keeps getting better.
9. Eat taffy and fudge. It's a rule―you can't leave without consuming several pounds of both. Remember that calories don't count on vacation.
10. Walk down the Parkway in Gatlinburg. Shop for souvenirs and enjoy people watching on this crowded stretch. Visit your favorite attraction.