So you already know we just got back from a trip to East Tennessee because we showed you all the ridiculousness we got up to in Pigeon Forge, and the super gorg cabin outside of Gatlinburg we were lucky enough to stay in. Go ahead, open them in another tab! After this post about what to do in Gatlinburg, you can figure out what to do in neighboring Pigeon Forge and get our recommendation for where to stay. We gotcha covered from every angle. 🙂
Ole Smoky Distillery: Gatlinburg Fun for Grownups
One of the main reasons we came to Gatlinburg was to learn about the history of moonshine in the area, and learn we did! We visited the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery — fondly called The Holler — right in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg, for a distillery tour and moonshine tasting.
When we walked into The Holler, we were greeted with a sea of rocking chairs and live bluegrass music. The music is pretty much going on all day every day, so no need to stop by at a particular time to catch it.
Before our distillery tour, we walked around the Ole Smoky shop enjoying the air conditioning and their impressive product lineup. They have moonshine everything! Check out these vibrant moonshine cherries and the vast array of moonshine jams and jellies:
There are over 25 flavors of moonshine, some of which are sold only at The Holler, plus jams, jellies, boozy peaches & cherries, and even some whiskeys. We loved how they looked all lined up, and were fortunate enough to try something like 12 flavors. Some of our personal favorites: Blackberry Moonshine, Key Lime Moonshine, and Salted Caramel Whiskey.
Yep, you heard me. Salted. Caramel. Whiskey. Run, don’t walk.
The most special part of our visit to The Holler was the opportunity to chat with Johnny Baker, a member of the founding family of Ole Smoky Moonshine. That’s him in the photo below, standing next to a vat of fermenting corn mash.
Johnny gave us a tour of the distillery and told us about the history of moonshining in the Smoky Mountains. My personal favorite tidbit: You know those Xs on cartoon jugs of liquor? That’s an old moonshine reference. Each X signifies a round of distilling, so XXX meant triple distilled. Cool, right?
The Park Grill in Gatlinburg: Upscale but Family-Friendly Dining
Later that afternoon, we headed to The Park Grill for dinner. The Park Grill is the perfect place to eat after hanging out at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, because it’s right next to one of the entrances.
If the sheer convenience of its location isn’t enough to convince you to eat there, maybe this will: all you can eat salad bar is included with each meal (or as a meal on its own). And it’s not a wimpy salad bar; it has fun choices like smoked oysters and fresh mozzarella. The salad bar is open at both lunch and dinner.
The Park Grill has a cheery mountain lodge motif that makes you feel at home before you walk in the doors. Outside are bright red rocking chairs, vibrant flowers, and — if you drove in — ample offstreet parking. Nothing better than sliding right into a convenient parking spot when you’re hungry!
Sadly, we completely forgot to take photos of our food because we were STARVING, but rest assured that you really can’t make a bad choice. Here’s what we ordered and loved:
- Appetizers: fried pickles; mac & cheese balls with raspberry dipping sauce
- Entrees: Liz had the filet mignon; Chanelle had the catch of the day
- Desserts: none — too stuffed!
If you have chil’ns with you, there’s a solid kids menu and the price is just $1 per year of age for each kid. You can’t go wrong at this place.
Ober Gatlinburg: Family Friendly Outdoor Fun for All Seasons
Our last stop before heading home from the mountains was Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort that’s open all year.
Take the aerial tramway (cable car) up the mountain, and what awaits you at the top will vary depending on the season. In the winter you can ski and snow tube, and in the warmer months you can enjoy amusement park activities like a mountain rollercoaster and water slide.
When it’s not ski season, your tramway ticket will get you unlimited rides up & back for two days, so it’s perfect for a weekend trip!
The aerial tramway takes you 2.1 miles up the mountainside with beautiful views all around, and it departs every 20 minutes so you don’t have to worry about scheduling a visit time.
Check out the beautiful Smoky Mountains in the distance!
Once you reach the amusement area there’s shopping, an arcade (see one of the games below), rides, and even a wildlife encounter, which is kind of like a small zoo!
At the Ober Gatlinburg wildlife encounter you can take a peek at rescued animal friends like black bears, river otters, and some really funny skunks. When we were there, there was one skunk following another around like its shadow. Pretty cute.
We got to witness otter feeding time. If you’ve never seen an otter eat, you are MISSING OUT.
And this is the view you’ll be greeted with as you head back down the mountain on the tram. A stunning aerial view of charming Gatlinburg.
As you can see, we found a little something for everyone in Gatlinburg. Moonshine for the grownups, amusement activities for the kids (and kids at heart), and a great place to eat after your hike in the Smokies. There’s plenty more we wished we could have done, so we hope to return to East Tennessee soon!
Comments & Reviews
Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says
Gatlinburg is an amazing place to visit. We go to the mountains every year, and we always make sure we roam around there.
Colleen Lanin says
We love Gatlinburg. One of our favorite things to do there is roam around and look at all the antique shops and old craftsman areas that they have all over the place. Even the kids love it!
Yes, the artisan culture there is so cool!
Vera Sweeney says
Ahhh! That sounds like so much fun! My kids would love seeing all the animals, and my husband and I would really love the distillery.
Amber Myers says
This sounds like a fun place to be. I’ve never been, but I know my family would love to ride that cable car.
You had me at moonshine tasting lol! I’ve heard people talk about it but haven’t actually tasted it. This looks like the trip for me! So many things to do!
Everyplace you went looks like fun with some great features. The food is always amazing and looks like the moonshine is still going strong.
GiGi Eats says
As long as there is DELICIOUS FOOD… And something that has to do with SPACE/SCIENCE – my husband and I will BOTH be happy – hahaha! Can you guess who likes what?!
I don’t know how but I totally forgot about Gatlinburg! When I was a kid I always wanted to go there because I really like that country feeling. If you years in planning a trip out that way and I am definitely going to add Gatlinburg to it.
Debra J Hawkins says
My kids would absolutely love that tram and getting to see all of the fun animals! What a fun place to visit!
Franc Ramon says
There’s so many flavors of moonshine to try here. Trying out the drinks straight from the distillery can really be much tastier and fresher.
This looks so beautiful! I really miss the mountains living in a flat state.
Christy Maurer says
I have never been to Gatlinburg, but it is on my list! There are so many things to do and see there. I also want to see Pigeon Forge and Nashville! Okay, the whole state of TN is on my list!
Wow there really is something for everyone here at Gatlinburg, glad you showcased what we can do when we visit. I think I will have to venture that way sometime, seems like a fun time!
Marcie W. says
What an amazing place to explore! Seeing the Smoky Mountains is on my bucket list and that wildlife encounter looks extra fun. I really need to plan a trip to Gatlinburg!
maria long says
I went to gatlinburg years ago when my brother was at Vanderbilt in Nashville. Sure has changed for the better.
We went on a trip to Gatlinburg in July. We had a great time. There was so much to do there that we only got a chance to do a fraction of the things we wanted to do.
That’s exactly how we felt!
Sarah Bailey says
Ohh wow what an amazing sounding place to visit, I don’t drink myself but I think I would still find the distillery interesting, when it comes to how they make it!
Kelly Hutchinson says
We live about an hour from Gatlinburg. Isn’t Ober Gatlinburg fun? We LOVE it there!
Yes! Never been anywhere like it before!
Nancy at Whispered Inspirations says
This looks as though it is a GORGEOUS place to visit! I have never been to Gatlinburg but maybe it is time that we book a trip!
I have never been to Gatlinburg. You made it sounds super cool. The moonshine? Now that sounds intriguing,
I love moonshine! I tried it once and it really was an experience. I couldn’t believe it. galtinburg, seems so pretty! Definitely worth the visit. If I ever find myself in the next of your woods I will try and visit this part at least! It’s breath taking.
Neely Moldovan says
My husbands best friend lives in TN so we are thinking of visiting next year. Gatlinburg is on our list. Looks like such a fun place!
Gatlinburg is a little over two hours from us, so it’s somewhere we’ve visited a lot. We find something new to see or do each time we go.
Dawn Lopez says
Gatlinburg looks like such a great place to visit. The scenery is amazing! I’ve driven through this area before but now I’ll have to be sure to stop and actually visit next time.
Wow this looks like a beautiful place to visit. I would love to come here sometime with my family.
We spent a fair amount of time in that area when we were traveling about in our fifthwheel. It a beautiful part of Tennessee. My first pair of cowboy boots came from Gatlinburg – they certainly weren’t my last.
Claudia Krusch says
I have always wanted to try Moonshine. The Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery looks like it would be a fun place to go on a date night.
Elizabeth Lampman says
The Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery looks like a fun place to check out. I would love to learn about the history of Moonshine in that area.
This looks like an amazing place to visit. I would love to go there some day. I just love all the beautiful photos too.
I have only driven through Gatlinburg, it looks amazing. I’ve always heard the antique shops were a great stop.
We were in Gatlinburg a few years back and we missed all of this. Bummer! We will be planning another trip, soon and I am sure my husband will insist on a stop at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery. We’ll probably have to bring an extra suitcase for all the goodies I’m sure he’s going to want to buy to bring back home.
Yes, he would love it. Good idea to plan ahead with an extra suitcase – I doubt you’d make it out without a little something!
Erica Schwarz says
I love the moonshine cherries! I have never been on a distillery tour, I bet it is fascinating to see how it’s done, especially large scale.
Amy Desrosiers says
I’ve had their moonshine cherries before. I was surprised by how much I liked them!
Heather Johnson says
My family and I would love to check out the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery! What a great list of things to do in Gatlinburg!
The aerial tramway looks like such a fun way to experience Gatlinburg. We love to be outdoors so having unique activities all year round make it the perfect destination for every season.
Hali @daytodayMOMents says
Wow what a time, your photos are great! I’ve never had moonshine but that wall is making me want to!
Gaitlinburg is one of my favorites places in the states to go visit! It is such a beautiful place and so much to do! It was one of the last trips we made before we moved to Norway.
I like to visit Gatlinburg and be the foodie I have always wanted to be. The Park Grill looks like they serve the best food around. I’d also like to ride the aerial tramway, even if I have slight acrophobia!
Jaime Nicole says
I have heard so many good things about Gatlingburg! Sounds like it might be time to plan a family trip to Tennessee!
I went to Gatlinburg when I was really little. I remember that we had the best time! Thank you for sharing your trip, my family would love this!
Carol Cassara says
There’s so much that you can do here and I just love the view as well. It would be so nice to escape to this place and just enjoy what it has to offer.
Gatlinburg seems like a fabulous place to visit. I would love to try the different flavors of moonshine. What a vast variety.
I wish I could try them all in a row again!
Sheena Tatum says
This sounds like such a fun spot to vacation at. My husband and I love visiting distilleries.
Robin Rue says
I love when a place has something for everyone. I have always wanted to travel here and definitely need to now!
Maria Carbone says
Excuse me while I daydream about this place. Seems like a super relaxing spot to getaway from work life!
Angela Milnes says
I can’t believe I have never been here. Going through the Smokey’s is so much fun.
Our Family World says
I haven’t been to Tennessee and I know I have been missing out on a lot. I love places that bring me closer to nature. The views from the cable car are fantastic! OMG. I am having a serious episode of wanderlust!
Rach Ferrucci says
I got to spend a day in Tenn and it was beautiful. I would love to check out Ole Smoky and the other places. I really need to get back there- so much to do!
valmg @ Mom Knows It All says
I’ve never been to Tennessee and have always wanted to go. I would have enjoyed all of this, particularly the wildlife encounter!
Bonnie G says
I can’t wait for my kiddos to get a little older so we can travel and visit awesome places like that. I love your photos you took, makes me want to visit.
This looks like a beautiful place! My Dad is obsessed with Moonshine and will try any flavor. I personally think it is too strong, but I know it is a big treat for a lot of people. Touring a distillery would be awesome!
This looks like an amazing place to vacation!! I’ve never been to Tennessee – it’s definitely on my list! Loving this so much!
I just love Tennessee!!! My aunt use to live in gatlinburg when I was a kid and we would visit all the time. Such a fun area.
Looks like a fun rustic getaway. I think the shrine of moonshine was interesting.
Amy Desrosiers says
I always wanted to visit this area. I could totally go for some of them drinks myself!