Unique Things To Do While Visiting Gatlinburg, TN: Venturing Beyond the Strip


A visit to The Great Smoky Mountains is often a yearly pilgrimage for many in the Cincinnati area. While many families have their favorite attractions we are giving you eight unique attractions worth venturing off the Gatlinburg strip for.

The five-hour drive transports you into the majestic beauty of the mountains and the land of Ripley’s believe it or not your money is gone attractions.  As you inch closer and closer to Gatlinburg you can’t help but notice billboard after billboard telling you to spend your money here and go shove something in your face there.  Let me tell you, my friend, I have been there, spent that and have likely left feeling cheated or ready to order a pizza.

Unique Things To Do In Gatlinburg

Especially for food, some of the best food we have found is nowhere near the strip and is often where the locals eat.  Here is a list of some of the offbeat attractions around Gatlinburg to shake up your next trip to the Smokys!  This post contains affiliate links.

8 Unique Experiences To Have While Visiting Gatlinburg

Three Jimmy’s Good Time Restaurant

Three Jimmy's Award winning wings

Hand’s down my favorite place to eat in Gatlinburg.  Their chicken wings are the best in the city and some of the best I have ever had the pleasure of shoving into my face hole.  I do consider myself somewhat of a chicken wing connoisseur.

Connoisseur meaning that I have eaten more wings then socially acceptable, and have deemed these some damn good wings.

Even the Soph wanted in on the BBQ goodness, but unfortunately, she will have to wait until our next trip to sample this bit of heaven. Be sure to check them out!


Bush’s Baked Bean Museum

Bush's Baked Bean Museum

You are not imagining things, yes there is a Bush’s Baked Bean Museum!  Believe me, folks, you will not want to miss out on this off the beaten trail attraction.  This is the place Bush’s Baked Beans got started and you can get a free tour complete with a group photo!

The museum is very interactive and quite entertaining. You will even get to see where the secret recipe is kept. It is heavily guarded because the bean business is a very serious business.  Bush's Baked Bean Secret Recipe

Don’t be scared…you get you a slice of that pie because it is really good! The gift shop is also a sight to behold and offers tons of fun and quirky souvenirs including cans of baked beans!!  Sample some beans


  Foxfire  Mountain

America's longest swinging bridge

Home of America’s longest swinging bridge and the Whispering Winds Covered Bridge this is an adventure park worth visiting. Foxfire Mountain has a little something for everyone, including those seeking the thrills of zip lining and ATV tours. You do have to pay admission for each adventure you chose to go on or you can do a package.

Since we had little babies with us we opted to do the Swinging Bridge and hiking trail.  Hiking with a baby, up to a mountain with freshly fallen leaves was not our best idea. Even with a carrier and gym shoes we were in no way going to make it more than a whole 5 minutes without dying.

However, we did enjoy the light hiking around the area and then quenched our thirst with the complimentary cider tasting.


Be sure to leave a wish at the Whispering Winds Covered Bridge. Whispering Winds Covered Bridge in Gatlinburg

Be sure to read our Great Things To Do In Gatlinburg With A Toddler.

Visit the Statue of Dolly Parton

Dolly Statue in Sevierville, Tennessee

Be sure to pay tribute to the patron saint of the Smoky Mountains…Dolly Parton. If you can’t tell by the billboards, attractions, and merchandise Dolly Parton is a big deal around these parts.  Mainly because this is her hometown and she has given a lot back to the community.

Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, Lil Dolly dress shop, the etc….the list continues. There is a statue to honor Dolly right next to the Courthouse in Sevierville that makes for a fun photo opt.  After you googled Dolly Parton and learn more about her and her music, walk across the street to Courthouse Donuts!



Courthouse Donuts

Court House Donuts in Tennesee

Court House Donuts in Tennesee

Fair warning some of the combinations you can make should be illegal!  Either way, you be the judge! Kids of all ages will have fun making their edible masterpieces.



The Roaring Fork Motor Tour

Roaring Fork Motor Trail

Roaring Fork Motor Trail in Gatlinburg

If the only trail you enjoy is trail mix then this is the activity for you. So put on your North Face Jacket, grab your double macchiato and prepare to see the Great Smoky Mountains from the comfort of your vehicle.

The Roaring Fork Motor Trail is free and offers spectacular mountain views and scenic stops.  For those of you who are more outgoing, there are hiking trails that branch off the main road. Rainbow Falls is a 5.4-mile hike (round trip) that those who dare venture off the paved pathway.

There are historic buildings that you can get out and explore with a nice little hiking trail nearby. Depending on the season they may shut down the road during inclement conditions, so be sure to check the website.

Unique things to do in Gatlinburg Tennesee

Shake things up at the Salt and Pepper Museum

Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

This one of a kind museum is found right off the strip in downtown Gatlinburg and houses over 20,000 salt and pepper shakers.  There are only two museums like this in the world! One in Gatlinburg (I know right?!)  and one in Spain.

Admission is dirt cheap at $3.00 a person and the museum is relatively small so you can be in and out in less than an hour.  There is an interactive piece where you can try to find particular salt and pepper shaker in each case.

My advice, they keep the creepiest and scariest salt and pepper shakers in the back of the cases with a cute set in front of it.   There are some that are downright terrifying.  Make your own fun by trying to find the most horrifying set. Learn more about the Salt and Pepper Museum here.

The Fox and the Parrot English Pub

The Fox and the Parrot in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

This little pub is tucked way away in the mountains. It can be a little hard to find if you aren’t actively looking for it.   Let me tell you, folks, this place has some bloody good pub fare!  It is truly a pub setting. There is no loud music and is the ideal spot to bring your family. We sampled a little of everything and nothing disappointed and only exceeded our expectations.  Go, enjoy the atmosphere, order some amazing food and Bob’s your uncle! My only complaint is the bathroom isn’t the greatest.

NOW GO!! Be curious and see what you can find when you venture off the strip! I look forward to finding more and more fun things each time I visit! Feel free to comment on things for us to check out the next time we go!


Looking for a great park off the beaten path? Learn more about Wear Farm City Park!

Tips For Traveling With A Baby To Gatlinburg

  1.   I always found some of the best cabin deals through Home Away or similar sites.  Get a cabin with a washer and dryer and a full kitchen. Space alone is worth spending a few extra bucks. However, being able to throw in a load of dirty clothes and have the luxuries of a kitchen, priceless! Remember that cabins are not baby proof! Bring items that you need to ensure your baby is safe, secure and happy!   Added bonus: You might see an actual live bear in the wild. It only took me coming to Gatlinburg over 15 times to see them in person from our balcony! Taking a baby to Gatlinburg
  2. GO GET A BABY OLD TIME PHOTO: See photo below….that is all.  It is truly the best souvenir you will ever bring home and will provide lots of lasting memories.  Not to mention they are not nearly as expensive or time-consuming as they have been in the past.

Baby Old Time Photo




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Unique Things To Do In Gatlinburg


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10 thoughts on “Unique Things To Do While Visiting Gatlinburg, TN: Venturing Beyond the Strip”

  1. the Fox and the Parrot is one of our family favorites! we visit on every trip! thank you for this list

    • Thank you! I am so glad that you found it helpful. That made my day! I just adore the Fox and the Parrot as well and am looking forward to going back soon!

  2. We’ve been stopping by the Fox and Parrot since before we got married over 12 years ago. I almost hate to share it with anyone so that it stays hidden. Awesome people and awesome food and drinks.

    • My husband told me not to share them for that very reason as well! LOL I feel they do such a fabulous job that they deserved the recognition! They are truly such a hidden gem. Looking forward to returning again soon!

  3. I have been going to Gatlinburg for as long as I can remember and didn’t know about several of these hidden gems. Thank you so much for sharing your secrets.

  4. I have been going to Gatlinburg for 25 + years and had no idea of these….we have a family vacation home there and will def be doing some of those activities: Thank you

    • I’m glad to give your families something new and exciting to try! The back roads to get to a few of them are really pretty and takes you behind the touristy area. Have fun exploring!

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