With church retreats, conferences, and family reunions happening all year long, Gatlinburg is a favorite destination for bringing people together.
Chances are, you'll want to plan a fun activity that everyone can enjoy, no matter their age or interests. But what should you plan to do with your large group?
To make your big gathering a fun success, we've made a list of the 10 best activities for groups visiting Gatlinburg! Make the most of your group vacation with these fun attractions that have something for everyone.
1. Experience Dollywood
Located only a few minutes away from Gatlinburg, you'll find Dolly Parton's famous Smoky Mountain theme park, a great place for your group to spend a fun day in the Smokies.
As the top-rated attraction in the Smoky Mountains, everyone should experience Dollywood at least once. With world-class roller coasters, a terrific atmosphere, shows, and crafts shops, Dollywood has something that everyone can enjoy.
Better yet, Dollywood offers special group rates for parties of 15 or more. To save on your ticket, simply contact group reservations before you visit.
2. See Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Nestled in the heart of Downtown Gatlinburg, you can see an awe-inspiring collection of sea life at the Aquarium of the Smokies!
This indoor attraction is great for visiting no matter the weather or the season and it's probably one of the best group attractions in Gatlinburg. Better yet, the exhibits at Riply's Aquarium are truly top-notch like the 340-ft walk-through tunnel that passes through a giant tank filled with toothy sharks. The Penguin Playhouse and a stingray petting area are a big hit with kids.
3. Go Whitewater Rafting
Whitewater rafting on the Little Pigeon River may be just what your group is looking for! Whether you need a fun, team-building exercise to round out your group's experience or you're traveling with a party of thrill-seekers, taking on whitewater in the Smokies is just right for your trip.
The best season for rafting runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day when there are regularly scheduled dam releases on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturdays.
4. Try Smoky Mountain Ziplining
You can explore the forest canopy like never before when you try ziplining in the Smokies! With long courses and big drops, visitors of all ages love the thrill of soaring through the trees. There are several outfitters with ziplines and ropes courses throughout the Smoky Mountains to try and several offer group rates for larger parties.
5. Picnic in the National Park
For groups of all ages, going for a leisurely activity like picnicking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect way everyone can enjoy some time together. Spots like Metcalf Bottoms only a short drive from Gatlinburg are a great place to host a cookout.
Metcalf Bottoms rests by a pristine mountain river, so the adults can relax in camp chairs while kids play by the fire. This picnic area is also near several hiking trails if more adventurous members of your group want to explore the mountains.
6. Explore Downtown Gatlinburg
With unique shops, fun attractions, and great restaurants, Downtown Gatlinburg is the perfect place to keep your group entertained. Your group can enjoy seeing free sights like the historic Ogle Cabin or going to the Old Smoky Candy Kitchen to see saltwater taffy being made. During summer and the Christmas season, Gatlinburg features street performers in period dress who share authentic songs, stories, and dances from the Smoky Mountains.
7. Play Mini Golf
If you're looking for a cheaper group activity in Gatlinburg, playing putt-putt golf is a great way to have some fun on a budget. There are dozens of mini golf places in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, so you'll have your pick of fun themes to experience. Better yet, the competitive folks in your party will get a kick trying to make par at these fun courses.
8. See A Show
Gatlinburg has great live entertainment at two theaters that offer something for everyone. Sweet Fanny Adams is home to a hilarious, vaudeville-style theater act that puts on new shows every year. In the Gatlinburg Space Needle, you can stop by the Iris Theater to see a comedy show, a magic act, an illusionist, or a hypnotist. In nearby Pigeon Forge, there are several variety music shows and new dinner shows like Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventure.
9. Explore Cades Cove
This historic community is nestled in a valley surrounded by tall mountain peaks has been called one of the most picturesque places in the country. To see it, groups can drive on the 11-mile loop road that follows the edge of the valley. On your way, you'll see gorgeous mountain views and historic homesteads that belonged to the valley's past residents. Cades Cove is also one of the best areas of the park to spot wildlife like bear, deer, and turkey.
10. Hike To Waterfalls in the National Park
Waterfall hikes in the Smokies are often easier hikes that offer big rewards. Many of the most spectacular waterfalls in the park are by the roadside or are only a couple miles by trail. As a result, a wider range of hikers can enjoy beautiful destinations in the park like Laurel Falls and the Sinks.
Check out our guide of the best waterfalls in Gatlinburg to find the best waterfall for your group to visit!
Booking a large cabin rental is a great way to get the most out of your group vacation. A large cabin that sleeps 15 or more guests is likely to be cheaper than booking multiple hotel rooms. Better yet, a group cabin in Gatlinburg will also come with features like game rooms, swimming pool access, hot tubs, theater rooms, and full kitchens for keeping your group happy and fed.
See how much you can save on a cabin for your group when you book online with Cabins USA Gatlinburg!
Written by Hayden Brown