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You’ll find all kinds of fun activities in the Smokies, and one of the best parts is that these activities are free! Everyone will love these free things to do in the Smoky Mountains, from kids to older adults. You all can enjoy being out in nature while also having a good time together. Check out these top 6 free things to do in the Smoky Mountains you can’t miss:
1. Clingmans Dome
Want to see one of the most incredible views of the Smoky Mountains? You should walk to Clingmans Dome! The roundtrip length to the top is 1.2 miles, and it is considered easy. Strollers and wheelchairs are not recommended because of the steepness of the trail, even though it is paved. Once at the top, you can walk to the observation tower for an amazing view of the Smoky Mountains. It’s a sight you should see.
2. Sugarlands Visitor Center
Located right outside of Gatlinburg, the Sugarlands Visitor Center is a neat place to visit. Not only will you find maps outlining the Smoky Mountains, you’ll also find a museum about the area. There’s a 20-minute video you can watch to learn more about the start of the national park and the wildlife here. The Sugarlands Visitor Center also has natural habitat exhibits and replicas of journals from the first park naturalists. If you want to learn more about the Smoky Mountains, this is a great free thing to do!
3. Cades Cove
One of the most popular free things to do in the Smoky Mountains is to visit Cades Cove. There’s a picnic area next to a creek, perfect for a family meal! Then you should drive on the 11-mile paved loop through a valley where you’ll have great views of the surrounding mountains. Cades Cove is known for being an area where you can see wildlife. It’s also full of history with old homesteads, a grist mill, and many more structures. This is the perfect place to take pictures!
4. Picnic in the Mountains
While you will have to buy food to take with you, a picnic is another great free thing to do in the Smoky Mountains! Grab sandwich ingredients, chips, and drinks. Pack a cooler and make your way to the Cades Cove picnic area, Metcalf Bottoms, or any of the other picnic areas in the Smokies. You could also grab a family meal from any restaurant in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg!
5. Hiking in the Smokies
Another popular free thing to do in the Smoky Mountains is to go hiking. There are over 850 miles of hiking trails in the national park, giving you a huge selection! Try something easy with small kids and older adults, such as Laurel Falls. Want to try something more moderate? Hike to Andrews Bald for a beautiful mountain view at the top. For a hard hike, make your way to the Ramsey Cascades for an incredible natural water feature that’s over 100 feet tall.
6. Scenic Drive
Want to see the Smokies without having to leave the comfort of your car? Go on a scenic drive! Cades Cove is the most popular, but another great one is the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. It’s rustic and a one-way road. You’ll cross over streams, and in the fall, see all of the colors. The Foothills Parkway and the Blue Ridge Parkway are a few of the other scenic drives you should try.
There are so many free things to do in the Smoky Mountains. You may have a hard time deciding what to do first! Want to know about some ways to save? Check out these ways to save money on your Smoky Mountain vacation. While you have some ideas of what you’re going to do while you’re here, now you just have to decide where to stay! Browse through our vacation rentals and book one today for your next trip!