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12 Fun Things to Do in Gatlinburg for Couples

Updated: April 04, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, an anniversary trip or even a honeymoon, the mountain town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, makes an ideal destination in the South. You can tackle adventures together in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, cozy up in a romantic cabin at night or find a new favorite restaurant along the downtown strip.

To inspire your next trip, here are the best romantic things to do in Gatlinburg for couples and honeymooners.

1. Dress up for an old-timey photograph

You and your loved one's smiles are sure to be genuine in a souvenir photo from Old Town Photos in Gatlinburg, where you can have a laugh as you dress up in old-timey outfits and strike a pose for the camera. Choose your background, props and costumes to see how you both would look as outlaws, saloon patrons or as 1920s gangsters. Not only is it a fun thing for couples to do in Gatlinburg, you'll leave with a memento of your adventures together.

2. Go ziplining through a forest

You can soar through the trees right alongside your partner at one of the thrilling ziplines in Gatlinburg. Two outfitters in town offer side-by-side ziplines, so you don’t have to go the course alone. CLIMB Works Smoky Mountains has a Mountaintop Zipline Tour with six total ziplines that takes about 2 hours to complete. The Dueling Zipline Adventure at Anakeesta is an extra cost at the theme park and rappels of over 50 feet. Each zipline course costs around $60 per rider.

3. Listen to live music at Blake Shelton’s bar

See who’s performing on the live music stage at Ole Red Gatlinburg, the two-story restaurant and entertainment venue backed by country music star Blake Shelton. With three country music performances each day, you’re bound to discover an up-and-coming star who will get your cowboy boots tapping. Menu items and drinks embrace the country influence, too, with choices like the Trash Talkin’ Taco Salad and the Hillbilly Breeze cocktail.

4. Look for wildlife in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Keep your eyes peeled as you cruise along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Just 15 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg, the 5.5-mile, one-way loop curves through dense forests and offers the chance to spot wildlife from the comfort of your vehicle. Visitors often see raccoons, elk, white-tailed deer and even black bears along the route, especially around dusk or dawn when the animals are most active.

If you do spot animals in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, remember that it is against the law to feed, approach or otherwise disturb the wildlife.

5. Plan a romantic dinner for two in downtown Gatlinburg

One of the reasons Gatlinburg is so popular with couples and honeymooners is because of its wide variety of romantic restaurants. Many are within walking distance of the downtown strip. A stone chimney and big windows with views of the Pigeon River create a cabin-like feel at The Peddler Steakhouse ($25-$55). The Park Grill ($16-$55) resembles a rustic mountain lodge and is located just a short walk from an entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Another popular spot for an upscale dinner is Cherokee Grill ($18-$40), right on the Parkway.

If seafood is more to your taste, you can’t go wrong with Chesapeake’s Restaurant ($17-$40). The trendy restaurant has a heated patio and river view that’s perfect for a dinner for two.

6. Play in the snow at Ober Mountain

Winter activities can be oh-so-romantic, and Ober Mountain has a whole slew of fun things to do in Gatlinburg for couples. The mountaintop ski resort is the most popular place to go for snow tubing, skiing and snowboarding in Gatlinburg. Ski season at the resort typically begins in early to mid-December and can last until mid-March, so there’s plenty of time for fun.

Don’t care for the cold? An indoor ice arena at Ober Mountain makes it possible to ice skate year-round.

7. Saddle up for a horseback ride

Just a few miles from downtown Gatlinburg, you can saddle up for a guided horseback ride at Sugarlands Riding Stables. You’ll explore the wooded trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park at a walking pace, with the chance to spot wildlife including bears, turkeys and deer. It’s a fun romantic activity for couples looking for a quick adventure, as riders of any skill level are welcomed, and rates are reasonable (starting at $50 per person for a 1-hour ride).

8. See the sunset from a mountaintop at Anakeesta

Watch the sun slip below the horizon from a vantage point 600 feet above the city at Anakeesta — no hiking required! The mountaintop theme park is just a 14-minute gondola or chairlift ride from downtown and offers outstanding views of the Great Smoky Mountains (one of the best national parks to visit in the fall). Your daily admission pass includes unlimited rides to the summit, as well as fun adventures at the top.

The last ride down the mountain is around 9 or 10 p.m., so you’ll have plenty of time until then to grab a bite to eat, relax in Adirondack chairs and enjoy the view as the lights of downtown Gatlinburg begin to twinkle.

9. Snap a photo on the SkyBridge

Take your love to new heights — literally — at Gatlinburg SkyPark, where you can cross the Gatlinburg SkyBridge. The attraction is said to be the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America. You may want to hold hands (or your breath) as you make your way over the glass section in the middle of the bridge to soak up the panoramic view of the Smokies. The "Lights Over Gatlinburg" is also a fun thing for couples to do when spending Christmas in Gatlinburg.

The best part about visiting the SkyBridge? Admission includes all-day access to SkyPark and unlimited rides on the scenic chairlift until the park closes at 9 or 10 p.m. It's also one of the pet-friendly things to do in Gatlinburg should you be traveling with your furry friend.

10. Speed downhill on a mountain coaster

Similar to a roller coaster, a mountain coaster offers an adrenaline rush, but this one is powered only by gravity. You can ride as a couple in the two-person coaster cars at Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park, Moonshine Mountain Coaster or Ober Mountain, as long as the two of you are under the weight limit. Depending on the attraction you visit, you may reach speeds of up to 35 mph as you cruise down the mountain; a set of hand brakes allows you to decelerate as needed.

11. Stay in a romantic Gatlinburg hotel

Sure, Gatlinburg cabin rentals and Airbnbs are a nice option, but many have minimum stay requirements and hidden fees. For a quick Gatlinburg couples getaway, it might make more sense to stay in a hotel instead. Local hotels have amenities that will appeal to couples and honeymooners: hot tubs, fireplaces, spas and in-room dining service can take any stay from ordinary to romantic. Couples massages and Valentine’s Day packages are among the perks at the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Waterpark, a timeshare resort with an attached water park. Every room has a private balcony at The Park Vista-a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Gatlinburg, and if you’re celebrating your wedding in Gatlinburg, their honeymoon packages include champagne and an in-room breakfast.

12. Taste moonshine at a distillery

Whether or not you believe legally made moonshine can still be called “moonshine,” you can sample the local variety at one of the well-known distilleries in downtown Gatlinburg. Said to be the first to produce the high-proof spirit legally, Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery offers tastings of several of its flavors at The Barrelhouse location. You can also sample moonshine varieties and take a tour at Sugarlands Distilling Company and Tennessee Shine Company; both are within a half-mile walk (or a quick trolley ride) of each other.

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

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