Lots of folks who take our tours ask us "What is the most fun thing to do in Pigeon Forge". A lot of people really like to know, what do the locals do for fun. I could make a list 10 miles long of the most fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains but I figured for the sake of time I would narrow it down to a top 5 list. Obviously I am going to say that taking a tour with us is the number one thing to do in Gatlinburg so we will leave that one out and just assume you all already know that one is top if the list :) Also, for the sake of giving you something you have not already done 500 times while you were in town I am going to make this a list of 5 things we love that tourists usually don't do.
5. Visit the Cosby section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Little do some folks know but the Smoky Mountains is over 520,000 acres in size and it does have several points of entry besides the one in Gatlinburg. A lot of folks know of the areas like Cades Cove and even Green Briar but far less know of the Cosby section of the park. This most northern area of the park is where you will find a battle field. Not a civil war battle or even revolutionary war ... an insect war. In the lower parts of the park you will see nice pretty Hemlock trees all bushy and green. In Cosby you will notice a lot of dead or dying Hemlock trees thanks to the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. Although this isn't something pretty to see it is one of the things we as locals care about a lot. To ignore a problem does not make it go away. Besides the dying trees the Cosby section is a very nice, peaceful, and wonderfully beautiful area where you can see wildlife and hear noises you dont notice in the busy sections of the park. You will also find several really good trails to hike and even some small swimming holes. The area around the Cosby section offers some really nice country restaurants to eat at along the way to and from the area. It might look like a shack in the middle of no where but those folks sure know how to cook. Stop in and try some for yourself.
4. Visit the Heritage Museum in Townsend
Some of you may have noticed this building as you are driving to Cades Cove via Townsend. I highly suggest you stop in and pay them the $5 admission to see the amazing amount of history and heritage they keep preserved inside and out. As a local I have had a season pass to this place for 5 years in a row. I use it several times a year even though I have seen it many times. It is always interesting and I love to learn more about the people of this area. It is really great for children and they will have no idea they are learning something new. My kids range from 5 to 13 and not one of them has ever complained about going to the museum. Its just so interesting and holds so many unique artifacts that tell a story that you just can't grasp simply by reading a book. If you are going to Cades Cove make sure you plan to stop in here FIRST before you go. By the time you get done in here and go to the Cove you will be glad you took my suggestion.
3. Visit a Cave and do Some Spelunking
One of my favorite things to do in the Smoky Mountains is to visit one of the local caves. Did you know we have the worlds 2nd largest underground lake only a short 90 minute drive south??? Its called the lost sea caverns. I have visited every cave within a 100 mile radius at least 5 times by now. If you go down 411 you will find Forbidden Caverns off down a small side road. Its well worth the trip. Out in Townsend while you are visiting the Heritage Museum go find and explore Tuckaleechee Caverns. The guided tour in this cave is really great and also I really like the under ground water fall. If you have children then they will especially enjoy cave dwelling. I promise, no bats or evil creatures will be haunting your dreams. Give it a try and you will not be disappointed.
2. Go Find Water, Any Water
What I mean by that is, go swimming in the creek or tubing or rafting. What ever choice you prefer just get your butt in the water and splash around and have a great time. I love to go swimming in an ice cold crystal clear creek in the Smoky Mountains. Please pick an area where swimming is common however, we don't want to mess with the local wildlife to much. Swimming in common areas will leave the rest of the cool waters to the folks who have to live there everyday. I am sure a lot of you do go swimming and this might not be a shocker but it is literally one of the best ways to enjoy a summer vacation in the Smokies. One of our favorite things is to tube down a nice steady creek with a small cooler full of liquids in tow. That's my idea of relaxation in the mountains.
1. Go Loafing (That's mountain slang for take a drive)
This is the number one activity for locals without a doubt. When you live in a town build around tourism you find joy in the small things. Yeah, we like to see Dollywood, go hike, catch a show, or eat out. Our favorite thing to do in the Smoky Mountains though, is just driving around to see the beauty of this great big ball floating in space. You can drive the strip at night to watch the people coming and going. You can drive to the top of the mountain to watch the sun set. You can drive out to the country and just enjoy the sound of the critters at night while everyone sleeps. All these things are what we love to do and they don't cost anything more than a little time and some fuel. When you are here on vacation you will have a limited amount of time to do things before going home. I am here to tell you to take a little time out of all that crazy rushing to just take a relaxing drive and just enjoy the view. Better yet, take a relaxing tour and let us do the driving for you ... boom, hidden ad for a tour right inside the blog where you lease expected it hahaha. All kidding aside, take a drive. Relax, slow down, enjoy nature and be happy.