Travel Like a Local: Non-Touristy Smoky Mountain Vacation

Visiting the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas is an exciting way to spend your vacation. With so many attractions and restaurants, millions of people flock to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg annually. If you’re looking for non-touristy things to do in Sevierville, check out some of these Sevierville activities and make some new memories on the roads less traveled. 

Hidden Gems of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts millions of visitors each year. Cades Cove is one of the most popular destinations, with wildlife spotting and bicycle trails. For a more unique experience, avoid the crowds and visit some of the hidden gems the park has to offer. The Greenbrier area of the park is known for its beautiful wildflower arrays during springtime. It is also home to Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the park, accessible by a four-mile hike (eight miles roundtrip). The hike is rated strenuous and can take up to 7 hours altogether, but it is definitely a sight to see off the beaten path. Bring your hiking boots and a picnic and see one of the most picturesque–but least crowded–areas of the park! For those looking for a shorter and easier hike, take the Little Brier Gap Trail to see the historic buildings, Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse, and the Walker Sisters’ Cabin.  

White-water Rafting and Tubing

White-water rafting and tubing are other exciting activities to try on your Smoky Mountain vacation. Connect with the beauty of the great outdoors and experience the local scenery, all while boosting your adrenaline! Take a thrilling ride along the Upper Pigeon River, facing exhilarating Class 3 and Class 4 rapids. Cruise along the Lower Pigeon River in a family-friendly float along calmer waters. Relax on a river tube while enjoying the beautiful scenery and refreshing water. Choose from one of many local outposts that offer guided river tours suited to your level of expertise and sense of adventure. Big Creek Expeditions, River Romp Tubing, and Smoky Mountain River Rat are among the most popular and highly rated. Smoky Mountain River Rat even offers a dog-friendly river ride for your furry friend.  

Zipline Tours

Ziplining is another adventurous activity to enjoy while vacationing in the Sevierville area. Take in the beautiful scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains while you soar over the treetops. Enjoy the tranquility of nature while zipping through the forests. Wahoo Ziplines boasts the longest zipline in the Smokies, while Adrenaline Park has the longest zipline over water in the United States. Tandem rides are also available so you can experience the exhilaration right alongside your loved one. Many of these attractions also offer ATV rides, horseback rides, and hiking tours; however, coasting through the air will definitely be the peak of your Smoky Mountain vacation!  

Mountain Coasters

Want to ride a roller coaster, but you don’t want to spend all day at a crowded amusement park? Mountain Coasters are a quick but thrilling way to get your adrenaline pumping. Ride solo or with a partner as you twist and turn your way down the mountain. The best part is you control your speed! Push on the handles to go faster or pull up to slow down. No need to worry about bumping into someone–the cart spacing is controlled so that no collisions can take place. Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is located on Wears Valley Road, off the main strip of Pigeon Forge. It feels a little more secluded and less touristy than others in the area. Parking is free and on-site; walk right up to the ticket booth and get ready to ride. No parking fees, long lines, or all-day commitments make this attraction the ideal non-touristy activity! Ride once, or spend the day coasting–it’s up to you! Then come back at night for a whole new experience under the lights!

Rocky Top Wine Trail

The Rocky Top Wine Trail features five local wineries:  Hillside, Apple Barn, Apple Barn Cider House, Mountain Valley, and Mill Bridge. Sip samples of over 75 unique wines at one–or all five–destinations. The wine trail is free to experience. Check-in at one location to pick up your wine trail “passport.”  Get a stamp at each one you visit and collect free gifts along the way. Three stamps earn you a free commemorative wine glass while completing the trail with all five stamps rewards you with a free mystery gift! You can upgrade to a VIP Wine Trail tour which provides shuttle service to three locations, plus bonus perks like complimentary cheese trays, exclusive samples, and discounts on purchases at the wineries. VIP tours are limited to twelve people, and advance ticket purchase is required online.  

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community

The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community consist of over 100 local artisans and businesses located along an eight-mile loop. Instead of a pricey touristy souvenir, find a unique keepsake from one of the local vendors. From jewelry to pottery, candles to quilts, and blacksmithing to photography, there is bound to be something for everyone! Spend the day browsing the shops, galleries, and booths. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, like the Morning Mist Cafe, Split Rail Eats, or Deluder’s BBQ. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Glades Soda Fountain, which features a real “soda jerk” and an old-timey cash register. Shopping in the Arts and Crafts Community helps support local artists and small businesses, and you will have a memorable experience as well as some treasures to take home from your Sevierville vacation.  

Take Me out to the Ballgame!

If you visit Sevierville between the months of April and September, take time to catch a Tennessee Smokies Minor League baseball game. Baseball fans will love kicking back and watching a game with the locals in the beautiful stadium. Even if baseball isn’t your favorite pastime, you will enjoy some baseball-park food and snacks (Taco Tuesday, anyone?), promotional giveaways, and summertime fireworks show after each game. Compared to other tourist attractions, the cost of watching a Smokies game is a steal!   

Visiting the Sevierville area for your vacation doesn’t have to be a tourist-trap weekend. There are plenty of non-touristy ways to experience all the beauty and charm of the Great Smoky Mountains. Travel like the locals do, avoid the crowds, and branch out to make some new memories!