Menu Close

Gatlinburg in The Fall: Best Autumn Activities and Attractions

DATE : September 22, 2015

The state of Tennessee is renowned for country-western music, outstanding picturesque scenery, beautiful lakes, and of course, the Great Smoky Mountains. Over the past decade, Gatlinburg, Tennessee has experienced a major cultural and civic boom, and boasts more activities and attractions than ever before. Those planning a vacation in Gatlinburg in the Fall should consider placing the attractions below on their must see list:

Foliage Tours

It is not surprising that vacationers from up and down the East Coast hop in the car each year and head to beautiful Gatlinburg for the purpose of viewing the spectacular fall foliage. Whether visitors choose to walk through downtown Gatlinburg to see the endless rows of shops decked out in fall colors or prefer rustic trails or scenic mountain overlooks, the colors viewed will dazzle the eye. Clingman’s Dome, Tennessee's highest point, is another terrific vantage point from which one can see autumn colors in all their splendor while breathing fresh, mountain air. Guided tours are available throughout the area or travelers can simply play it by ear and visit whichever paths they find appealing.

Roaring Fork

Roaring Fork is home to two of the Great Smoky Mountain's most famous waterfalls. Both serious hikers and recreational walkers can indulge in a morning or afternoon of fantastic scenery and magnificent photo opportunities while on either trail. Rainbow Falls is great for seasoned hikers, and is a moderately difficult 5 ½ mile round trip hike. The Falls are at the end of the trail, and locals often called this stopping point “The End of the Rainbow.” Located at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the majestic 80 foot waterfall is the park's highest single drop fall.

The Trillium Gap Trail is another great option, particularly for those who prefer a moderate walk to a vigorous hike. The trail leads to Grotto Falls, which are 25 feet in height. Here, visitors can walk behind the falls and enjoy the cascading water up close. This breathtaking area is the only place in the Smoky Mountains where guests can get this close to a waterfall.

Titanic Museum

Those with an interest in nautical history should definitely place the Pigeon Forge Titanic Museum on their list of attractions. Only minutes from Gatlinburg, the museum offers a one-of-a-kind chance to step back in time and discover interesting and obscure facts about the infamous, doomed ocean liner. This imaginative and interactive establishment is a well loved attraction in the Gatlinburg area, where vacationers can actually board a half scale replica of the original vessel.

Trolley Rides

One of Gatlinburg's newest and most popular activities is its state-of-the-art trolley service. Opened since July 4, 2015, the trolley runs the length of Gatlinburg's famous Parkway. These open air cars are painted in colorful and artistic designs, and each trolley is color-coded, which makes it simple for first-time visitors to make the appropriate changes as they travel their chosen route. This option is a great way for those in search of a sedentary way to view Gatlinburg's lovely autumn scenery.

Beginning November 12th, visitors can also enjoy Gatlinburg's Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights. This trolley route focuses on seasonal lights and Christmas decorations, all of which can be viewed from one of the comfortable cars.

Gatlinburg Farmer's Market

When a farmer's market is mentioned, a fruit and vegetable stand typically comes to mind. However, the Gatlinburg Farmer's Market offers much more to both locals and visitors. The market is essentially a Tennessee landmark at which patrons can purchase decorative food products, arts and crafts, homemade prepared foods, honey, meats, eggs and of course, home-grown vegetables and fruits. The market is open daily until the end of October, and certain vendors even accept EBT/SNAP for food purchases.

Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery

Anyone who enjoys tasty cocktails and original beer, or those who are merely interested in how such brews are made, should visit the fun and interesting Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery. Located in the Smokey's wine country, fall is a great time to tour the distillery and picnic on the beautiful grounds by which it is surrounded. Commemorative glasses can also be purchased in the distillery's gift shop, and customized engraving is available on a daily basis. Whether a person enjoys wine, “moonshine” whiskey or just a good old-fashioned cold beer, the distillery is a great place to indulge.


Perhaps one of the most famous celebrations in the entire state of Tennessee, Gatlinburg's Oktoberfest is a 38 day long event beginning September 8th. It commemorates the original Oktoberfest held in Munich, Germany each year. With a broad range of activities and entertainment venues, the festival offers something for every visitor.

In mid-October, the Bavarian Fun Makers Band typically performs traditional folk dances, yodels, sing-alongs and oompah music, while wearing classic period costumes. Special beers are served to those who are of age, as well as traditional sauerkraut, schnitzel and noodle, bratwurst and homemade pretzels. Over 6 million people attend the festival during its 38 day run, making it one of the country's most popular autumnal events.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

The celebration of autumn also encompasses another of the south's famous events, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair. 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Fair, which runs from the 8th to the 25th of October. Held in the Gatlinburg Convention Center, the event is a multi-level mecca of the country's best and most talented craft makers.

A well-loved characteristic of the Craftsmen’s Fair is that artists not only display and sell their work, but they also complete their crafts as patrons watch, as a way of showcasing the talents and skills. Recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the top 25 events in the country, the Fair has earned its reputation as a great choice of attractions. Regardless of one's personal interests, virtually everyone who attends the event leaves with at least one new, unique possession in their hands.

With its beautiful patchwork landscape of fall colors and its myriad activities and attractions, Gatlinburg is an ideal choice for essentially any vacationer. Those who want to enjoy a memorable and interesting get away should definitely consider Gatlinburg, Tennessee in Autumn.