Check out some of the best hidden Smoky Mountain attractions

If you think about the Great Smoky Mountains you probably immediately think of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. You probably even know about the Titanic Museum or Ripley’s Believe it or Not. But if that is the extent of your Smoky Mountain fun, then you are missing out on some of the best hidden Smoky Mountains attractions the area has to offer.

Smoky Mountains Attractions: Cades Cove

Cades Cove is a step back in time. There is a campground, picnic areas and a small visitors store, but the main attraction is the 11 mile one way loop that goes through the valley. Expect to spend between 1-2 hours driving at a very slow speed as you watch for bear, turkeys, deer and other wildlife. There are historic homes, churches and even a mill where you can stop, park and tour along the way. Plan for some extra time to hike back in to see one of the area’s most popular waterfalls, Abrams Falls.

If you are interested in getting a little closer to the Cove, there are designated times where only bikers and walkers can tour the loop. Located in the heart of the Smokies outside Townsend, Cades Cove is only about an hour from the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area.

Smoky Mountains Attractions: Clingmans Dome

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is a 7 mile road that leads you to the base of the hike. Once you get there, you can climb a monument that gives you an amazing view of the Smoky Mountains (which is stroller friendly). Be prepared to be amazed. Just to warn you, because of the altitude, this hike may be more strenuous than you expect. There are pull off points along the drive and benches along the final hike to give you a place to catch your breath and experience the awesome views of the surrounding areas. It is typically 10-20 degrees colder at the top, so keep that in mind.

Smoky Mountains Attractions: Sugarland Visitor Center

If you’re heading toward Clingmans Dome or over to Cherokee, NC, the Sugarlands Visitor Center is worth a visit. There you can get an up close view of the animals that have been found in the Smokies. There are interactive maps, working grist mills as well as periodic programs presented by the Park Rangers. Not only is this a great stretch break, but a great stopping point as well.

Have You Visited The Great Smoky Mountains? We Would Love To Hear About It!

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  1. April 25, 2014  1:16 pm by Robin (Masshole Mommy) Reply

    This is good to know. If I ever make it that way, I know what to do with my kids :)

  2. April 25, 2014  1:37 pm by Louida Reply

    Looks like a fun and adventurous place to go. I've never been to the Smokey Mountains before so I'll need to add it on my list of places to go to.

  3. April 25, 2014  1:58 pm by Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? Reply

    We went to Cade's cove last year. We opted not to do the driving path because we had little ones. But, we just played in the little natural water pools and had a blast!

  4. April 25, 2014  2:20 pm by Jessica Reply

    I visited the Smoky Mountains YEARS ago. I went along on a friend's family vacation and we were staying in North Carolina. We did a lot of sight seeing throughout the area. I remember there being so much to do there. We were busy every single day and I was exhausted by the end of the trip!

    • April 26, 2014  9:35 pm by Dawn McAlexander Reply

      I have left the Smoky Mountains exhausted on several occasions. There is just so much to see and do there.

  5. April 25, 2014  3:26 pm by Tracey Reply

    Looks like a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing all these facts!

  6. April 25, 2014  6:03 pm by Virginia @thatbaldchick Reply

    I'd love to visit Cades Cove. We went up Clingman's Dome a few years ago and it was spectacular.

  7. April 25, 2014  8:49 pm by Elizabeth @ Food Ramblings Reply

    I've never been to the Smoky Mountains, but I have always wanted to go. Adding your suggestions to my list of things to do!

  8. April 25, 2014  9:52 pm by Jenn @ The Rebel Chick Reply

    It's great you've covered the well known and the slightly less so. There's lots to do there!

  9. April 25, 2014  11:28 pm by Carly B Reply

    Oh my goodness! My family always camped at Cades Cove every summer. I actually broke my wrist riding my bike on the loop- age 12! Sure a beautiful place:)

    • April 26, 2014  9:33 pm by Dawn McAlexander Reply

      Oh no! I hate that you broke your wrist!

      It is a fabulous area and camping there sounds really fun. :)

  10. April 26, 2014  12:04 am by Kecia Reply

    We LOVE Cades Cove! You can get the best photos of the Smokies there.

  11. April 26, 2014  12:38 am by Veronica Reply

    I have never visited but I sure would love to.

  12. April 26, 2014  1:38 am by Chelsea Reply

    I've never visited. It really does look gorgeous though. And there sounds like lots of neat things to do! Thanks for sharing :)

  13. April 26, 2014  3:49 am by Pauline C. Reply

    Haven't been to Great Smoky Mountains but I would love to visit one day! And make sure to keep these in mind (bookmarking for later). Thanks for the great tips Dawn.

  14. April 26, 2014  8:32 am by Rosey Reply

    I love that you mentioned it being stroller friendly. That is a BIG deal when you have little ones!

  15. April 26, 2014  12:54 pm by Pam Reply

    This is one area of the country that my husband and I have not traveled. We are planning on doing so within the next year. We have pretty much been to every other state. The pictures are fabulous and I would love to visit all of these attractions.

    • April 26, 2014  9:33 pm by Dawn McAlexander Reply

      We still have a lot more of the country to see, but this part is definitely one of our favorites of what we have seen. :)

  16. April 26, 2014  2:49 pm by Keikilani Reply

    I haven't visited the mountains. But they are so beautiful! Hopefully some day.

  17. April 26, 2014  10:38 pm by Theresa Reply

    I have never been, but it is on my list of places that I absolutely want to go to! I had a family member get married in the Smokey Mountains a few years back and was super bummed that we couldn't make the trip then.

    • April 29, 2014  1:56 am by Dawn McAlexander Reply

      That sounds like a great place for a destination wedding. :)

  18. April 27, 2014  12:06 am by Aimee Smith Reply

    I have never been before but Cade's cove sounds like a blast! Hope to get out there sometime!

  19. April 27, 2014  10:46 am by Erica Reply

    I love hearing about the less commercialized places like these. I hope to visit the Smoky Mountains in the near future. I am heading to the Ozark Mountains in Branson, MO next month though!

  20. April 27, 2014  11:09 am by Shell Reply

    I love out of the way attractions. They tend to be less crowded!

  21. April 27, 2014  3:10 pm by Melissa Reply

    I'd love to travel here. It just looks so gorgeous!

  22. April 27, 2014  6:01 pm by Ashley M Reply

    What a gorgeous area and great resources! :) The 7 mile hike sounds like a great route for a picnic and hike for the family.

  23. April 27, 2014  7:10 pm by Christie Reply

    I'm bookmarking this! Smoky Mountains are on our visit list! Thanks

  24. April 27, 2014  9:28 pm by Nannette And the Sweetheart Reply

    Heading there in just a couple of days!! Cannot wait! The Smokey Mountains have been my favorite vacation spot for as long as I can remember. My parents always took us on the way to Florida every year and I would beg to stay longer. Now whenever I can steal away it is my destination of choice. I cannot count how many times we have gone! I agree with you about al, if the sites you have mentioned. Love them all! Thank you for the teaser. Blessings!

    • April 29, 2014  1:55 am by Dawn McAlexander Reply

      Oh I hope that you have a safe trip and a lot of fun!

  25. April 28, 2014  8:55 am by Janeane Davis Reply

    You really made this area of the country seem like a place I need to visit!

  26. April 28, 2014  10:06 am by Melinda Reply

    my friend just took a road trip to the mountains. she said it was the most beautiful place she's seen in a long time

  27. April 28, 2014  10:21 am by StacieinAtlanta Reply

    We went to the Smokies for spring break. What a beautiful part of the country. I was surprised by just how much there is to see and do.

  28. April 28, 2014  11:10 am by Dina Reply

    I recently went to Smokey Mountains. I did not do any of these hidden gems. Bookmarking it for next time.

  29. April 28, 2014  12:46 pm by Brandi Reply

    I love finding out about hidden areas! There is so much more to seeing a place than visiting the typical tourist areas.

  30. April 29, 2014  1:16 pm by Christina S Reply

    I've been to the Smoky Mountains, but it was a long time ago. I'd love to take my boys now.

  31. April 30, 2014  4:33 pm by Elizabeth Norton Reply

    I need to spend some more time in Tennessee! This looks great! I also know my son would love the titanic museum.

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