A member of the crafts community making pottery.

6 Hidden Gems in Gatlinburg TN: Take a Trip Off the Beaten Path

Looking for a special getaway? Something a little outside of the touristy norm? These hidden gems in Gatlinburg, Tennessee can give you exactly that. From breathtaking views to thrilling ziplines – the sky’s the limit (literally) when you take a trip to the Gatlinburg area.

1. The Arts and Crafts Community of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There’s more than just beautiful hiking trails and black bears nestled in the Appalachian mountains. There’s also a thriving community of artisans.

The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is the largest independent organization of makers and crafters in the United States. There are basket-weavers, artisan soap makers, candle makers, painters and textile artists, glassblowers – the list goes on. The artists are more than happy to talk with visitors, and some even provide classes.

The community is located along an 8-mile loop nature trail and there are over 120 unique gift shops and studios open year-round to the public. Hikers can easily get to the trail by hopping on the trolley in downtown Gatlinburg.

2. Smoky Mountain Farms Jelly House

While we’re on the subject of artisan crafts – we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Smoky Mountain Farms Jelly House. If you love homemade jelly, jam, syrup, butter and more then this is the spot for you. There’s more varieties of homemade goods than you could count in a day on this quaint and unique shop’s shelves.

If you’re visiting Gatlinburg during the fall, then you have to swing by to pick up a jar of their pumpkin butter. It’s the perfect treat to pair with the magnificent colors of the autumn leaves painted across the Smoky Mountains.

[FREE RESOURCE] Our FREE guide has the full list of places to go to experience Gatlinburg like a local. Wander off the beaten path and visit some lesser-known hidden gems throughout the area.

3. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

Right across the street from the Smoky Mountain Farms Jelly House, you’ll find the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. This is perfect for those who A) go nuts for history and/or B) love unique things and everything quirky.

This is the only museum of its kind in the world and it houses over 20,000 salt and pepper shaker sets. That’s right – not 200, not 2,000, but 20,000. There are shakers designed to look like classical art pieces such as the Mona Lisa, or sets designed to resemble little miniature sushi plates. The museum’s collection comes from different collections and time periods and is sure to delight any curiosity seeker.

The admission price – which is already a low, low $3 dollars – also goes towards a purchase of your own salt and pepper shaker set from the gift shop. This is the perfect place to pick up an interesting little keepsake to remind you of your time in Gatlinburg TN.

4. The Elkmont Ghost Town

Maybe you’re into a different kind of quirky – a spookier quirky. If you love the haunting beauty of forgotten and abandoned spaces then we’ve got good news for you.

Right outside of Gatlinburg is an abandoned logging camp and resort town. This community was once known as “Little River” but is now called the Elkmont Ghost Town. Wealthy families once used this place as a weekend getaway until the national park was established in 1934 and acquired the land.

Now there are 19 buildings of the original 70 left, and visitors are welcome take in their eerie beauty. All you have to do is drive towards the Elkmont Nature Trail. There’s a parking lot near the trailhead within walking distance of the ghost town.

You can also locate what the locals call the Elkmont Troll Bridge in this area – a beautiful, stone bridge covered in moss and vines that looks like it appeared straight out of a fairy tale. You can find it just off the Little River Trail. After following the trail for about 100 feet, you’ll see a small path to your right that leads to the bridge.

5. Upper Tremont Road Near Cades Cove

Cades Cove loop is a popular destination among Gatlinburg visitors – and for good reason. It’s got stunning views and historical buildings, but due to tourist traffic, taking the round-trip around the loop can be time consuming.

Not far off from Cades Cove, Tremont Road offers a similar – but quieter – experience. There are scenic views of the Smokies, hiking spots, and picnic areas all along the route. When locals want to come out to the park for relaxing (and private!) drive or hike – this is the spot they choose.

6. Heart Racing Days and Illuminated Nights at  Anakeesta

If you want to take in the beauty of the area in a really unique way then you want to visit Anakeesta – a mountaintop park with mountain coasters and a treetop skybridge. The skywalk is the longest in North America, and a picture-perfect way to create a unique memory of your trip to Gatlinburg.

Anakeesta is also a beautiful spot to spend the evening. They regularly put on light shows throughout the year that are sure to take your breath away.

Find More to Do in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Area

From popular Gatlinburg attractions like Ober Gatlinburg, Clingman’s Dome, or Dollywood to local favorites sure to get you off the beaten path, there’s always something to do among the great Smokies. Want more ideas? Check out our blog for more inspo for your next Gatlinburg vacation.