A bustling city with the welcoming attitude of a quieter mountain town, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, has countless exciting activities for visitors of all ages. But if you’re in the over-21 crowd and you’re planning a bachelor party, girls’ weekend, or just a fun trip with family, you’re in luck — Gatlinburg is known as the “Myrtle Beach of the Mountains” for a reason.

You can sip your way around a mountaintop amusement park, try locally made moonshine, or discover a new side of Dollywood theme park. If partying isn’t your thing, you can also embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure for grown-ups, like ziplining near America’s most-visited national park or rafting down whitewater rapids.

To help you plan your visit, we’ve put together a list of the nine best things to do in Gatlinburg attractions that are built for adults. So pack your bags and book your Prestige Vacation Rentals, we’ve got a bucket list to tackle!

1. Bar-hop at Anakeesta Mountain Park

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Attraction-packed Anakeesta Mountain Park is perched high in the trees above Gatlinburg. Visitors of all ages can come by to ride mountain coasters, admire the views, and take a walk among the treetops, but you might want to stick around to imbibe a bit at Anakeesta’s multiple bars.

There’s the Bar at the Top of the World, the Watering Can Bar, and the Tap House; plus, most of the on-site restaurants will also serve some tasty, boozy beverages. If you end up staying past sunset, check out Astra Lumina, a dazzling light show best experienced with friends and family.

2. Go moonshine tasting

Photo Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani

The Hollers of Tennessee are famous for producing several different, potent alcoholic beverages (like Jack Daniels, for instance), but few of those drinks have garnered the reputation of moonshine.

This infamous corn liquor has a long, strong history in the area, as its production dates all the way back to the 1800s. But these days, you can buy Tennessee’s shine from several sophisticated distilleries around Gatlinburg rather than a questionable still in the backwoods.

Ole Smoky Distillery and Sugarlands Distilling Company both host tastings and tours right in Gatlinburg. You can learn more about the history and making of moonshine and sip some of the region’s finest along the way.

3. Have a ball at Dollywood

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Owned and operated by country music crooner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is a family-favorite theme park located in Pigeon Forge. There are nearly endless things to do in Dollywood, from amusement park rides that will suit all ages to the water slides in Dollywood’s Splash Country, and these attractions aren’t just for kids. But if you’re not really a ride or slide type, there are plenty more activities available.

You can catch live music and other spectacular dinner shows around the theme park and tap your feet with a glass of your favorite drink in hand. Or, swing by Craftsman Valley to watch artisans at work and purchase handmade souvenirs created right on-site.

If possible, try to time your visit during one of Dollywood’s many seasonal festivals, when you can experience a whole different side of the park.

4. Raft whitewater rapids

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Adrenaline junkies and more sedate paddlers alike can participate in a whitewater rafting trip in the Gatlinburg area. If you prefer a more relaxed voyage, the Lower Pigeon is where it’s at, featuring plenty of small riffles and scenic stretches of flatwater. But if you’re hankering for something a little more amped up, take a guided trip along the Upper Pigeon, which is packed with Class IIIV rapids.

Can’t get enough whitewater? If you don’t mind putting in a bit of travel time, you can go whitewater rafting along the Nantahala River or the Ocoee River. Both of these waterways are located within a few hours’ drive of Gatlinburg.

5. Hike Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Just outside of Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is packed with scenic drives, gorgeous vistas, and dozens of hiking trails. While most of those trails will be accessible to all ages, you may want to leave the kids at home before hitting one of these hikes:

Thunderhead Mountain

Starting from the popular Cades Cove area, this lengthy, steep trail will run more than 14 miles in total. But at the first summit along the trail, known as Rocky Top (yes, that Rocky Top), you’ll be rewarded with stunning Smoky Mountain views that appear to stretch endlessly into the distance. Those blue mountains make an excellent backdrop to any photo to celebrate conquering this beast of a hike.

Ramsey Cascades

The Smoky Mountains are filled with incredible waterfalls, but Ramsey Cascades are the tallest, at 100 feet tall. This challenging 8-mile hike is no cakewalk, but the views of the falls might just make you forget about all your aches and pains. Eat some snacks or a picnic lunch while basking in the cool spray, a bonus treat in the heat of summer.

Section Hike the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail winds along the spine of the ancient Appalachian Mountains all the way from Georgia to Maine, a distance of some 2,100-plus miles.

If you have a few days to spare during your visit and some backpacking know-how, you can hike the roughly 70-mile stretch of trail that runs through the Smoky Mountains. Be warned, though — after your first taste of the A.T., you might be tempted to return someday to complete the whole thing.

6. Wine and dine

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Moonshine and craft beer aren’t the only beverages flowing freely in Gatlinburg — if you’re looking to sip some quality wine during your visit, you can choose from plenty of vineyards pouring local flavors. Right in downtown Gatlinburg, you’ll find Smoky Mountain Winery, Goodwater Winery, and Elkmont Winery, to name just a few.

Come by these wineries for a tasting and, when possible, a tour of the operations. The Appalachian region has begun cultivating a reputation for producing quality wine, so you’ll want to give it a taste yourself to find out more about this burgeoning industry.

7. Adventure on ATVs

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If you want to indulge your inner rugged streak in the Smoky Mountains, rent some off-roading equipment for your group and set out on a journey unlike any other.

As one of the most fun things to do around Gatlinburg, several companies, including Southland Car and Jeep Rentals and Off-Road Gatlinburg, rent adventure-worthy vehicles, while companies like Bluff Mountain Adventures give guided ATV tours for an unparalleled insider’s look at local trails.

Get some mud on your tires while exploring local landmarks, or cruise on up to a remote viewpoint to get a new perspective on the Smokies. ATV-ing is also a popular pastime among Appalachian residents, so you’ll get in a true local experience.

8. Fly High in the Sky

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Gatlinburg is home to several different adventure parks that provide a dose of adrenaline and fresh air through ziplining. You can soar through the trees and see some incredible views at several different spots around Gatlinburg, so strap in at any of these family-friendly stops for a ride you won’t forget anytime soon.

Ober Mountain offers a zipline course, as does Anakeesta Mountain Park — three of them, in fact, where you can race your family or friends down tandem lines. Closer to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, CLIMB Works features some of the longest and highest lines in the region, with courses that will take you far above the treetops.

9. Shop for Handmade Local Crafts

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Looking for a low key fun activity? Little ones might balk at a trip down an 8-mile road packed with craft shops, but if you ask us, wandering through the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

The largest independent collection of artisans in the United States, this community showcases some fascinating local crafting traditions, from pottery to basket weaving and soap making to old-fashioned confectionery.

Set aside plenty of time to visit this unique attraction. The more than 96 different artists and craftsmen will likely keep you shopping for quite some time.

There are also a few restaurants and breweries where you can eat and drink (you know, to fuel up for all that shopping). You’re bound to come away with some unique souvenirs and a new appreciation for these handmade works of art.

Experience Gatlinburg Your Way

If you’re planning an adult-oriented trip, you can easily create an itinerary around the nine best things to do when you visit Gatlinburg with adults — or you can simply use this list as a starting point.

Another upside to traveling around Gatlinburg with adults is that there’s nothing stopping you from participating in kid-friendly activities as well. From mini-golf to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! and everything in between, there are many different things for you to experience all around Gatlinburg, even if you’re just a kid at heart.

Book your Gatlinburg getaway with Prestige Vacation Rentals today!