The Best Sights & Sounds of the Smokies

Last Updated on March 9, 2024 by Ali Hamza

Majestic, rolling hills spread out from your feet in all directions along the horizon. Ancient trees stand tall and proud. Fresh, crystalline streams crash over rocky ledges and send up misty rainbows. Wildlife like white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, and red salamanders creep silently through the foliage. All of these things make the Great Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee a sight to behold.

But that’s only half the story. Evolved from a rich history of immigration, hard work, and family values, bluegrass music is one of the best aspects of this Appalachian world. Just as it’s all about the beautiful natural sights by day – the night brings a chance to hear a unique musical sound. This list of a few of the best things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is all thanks to the region’s beautiful sights and sounds!

Most Beautiful Sights in the Smokies

Whether arriving by plane or by car, your first glimpse of the Smokies will be a sea of gentle blue curves wearing a coat of old-growth trees. Unlike the big cities, the two quaint mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge get to claim this stunning image for a skyline. With all the hospitality and charm of the South, these towns’ local businesses specialize in creating memorable ways to view the gorgeous Smoky Mountains. Catch the most beautiful sights in the region with these once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

Sugarlands Riding Stables

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains thousands of trails offering incredible views of mountains, streams, forests, and native wildlife. But why stay on foot when you can take to the trails on horseback? Sugarlands Riding Stables is a family-owned and -operated business in Gatlinburg, providing some of the best horseback riding experiences in the Smokies.

Suitable for both beginners and experienced riders, families with children as young as five can embark on their one- to two-hour guided horseback tours. If you’re looking for an exciting chance to get back in touch with nature, grab your cowboy boots and head over to Sugarlands Riding Stables!

Scenic Helicopter Tours

Scenic Helicopter Tours is a truly unique way to take in the majestic Smokies. Leave the earth behind as you lift off in a helicopter to see the mountains from a bird’s eye view! On their tours of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, you’ll fly over landmarks like the National Park, Douglas Lake, the French Broad River, and the glittering nighttime lights of downtown.

With 45 years of experience providing helicopter tours, their professionally trained pilots and FAA- and National Park-approved choppers will ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for up to six passengers. If you have a special person in your life, be sure to check out their tour packages for romantic occasions. There’s no more impressive way to view the Smokies than from the skies!

Smoky Mountain River Rat

The Smokies are a wondrous sight from the ground and from above – but what about from below? Take your thirst for splendid scenery to the water level with Smoky Mountain River Rat. Only half an hour from Pigeon Forge in Townsend, TN, Smoky Mountain River Rat will send you floating between the gigantic valleys and underneath the serene foliage. The river tubing at Outpost A is safe enough to bring your dog along, and Outpost B features exhilarating rapids and swimming holes.

In Hartford, TN, Smoky Mountain River Rat also hosts spectacular whitewater rafting experiences. The guided tours range from the laidback currents of Lower Pigeon to the courageous class III and IV rapids on the Upper Pigeon River. Plus, experienced guides are there every step of your journey to ensure all safety measures are taken. Whether you’re an experienced rafter or want to take it easy on some gentle rapids, Smoky Mountain River Rat is the place to go for splash-filled views of the mountain atmosphere.

Toe-Tappin’ Sounds in the Smokies

Bluegrass music was born in Appalachia. So it’s not uncommon to hear the twang of banjos, guitars, and fiddles in this neck of the woods! Bluegrass, rock, country, and other mountain genres continue to echo among these popular Smoky Mountain music venues.

Ole Smoky Distillery

Just as bluegrass arose from Scots-Irish immigrant farmers, so did whiskey- and moonshine-making. Today, the local distilleries are still some of the best places to find live bluegrass music. Ole Smoky Distillery has one location in Pigeon Forge called The Barn and another in Gatlinburg called The Holler. Both venues are known to host local bluegrass and country bands on a regular basis. It’s worth the visit – not just to hear that authentic twang but also to taste genuine Smoky Mountain “likker” from the first legal moonshine distillery in Tennessee!

Grand Majestic Theater

If classic rock or motown are more your speed, you’re still in luck! The Smokies are a region that loves music of all kinds. You’ll find world-class performances to match each genre at the Grand Majestic Theater. This state-of-the-art theater regularly produces three mainstage shows, plus seasonal and specialty shows. Their most popular show, Hit Parade Time Warp Jukebox, features hit rock songs from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, set to eye-catching costumes and dancing. Meanwhile, the Soul of Motown show will get you grooving to classics like “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “The Green Hornet,” and “My Girl.”

Hard Rock Cafe, Pigeon Forge

Last but not least, the Hard Rock Cafe is for those whose tastes lead them to more contemporary artists, with a healthy dose of the classics, too. First, arrive early to treat yourself to mouth-watering American fare like burgers, chicken sandwiches, ribeye steak, and fajitas. While you’re digging in, let your eyes wander a bit, and you’ll notice that this isn’t just any Pigeon Forge restaurant. It’s a music history museum, too. See if you can spot memorabilia from legends like Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, and Jimi Hendrix displayed on the walls!

After dinner, stay for another round of drinks as the party gets started. The Hard Rock Cafe of Pigeon Forge frequently hosts live music performers from all over the Southeast region. Check their event calendar to find out who will be playing while you’re in town!

In Conclusion

The stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture of the Great Smoky Mountains makes it one of the most sought after destinations in America. Treat your eyes to vistas of hazy blue peaks from the ground, the sky, or the water. Take your ears on a musical journey from hit songs of the 50s through 80s to contemporary touring bands to homegrown bluegrass artists. It’s a no-brainer to make the Smokies your next travel destination when such breathtaking views and soulful jams await!

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