With so much to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forget, it’s no surprise that there are hidden gems in this area. While you won’t want to miss big attractions like the Ripley’s Museum and Dollywood, these hidden gems will help you pack loads of fun into your family vacation.
Below are ten hidden gems in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area.
1. Walker Sisters Place
This cabin was once home to the Walker family and sits in the Little Greenbrier section of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. After their father died, the six unmarried walker sisters continued to live life the old-fashioned way. This cabin sits just off the Little Brier Gap Trails, just a mile hike from Metcalf Bottoms.
2. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
This expansive museum contains around 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers from around the world. With an admission price of only $3 for adults (with children under 12 free), you don’t want to miss this fun and quirky attraction.
The museum’s gift shop offers a variety of salt and pepper shaker sets for visitors to purchase. If you purchase a set, you can apply your $3 admission toward the purchase price of your souvenir.
3. The Ghost Town at Elkmont
Gatlinburg has a ghost town at Elkmont. In the early 1900s, this was a popular summer destination for the wealthy. The area’s quaint cottages provided a cool place for the rich to get away from the summer heat.
When the Great Smokey Mountains National Park was founded, many of these wealthy homeowners were forced to sell their land and move elsewhere. Some managed to sell their property at a low price in exchange for lifetime leases. When these lifetime leases expired between the 1990s and early 2000s, owners abandoned the houses. This created the modern-day ghost town nestled among Gatlinburg’s scenic views.
4. White Oak Sinks
This 2-mile trail is just past Turkeypen Ridge Trail. White Oak Sinks trail is not on any official trail maps for the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Dotted along the landscape of this trail are rock walls, collapsed chimneys, metal cogs, and more.
Caves and holes cover the moss-covered forest floor. There are waterfalls and wildflowers to delight any nature enthusiast. Because a natural breeze comes from the cave, hikers can enjoy cooler temperatures on hot days.
5. Wild Plum Tea Room
This tea house draws its inspiration from Austrian-style tea houses. They offer a daily menu with choices like lobster pie, tomato dill soup, and other culinary delights. Options are available for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets.
This hidden gem offers unique flavors and exceptional customer service, making it a must-see for visitors to the area. The Wild Plum Tea Room sits near the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community, making it the perfect spot to eat when visiting the area.
6. The Secret Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smokey Mountains National Park has a secret entrance. Take a drive along the Wears Valley to the park and enjoy the amazing scenic views of this hidden gem. The Wears Valley entrance is often called the secret entrance to the national park, since tourists often miss this entrance in favor of the other park entrances.
Using this entrance is also a great way to bypass the crowds. If you want to enjoy nature without the stress of crowds, you won’t want to miss this alternate route.
7. Smoky Mountain Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo
This exciting destination is great for families with children. Visitors to the exotic petting zoo can hand-feed deer, donkeys, miniature horses, kangaroos, zebras, reindeer, elk, camels, and other creatures. If you want to enjoy horseback riding during your trip, the Deer Farm offers a great horseback riding stable.
From this location, you can take scenic trail rides around the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
8. Smoky Mountains Candy Makers
The Smoky Mountains Candy Makers specializes in taffy wrapped on an old-fashioned taffy wrapping machine. This machine was built in 1940 and the Candy Makers shop has been open since 1973. Purchase taffy in flavors like cotton candy, peace, maple, strawberry, sassafras, watermelon, and other great flavors.
9. Smokies Cuban Café
The Smokies Cuban Café is owned and operated by a local family and offers authentic Cuban cuisine. Travelers enjoy the empanadas, Cuban sandwich, roast pork sandwich, yuca, ropa vieja, and palomilla steak. Their legendary mango shakes offer a great sweet treat to wrap up your dining experience.
10. Sandman’s Workshop
This shop offers personalized engraved stones to for tourists. These stones can be placed in your garden or used near doorways. You can use them to welcome visitors to your home, share a sentiment, or honor a pet that’s passed away.
You can customize slate plaques with a custom digital photo, offering even more customization options. Your custom creation will help you memorialize your trip while sparking conversations among visitors to your home. You won’t want to miss this hidden gem, especially if you’re shopping for souvenirs!