6 Smokin’ Things to Do in the Tennessee Smokies This Fall

Must-Do Activities in the Tennessee Smokies This Fall

By Kelsey Thomas

The beginning of fall is such an exciting time in the Tennessee Smokies. The beauty of the leaves changing and the perfect weather makes for a perfect photo-opportunistic, nature-driven vacation. Whether you’re looking for exciting festivals to attend or would rather lay low and enjoy a relaxing hike in one of the nation’s most gorgeous national parks, you’ll never run out of things to do in the magnificent Tennessee Smoky Mountains. Here are our top 6 picks of events and activities to experience from now until the end of fall.

View Wildlife at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the best places to view wildlife in the Tennessee Smokies. Some animals you may be able to see include white-tailed deer, black bear, elk, turkeys, woodchucks and many other animals. They have two open areas, Cataloochee and Cades Cove, that are perfect for wildlife viewing.

great smoky mountains during fall season
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sept. 24 – Oct. 30, 2021: Dollywood’s Harvest Festival

Dollywood, a popular theme park joint owned by Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, is located in the Knoxville-Smoky Mountains metroplex in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Every fall, the park transforms into a magical experience filled with playful days and illuminated nights. The festival features various live performances, as well as artisans and craftsmen that can demonstrate and sell their crafts.

Sept 24. – Oct. 31, 2021: Ober’s 12th Annual OktOBERrfest

This annual October event, held at Ober Ski Mountain in Gatlinburg, celebrates the traditions of the original OktOBERfest in Munich, Germany. Featured will be daily shows, updated food menus and even an outdoor bier garden! Try different brews with a $20 beer card or enjoy a delicious salted pretzel while listening to live music.

keg at Oktoberfest
Ober’s OktOBERfest

Go Leaf Peeping in Gatlinburg

The Smoky Mountains are known for their breathtaking array of colors that are painted throughout the mountains during the fall season. Any time between late September to late October is the best time to see this colorful phenomenon. Refer to the Gatlinburg Fall Foliage Report to know exactly what type of fall colors to expect and when.

Oct. 10, 2021: 5th Annual Chalkfest at the Island of Pigeon Forge

Calling all artists, professional or aspiring! This themed chalk drawing competition is a fun way to tune into your artistic side in the Smokies. Artists may bring their own chalk or use the chalk provided at the event. Awards will be presented for multiple prize categories at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Stage.

girl drawing with chalk
Chalkfest at the Island of Pigeon Forge

Find the Photogenic Spots

You are going to want to take a picture of everything you see in the Smokies. From the various waterfalls, like Abrams Falls or Rainbow Falls, to lookout spots like Chimney Tops or Newfound Gap, you are destined to capture some stunning images. You could even make a trip itinerary of all the places you wish to photograph.

Dollywood Best Amusement Park 2019

Dollywood ranked “Best Amusement Park” for 2019

Every year, USA Today 10Best puts out a comprehensive list of Readers’ Choice Awards. Among the categories is “America’s Best Amusement Park.” For 2019, Dollywood earned the fifth spot on the list.

Click here to read more about Dollywood.

Dollywood Fifth in Rankings for “Best Amusement Park” in 2019

The experts who compiled the rankings for “Best Amusement Park” are made up of theme park reviewers, writers and aficionados. Dollywood was named fifth for all of its offerings – thrilling rides, coasters, children’s attractions and more – all with the backdrop of the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Dollywood was also praised for the park’s entertaining stage shows and performances, live craft demonstrations, nearly year-round events and Southern-inspired food offerings.

In 2019, Dollywood also earned three Golden Ticket Awards from Amusement Today. The theme park was the inaugural winner for Best Guest Experience, Best Kids’ Area for Wildwood Grove and Best Christmas Event for the Smoky Mountain Christmas festival.

Wildwood Grove is Dollywood’s newest area, opening in 2019. The enchanted land is family friendly, geared specifically to younger children.

Click here to read more about Wildwood Grove.

Among Dollywood’s full lineup of thrilling roller coasters are some award-winning rides. Dollywood’s Lightning Rock earned “Wooden Coaster of the Decade” award from Coaster101.com.

Click here to read about rides at Dollywood.

Click here to read more about the Lightning Rod.

Dollywood will celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2020. To commemorate this anniversary, Dollywood will have a new festival, new and returning entertainment offerings and much more. Mark your calendar for the park’s newest event, the Flower & Food Festival, May 8–June 14.

Dollywood is tentatively set to open for the 2020 season on Saturday, March 28. Coronavirus pushed the original March 14 opening. Be sure to visit Dollywood.com for updates on the park’s opening and how Dollywood is managing COVID-19.

The Island Ropes Course

When you need a break from shopping, reach new heights as you experience The Island Ropes Course

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The Island Flying Theater

Image from Dynamic Attractions

The Island Introduces a New Attraction

The Island in Pigeon Forge is a retail, dining and entertainment venue. Known for popular eateries, over 35 retail and specialty shops, as well as rides, games and attractions, The Island is a one-stop destination for a full day of family fun. Coming soon, The Island will have a new attraction that’s sure to sweep you off of your feet. Dynamic Attractions will bring their thrilling flying theater to The Island.

About Dynamic Attractions Flying Theater

Dynamic Attractions specializes in fun, innovative attractions that integrate top-of-the-line engineering and technology. The company’s flying theaters provides riders an exciting, immersive experience.

After riders take their seats, the floor disappears from beneath them. While on the ride, they’ll feel like they’re actually flying around the video setting. Flying theaters are Dynamic Attractions’ most popular ride system, found all over the world.

The Island Pigeon Forge

About The Island’s Flying Theater

In February 2019, The Island announced plans to construct a flying theater to the attraction. The $20 million, state-of-the-art attraction will be between 9,000–10,000 square feet, located next to the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.

Bob McManus, president of The Island, is exciting about the flying theater’s addition to The Island’s selection of attractions.

“This flying theater will truly be a one-of-a-kind, immersive entertainment experience,” said McManus in a press conference. “From The Island, guests will be transported to places that they otherwise may never have the opportunity to see, and experience the beauty of America in a unique and unforgettable way.”

The theater will show a custom film, created with drone and helicopter footage, shot throughout the country. Riders will be transported to some of America’s well-known landmarks and other scenic locales. In addition to the feeling of flight, riders will also experience realistic scents and mists during the ride.

Here’s a look at what riders can expect from the new Pigeon Forge attraction.

Other Attractions at The Island Pigeon Forge

While you’re waiting for the flying theater to be built, check out some of The Island’s other attractions and activities, including the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, The Island Show Fountain, The Island Ropes Course and the Alcatraz East Crime Museum.

The Island also has a scaled-down roller coaster, gem mining, a mirror maze, 7D adventure ride, an arcade and more.

More Information about The Island’s Flying Theater

The Flying Theater attraction is set to open at The Island in early 2020.

The Island is located at 131 The Island Drive, Pigeon Forge.

Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show

The Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show is coming to Pigeon Forge May 2019.

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