The Best Things To Do In Gatlinburg in May

As spring turns to summer, the Great Smoky Mountains attract vacationers and tourists alike. The national park is in full bloom with flowers and there is an abundance of attractions and events.

To help you make the most of your stay in May, we’ve put together this guide on the best things to do in Gatlinburg in May.

Top Things to do in Gatlinburg In May

wildflowers in the smokies

Search for Wildflowers in the Smokies

One of the most beautiful activities in the Smokies is searching for wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The beginning of May marks the arrival of Spring. The Smoky Mountains are home to over 1400 varieties of flowering plants that reach their peak during the warmth of May.

Places like Cades Cove, the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and Porters Creek in Greenbrier are teeming with several species of flowers like White Trillium, Fire Pink, Woodland Bullets, Rue Anemone, Yellow Trillium, and little brown jugs.

The sight of these flowers is mesmerizing and will surely take your breath away. You will find yourself marveling at the diversity of nature and will develop a newfound admiration for flora and fauna.

This will also be an excellent opportunity for the entire family to gather and explore together. You can instill love and respect for nature in your children by having them witness the glory of flowering plants in the Smokies.

Swimming in Gatlinburg

swimming in gatlinburg
Image: Shannon Smith

After a prolonged period of cold weather, Gatlinburg begins to experience warmer weather with the arrival of May. The thermometer starts reaching into the 80s.

Hence if you are in Gatlinburg on a warm, sunny day, this is an ideal opportunity to visit the national park and relax in a swimming hole.

For some people, however, the chilly mountain water that collects in a swimming hole may be too cold for a complete dip. If that is the case, you could always remain fully clothed and only immerse your feet while you experience the riverside view.

Indoor pools

indoor pools resort

Likewise, if you wish to go for a swim regardless of the weather, you could book a cabin resort with a private indoor pool. Although some cabins open their swimming pools in May, reserving a hut privately is wise if you don’t want to take any chances.

The Sinks

the sinks
Image: Michael Hicks

Few of the most outstanding and famous swimming holes in the Smoky Mountains are collectively known as “The Sinks.” This is a gorgeous site along the river, consisting of a large mountain pool, around 10 feet deep.

There are plenty of rocks surrounding the pool, so kids can play around and hop from one into the crystal clear water.

Though this creates the effect of a natural waterfall and pool, it is a consequence of logging activity, which happened in the Smokies before the creation of the national park.

Dollywood Splash Country

dollywood splash country
Image: Dollywood

Taking swimming and water activities to a new elevation of fun is the Dollywood Splash Country nearby. It opens its doors to the public by the 2nd week of May and carries an assortment of slides and water rides you can take with family and friends.


hiking gatlinburg

The Smokies have a lot to offer in natural beauty and exploration, and on-foot is perhaps the ideal way to experience and appreciate the rugged attractiveness of the Smokies.

There are more than 800 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so rest assured that there is a hiking adventure suited to everyone’s idea of fun and skill level. Some of the most notable hiking trails in the Smokies include the following.

They comprise an excellent form of physical activity and fun during the summertime. Not only is this an opportunity to explore the mesmerizing flora and fauna of the Smokies, but it is also a chance to replenish your energy by spending time in an unpolluted atmosphere after months of congested city life.

  • Abrams Falls Trail
  • Alum Cave Trail
  • Charlies Bunion Trail
  • Chimney Tops Trail

Best Tours in Gatlinburg during May

Pink Jeep Tour

Pink Jeep Tour in the Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountain Pink Jeep Tour began in 1960 and has been exceedingly popular ever since. They provide a thorough and guided tour of the most notable sites in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Each tour guide has ample knowledge about every noteworthy aspect of the Smokies and patiently answers any questions the tourists may raise, providing them with the most reliable information as they witness scenic views and have off-road experiences in town.

The length of each tour varies between 2-3 hours, and the ticket price for an adult is around $64-74. However, guests are free to select the spot they would like to explore from Newfound Gap, Roaring Fork, Valleys and Views, and Foothills Parkway tours.

Scenic Helicopter Tours

scenic helicopter tours

The Scenic Helicopter Tours is one of the most expensive tours in Gatlinburg, but they also guarantee a life-altering experience. Hence they are worth every penny.

Conducting each tour is a team of highly skilled professionals who value your safety and enjoyment over everything else. Scenic Helicopter Tours offer a bird’s eye view of the sprawling beauty of the Smoky Mountains from a helicopter.

You can choose the area you wish to examine and then prepare to have your mind blown by the majestic beauty of Gatlinburg.

Some Scenic Helicopter Tours also provide surprisingly cheap rates, beginning as low as $29 per person. Also, there is no age restriction to ride, so you do not have to worry about what your children will do while you conduct a tour.

Instead, this tour can be an ideal opportunity for the entire family to get together and bond over the panoramic views of the Smokies.

The trips vary in length from 8 miles to 90 miles long. Moreover, the prices rise with an increase in the length of the tour.

Gatlinburg Comedy Tours

gatlinburg comedy tours
Image: Gatlinburg Comedy Tours

The Gatlinburg comedy tours provide a unique experience for the entire family. A knowledgeable and amiable tour guide leads the guests on a journey through downtown Gatlinburg.

Throughout the stroll, he apprises guests about the history and culture of the most popular sites while cracking jokes to guarantee the ambiance is light and funny instead of dull and factual. In this manner, guests learn about Gatlinburg while reeling with laughter.

This program offers family-friendly walking tours and 21+ adult walking tours with additional entertainment. Each tour is usually 90 minutes long, and you can either assemble your tour group consisting of 10 members or enter one of the gatherings that the tour guide arranges for you and the other guests.

The family-friendly tour features amusing games for the kids to indulge in while the journey continues. The guide will also stop at joints offering delectable edibles like the Donut Friar and All Sauced Up so you can munch on snacks and replenish your energy.

On the other hand, the 21+ tours feature a skilled, entertaining, and mature guide who will present some of Gatlinburg’s most delightful places to you, primarily focusing on joints that provide entertainment for adults. 21 And Up Tours typically last for 2 hours.

These tours will direct the guests to many local “sampling” spots. The guests will also get to taste tantalizing food at many of the hot spots in Gatlinburg. This tour will also organize parties and romantic nights for young couples to remember forever.

Redneck Comedy Bus Tours

the redneck bus tour
Image: The Redneck Bus

The redneck bus tour of the Smoky Mountains is unlike anything you have ever experienced before. It offers a chance to tourists to survey the Smoky Mountains in a “redneck” style.

This tour unites people based on a good sense of humor and helps differentiate between a true redneck and a hillbilly. It also highlights the distinction between popular drinks like Moonshine, White Lightning, and Mountain Dew.

So if you have ever wondered about the similarities and contrasts between these drinks or hillbillies and rednecks, this tour is an ideal opportunity to learn while laughing with the local rednecks.

Absorb the gorgeous scenery, enjoy the warmth of May, and bond with the locals on the Redneck Comedy Bus Tours.

The best part is that the average ticket price for an adult is only $25-35, so you do not have to worry about spending too much either.

Best Free Things to do in Gatlinburg during May

Music in the Mountains Spring Parade

music in the mountains spring parade

The Music in the Mountains Spring Parade in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, celebrates the rich musical ancestry of the Smoky Mountains. In the past years, people referred to this event as the Dolly Parade or Dolly’s Homecoming Parade.

This event focuses on highlighting the Pigeon Forge theaters and invites talented singers, dancers, and actors from all over the city and other states to perform live and amuse guests at the Pigeon Forge theaters every night.

This parade is one of the most popular events in Gatlinburg, attracting as many as 50,000 viewers from all over America.

It is a reminder of the rich musical background of Gatlinburg and comes complete with performers, floats, and local high school marching bands.

Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival

gatlinburg beans and cornbread festival

This festival is a salutation to the rich culinary history of Appalachian culture. Presenting it to the public is The Bush Brothers & Company which takes immense pride in conducting this much-awaited event every year.

The event showcases a friendly cook-off with beans and cornbread between eager participants amid uplifting Appalachian music.

The onlookers get to witness how simple beans and cornbread can form culinary delicacies. The Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival reminds people of how these humble food items have been an essential part of the diet of Appalachian people since the beginning, and now there is a celebration to honor these staple foods.

Although the festival is free, those attending can buy a spoon for $10 and go about testing recipes from all the participants while the dishes they create remain. Children aged seven and under can taste the delicacies for free.

The famous restaurants, caterers, and food businesses in the area also celebrate the festival and prepare traditional recipes with beans and cornbread for the tourists to taste while contesting for top awards in the cook-off. To make things more pleasing for the guests, they also get to sample Bush’s Best with every dish.

Wilderness Wildlife Week

wilderness wildlife week

The annual Wilderness Wildlife Week is a free event occurring in Pigeon Forge. It is an ideal opportunity to gain knowledge about the flora, fauna, and people of the Great Smoky Mountains, who refer to this region as home.

The annual Wilderness Wildlife Week is a cherished event for people of all ages because it offers an insight into the history of the Smokies in a riveting manner.

There is an assortment of presentations, guided hikes, and vehicle tours of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for your amusement and learning.

Although it used to occur in January initially, now this event is set to happen in May as well. It promises free, family-friendly events and activities that will carry on for the entire week.

Each activity targets educating and grooming people to respect nature by learning about the past before ending with a Q&A session.

Barbecue and Bluegrass at Dollywood

barbecue and bluegrass at dollywood

The Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival at Dolly wood marks the unofficial beginning of summer.

It is an annual event in the Dolly wood theme park, and people wait excitedly for this event to start. It integrates the most flavourful barbecue in the South with the most prominent names in bluegrass music.

The city invites scores of talented musicians and performers and holds free concerts every day as long as the event lasts. Visitors enjoy mounds of pulled pork, barbecued chicken, and saucy ribs while listening to gifted performers produce great music during the free concerts.

Thus this event is perfect for you, whether you have been an ardent lover of bluegrass forever or are just developing an appreciation for this unique style of music. Dollywood always spares no expense in bringing in an award-winning list of bands.

Additionally, you gain free entry to all concerts with your ticket to the Dollywood theme park. All you need to do is scour the schedule and determine which singers you want to hear.

Locate your favored bluegrass performer and wait for the day to arrive!