Gatlinburg is a premiere tourist destination with around 12 million visitors each year. You may be wondering if you come when it is raining what sort of things you can do on a rainy day in Gatlinburg–with an annual Gatlinburg rainfall being around 54 inches there is a good chance it will rain on your visit.
To help you get the most out of your visit regardless of the weather we have put together a list of the best things to do in Gatlinburg on a rainy day.
Top Things To Do In Gatlinburg on a Rainy Day
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
- Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater
- Pancake Pantry
- Ole Smoky Distillery
- Hollywood Star Cars Museum
- Gatlinburg Pinball Museum
- Arcade City
- Amazing Mirror Maze
- Mysterious Mansion
- The Village
- Wild Plum Tea Room
- Alpine Axe House
- Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
- Wild Bear Falls Water Park
- Nantahala Outdoor Center
- Earthquake the Ride
When you’re looking for something to do with kids on a rainy day in Gatlinburg, or you’re a kid at heart, a trip to Ripley’s is sure to impress.
There are several Ripley’s establishments in town, but the Odditorium is the most famous of them all. The museum houses 16 themed galleries displaying the strangest oddities known to man, so it’s easy to spend a whole afternoon wandering through the exhibits.
Kids will forget about the weather outside as they’re consumed by the wonders within!
If you’d like to get your hands wet (but not necessarily the rest of your body), check out Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
The aquarium extends across two floors and features exciting attractions like Shark Lagoon and Touch a Ray Bay, where you can interact with the gentle marine animals.
The exhibits are as educational as they are fun, and there are also special live shows and events frequently held at the aquarium.
From penguin encounters to glass-bottom boat adventures to mermaid shows, there’s enough to keep the whole family entertained for an entire rainy day.
Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater won’t last all day, but it is a great indoor attraction where you can escape the rain for a little while!
The moving theater offers an immersive experience where guests can watch a movie and feel like they’re in it. The motion seats and digital effects are fun for all ages and operate no matter the weather outside.
Sometimes, the best way to spend a rainy day on vacation is indoors exploring the local culinary scene. There are endless great restaurants and cafes in town, but the Pancake Pantry is one of the most iconic.
Gatlinburg is a superstar on the pancake scene thanks to this place, which originally opened its doors in 1960 as the first pancake house in Tennessee.
There are 24 varieties of hotcakes on offer, including sweet and savory flavors, and they’re paired with only fresh ingredients like real butter, maple syrup, and whipped cream.
The establishment is open every day from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. and has both a breakfast and lunch menu.
No visit to the Smoky Mountains is complete without a sample of Moonshine, an aged whisky that was once prohibited in Gatlinburg.
Ole Smoky Distillery is one of several whisky distilleries in town and is an excellent place to spend a rainy morning or afternoon.
The distillery runs free tours seven days a week, which all ages can participate in to learn about the history of Moonshine in the Smoky Mountains (you have to be 21 or older to sample any whisky, of course!).
There’s also a gift shop on the premises where you can pick up some merchandise to commemorate your visit.
You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to enjoy the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. Rainy outside or not, this is an excellent way to spend time in Gatlinburg.
The museum displays some of the most famous cars in the history of pop culture, including those that have appeared in iconic movies and TV shows, and those owned by celebrities.
Conveniently located on Parkway, the museum houses the 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura from Ghostbusters, “Dragula” from the Munsters TV series, and the Flintstone-Mobile from the 1994 live adaptation of The Flintstones.
There are more than just cars in the museum keep an eye out for the Terminator’s 1991 Harley Davidson Fatboy.
The Gatlinburg Pinball Museum is a must for lovers of the iconic arcade game and will convert those who haven’t fallen in love yet.
The museum features a huge variety of pinball games, so visitors can easily spend hours playing without having to brave the rain outside. Many of the games in the collection are limited edition games that even diehard pinball fans might not have played anywhere else.
There are discount prices available for children under 10, so it’s a great attraction for the whole family.
8. Arcade City
If you want to explore other arcade games besides pinball, Arcade City is for you. In addition to vintage games like pinball, there are innovative arcade games that you can play until your heart’s content (or until it stops raining!).
There’s also a collection of claw machines where you can win prizes, plus other games that reward players with tickets which can then be used to exchange for prizes.
Endless family-fun attractions now line Gatlinburg’s famous Parkway, but the Amazing Mirror Maze was the first of its kind in the mountain town. It also remains the largest mirror maze in Gatlinburg.
The maze is illuminated with a thrilling light show that makes traversing it even more fun. After, you can also play 18 holes of mini golf or experience the 7D Wild West-inspired Shoot Em’ Up Cinema.
Gray, rainy weather outdoors creates the perfect eerie conditions to visit the Mysterious Mansion. Known as Gatlinburg’s “most terrifying haunted attraction”, the mansion pays homage to the town’s ghostly history.
Participants take self-guided tours through the dark mansion in small groups, where they’ll run into more than a few surprises lurking in the shadows.
The best time to visit the mansion is in the lead-up to Halloween, as there are usually special spooky events held. You may get scared inside, but you won’t get wet!
11. The Village
There’s no better way to spend a rainy day than shopping. The Village is Gatlinburg’s premiere retail destination, offering 27 specialty shops selling everything from toys to pet supplies.
There are also places to stop for a coffee or a snack in the village, including the famous Donut Friar donut shop. And the European-inspired architecture and decorations will make you feel like you’ve landed in a fairy tale as you weave in and out of the shops.
The Wild Plum Tea Room is another Gatlinburg establishment you won’t want to miss. A hot cup of tea pairs particularly well with cold or rainy weather, and the décor of the tea room will transport you to the old-world tea houses of the Alps.
The restaurant’s menu is based on family favorites, plus a range of teas and muffins. The main dining area is warm and cozy, and an ideal place to pass a chilly afternoon indoors.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and there are vegan and gluten-free options available.
13. Alpine Axe House
Looking for something a bit different to do in Gatlinburg on a rainy day? The Alpine Axe House offers endless fun in a safe, secure (and dry!) environment.
The lanes feature projected target systems so even participants without any throwing experience can aim their shots. The Axe House is located in the heart of town and is super convenient to visit if it’s raining.
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum isn’t only a great way to spend a rainy day it’s also only $3 to enter, making it one of the most affordable attractions in Gatlinburg.
The museum houses more than 20,000 varieties of salt and pepper shakers, and there’s also an extensive collection for sale in the gift shop.
Cold and rainy weather may stop you from swimming in other destinations, but not in Gatlinburg! The Wild Bear Falls Water Park has heated pools and a retractable roof, so you can swim no matter the temperature outside.
Part of the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort, the park features several areas of fun for all ages, including a lazy river and an interactive treehouse. There are also two large water slides for guests seeking an adrenaline rush!
The Nantahala Outdoor Center may sell equipment for the outdoors, but it’s set up entirely inside, making it perfect for a rainy day visit.
You can pick up everything you need here for a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while also enjoying the attractions inside the store.
Look out for the swinging rope bridge, the oversized fireplace, the rock wall that visitors can climb for $5, and a “bear cave” for kids to explore.
Earthquake the Ride is one of Gatlinburg’s well-known attractions. Located in the downtown area, the ride simulates a subway train disrupted by an earthquake and is fun for both kids and adults.
The ride only takes a few minutes, but this could be a great option for staying dry if there’s a short and heavy downpour! The ride opens at 10 a.m. every day.
Best Tours In Gatlinburg for a Rainy Day
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just minutes from Gatlinburg and the town’s starring attraction.
Sadly, rainy weather doesn’t exactly make for a positive park experience in most cases. But if you plan on just driving through and absorbing the picturesque views from the comfort of your vehicle, a self-guided driving tour is a great idea in rain or shine.
Operated through the Action Tour Guide app, this self-driving tour starts at just $10 per person and departs from Gatlinburg. Drivers follow a planned route through the park while hearing fascinating narration about the park’s history.
The app also offers animated videos to complement the narration and broaden your understanding of the park’s legacy.
Indoor tours and events are ideal when the weather is rainy in Gatlinburg. The Impossibilities magic show is one of the town’s most popular ticketed events and a fantastic way to spend a wet night in.
The show takes place in the Iris Theater, in the lobby of the Gatlinburg Space Needle, and stars magicians Chris Collins and Erik Dobell.
A celebration of magic, mind reading, and mayhem, the show is appropriate for all ages and features exciting audience participation.
Free Things To Do In Gatlinburg on a Rainy Day
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is best suited to a sunny day, but there are still things to do within the park that are great for rainy weather.
The Sugarlands Visitor Center, which is located just two miles south of Gatlinburg on U.S. 441, will fully immerse travelers in the culture, history, and ecosystems of the park.
Here, you’ll find animal exhibits, an informative museum, and expert rangers that frequently offer talks and programs.
There’s also a 20-minute movie that educates about the park and an official park gift shop. Best of all, the visitor center is completely free!
Visiting the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen is a rite of passage in Gatlinburg. And given that the two kitchen locations are indoors, there’s no better time to visit than during a downpour.
The business dates back to the 1950s and has expanded to become a beloved part of Gatlinburg’s legacy.
You can purchase 33 varieties of homemade taffy, fudge, caramel apples, pralines, and a plethora of other sweets. After buying your candy, you can watch the staff producing more in the factory behind the glass!
A visit to the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen is one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg on a rainy day and is totally free.
With heritage architecture and shining lights, the streets are just as beautiful in Gatlinburg when it’s raining. And one of the best ways to see them, rain or shine, is the Gatlinburg Trolley.
The trolley takes visitors slowly around the town, stopping at a number of convenient points along the way.
It’s a great way to take in the sights of the town while you find your way around and will ensure you don’t get wet when it’s raining (at least until you hop off!).
The trolley is free and fun to ride, so it can be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon even if you haven’t got a destination in mind.