There’s something magical about the Smoky Mountains in the summer (well, if we’re being honest, the Smokies are always a bit magical). The air is filled with a sense of adventure and excitement as the beautiful landscape comes alive with vibrant colors, lush greenery and the buzzing of nature, hard at work. The Smokies offer the perfect setting for a memorable summer day filled with breathtaking views, delicious food, and enjoyable outings, just waiting to be explored. If you’re planning the perfect late summer getaway to the Smokies and want to make the most of your time, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll provide you with some tips and ideas for the perfect Smoky Mountain day, from sunrise to sunset, ensuring that you make the most of every moment in this enchanting destination.
Catch a Glorious Sunrise
Start your perfect summer day by waking up early and witnessing a stunning sunrise in the Smokies. There’s something truly breathtaking about watching the world come alive as the first rays of sunlight break through the mist-covered peaks. It’s a moment of tranquility and beauty that sets the tone for an unforgettable day and will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
Two incredible spots to consider for this wonderful event are Clingmans Dome and the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook. Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers those willing to make the drive with unparalleled views that stretch as far as the eye can see. While it requires a hike from the parking lot, the awe-inspiring panoramic sights are well worth the effort. As the sun rises, watch in awe as the golden hues of morning illuminate the lush landscape in hues of gold and amber. If the hike is too challenging, especially that early in the morning, the view from the parking lot is almost as spectacular and will still provide a wonderful outlook for the early morning lights display.
For a more convenient and accessible option, visit the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook located on the Parkway Bypass, just outside the city. From this vantage point, you can marvel at the Smoky Mountain sunrise painting the sky with vivid hues as the charming mountain town of Gatlinburg awaken. Be sure to arrive early to secure a good spot, as this overlook tends to be popular. As the colors of the sunrise dance across the mountains, you’ll understand why this is a must-see experience.
Have a Hearty Breakfast
After immersing yourself in the beauty of a Smoky Mountain sunrise, satisfy your hunger with a delicious breakfast at one of these local favorites: Crockett’s Breakfast Camp or Log Cabin Pancake House. These beloved establishments have become breakfast icons in the Smokies – providing hearty meals to fuel your day of adventure.
Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, located just outside the park entrance on the Parkway in Gatlinburg, is known for its rustic charm and generous portions. Step inside and be transported back in time as you settle down for a good, old fashion breakfast complete with rustic décor and historical touches. Indulge in fluffy pancakes, savory scrambles, and fresh baked goods that will leave you energized and ready for the adventures ahead.
Alternatively, the Log Cabin Pancake House has been a staple in the Smoky Mountains community since 1976. This family-owned establishment takes pride in serving up breakfast classics with a touch of southern hospitality. Whether you’re craving old-fashioned flapjacks, French-style crepes, or their famous scrambles, you’ll find a wide array of delicious options to satisfy your appetite and set you right for the rest of your jam-packed-day.
Keep Cool During the Afternoon Heat
As the day heats up, find ways to stay cool and enjoy some indoor activities. The Smoky Mountains offer a wealth of attractions that provide a respite from the summer heat while keeping you entertained. For example, the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, is a perfect (and cool) entertainment option for young and old visitors alike to explore. Step into a world of wonder as you journey through the various exhibits showcasing a wide range of marine life. Encounter colorful fish, majestic sea turtles, and playful penguins in their natural habitats. From the underwater tunnel to the interactive touch tanks, the aquarium offers an immersive experience that will captivate visitors of all ages.
For the adult wanderers looking to cool off with a refreshing beverage, make a stop at the Sugarlands Distilling Company for sips of some of the best local libations around. This unique establishment combines the art of distilling with the rich history of moonshining in the Smoky Mountains. Take a guided tour to learn about the distillation process and the fascinating history behind the different spirits they produce. Sample their handcrafted moonshine, whiskey, and other spirits, or enjoy a craft cocktail in their welcoming tasting room.
Afterward, take a leisurely stroll through the Village Shoppes for some window-shopping and treasure hunting. This charming outdoor shopping area is home to a variety of boutiques, specialty shops and art galleries. Find unique gifts and souvenirs, from handmade crafts to locally sourced products, for your loved ones back home (as well as for yourself). Afterwards, indulge in a cool treat or snack from one of the local eateries, like an old-fashion malt or specialty soda from Maddi Mae’s Café and Creamery, and take a moment to relax in one of the cozy seating areas.
Enjoy the Evening at Anakeesta
As the day transitions into the evening, venture up to Anakeesta for a delightful dining experience and nighttime adventure. Perched high above Gatlinburg, Anakeesta offers breathtaking views and a host of activities that come alive after 5 pm. Choose from a myriad of fantastic options for dinner including the Clifftop or Smokehouse Smoky Mountain Restaurant, both of which included unbeatable views as you eat. Clifftop offers an elevated dining experience with a menu featuring seasonal ingredients and creative dishes while, alternatively, the Smokehouse specializes in mouthwatering barbecue classics, including pulled pork, ribs, and smoked chicken. As you savor your meal, take in the panoramic vistas of the Smoky Mountains stretching before you as the evening sun falls below the horizon.
After dinner, get ready for an evening of enchantment and wonder at Anakeesta. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking experience of Astra Lumina, a mesmerizing nighttime walk that combines cutting-edge technology with captivating storytelling and artistic brilliance. As you wander through the illuminated forest, you’ll be transported amongst the stars to a other-worldly realm filled with wonder and awe.
For those seeking a more hands-on adventure, Anakeesta offers an exhilarating adventure course, for the young and young at heart. Test your agility, balance, and problem-solving skills as you navigate the course under the starry sky and the glow of hundreds of fairy lights. It’s a delightful time that will delight anyone who gives it a whirl. To cap off your Anakeesta experience, wander along the Canopy Treetop Skywalk, the longest tree-based skywalk in North America, and feel like you’re walking amongst the Smoky Mountain treetops. It’s the perfect spot to take a quiet moment to revel in the serenity and beauty of the Smoky Mountains at night. With the soft rustling of leaves and the warm, gentle breeze the tranquil memories you make here will linger for a lifetime.
Relax at Your Own Mountain Retreat
After a day filled with incredible experiences, it’s time to unwind and relax in the comfort of Parkside Resort. Nestled in the lush Smoky Mountains, Parkside Resort offers guests the perfect balance of privacy, luxury and convenience. Enjoy the privacy of your own secluded forest retreat while being just minutes away from all the attractions and excitement the city has to offer.
At Parkside Resort, our unbeatable amenities and unmatched accommodations will ensure your stay is as luxurious and enjoyable as possible. Take a dip in one of the two pools, grab a delicious bite to eat at the on-site grill, and beat the heat by relaxing inside your air-conditioned cabin. Whether you choose to take in the breathtaking views or enjoy a movie in the home-theater, Parkside Resort ensures your Smoky Mountain getaway is truly unforgettable. So, use this guide to plan your perfect summer day in the Smokies, and create unforgettable memories in one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. The Smoky Mountains await your arrival!