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Stream in the Smoky Mountains national park

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Located at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee offers many opportunities for outdoor adventures. If a rainy forecast puts the brakes on your plans to explore the great outdoors, however, you definitely won’t be bored! Our charming city is absolutely loaded with awesome indoor activities that are fun for guests of all ages. To help you make the most of your next vacation, The Appy Lodge has put together a guide to six of the best indoor attractions in Gatlinburg TN.

Over 11 million people visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year. In fact, the Smokies are the most visited national park in the United States! Blessed with 900 miles of gorgeous hiking trails, numerous scenic roads, lovely picnic areas, and spectacular wildlife viewing, it’s no wonder that the Great Smoky Mountains are so popular. Of course, another reason so many people come to the Smokies each year is that the national park is completely free to enter.

Attracting over 2 million visitors each year, Cades Cove is the most popular section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located about an hour away from downtown Gatlinburg, TN, Cades Cove is famous for its well-preserved historic buildings, lovely mountain vistas, and unrivaled wildlife viewing. All of the valley’s major landmarks are conveniently located along an 11-mile loop road, which makes the Cove ideal for auto touring.

We are excited to report that Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has received a major honor! The popular Gatlinburg aquarium took second place in USA Today’s list of the 10 Best Aquariums in North America. To compile the list, the newspaper's team of experts selected ten finalists and opened up the voting to the readers of USA Today. Ripley’s Aquarium earned more votes than many other notable aquariums, including the Georgia Aquarium, Dallas World Aquarium, The Florida Aquarium, and the Vancouver Aquarium.

If you have visited Gatlinburg, TN, you can confirm that the name “Smoky Mountains” is a great fit! Spanning across East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, this subrange of the Appalachian Mountains features a distinct smoky haze that has inspired countless artists, songwriters, and vacationers. Before Euro-Americans arrived in the region, the Cherokee referred to the area as “Schconage” (Sha-Kon-O-Hey), which means “land of the blue smoke.” Early white settlers took inspiration from the Cherokee when they named the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are located nearby.