Do you want to visit the Smoky Mountains but worry that COVID-19 will interrupt your fun? Have no fear- there are still plenty of enchanting (and safe!) things to see and do in the region. Here are a few local activities that you can enjoy while social distancing.
Hiking is the perfect way to experience all of the natural beauty that can be found in the Smokies. As an added bonus, it is easy to make hiking contact-free! The Smokies have a trail to suit anyone's needs. If you are an experienced hiker looking to tackle a challenging trail, you could try the Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte. Families with young children will enjoy Metcalf Bottoms Trail, which features multiple creek crossings and an old school house. Hikers of all skill levels will love trekking to Laurel Falls, a beautiful little waterfall at the end of a well-marked trail!
Pictured: Laurel Falls
A theme park may not seem like the best choice for a pandemic-era excursion, but Dollywood has truly gone above and beyond when it comes to making positive changes to insure guest safety. Hand sanitizer is required before every activity, and rows are being kept open on rides in order to allow guests to stay separated. On top of that, admission has been limited, and all guests over the age of 3 are required to wear masks. At Dollywood, you can get your adrenaline fix on a rollercoaster, eat some world-famous cinnamon bread, and learn why Tennesseans are so in love with Dolly Parton, all the while resting assured that your health is being well-protected.
Ride a Horse
There are a number of stables in the Smoky Mountain region where visitors can experience nature from the back of a horse. Cades Cove Riding Stables is suitable for riders of all experience levels and limits guided groups to nine guests, so it is a great option for people who are trying to stay safe while exploring the region.
Pictured: Horses in Gatlinburg
In Tennessee, moonshine is an art form. The Smokies have no shortage of moonshine distilleries, so it is the perfect place to learn about the spirit. Doc Collier Moonshine, Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery, Sevier Distilling Company, and Sugarlands Distilling Company are all open for business and ready to help you dive into the world of moonshine. Of course, if moonshine isn't your cup of tea, you could always stop by one of the region's many wineries, or Tennessee Cider Co.!
Take in the Views
If you're looking for a calmer way to see the Smokies, there are many ways to immerse yourself in the landscape without overexerting yourself. One of my favorite things to do in the region is drive. The Foothills Parkway is my most frequented route, but Cades Cove Loop Road, Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, and Little River Road are equally beautiful scenic drives. Other ways to see the mountains from above include the Gatlinburg Space Needle or the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. Be warned, however; all of these views are liable to take your breath away!
Pictured: Clingmans Dome