Beginning in October, the hills of the Smoky Mountains are painted with the colors of fall. Red, orange and yellow leaves set the landscape ablaze with beauty and cool temperatures offer families on vacation a warm welcome.
It’s the perfect setting for both indoor and outdoor activities—and this time of year the choices are plentiful.
Smoky Mountains Harvest Festival
The Smoky Mountains Harvest Festival begins in late September and runs through early November. During this time, downtown Gatlinburg is adorned with bountiful fall decorations. The city is also alive with activities that make the Smoky Mountains one of the top destinations for fall vacations.
Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg
If you’re in the mood to party Bavarian style, let the good times flow during Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg. To join the celebration, you’ll need to take the Gatlinburg Aerial Tram up the mountain. Once you arrive, indoor and outdoor beer gardens, music plus live daily entertainment will all be waiting for you. Be sure to bring your appetite for tempting treats like brats, pretzels, schnitzel and other authentic German food. In addition to the festivities and feasts, you’ll also be surrounded by gorgeous views of fall foliage stretching out for miles across the Smoky Mountains. You’ll definitely want to put on some lederhosen and raise a stein for this event.
Ripley’s Fright Nights
There’s no reason to avoid things that go bump in the night when you can run right into them during Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. This hauntingly exciting attraction features creepy sideshow freaks, unusually curious characters and an assortment of odd creatures lurking in the darkness. It’s an up-close-and-personal encounter with all kinds of scary creatures so make sure your little ghouls and boos stay at home for this one. The nights of frights and screams are available for a limited time throughout the month of October. FYI: Ripley’s Haunted Adventure is open 365 days a year—just in case you can’t scare up the courage to go during Halloween.
Located in the Iris Theater at Gatlinburg Space Needle, Shocktober is a spooktacular Halloween extravaganza filled with eeriness, weird coincidences and strange happenings. The experience is sure to send hair raising chills up and down your spine. A ritual at this annual event includes screenings of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic black and white horror films from the 1950s. These movies are cult classics and a must see during your Smoky Mountains vacation. There’s also a tribute to master illusionist/escape artist Harry Houdini who passed away on Halloween night in 1926. Speaking of magic, there’s a twisted show guaranteed to keep you guessing, laughing and frightened all at the same time.
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
If you’re looking for totally unique gift ideas, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is one the most creative places to shop during the fall season.
For last 50 years, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair has been showcasing the talents of both local and visiting artisans inside the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Explore more than 200 booths featuring handmade creations up for sale during this two-week exhibition. While you’re checking things out, you’ll be able to enjoy the sounds of live country and bluegrass music. From glass blown projects and metal works to pottery, painting and freshly baked goods, you’ll find it all at this craft show.
Cades Cove Hayrides
Cades Cove can be found in an isolated valley surrounded by lush mountains. With such an outstanding atmosphere, it’s not surprising that hayrides are always in high demand. Among the most popular are guided tours. These excursions on tractor-driven trailers are perfect for large groups and traverse Cades Cove Loop Road. Passengers sit on hay-covered wagons that depart from Cades Cove Riding Stables on 1.5 – 2 hour tours. Because these are open air tours, weather can change rapidly, so dress accordingly. Of course being out in the open provides unmatched views of the spectacular landscape, which is one of the best reasons to embark on a journey through the Smoky Mountains.
Celebrate fall with a resort stay in the Smokies. Spend a week there, and explore all that the mountains have to offer. See you there!
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