Another one of the unconventional holidays we love is National Brown-Bag-It Day on May 25. It has a simple premise: pack yourself a lunch for work or school (or a picnic in the Smokies!) to save money and eat healthy. Two thumbs up for that! So in honor of National Brown-Bag-It Day, we’ve put together a list of some of the best picnic spots in the Smokies. They’ll get you out among the gorgeous scenery (and spring weather) of the Great Smoky Mountains and give you an opportunity to eat a little healthier.
The 11-mile loop road in Cades Cove is one of the most popular scenic drives in the Smokies. It was one of the first areas to be settled in the Smokies, and historic homesteads, churches, and buildings still stand today. With fields of wildflowers, gentle streams, wild turkeys and black bears, and the Smokies all around, it has something for history lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, kids, families, couples, and groups.
Cades Cove also has some great picnic spots for National Brown-Bag-It Day. There are 81 picnic sites in Cades Cove, open year-round. The picnic area is at the beginning (and end) of the loop road, and you can grab some snacks and drinks (including soft-serve ice cream) at the Cades Cove Campground Store. Pack up some sandwiches, fruits and veggies, or some cheese and crackers and enjoy an easy picnic lunch in the cove. Or get some veggie kabobs to toss on the grill!
Greenbrier is known for its diverse wildflowers, so spring picnics here are perfect. It features 12 small picnic sites, along with a large pavilion for up to 70 guests (reservations required). If your National Brown-Bag-It Day is a group affair, reserve the pavilion for a family reunion, rehearsal, or corporate retreat weekend!
Metcalf Bottoms picnic area also offers a 70-person picnic pavilion (reservations required), along with 120+ picnic sites. Set near the Little Pigeon River, it’s a great spot to enjoy a laid-back lunch. You’ll have picnic tables, grills, and a spot to dip your toes in the water after you eat!
The smallest picnic area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek features 10 picnic tables and easy access to hiking trails in the area. There are also some Class IV rapids close, so you can watch for kayakers on nice days.
Another favorite in the Smokies, The Chimneys picnic area offers lots of shade among the trees of the Great Smoky Mountains. It has 68 sites to choose from, all with picnic tables, easy parking, and grills. Restrooms are nearby, and it boasts a location on the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River – great for splashing around on warm spring and summer days.
Great for group picnics, the 55-person pavilion at the Cosby picnic area is peacefully situated among the trees. Enjoy a shaded National Brown-Bag-It Day with your group or take advantage of the 35 picnic sites here. You’ll find BBQ grills for charcoal fires and potable water (available at the restrooms).
Unconventional Picnic Spots for National Brown-Bag-It Day
You don’t have to get the typical picnic site to enjoy a picnic or brown-bag lunch on May 25. You can pack a lunch and head to The Island, where you can sit back in a rocking chair and watch the show fountain splash and light up. If you’re up for some high-flying fun, spend the morning on a tour at Smoky Mountain Ziplines and then enjoy your picnic lunch at the picnic tables on their covered porch. Pigeon Forge also has some beautiful city parks where you can throw a ball, hang out, and enjoy a picnic. Check out Patriot Park or Wear Farm City Park, with walking trails, playgrounds, and space to enjoy a sunny day in the Great Smoky Mountains. Or you can plan a whitewater rafting trip and then have a picnic lunch to refuel!