10 Ways to Stay Cool in the Smokies


Summer rays shining across the Great Smoky Mountains means gorgeous plant life, active animals, outdoor fun, and prime time to visit Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Now, it’s fine to pack up and rush out to play in the Smokies…but within a short while, you might notice the heat start to affect your good time without proper planning. But don’t worry. When it’s hot outside, there is plenty to do to stay cool and keep the good times rolling! 

1. Splash at Water Parks
One of the best ways to beat the summer heat in Pigeon Forge is to splash at water parks, namely Dollywood’s Splash Country and the up-and-coming Soaky Mountain Water Park. Both water parks boast slides, rides, a wave pool, private poolside cabanas, plus food and beverages. Splash Country offers a lazy river to float away, while Soaky Mountain has a wild adventure river! Either way, you’re sure to have a blast at these water parks with mountain views. 

2. Play at Pigeon Forge Snow
As the country’s first indoor snow park, Pigeon Forge Snow brings a whole new way to keep cool in the summertime. Yes, you can snow tube, build snow forts, make snow angels, and enjoy this winter treat in summer! With inside temps ranging between 60-70 degrees, you don’t even have to bring a jacket. The snow is 100% water, and there’s a snack bar to keep everyone energized to play in the snow.

3. Zorb at Outdoor Gravity Park
What is zorbing, you ask? Why it’s the latest fad straight from New Zealand. Basically, you hop into a giant inflatable ball with a splash of water and roll around adventure courses. It’s a neat and unique way to keep cool in the summertime. Not to mention, Outdoor Gravity Park is currently the only zorbing park in the nation, so it’s definitely a neat experience you won’t want to miss. 

See what it’s like to ZORB!

4. Swim in a Private Pool
Our favorite way to keep cool in the Great Smoky Mountains is to swim in a private indoor or outdoor pool at your cabin rental! Think about it…you’ll have an entire swimming pool all to yourself. You won’t have to worry about avoiding summer crowds, finding a good spot to put your things, or packing up essentials to take to the pool. You can play pool games with the kids, sip lemonade or cocktails poolside, and swim day or night!

Don’t want to splurge on a private pool? Opt for a cabin with community pool access. 

5. Explore the Little Pigeon River
Running right through town, the Little Pigeon River is a great place to cool off in summer.  There are plenty of access spots and pull-offs to pause and play. You can cast a line to fish, book a whitewater rafting or river tubing adventure, kayak or canoe downstream, or simply dip your toes into the water. As a bonus, you might spot cute ducks paddling along the river. 

6. Stroll Around Local Museums
One of the best ways to keep cool in the Smokies is to duck indoors for a spell. Our recommendation: local museums. Touch a real iceberg at the Titanic Museum Attraction, experience edutainment (educational + entertainment) at WonderWorks, learn about infamous crimes at Alcatraz East, pose with celebrities at the Hollywood Wax Museum, and see oddities from around the world at Ripley’s Odditorium.

7. Eat Ice Cream!
Both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have plenty of ice cream and frozen yogurt to keep you cool in summer, from homemade classics and vegan options to name brands and even curled ice cream! Enjoy your favorite flavors at the following.

  • The Old Mill Creamery 
  • SweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt
  • Mad Dog’s Creamery
  • Curl de la Crème
  • Marble Slab Creamery
  • Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard
  • Buzzed Bull Creamery
  • Baskin-Robbins
  • Sweet Sensations Ice Cream Parlor
  • The Apple Valley Creamery
  • Pearl’s Pie in the Sky at Anakeesta
  • Ben & Jerry’s 
  • Mayfield Dairy Bar
  • Kilwin’s Chocolates
  • Chocolate Monkey

8. Ice-Skate at Ober Gatlinburg
Skating on ice will surely cool you down on a hot summer day in the Smokies. At Ober Gatlinburg, there’s an indoor ice-skating rink that’s open year-round so you can strap on some skates and soar across the ice no matter the weather or season. There’s a handrail around the rink for new skaters, and rental skates are available. For more icy fun, try their ice bumper cars! 

9. Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Plan a full day of water play at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg. Not only will you be inside and away from beaming summer rays, but you’ll also have a ton of underwater entertainment. See mermaids dive, watch penguins paint, spend one-on-one time with Sally the Sea Turtle, splash with rays, pet moon jellies, ride in the glass-bottom boat across Shark Lagoon, and walk beneath the sea. 

10. Plunge into Douglas Lake 
Keeping cool outside in the Smokies is never easier than when you spend a day at Douglas Lake. Bring your swimsuits, jet skis, boat, fishing gear, and floats to splash and play in the water. Pigeon Forge TN Cabins even has cabin rentals that are right on the lake so you can enjoy lake views every day. You can even host a summer barbecue party, complete with a gas/charcoal grill, outdoor table, beer, and snacks from the full kitchen. 

Now that you know the best ways to keep cool in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in summer, start planning your vacation before summertime fun in the Smokies slips away.