17 Things to Do in Gatlinburg in October (Fall 2023)

fall foliage Smoky Mountains

Are you planning a trip to downtown Gatlinburg during the fall season? The cooler temperatures during the autumn months allow visitors to enjoy outdoor activities without having to struggle through the heat and humidity that summer brings.

If you’re planning a fall vacation to the Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge area, you’ll be pleased to know that these East Tennessee communities go all-out in the months of September, October, and November. Whether you’re looking to take in the beautiful fall foliage of the Smoky Mountains or enjoy some spooky events for Halloween, you’ll find all kinds of fun things to do in Gatlinburg in October and beyond.

In this post, we will provide the top attractions in Gatlinburg, TN in October. So, you can make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun on your next fall vacation to the Smokies!

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

fall foliage in Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular places in the United States to enjoy the fall foliage. According to the National Park Service, the trees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park tend to display their peak colors at different times. Those trees at higher elevations reach their peak color in mid-September through mid October while trees sitting at lower elevations peak in mid-October through mid-November.

2. The Legend of Hallow Mountain

The Legend of Hallow Mountain at Anakeesta is one of Gatlinburg’s many fun events that takes place during the months of September and October. Visitors can enjoy kid-friendly entertainment like crafts, characters, decorations, and treats. Older kids can get into the Halloween spirit at the spooky Hallow Mountain Graveyard and while ziplining with zombies.

3. Ghost Walk of Gatlinburg

Ghost Walk of Gatlinburg is a year-round attraction, yet the fall season is the perfect time to experience this spooky activity. Guests are joined by a tour guide as they walk through the streets of Gatlinburg to hear all about the haunted places in the downtown area.

4. Oktoberfest

If you’re searching for traditional Bavarian festivals in Gatlinburg, look no further than Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg! Beginning in mid-September and running throughout the month of October, Ober Gatlinburg features German inspired food, live entertainment, beer sampling, and more.

platter of German food

Visitors to Ober Gatlinburg during the fall season can also enjoy beautiful autumn colors while riding the aerial tramway up the mountain. Families can experience many fun attractions at Ober Gatlinburg, including indoor ice skating, ice bumper cars, an alpine slide, a mountain coaster, and more!

5. Gatlinburg’s Mysterious Mansion

Although this haunted house is open year-round, the Mysterious Mansion becomes extra spooky for Halloween. With special Halloween presentations available during weekends in October, Gatlinburg’s Mysterious Mansion is a great spot to find thrills and frights.

6. Fall at The Island

Ferris wheel at The Island at Pigeon Forge

Sitting just outside the Gatlinburg area in Pigeon Forge, The Island is full of fun rides, games, restaurants, and shops. During the fall months, The Island in Pigeon Forge goes all out with autumn decorations, foods, beverages, and photo ops.

7. Trick or Treat Kickoff Karnival

Each Halloween, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies hosts a Trick or Treat Kickoff Karnival. Visitors are encouraged to come dressed in costume to trick or treat for candy and to win prizes.

8. Escape Rooms

Gatlin’s Escape Games is a fun activity year-round, but Halloween is the perfect time to experience the escape rooms. With spooky challenges for visitors to solve, Gatlin’s Escape Games is a great time for the whole family.

9. Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival

The town of Gatlinburg goes all-out each autumn with a long-running fall festival. The Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival begins in mid-September and runs through the month of October and into November. Visitors can enjoy fall decorations throughout the city as they experience seasonal activities and food options.

10. Autumn Adventures

skylift above mountains

Autumn Adventures at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park begins in late September and spans the entire month of October. Visitors can enjoy fall decorations and fun things like live music, Halloween lights, and photo ops.

11. Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen’s Fair

The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair takes place in October at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. This special event attracts craftsmen from all over the United States to display their hand-made products.

12. Trop Rockin’ in the Smokys Monster Mash Monster Splash

Trop Rockin’ in the Smokys Monster Mash Monster Splash is held outside Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and is a fun event for the whole family. This four-day music festival at the end of October features live entertainment from tropical rock musicians.

13. Dollywood Harvest Festival

Dollywood roller coaster

Beginning in mid-September and stretching through late October, Dollywood Theme Park hosts a Harvest Festival. This annual event features seasonal foods, beverages, and decor throughout the park. In the evenings, the Dollywood Park turns into a nighttime spectacle as it displays tons of pumpkin sculptures for the event: Great Pumpkin LumiNights at Dollywood.

14. Pigeon Forge Halloween Spooktacular

The Pigeon Forge Halloween Spooktacular is an annual event hosted at the Pigeon Forge Community Center. Guests can come dressed in costume to trick or treat in a non-scary environment. This event is perfect for toddlers and small kids!

15. Halloween Trick or Treat at The Island

The event, Halloween Trick or Treat at the Island, takes place in Pigeon Forge and is full of family fun! Families can enjoy activities like trick or treating, fountain shows, and live music.

16. Ripley’s Fright Nights

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure hosts Ripley’s Fright Nights each weekend during the month of October. Visitors can enjoy a character parade and a tour of the haunted house. This activity is great for older kids, but it may be scary for little ones.

17. Gatlinburg’s Space Needle

space needle towering above trees and town

The best way to enjoy a view of spectacular fall colors is to visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Here, visitors can ride a glass elevator to the observation tower. Autumn is the best time to enjoy this panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains as the fall foliage provides picture perfect scenery. 

Where to Stay in Gatlinburg

Whether you’re planning a visit over a long weekend in October or you’re looking to spend an entire week over fall break, Gatlinburg offers plenty of accommodations for visitors. Families planning to spend time at Dollywood and the Pigeon Forge area can check out the Dreammore Resort at Dollywood.

This hotel features great amenities like numerous restaurants, pools, and activities. If you’re looking to stay at a hotel closer to the downtown Gatlinburg area, these are our top picks:

Additionally, families who are looking for additional space that a vacation home provides will want to check out VRBO.

VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) allows you to rent cabins and homes in the Smoky Mountains for really great rates. You can even narrow down your search options to vacation rentals with private pools, game rooms, hot tubs, etc.

Final Thoughts on Gatlinburg TN in October

Although visitors can enjoy Gatlinburg attractions year-round, the fall months are the perfect time to plan a trip to this area. Families can find all sorts of seasonal activities to experience during their fall break vacations during the month of October.

If you are looking to avoid some of the crowds, you can often visit the Smoky Mountains in late September or early November and still get a feel for the fall events and scenery. Also, if you’re going to be in the Nashville area during the Halloween season, check out our post on the best haunted places in Nashville!

So, what do you think? What are the best things to do in Gatlinburg in October? Comment below to share your ideas with us!

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