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14 Special Things To Do in the Smoky Mountains in January

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Christmas is over and the winter has set in for the Smoky Mountains. Does that mean there’s no more fun to be had in these Appalachian mountains until the Spring? Absolutely not.

In fact, winter in the Smoky Mountains can be one of the best times to break away from the winter doldrums and enjoy smaller crowds. Here’s our list of special things to do in the Smoky Mountains in January.

14 Special Things To Do in the Smoky Mountains in January

What Is There To Do In The Smoky Mountains in January?

If you are looking for a few inspirational ideas for things to do in the Smoky Mountains in January, try these on for size.

Anakeesta’s Enchanted Winter

Every winter, Anakeesta goes from an enchanted place to an even more enchanted winter wonderland. When night time comes this mountain village transforms into the stuff of which dreams are made.

You can gather around the fire with friends for some hot chocolate or a hot toddy or take a stroll through the village in search of a delicious meal or perfect snack.

Drive Through Cades Cove With A Much Smaller Crowd

If you know anything about the Smoky Mountains and “things NOT TO MISS in the Smoky Mountains”, you’ve know that Cades Cove is on every single bucket list. As you can imagine, that means that EVERYONE and THEIR BROTHER wants to head to Cades Cove when visiting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This can mean if you don’t get their super early, you may well be sitting for upwards of 4-6 hours in your car moving at a snails pace. That is why January is a perfect time of year to visit Cades Cove. The crowds will be markedly smaller as it’s generally cold and Dollywood is closed for the season. If you are willing to bundle up and bring a thermos of your favorite hot beverage (nonalcoholic of course), you are sure to enjoy a great day exploring on foot and by car through Cades Cove. While you might not spot any black bear this time of year, you are sure to still get a glimpse of some white tailed dear and maybe even a bob-cat, red fox or gray fox, mink, red squirrel, coyote, and lots of winter birds.

winter deer cades cove

Celebrate at The Inn At Christmas Place

If you are like me, you are “over it” by the time New Years rolls around, but some unique souls [like my mother] the countdown to next Christmas begins on December 26th. The Inn at Christmas Place is the perfect destination for all you Christmas loving fanatics. The best part about going in January is that the rates and the crowds are down and you can snag a room pretty easily. If you want to stay in the weeks leading up to Christmas, as you can imagine, you have to book your room months and months in advance. But, if you can put off your desire to sleep in an enchanted Christmas fantasy until mid January, you will have a much better time getting a room.

Go to a Concert at Harrah’s Cherokee

January is a great time to catch some headliner concerts at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. We’ve seen Jamey Johnson there in the past, and he’s set to be back in January 2021 along with Dwight Yoakam.

Visit Ober Gatlinburg For Snow Tubing or Skiing

January is obviously a great time to visit Ober Gatlinburg for skiing, but you can also do some snow tubing and ice skating in January. In fact, it’s ladies night on the slope this year on January 11, 2021.

Go Indoor Snow Tubing in Pigeon Forge, TN

If you can’t get enough snow tubing and find yourself in Pigeon Forge in January, be sure to check out the new indoor snow tubing at Pigeon Forge Snow. A great thing about Pigeon Forge Snow is that you can visit it any time of the year and and 7 days a week from 10am-9pm [10 pm on Sat].

Spend The Night In Ripley’s Aquarium [Adults Only]

Okay, this one totally surprised me but sounds a bit intriguing. The Sips & Sharks adult only sleepover happens in throughout the year including sometimes in January. Be sure to check the Ripley’s Aquarium website for the latest event dates.

Smoky Mountains: Sightseeing Flex Pass

Get Your Smoky Mountains Flex Pass for $99 at plan your Smoky Mountain Vacation at a 30% Discount on either 3 or 5 attractions plus discounts on select entertainment venues and restaurants.

Smoky Mountains: Sightseeing Flex Pass

Rent a Cabin and Curl Up By The Fire

Say what you will, but one of the best cures for winter cabin fever at home is to spend a weekend hold up in a beautiful cabin in the Smoky Mountains. Why not, right? Fill up the car with with the groceries, pack the snuggly pajamas, some board games, and your favorite books and take the family away for a weekend of cabin life. Some of my best memories with my oldest are from some weekends we spent in a cabin in the Smokies with nowhere to go and nothing to do but relax and enjoy the cabin.

Ride an ATV Through The Smokies

It doesn’t snow always in the winter in the Smokies, but sometimes it does. January is definitely one the coldest months in the Smokies, but we believe you shouldn’t let that stop you from taking an ATV ride in the Smokies is an adventure you won’t forget. Bluff Mountain Adventures is a great way to see the Smokies. Read more about these guided ATV Tours here.

Get In Some Ice Skating at The Wilderness at the Smokies

Want to get in some ice skating in the Smoky Mountains? You can ice skate at The Wilderness at the Smokies or Ober Gatlinburg until mid-January. Check their site for dates.

What Festivals Are Happening in The Smoky Mountains in January?

The Smoky Mountains and surrounding gateway towns, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Townsend, and Cherokee offer numerous festivals throughout the year. While there aren’t as many festivals to visit in January, there are some really interesting one.

Winter Heritage Festival Townsend, TN

Visit the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in January to enjoy the Winter Heritage Festival the third weekend of January.

Enjoy a series of demonstrations, storytelling, and live music in their historic village located in Townsend, TN.

Activities include:

  • Open Heart Cooking
  • Blacksmithing
  • Weaving
  • Spinning
  • Live Musicians

Winterfest Smoky Mountains

The Christmas season kicks off with the Winterfest in both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in late November and runs through early February most years. If you don’t make it for Christmas, don’t worry. You have the whole month of January to still come out and enjoy the lights.

Wilderness Wildlife Week

This exciting week is back for 2022! Join the Park Rangers and volunteers for a week long festival celebrating what makes the Smoky Mountains truly special: The Wildlife. This completely free event is open to the public and features talks, hikes, and hands on sessions celebrating the abundance of wildlife, variety of plants, trees, and wildflowers, and rich history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

Can’t make it in person? No problem, throughout the every Wednesday in January there are special virtual workshops and sessions featuring a variety of Wildlife Topics.

Don’t miss Wilderness Wildlife Week if you make a visit to the Smoky Mountains in January.

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