This past Spring, I was able to take a 9 day trip down south with my road-trippin’ buddy, Erin. For the first four days, we camped out at Cosby Campground in the Smoky Mountain National Park- marking number 2 of 58 National Parks on my bucket list.
While there was no electric hook-up or showers, Cosby provided the perfect amount of provisions for two twenty-something, novice campers:
- Drive-Up campsites
- Tent Pads
- Fire Pits
- Basic Bathroom (Stall & Sink)
- Dish Washing Area
We spent quite a bit of time at our campsite just listening the sounds of nature, trying our hand at cooking over the fire, and enjoying each other’s company.
The campsite was incredible, but per usual, our favorite memories were when we ventured out of our little comfort zone and into Tennessee for some adventure!
Here are 5 memorable things to do during your trip to the Smoky Mountain National Park:
1. Check out the local scene.
The best way to get a taste of the local culture is to check out ma & pa shops and social hubs. In Cosby, our favorite find was Our Place, a quirky little shop full of books, coffee, and 90s nostalgia galore! What more could two young women want? Beer.
Our other top find was AJ’s 3-Way Inn. This bar is made for those that enjoy the little things. The interior is made entirely of plywood and they only serve the classics- PBR, The Champagne of Beers, Natural Lite, Etc. We made some friends and got the scoop on local attractions and deals!
2. Find a free concert.
There are many many campgrounds within the Smoky Mountain National Park but each one is within a few miles of a tourist hotspot- which means tons of activity. While venturing around Cosby, we were told by multiple people to check out Gatlinburg for music, food, and fun! If you are near Gatlinburg, check out the Ole Smoky Holler for local artists.
3. Get Active.
Tennessee is known for the gorgeous mountainous scenery, so I encourage you to get out and explore! Hiking, rafting, climbing, or zip-lining offers a change of pace. Erin and I only had time for a couple of things while in town so we tried our hand at White Water Rafting and did quite a bit of hiking.
If you are camping, Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg are nice spot for daytime and nighttime fun!
4. Don’t be afraid to be a tourist!
It’s fun to check out off-the-beaten-path shops and spots, but it’s OK to take a day to do the all the cliche activities too! They are popular for a reason.
For example, we checked out Gatlinburg (a SUPER “touristy” spot) for window shopping and taste-testing, and it turned out to be one of my favorite days of the entire trip! Make sure to try some Tennessee Whisky/Moonshine or BBQ while you’re here.
5. Brush up on local history.
While we didn’t have time to travel south towards the museum/historical site area of the national park, Tennessee (really, the entire South) has such a rich history. Checking out these sites is definitely on my to-do list next time!
The Cherokee-American Indian Museum is in the southern part of the park along with the Trail of Tears. Don’t miss the opportunity to get educated on American history while you’re here!
Most of you are bound to see the Smokys at some point in your life- after all, it is the #1 most visited National Park in the U.S.- so I hope this list is helpful! If you have any questions or need more specific suggestions for your next trip, don’t be shy, contact me!