Heading out for a picnic? Check out the eight best spots to unpack your cooler and eat outdoors. For sites in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, check with the park service before you head out so you’re informed about any changes to what’s open.
1. Cades Cove Picnic Area
This valley is a prime viewing site for wildlife and one of the most scenic drives in the Smokies. This area features 81 picnic sites, all easily accessible from the one-way loop road.
2. Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
Picnic at tables next to a sparkling river, near a picturesque one-lane bridge. For large groups, reserve the Metcalf Bottoms picnic pavilion, a covered pavilion with its own parking area.
3. Mynatt Park Picnic Area
This Gatlinburg city park is perfectly located for eating before you set out to explore the national park. Head to the nearby Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail for a drive, or to the trailheads for waterfall hikes.
4. Chimneys Picnic Area
Many of the 68 picnic sites sit next to the river. The road is a loop, with picnic sites on both sides. Chimneys is close to the strenuous but spectacular Chimney Tops Trail. For an easier hike, try nearby Cove Hardwood Nature Trail.
5. Mills Park Picnic Area
Eat at Mills Park, then let the kids have a blast. The park features a playground, Storywalk trail, disc golf course, horseshoe pit, exercise equipment, and more.
6. Greenbrier Picnic Area
Greenbrier offers 12 picnic sites with tables and grills. The area is near an entrance to Porters Creek Trail, which takes you to historic buildings and an old graveyard. A roofed pavilion is available with reservations.
7. Herbert Holt Park Picnic Area
A children’s fishing stream makes Herbert Holt Park a special picnic spot! There is also a fishing pier, a trout rearing facility, grills, tables, horseshoe pits, a playground, and more at this Gatlinburg city park.
8. Twin Creeks Picnic Pavilion
Twin Creeks pavilion is available by reservation only. This is the largest picnic pavilion in the national park, with room for 150 people. Surrounded by a shady forest, the pavilion has a large stone fireplace for charcoal fires and cooking.
For a Safe Picnic
Be aware that some picnic sites listed here are in areas where bears are active. Clean your picnic area well (including grills) and take all trash with you, so the site doesn’t attract bears after you’ve gone.
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