Five of our Favorite Museums in the Smokies

Not all Great Smoky Mountain adventures have to be outdoor excitement. Sometimes the best afternoon is spent at a museum, learning about the region’s Native American history, becoming an expert on gems and minerals, or strolling through galleries filled with Southern Appalachian craft. Whether it’s a rainy day in the mountains or your family wants to take a break from outdoor excursions, these are our five favorite museums to tour.

Museum of Cherokee Indian group photo
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian

This museum preserves the history and culture of the Cherokee people with exhibits like “The Story of the Cherokees,” which uses artifacts, artwork, life-sized figures, and computer-generated animation to tell the story of the Cherokee people and their long life in the southern Appalachians.

Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum

Interested in the study of gems, rocks, minerals, and the sciences and arts related to them? This is the place for you! Located in the Old Jail, the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum features eight rooms filled with gems and minerals from all over the world – one of the largest collections in the Southeast – plus a gift shop where you can purchase jewelry made by local volunteers!

The Wheels Through Time Museum

For all things auto, visit the Wheels Through Time Museum, home to the world’s premier collection of rare American motorcycles, memorabilia, and a distinct array of unique “one-off” American automobiles. This museum houses a collection of over 300 rare machines!

display at the Southern Applachian Fly Fishing MuseumFly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians

This Bryson City museum features everything you could want to know about Southern Fly Fishing! Through exhibits and videos you’ll learn about the history of fly fishing in the Southeast, plus the evolution of rods and reels, basic knots, fly-tying, types of gear, types of gamefish, regional fishing waters, and more!

The Bascom

The Bascom is the center for visual arts in the Great Smoky Mountains. Experience visual arts that inspire and empower individuals and communities. Not only can you peruse various galleries and nature trails on campus and visit the gift shop to take home a piece of art, you can also get hands-on with art classes and workshops. The Bascom is a museum that can’t be missed!

Honorable Mentions

Looking for more inspiration? Here are some other great museums worth exploring.