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Rainy Day Adventures in the NC Smokies

What to do when it rains in the Smoky Mountains.

The NC Great Smoky Mountains get just the right amount of rain to cultivate their abundant lushness, but no one wants downpours on their vacation. Here are our favorite rainy day adventures to help  chase away the rainy-day blues.

Stay Warm and Dry Inside Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel are the ideal resorts to forget all about what’s happening outdoors. Of course, the gaming tables always bring the thrills, but there is also something for everyone else to do here. You’ll want to explore both locations to make the most of it.

Experience the excitement of the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center with a bowling alley, arcade, and esports zone. Take in a concert or performance in a state-of-the-art Entertainment Center or relax at the Mandara Spa. Shop ‘til you drop at the Tower Shop and then indulge at one of the many delicious restaurants.

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Explore the beautiful mountains, gorges, and rivers from the dry comfort of your railcar aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Sit back and take in the scenery as you pass through charming mountain towns and beautiful countryside.

Choose from the Nantahala Gorge Excursion, the Tuckasegee River Excursion, or a special event train ride that will delight the kiddos.


The Smokies offer some of the most unique museums in the country. But if you could only pick one to visit, it would have to be the Museum of the Cherokee People, which preserves the history and culture of the Cherokee People. It offers exhibits, artifacts, and life-size figures and animation to tell their harrowing and storied tale.

Lucky for you, it’s raining so you have plenty of opportunity to explore some of these others. A  fun one is the Wheels Through Time Museum featuring a rare collection of American motorcycles, memorabilia, and “one-off” American automobiles. Another is the The Scottish Tartans Museum & Heritage Center focusing on the rich Scottish traditions that have been a part of this area’s heritage for hundreds of years (you can even discover your own ancestors’ tartans here). One of our very favorites is the American Museum of the House Cat with its room after room of cat memorabilia and fascinating finds.

Visit a Local Brewery or Winery

With all of the local breweries and wineries in the NC Great Smoky Mountains, you can while away the time enjoying a glass of your favorite beverage and watch the rain drizzle down the windows. There are many to choose from but two of our top picks are Lazy Hiker Brewing in scenic Franklin and downtown Sylva with 25 brews on tap. For you wine aficionados, FernCrest Winery is known for their award-winning wines fermented from local grapes.

Dry Falls in Highlands NC

Get Wet and Welcome the Mountain Rain

You don’t have to be stuck indoors when you can celebrate the rain with these outdoor activities.

Waterfalls You Can Explore in the Rainfall

Precipitation makes the rocks and terrain around most area waterfalls dangerous. However, Bridal Veils Falls has a small section along Route 64 where you can safely pose behind the falls just off the parking lot for some fabulous selfies.

Dry Falls is another one that can be accessed by stairs, so you’re not sliding down slippery boulders. You can go behind it, but, despite its name, you’ll still get wet. But if you’re already wet, it’s worth seeing the cool optics and hearing the surrounding echoes from standing behind the thundering cascade.

There’s no better place to get outside in the downpour without getting drenched than Primitive Outback Kayaking & Gem Mining. Mine for fossils and precious stones and gems, like rubies, topaz, emeralds, and amethysts under their covered flume along the Little Tennessee River.