How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Cosby, TN

View from the Foothills Parkway, just a few miles from Roamstead Smoky Mountains

Finding a hidden gem in America’s most visited national park sounds nearly impossible, but the unique things to do in Cosby TN prove that it’s anything but. 

This small town of about 5,000 people sits at the northeastern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and was once known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World.” That alone makes it a fascinating place to visit, but it’s also one of the quietest, least-visited areas in the park, and it sits in a particularly beautiful valley. 

If you're seeking an escape filled with postcard-worthy scenery, outdoor adventures, and a taste of Southern charm and Prohibition-era history, head to Cosby. 30 minutes east of Gatlinburg, it’s just far enough to get away from the hustle and bustle, but still close to everything you could possibly want or need. 

Want to make it a weekend getaway? Roamstead is an ultra-modern accommodation choice, with campsites, cabins, glamping options, and traditional lodge rooms, all combining amenities you’d expect at a boutique hotel with the natural beauty of the Smokies. It also just so happens to be one of only a handful of accommodations open year-round near this part of the park, and it’s within 10 minutes of everything on this list. 

Ready to learn how to make the most of your time in Cosby? Let’s get into it!

Spend a Weekend Exploring The Best Thing to Do in Cosby TN

Whether you prefer to very literally get your hands dirty and explore, want to check out the local food scene, or a scenic drive is more your speed, you’ll find no shortage of unique things to do in Cosby. 

Stop by Carver's Applehouse Orchard & Restaurant

No matter what other things to do in Cosby TN are on your weekend agenda, a visit to Carver's Applehouse Orchard & Restaurant is a must. 

Sample over 120 varieties of apples in the farm store, treat yourself to a fresh, mouthwatering fried apple pie, and try the restaurant’s legendary chicken pot pie or catfish. Don’t leave without checking out the adorable candy shop!

Explore a (Much) Less Visited Side of the National Park

A stream flows through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, inside the Cosby entrance.

Tucked away on the northeastern edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cosby is home to some of its most serene, least-explored areas. You may very well enjoy trails all to yourself, and there definitely won’t be any traffic or lines to get in at the entrance—both rarities!

Take advantage of it with one of the best things to do in Cosby TN: going for a hike. Start with the easy 1.3-mile Cosby Nature Trail, then head to Hen Wallow Falls, a moderate but family-friendly option and one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Smokies. Up for a bigger challenge? Tackle the challenging hike to the historic Mt. Cammerer fire lookout. This trail also takes you on the famed Appalachian Trail for about two miles. 

If you’re not much of a hiker, pack a picnic and enjoy a quiet lunch in the picnic area, right next to Cosby Campground. Speaking of the campground, it’s one of the best and largest in the park, but is rarely—if ever—full. 

Drive the Scenic Foothills Parkway

Experience the beauty of the Smokies from the comfort of your car by taking a scenic drive on the Foothills Parkway. Keeping true to the general theme of things to do in Cosby, this road is significantly less traveled than others in the park. No bumper-to-bumper traffic or lack of parking at the scenic overlooks here! 

This picturesque 5.6-mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway connects Cosby to I-40 and offers stunning views at every turn. Fun fact: construction of the parkway started WAY back in the 1940s and due to a variety of complications, only one-third of it is completed today. The segment near Cosby is among those fully completed.

Get a Literal Taste of East Tennessee Moonshine History

East Tennessee as a whole has a wild history tied to distilling and moonshine, but Cosby stands out. Remember, it was widely known as the “moonshine capital of the world” just 100 years ago!

Even if you’re typically not one to imbibe, one of the best things to do in Cosby TN is visit one of the local distilleries. There’s no better (or tastier!) way to delve into the moonshine heritage. 

Adventure Distilling Co., just three minutes from Roamstead, and Cocke County Distillery in nearby Newport, both have tasting rooms and retail shops featuring their unique offerings. At Adventure Distilling in particular, you may even run into famous moonshiners. The distillery had close ties with Popcorn Sutton, one of the most famous of all, who was also a Cosby local.

Go on a UTV Tour

Speaking of Adventure Distilling, the company also offers UTV adventures in the summer and fall. Whether you book a guided tour or prefer to drive yourself, Smoky Mountain Adventure Tours offers the unforgettable experience off-roading in this beautiful, rugged area. 

Roamstead Smoky Mountains Lodge and fire pits

Attend a Community Event at Cosby Campground

If you visit during the summer, one of the best things to do in Cosby is attend one of the national park’s community events. On summer weekends, the park hosts “Celebrating Cosby: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” a series of events that pay tribute to the area’s fascinating history and culture. 

Through traditional Appalachian arts including live music, dance, and storytelling, you’ll learn all about Cosby. Presenters include longtime local residents, moonshiners, musicians, park rangers, and others. 

Make Roamstead Your Adventure Basecamp for Exploring Cosby

However you fill your weekend in Cosby, you’ll want to stay in the heart of this beautiful, slightly mysterious place. Roamstead is the ideal choice, convenient to Gatlinburg and minutes from all the best things to do in Cosby. 

The thoughtfully designed accommodations include modern cabins, tent and RV sites, yurts, hotel-style lodge rooms, and our newest addition, a renovated Airstream. In all of them, you’ll enjoy amenities including wi-fi, an outdoor pool, a game lounge, and even a bar that serves both cocktails and coffee, plus some delicious food items. 

Oh, and you can bring your pup, too—Roamstead is pet-friendly!

So what are you waiting for? Book your stay, pack your bags, hit the road, and prepare to spend an unforgettable weekend exploring one of the Smokies’ rare secrets. See you in the mountains!