The breathtaking beauty of the great outdoors is the main reason most people choose to vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains. From trout-filled streams that are excellent for fly fishing to invigorating hikes through the woods to whitewater rafting in the summer and skiing in the winter \u2013 the Smokies are a big draw for outdoor enthusiasts.\u00a0 But every now and then, it\u2019s nice to slip indoors to learn more about the culture, history, and people of these ancient mountains. Read on for a list of some of our favorite museums that showcase the rich heritage that breathes real life into the Smoky Mountains.\u00a0 Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Located in Townsend, TN, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a museum dedicated to preserving the unique history and captivating mix of cultures that have blended together over the centuries to form the personality of the Smokies as we know them today. The Center\u2019s mission states that the museum serves \u201cto preserve, interpret and share the history and culture of the diverse peoples and Native American who have inhabited the Southern Appalachians including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.\u201d\u00a0 In addition to the museum, you can stroll through a well-designed village that showcases 13 historic buildings which have been reconstructed onsite and decorated with authentic furnishings that match the period in which they were built. Across both permanent and temporary exhibits, you\u2019ll experience the Appalachian culture through artifacts like handcrafted quilts, wartime cannons, and even concerts and events that highlight musicians and artisans who are keeping the spirit of the Smoky Mountains alive all year round.\u00a0 The Storytelling Center of the Southern Appalachians There\u2019s nothing like hearing a great story, a web of tales spun with a lilting tone and a twinkle in the teller\u2019s eye. Long before social media, the internet, and even the written word, the people of the Smokies told stories to pass down their history and culture from one generation to the next. For centuries, these mountains have been filled not only with its mystic fog but with stories and songs, prayers and proverbs, myths and legends.\u00a0 The Storytelling Center of the Southern Appalachians in Bryson City makes it a priority to \u201ccollect, preserve, exhibit, interpret, and promote the musical and oral heritage of the area.\u201d They host special storytelling events, public programs, and exhibitions in order to carry on the time-honored tradition of these oral tales. Rediscover the magic of stories that you knew as a child when you visit this awe-inspiring museum.\u00a0 Museum of the Cherokee Indian Visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC to immerse yourself into the rich culture and history of the native Cherokee tribe. With vivid displays that are inspired by the beauty and ingenuity of the Cherokee people, you will be engaged by interactive video and exquisite displays that create a full sensory experience.\u00a0 As you stroll through each fascinating and educational exhibit, you\u2019ll learn all about the Cherokee people\u2019s inventiveness, resilience, and will to survive through many troubling periods in history. You will gain a greater understanding of who the people of Cherokee really are, where they came from, and why they\u2019re still here.\u00a0 Scottish Tartans Museum North Carolina has one of the highest percentages of Scottish populations in all of the 50 states. The Scots have been in the Smoky Mountains since the early settlements, and much of the Appalachian heritage and history can be traced directly back to their arrival. By the late 1700s, the Scottish settlers had established small and mostly isolated communities with their fellow countrymen, allowing them to preserve many of the traditions they brought with them such as ballads, folklore, music, storytelling, handmade craftsmanship and even agricultural processes.\u00a0 Head to the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, NC, where you\u2019ll learn all about the area\u2019s Scottish emigrants, discover your own Scottish heritage by finding your clan or family tartan, and gain a deep appreciation for the rich traditions that surround the kilt and the Scottish National Dress.\u00a0 Wheels Through Time Get transported back in time when you visit the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, NC. From two wheels to four, discover how we humans get around the Smoky Mountains. With over 300 classic and rare motorcycles spanning America\u2019s transportation past, this museum celebrates all the ways we get around and will definitely get your engine revving.\u00a0 Perfect for any kind of bike or car enthusiast, you\u2019ll be wowed by the shine of the chrome and the polish of the paint job on rides from big names like Harley Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, Henderson, Crocker, and so many more! Don\u2019t miss this incredible gem hidden away in the Smokies. Then visit our Smoky Mountain museum directory for a more extensive list of museums and attractions, including fun and quirky spots like Ripley\u2019s Believe It or Not, Alcatraz East Crime Museum, and the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum.Visit the Gateway to the Smokies podcast to hear more about the museums that tell the incredible stories of the Smoky Mountains.