Gatlinburg, Tennessee, located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a popular vacation destination for families. With its stunning natural beauty, thrilling attractions, and endless entertainment options, Gatlinburg is the perfect place for a fun-filled family getaway.
Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or just looking for a good time with family, Gatlinburg has something for everyone. From exploring the city’s unique museums and attractions to taking scenic hikes and trying new adventures, get ready to create memories with your kids that will last a lifetime.
So, let’s get into the top six things to do in Gatlinburg with kids:
Table of Contents
Plan Your Trip Before You Go
To save yourself time and hassle, plan your trip by arranging transportation, accommodations, and activities ahead of time. In Gatlinburg, you can travel by renting a car, riding the Trolley, or taking a taxi. If renting a car, it’s best to reserve in advance.
Besides, Gatlinburg downtown can be explored by hopping on the Yellow Route trolley, which has stops at the Gatlinburg arts and crafts community. The Yellow Route trolley runs along River Road. The Blue Route follows the East Parkway and has stops at Rocky Top Sports World, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and the community center area.
Whereas, the Purple Route travels along North Gatlinburg Parkway and stops at Ski Mountain Road and the Spur Welcome Center.
As for lodging, choose from comfortable cabins or a luxurious Gatlinburg hotel on the river, but book early as availability may be limited, especially during peak holiday seasons.
1. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must when visiting Gatlinburg. The park was named a world heritage site by UNESCO and is one of the most visited national parks, with more than 11 million visitors annually.
The stunning national park boasts breathtaking scenery, including rolling hills, scenic vistas, and pristine streams, all waiting to be discovered by you and your family.
Whether you prefer a leisurely hike or a more strenuous trek, the park has something you’re bound to enjoy. Kids will love seeing the wildlife, including deer, black bears, and a variety of bird species.
2. Visit the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Your kids will thank you for taking them to this breathtaking aquarium. With thousands of marine animals, including sharks, rays, and colorful tropical fish, kids will be amazed and enchanted by this underwater world.
From walking through the beautiful Ocean Realm tunnel to touching and feeding the gentle stingrays, there are plenty of interactive experiences that the whole family can enjoy.
The aquarium also offers educational programs and shows that are both entertaining and informative, making it a great way to learn about the ocean and its inhabitants. Adults will have a blast too, and everyone will come out of the experience a lot smarter.
3.Visit the Gatlinburg SkyBridge
The SkyBridge in the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is not just a bridge, it’s an unforgettable experience that you and your kids will never forget. Suspended high above the mountains, this magnificent glass-bottom bridge offers stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
As you walk across, you’ll feel like you’re floating on air, surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountains. Kids will love the thrill of walking on the glass bottom and looking down at the forest below. The SkyBridge also features a state-of-the-art SkyDeck, offering breathtaking 360-degree views of the park and the city.
With its thrilling height, stunning views, and incredible design, the SkyBridge is the perfect adventure for families looking for a unique and exciting experience in Gatlinburg.
4. Visit the Anakeesta Theme Park
It is a one-of-a-kind theme park, a perfect destination for families looking for a day filled with excitement and memories. From exploring the charming Firefly Village, with its quaint shops and delicious restaurants, to zipping down the mountainside on the Tree Canopy Walk, there’s something for everyone at Anakeesta.
And for the little ones, the park features a playground and a gem-mining experience where they can pan for treasures. With stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains and endless activities, Anakeesta is the ultimate destination for families looking for fun adventures to have together.
5. Visit the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg is a unique and quirky destination that’s sure to delight families and kids of all ages. The museum features over 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers worldwide, showcasing a vast collection of fascinating and unusual designs. From vintage sets to whimsical creations, this museum is a feast for the eyes.
Kids will love seeing the variety of shapes and sizes, and you might be surprised at just how captivating salt and pepper shakers can be! The museum also offers educational displays and information about the history of salt and pepper shakers, making it a fun and informative outing for the whole family.
Gatlinburg is a fantastic family-friendly destination that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for all ages. From exploring the unique collections at the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum to soaring to new heights at the Gatlinburg Space Needle to experiencing the magic of Anakeesta theme park, there’s something for everyone in Gatlinburg.
With its stunning natural beauty, charming downtown area, and endless opportunities for adventure and fun, Gatlinburg is the perfect destination for families looking to create lasting memories. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next vacation with kids to this fantastic destination.