Things to Do in Gatlinburg with Kids: The Ultimate List

Things to Do in Gatlinburg with Kids

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is not only a popular vacation destination for families, but also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, this charming mountain town offers a wide range of exciting activities that are perfect for kids. So, if you’re planning a trip to Gatlinburg with kids, here are some fun activities that you shouldn’t miss out on.

One of the highlights of visiting Gatlinburg is the opportunity to explore the magnificent Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This vast park boasts an extensive network of kid-friendly hiking trails that allow families to immerse themselves in nature. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a more challenging adventure, there is a trail for every skill level. You can find hiking trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the link here.

As you delve deeper into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll discover a rich tapestry of biodiversity that includes over 19,000 documented species. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, underscoring its global significance in preserving natural ecosystems. From ancient old-growth forests to cascading waterfalls, the park offers a glimpse into a pristine wilderness that has captivated visitors for generations.

Hiking Trails Suitable for Kids

For families with younger children, the Gatlinburg Trail is a great option. This 1.9-mile trail follows the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River and offers beautiful scenery along the way. Another popular trail is the Cades Cove Loop, which is an 11-mile scenic drive that also allows for hiking and picnic opportunities.

For families seeking a more immersive experience, the Alum Cave Trail presents a moderate challenge and rewards hikers with stunning views of geological formations like Arch Rock and Inspiration Point. This 4.4-mile round trip trail culminates in Alum Cave Bluffs, a towering alcove that provides a perfect spot for a rest and a snack while taking in the panoramic vistas.

Wildlife Spotting for Young Nature Lovers

Aside from hiking, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its abundant wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, black bears, turkeys, and other fascinating creatures. A visit to the park is a wonderful chance for kids to learn about the natural world and develop an appreciation for conservation.

Exploring the park’s diverse ecosystems, from the lower deciduous forests to the higher spruce-fir forests, offers a unique opportunity to witness the interconnectedness of flora and fauna. Birdwatchers will delight in spotting over 240 species of birds, including the iconic pileated woodpecker and the elusive cerulean warbler. The park’s wildlife viewing opportunities provide a chance for families to observe nature up close and instill a sense of wonder and respect for the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

For adrenaline-pumping fun, head to the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. This iconic attraction offers breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains and a variety of thrilling activities for kids.

Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is a must-visit destination for families seeking adventure and natural beauty. As you ascend the SkyLift, feel the excitement build as you rise above the treetops, with the crisp mountain air invigorating your senses.

SkyBridge: The Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge in North America

One of the standout features of the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is the SkyBridge, which is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. Taking a stroll across this awe-inspiring bridge is an exhilarating experience that your kids won’t soon forget. Marvel at the panoramic vistas as you make your way from one end to the other.

At a height of 150 feet and spanning 680 feet across, the SkyBridge offers a thrilling combination of adrenaline and natural beauty. As you walk across its sturdy planks, feel the gentle sway beneath your feet, adding an extra element of excitement to your mountain adventure.

SkyDeck: A Scenic Spot for Family Photos

In addition to the SkyBridge, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park also offers a SkyDeck. This observation platform provides a perfect spot for memorable family photos with the stunning mountain backdrop serving as the picture-perfect setting.

On the SkyDeck, take a moment to soak in the breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains, with their rolling peaks and lush greenery stretching as far as the eye can see. Capture priceless moments with your loved ones against this stunning natural backdrop, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

If your kids are fascinated by marine life, a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a must. This world-class aquarium features a wide range of interactive exhibits that allow children to learn about various underwater creatures up close.

Located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Ripley’s Aquarium offers a unique opportunity for families to explore the wonders of the ocean without having to travel to the coast. The aquarium’s commitment to education and conservation is evident in its engaging exhibits and hands-on activities.

Touch a Stingray at the Discovery Center

One of the highlights of Ripley’s Aquarium is the Discovery Center, where kids can touch and interact with stingrays. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will guide your little ones through this hands-on experience, providing valuable insights about these unique sea creatures.

Children will have the chance to feel the smooth, slippery skin of the stingrays as they glide gracefully through the water. They can also learn about the importance of conservation efforts to protect these gentle creatures and their natural habitats.

Dive with Sharks for the Adventurous Kids

For the more adventurous kids, Ripley’s Aquarium offers an unforgettable experience: diving with sharks. If your children are certified divers, they can join a dive team and get up close and personal with these magnificent predators under the supervision of experienced instructors.

Imagine the thrill of swimming alongside sharks as they gracefully navigate their underwater world. This hands-on experience not only provides a unique perspective on these apex predators but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the importance of marine conservation.

When it comes to classic family fun, Gatlinburg has it all. The town is home to several arcades and mini-golf courses that offer hours of entertainment for kids of all ages.

Visitors to Gatlinburg’s vibrant arcade scene are in for a treat with a wide array of options to choose from. In addition to Fannie Farkle’s Family Fun Parlor, there are other popular arcades in town offering unique experiences. From retro pinball machines to state-of-the-art virtual reality games, Gatlinburg’s arcades cater to every gaming preference. Families can immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere, filled with sounds of excitement and the clinking of tokens.

Fannie Farkle’s Family Fun Parlor

At Fannie Farkle’s, families can enjoy a wide variety of arcade games, from classic favorites to the latest cutting-edge attractions. Win tickets and redeem them for fun prizes, or compete against each other in friendly races or shooting games.

One of the highlights of Fannie Farkle’s is its retro charm combined with modern entertainment. The Parlor is adorned with nostalgic decor that takes visitors back in time while offering the latest gaming technology for an unforgettable experience. Families can bond over classic games like skee ball or challenge each other in high-speed racing simulations.

Hillbilly Golf: A Unique Mini-Golf Experience

Hillbilly Golf provides a memorable mini-golf experience like no other. Set in the hills of Gatlinburg, this quirky course incorporates authentic Appalachian themes and challenging holes. Your kids will love navigating the twists and turns as they try to achieve a hole-in-one.

Mini-golf enthusiasts will appreciate the attention to detail at Hillbilly Golf, where each hole tells a story of the region’s rich heritage. Players can expect surprises around every corner, from water features to interactive obstacles that add an extra layer of fun to the game. The scenic views of the Smoky Mountains provide a breathtaking backdrop as families putt their way through this one-of-a-kind course.

No family vacation is complete without indulging in some delicious treats. Gatlinburg is home to a variety of candy stores and ice cream shops that are sure to satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth.

Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen: A Must-Visit for Candy Lovers

The Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen is a Gatlinburg institution that has been delighting visitors for generations. Watch as skilled candy makers handcraft a wide variety of mouthwatering treats, including fudge, taffy, and caramel apples. Let your kids choose their favorite treats and savor the flavors of the Smokies.

Mad Dog’s Creamery: For Ice Cream and Donut Lovers

Mad Dog’s Creamery is a popular spot for ice cream enthusiasts and donut lovers alike. Treat your kids to a scoop of their favorite ice cream flavor or indulge in one of their famous donut sundaes. With a wide range of toppings and flavors to choose from, everyone is sure to find something they love.

No matter what your children’s interests are, Gatlinburg offers an array of exciting activities that the whole family can enjoy. From outdoor adventures to interactive learning experiences and delectable treats, this charming mountain town is a paradise for kids of all ages. So pack your bags and get ready for a memorable vacation filled with fun and laughter in Gatlinburg!

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