Family Guide

One of the best parts of fun family vacations is the memories you keep for years afterward. With all the activities and attractions that make Gatlinburg one of America’s best family vacation destinations, your family trip to Gatlinburg is sure to be unforgettable. Adventure seekers can get their fill in nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park with hundreds of miles of hiking trails, historic landmarks and picture-perfect vistas. Those who prefer a little relaxation can hit up hundreds of shops, galleries and restaurants while taking in scenic Smoky Mountain views. Find ideas for fun family vacations below.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

You can't get any closer to the Smokies than Gatlinburg. You can walk from downtown right into the Park, or hop in the car and drive deep into the most visited national park in America. There are nearly 400 miles of scenic drives, with plenty of pulloffs, streams, waterfalls, picnic stops and trailheads around every bend. Camp, hike and fish. Unplug for a day or an extended getaway in one of the most diverse ecological preserves on the planet.

In the mountains or downtown, city kids and country kids alike will find plenty to keep them engaged in Gatlinburg. We’re one of the best family vacation destinations for young explorers and outdoor types with one of the largest natural playgrounds in America-Great Smoky Mountains National Park–on our doorstep. Back in town, rides, attractions, arcades, museums, haunted houses and shows are everywhere.

Outdoor fun
Head up into the mountains and find a swimming hole. Practice geocaching, fly-fishing or scouting on more than 800 miles of trails. Pitch camp. Explore the Park on horseback. Ski, snowboard, slide or tube at Ober Gatlinburg, zipline in town or go whitewater rafting on Class IV whitewater. Action-packed and fun family vacations are one of the area’s biggest draws.

Rides and games
Back in town, rev it up on a go-cart track. Find fun in a mirror maze or museum, soar to new heights at the sky lift or Space Needle or putt for par on some of the craziest mini-golf courses you'll ever see. There are rides, shows and arcades everywhere.

Witness the waterworld of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Take the kids to a comedy show, arcade or amusement park or get a little family competition going at one of the many putt-putt courses. 



Take the kids off the grid and find new ways to get the family closer.

Stroller friendly walks and trails
New Moms and Dads can load up the stroller or grab a little hand and enjoy the Riverwalk or enjoy one of three city parks. In the Smokies, there are paved trails at Sugarlands and Laurel Falls, and if you're in great shape, it's paved all the way to the top of Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smokies.

The great outdoors
Take fun family vacations in the outdoor wonderland that is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Camp, fish, hike, or just take a scenic drive. Hop out of the car and get absorbed in the breathtaking scenery. Walk among the wildflowers, tackle a tough trail, or just cool your feet in one of the miles and miles of rushing streams that splash down the mountainsides. And pack your basket, because there are places to take a break and enjoy a picnic everywhere.

Hitting the town
If you want to take it to the streets, downtown Gatlinburg has something exciting or unusual at every step. Quaint galleries and craft shops are tucked away amid eye-popping attractions, shows and great places to eat for families. Stroll the Riverwalk or hop on the tram, chairlift or Space Needle to enjoy the sights. After putting the kids to bed, step out on your mountainside balcony for some quiet time together.

Collectors of everything from fine art to 'fridge magnets will find something new to take home from Gatlinburg. There are five malls and over 400 shops, stores and galleries downtown and over a hundred more on the Arts and Crafts Loop. Find unique art, mountain craftwork, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, leatherwork, pottery, ceramics, and homemade mountain treats. Boutiques are tucked away on village-styled streets and quaint alleyways off the sidewalks of the main drag. See the full directory of shops, galleries and stores, and save some trunk space for the swag you'll bring back home.

Exploring is hungry work. Gatlinburg fills the bill with plenty of family places to eat with down-home cooking, eclectic, tasty creations and everything in between. Whether you're hungry for a short stack of pancakes, a hamburger and shake, chicken strips or a hearty steak by a crackling fire, you'll find it here.

Chillin' out
Witness a Smoky Mountain sunrise from your rocking chair or stay in your PJ's with a good book by the crackling fire your cabin or chalet. Take a snooze or gaze at the rich colors of autumn on the front porch. Sometimes taking it easy is the best part of getting away, and Gatlinburg is filled with secluded retreats and mountain hideaways



Active older adults love Gatlinburg.

Arts and Crafts Loop
The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community includes the largest group of independent artisans in North America, and their shops strung along a picturesque eight mile loop just a short drive or trolley ride from downtown. Meet the artisans and craftspeople. See them at work. Painters, potters, and candlestick makers share the Loop with whittlers, sculptors, weavers, quilters, smiths and jewelry makers. Download a brochure about this tightly knit group of artists and creators, and make a day of it.

Culture and history
The deep, rich history of Appalachia is all around. Designated stops in Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are all part of The Tennessee Heritage Trail, which includes three pathways. The Arts and Crafts Trail includes The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, the 8 mile Arts and Crafts Loop and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, where residents keep authentic folk arts alive. The History Trail takes you to homesteads and historic buildings throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including the original homestead of Noah "Bud" Ogle, working mills, preserved cabins and churches from the times of the settlers in the early 1800s. Gatlinburg stops on the Music Trail take you into the birth of folk, bluegrass and acoustic mountain music

Museums and shows
Explore the amazing, the unusual, the ridiculous and the sublime. Original musical comedy takes the stage at the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre. Glide through the tunnel under the shark Lagoon at Ripley's Aquarium. Pause and reflect at Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens, stroll down memory lane at Hollywood Star Cars Museum, be fascinated at the one and only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, or take one of the various craft shows.

Super shopping
With five downtown malls and 400 boutiques, shops and stores around every corner, a shopping trip in Gatlinburg is an expedition in itself. Mountain arts and crafts, clothing, unique gifts and curios, jewelry, knives and outdoor gear of every description make for some unique finds. See the full list or just hit the streets, browse and go back home with a bit of the Smokies.

Trails and walks
With more than 80 hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and great nature walks and trails accessible right from downtown, there are plenty of options for walkers and hikers of any ability. Lace up and take to the streets on a shopping expedition or picnic or head for the mountains for great exercise and outdoor adventure.

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