It’s hard to beat Smoky Mountain blue skies and fresh mountain air in springtime. For families planning a Gatlinburg getaway with kids, we’ve picked seven of our favorite kid-friendly activities. With wonders of nature, awe-inspiring activities and good old-fashioned fun, Gatlinburg is known for keeping kids entertained and parents happy.
A don’t-miss destination, Anakeesta is a mountaintop oasis in the heart of Gatlinburg, holding equal charms for children and parents. With fairytale treehouses, a tree canopy rope bridge, gem mining and the AnaVista Observation Tower, this spot is a crowd-pleaser with breathtaking views to boot. Bigger kids will gravitate to the ziplines and Rail Runner Mountain Coaster, while the whole family will appreciate the numerous dining options and whimsical shopping.
Make a lifelong memory and take your kids behind-the-scenes…of a waterfall! The hike to Grotto Falls is easy by all accounts, and it’s the only waterfall in the Smokies you can literally stand behind. Just minutes outside of Gatlinburg off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, this is also a great spot for wildflower watching later in spring.
Go for Golf
Kid-friendly golf not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the mountains? Think again! Gatlinburg offers golfing galore, from the classic Gatlinburg Golf Course named “Best Municipal Golf Course in Tennessee” by Golf Digest to mini golf for kids of all ages. Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini Golf is a kid-favorite with two interactive 18-hole courses, while Gatlin’s Mini Golf walks you through the history of Gatlinburg with a story at every hole. For golf like you’ve never experienced it, consider Gatlin’s Indoor Black Light Nine Hole Mini Golf Course.
Ober in Spring
Gatlinburg’s favorite ski and snow destination, Ober Gatlinburg packs plenty of fun for the warmer months too. For nostalgic family fun, ride the Aerial Tramway up for gorgeous views and a kid-friendly adventure. Ober’s carousel and kiddie umbrella rides, Alpine Slide, rock climbing wall, mini golf and Ski Mountain Coaster will beat out boredom, while snow-lovers can still experience a taste of winter with ice skating and ice bumper cars.
Arts & Crafts
Make memories and discover masterpieces with your little ones under the guidance of Gatlinburg’s resident artists and artisans. For crafty kids, a visit to the Arts & Crafts Community promises meetings with the makers, from painters and potters to woodworkers and more. For hands-on creativity, book a class at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, with offerings for adults and kids taught in an immersive environment.
No family trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a stop at Ripley’s. Known for quirky showmanship and crowd-pleasing genius, Ripley’s of today also packs serious educational components. Step right up and choose your pleasure, from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to Ripley's Marvelous Mirror Maze & Candy Factory. Believe us, your kids will thank you!
Why not release that rowdy kid energy in the most straightforward way possible – shooting down a mountain on a gravity-propelled alpine coaster! Riders 3-and-up can board the Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster, which reaches speeds up to 35mph while winding through the mountain woods. Your kids will howl in fun and likely retell this act of bravery all the way home.