Kids from the country, kids from the city, kids from anywhere and everywhere in-between will find plenty to keep them interested, engaged and entertained in the scenic mountains or attraction-packed downtown areas of Gatlinburg. We’re one of the best family vacation destinations for young explorers and outdoor-loving kids, with one of the largest natural playgrounds in America—the Great Smoky Mountains National Park-–right on our doorstep.
Explore mountain trails, discover native wildlife, and find a swimming hole. Try geocaching, fly-fishing, outdoor orienteering or scouting on more than 800 miles of pristine trails. Go camping! Explore the park on horseback. Ski, snowboard, slide or tube at Ober Gatlinburg. Zipline in town, or book an unforgettable rafting adventure on class-IV whitewater. Action-packed and always fun, family vacations are one of Gatlinburg’s biggest draws.
Don’t discount the city, either. There’s more to Gatlinburg than communing with nature, and downtown offers its own variety of unique delights. Rev your engine and race a friend on a go-cart track. Find fun in a mirror maze or mysterious museum, soar to new heights at the sky lift or spy your surroundings from the Space Needle. Putt for par on some of the craziest mini-golf courses you’ll ever see, and don’t leave without visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, voted the #1 aquarium in the nation by TripAdvisor.
New moms and dads can load up the stroller or grab a tiny hand and enjoy a lovely stroll on the Riverwalk or in one of our 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. While you’re there, you can camp, fish, hike or take a scenic drive. Hop out of the car and be absorbed into the breathtaking scenery. Don’t forget to pack your basket because there are perfect places everywhere to take a break and enjoy a picnic.
Downtown Gatlinburg’s quaint and plentiful art galleries and arts & craft shops are tucked away amid eye-popping attractions, shows and great family restaurants. With five malls and over 400 downtown shops, stores and galleries, more than a hundred more can be found on the Arts & Crafts Loop. Grab a bite at one of our world-famous pancake houses, or take the family for a fancy steak dinner. Wind things down by quietly witnessing a spectacular Smoky Mountain sunrise or sunset. Even the kids will appreciate the boundless beauty that nature provides.
Active older adults love the warmth and walkability of Gatlinburg, not to mention the artists. The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community includes the largest group of independent artisans in North America, and their shops are strung along a picturesque, eight-mile loop, just a short drive or trolley ride from downtown.
During your visit, the rich history of Appalachia is well worth discovery. Designated stops in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are all part of the Tennessee Heritage Trail, which includes three pathways. The History Trail takes you to homesteads and historic buildings throughout the park, including the original homestead of Noah “Bud” Ogle, along with working mills, preserved cabins and churches from early-1800s settlers.
Gatlinburg stops on the Music Trail take you through the birth of folk, bluegrass and acoustic mountain music. Musical theatre buffs will thrill to the original music and comedy found on stage at the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre.
Accompany the grandkids to the shark lagoon at Ripley’s Aquarium for an exciting and educational experience. Pause and reflect at the Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens, stroll down memory lane at Hollywood Star Cars Museum, or discover a fascinating collection at the one and only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. No matter where you go or what you do, Gatlinburg is an undeniably charming town with something for everyone, so bring the whole family.