Our Top 5 Family Friendly Things to Do With Kids in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg with Kids - Things to Do with Kids

We are planning a quick weekend trip to our neighboring state in Tennessee. Destination – Gatlinburg. Thanks to the invitation from Holiday Inn Club Vacations.

Our family trip to Gatlinburg a couple years ago was short and hardly enough for us to truly explore other things to do in or around Gatlinburg.

This trip will be equally short but I hope we will have more time to explore Gatlinburg and surrounding area a little bit more.

There is no doubt that Gatlinburg is known for various fun attractions from aquarium, theme parks, miniature golf to theatre. You name it and I’m sure you will be able to find it! But Gatlinburg is also the gateway to one of America’s favorite national park – The Smoky Mountains National Park. So it’s understandable why Gatlinburg is a great family destination.

With the upcoming trip, I have done a bit more research than our previous trip to narrow down of things we would want to do on this quick weekend getaway. So here are our top 5 family-friendly things to do in Gatlinburg with kids.

1. Sugarlands Visitor Center at the Smoky Mountains National Park

My kids are hard pressed to collect all the cancellation stamps from national park, we couldn’t skip visiting one of the visitor center to add one more stamp to their National Park Passport. Plus, it will be a great introduction for them to learn about the wildlife and nature in the Smoky Mountains National Park during the free 20 minutes movie.

2. Ripley Aquarium of the Smokies

We walked past the Ripley aquarium on our last visit but with limited time we couldn’t visit. This trip, I will make sure that we set aside the time to visit this aquarium. Yes,we do have the world largest aquarium in Atlanta but I know that the kids will enjoy the underwater tunnel and are curious about the working mechanism of the System control room.

3. Enjoy special Winter events

We will be in Gatlinburg during winter so it will be cold and hopefully less crowd. At the same time, the city will be all light up with holiday decoration and lighting. I can’t wait to take a stroll along the streets in downtown Gatlinburg and hopefully catch the Winter Magic Tunes & Tales. Afterward, we might hop on the Trolley Ride of Lights to enjoy a guided trolley ride of the spectacular Gatlinburg Winter Magic lighting displays.

4. Ober Gatlinburg

Quite frankly, I don’t know if we will have time to enjoy Ober Gatlinburg this trip. But last time, we all had a blast as we slid down the hill on one of their snow tubing, a great family activity that is sure to please kids of all ages. My kids still remembered the view of the mountain city as we rode the aerial tram down from the top. So if we have enough time, we might ride the aerial tram up to have a fun time in the snow.

5. Guided Nature Hike with A Walk in the Woods

The Holiday Inn Club Vacation not only invite us to stay at their spacious location but they also arrange for a guide nature walk for us with A Walk in the Woods. To be honest, I have never thought about hiring a company to take us on a nature hike. BUT, after our own limited experience hiking with kids, I am sold (even before we try it out). You know why? Because we are newbies and lack of knowledge. Most of our hikes involved kids whined about they were tired and us trying to point to some unknown leaves or birds.

From their website, there are various programs available based on your preference and comfort. I especially love the ‘Exploring Nature with Children’ program. It will be like a class during vacation but it’s more FUN!

So there you have it. Our top pick for this weekend trip planning from Atlanta.

How about you? What would be your top things to do with kids in Gatlinburg?

About Amy Querido

Amy is the owner & author of The Q Family Adventures Travel blog, family blog chronicles her family trips, tips and tricks. She hopes to inspire family to travel with kids one adventure at a time. Connect with Amy on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Snow tubing is so much fun, we like to call it “The ultimate couch potato thrill ride” They do everything for you and you get a great thrill out of it! We’ve done many a nature walk with a guide, it is a wonderful way to learn more about the plant and wildlife, your going to love it.
    Have a great time, sounds like an excellent itinerary.

  2. Christen says:

    Next time your in Gatlinburg, head over to Cades Cove, just a little ways down the road. Its part of the Great Smokey Mountains National Part, and its amazing. There’s lots of trails, historic buildings (homes, barns, etc) and such. If you drive through at the right time of day (EARLY morning or in the evening) you can see all kinds of animals wandering around- like deer, coyotes, and even bears and their cubs! They also have picnic areas, a campground, and visitor center. Best of all? Its free, although I’m sure donations are appreciated! I love it there, and can easily fill up a evening, or even a whole day, hanging around the park! Love it!

    • Thanks for the tip, Christen! Definitely will put that on our list next time we visit Gatlinburg. We seemed to visit it in winter time. So I’m looking forward to visiting in spring or summer.

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