Things to do in Gatlinburg Tennessee with kids.
People from all over flock to Gatlinburg year round, the easy drive from many various locations and the chance to get up close and personal with nature in a mountain getaway. The other appeal for people is that a trip to the area offers both the fun attractions and the chance to slip away into nature.
From where we live in Louisville Kentucky it is just over a 4 hour drive to get to Gatlinburg, you know assuming that there are a ton of stops to use the restroom! Similarly, it is just over 4 hours from Atlanta and Charlotte NC is just under 4 hours. The drive times from many large cities makes it very popular for a quick getaway.
There is so much to do in the great Smoky Mountains you won’t have to look very hard to keep the little ones entertained.
It can be downright overwhelming when it comes to deciding what to do with kids while you are in Gatlinburg.
Where to stay in Gatlinburg
There are hundreds of gorgeous chalets to choose from if you want to stay up in the mountains. Most chalets have amenities like hot tubs, all have beautiful views! Be careful when walking around the chalet, though, as the Smokey Mountains are home to more than 6,000 bears!
This is a great option if you want to enjoy nature, hunker down for the evening and enjoy some relaxed family time of board games, or wake up to coffee overlooking the mountains.
When we have gone with the kids we have stayed in Sevierville, at a place called the Wilderness at the Smokies.
My family has been to several waterpark hotels around the country and this one is our favorite! Not only does it have a well-kept indoor waterpark, but there is also the Adventure Forest.
The Adventure Forest features a 3 story ropes course, multi-level laser tag, black light mini-golf, mega arcade. If you are visiting in the summer there is also a huge outdoor area, including several pools, and a lazy river. This hotel offers a pretty good value. However, if you are going to stay here make sure you have plenty of time for the waterpark.
We have decided that if we go back we would do the Wilderness at the Smokies for 1 night then get a chalet for a few nights so that we can enjoy the best of both worlds!
Where to eat in Gatlinburg
Well, chances are you probably know that Gatlinburg, TN is famous for its flapjacks, pancakes, hotcakes, griddlecakes, or whatever you chose to call them.
Stop by Flapjacks Pancake Cabin (there’s one on every corner) for breakfast at least once, and don’t fret if you don’t want pancakes, er flapjacks, because everything there is good.
For dinner, there are a lot of good local restaurants and some chains if you want to stick with something more familiar.
We really like The Peddler Steakhouse in downtown Gatlinburg. The steak is good, but the salad bar is AMAZING. My kids who never eat salad, ate until I thought they were gonna blow! Also, you should definitely check out the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and are famous for their apple fritters which are complimentary. You can also dine on Tennessee favorites like fried chicken, chicken n’ dumplings, country catfish, meatloaf, pork chops, and more! The desserts looked great, but just go ahead and accept the fact that you aren’t going to have room left in your gut to accommodate a cobbler or pecan pie. No matter where you want to grub for dinner I recommend someplace with reservations or call ahead seating.
Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede:
No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a dinner show and there are several to choose from. If you want to do a dinner show make sure you plan for this months in advance! We took in Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. The kids loved it, we were all whooping and hollering, it’s a great time. In the interest of time the meal is you get what you get. It’s decent, but my kids are super picky eaters so they didn’t eat. So I feel like I left about $20 laying on each the plate. Oh well, we were paying for the experience, not the food, right?
Things to do in Gatlinburg
There is so much to do in Gatlinburg. It’s like entertainment overload. So we’ve taken the liberty of narrowing it down just a bit for you.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokys:
The aquarium in located downtown Gatlinburg and is really nice. It’s not much different than other aquariums we’ve been to, but it’s a nice indoor option for a rainy day, especially if you haven’t been to an aquarium in a while. It was pretty crowded when we went, but then again everything in this town is crowded.
Gatlinburg Sky Lift
For the full Smoky Mountain experience make sure you do the Gatlinburg Sky Lift! Unless of course, you are afraid of heights. I may have been holding so tight my palm was sweaty and my daughter kept saying, “Mom you’re squeezing me,” but you wouldn’t believe the number of people on there crying. If you’re afraid of heights then spare us all and don’t get on it.
The Gatlinburg Wheel
Want to get a birds-eye view of the beautiful area? The Gatlinburg wheel is a great way to do that! Each gondola seats 8 people and while the cost to ride, isn’t on the inexpensive side, it is something that you should do at least once! The cost is $14 for adults and $9 for kids
Headed to Gatlinburg in the winter and want to take part in snow activities? Then you need to plan to spend sometime at Ober! From snow tubing, to snowboarding and skiing there is something for everyone!
Aren’t visiting in the Winter? Don’t worry there is still a ton of fun to be had from Summer tubing, to the alpine slide.
Check out all of the activities that they offer on their website here.
The skybridge is relatively new but has come on to the Gatlinburg scene and made big waves. It is a 680 foot walk from one side of the bridge to the other. It is 140 high at the halfway point and has a glass bottom at the highest point. In other words, it is an amazing experience, but certainly not for the faint of heart!
The guys in your life, in particular, will love the million go kart tracks in Pigeon Forge. These cars are fast! And some of them have multiple levels so it’s like you are speeding around a parking garage. Haven’t you always wanted to do that?
We would be remiss to leave out the abundance of amazing hiking trails in the area. Some that top our do not miss list include:
A Place of a Thousand Drips
Let us know your favorite Gatlinburg activity!
P.S. Don’t forget to enjoy the natural beauty! With teenagers or an adult only weekend look into zip-lining and white water rafting.