Gatlinburg is well known for being “family friendly,” but some folks will assume that a giant yawn is the price to be paid for a little family fun. Not true in Gatlinburg, TN. I have a soon-to-be 10 year old, and this small handful of activities has been kid-tested and parent-approved. Just between you and me… I’d happlily return to most of these without the kid. And if you’re not bring your kids on your next trip, just call it research…I’ll never tell.
1. Wonderworks. The self-proclaimed amusment park of the mind, Wonderworks is one of my child’s favorite destinations. You can experience an earthquake, scale a rock face, explore outer space, design a roller coaster, ride an extreme 360 degree bike, or put your self in a bubble of your own making. Did I mention the building is upside down? Your kids won’t want to leave (and neither will you). Click here for a page of video links. Stop by our office (207 Parkway) & pick up a coupon.
2. Comedy Barn. This theater is located in Pigeon Forge just a short 10 – 15 minute drive from downtown Gatlinburg. is the award winning family comedy variety show in the Smokey Mountains. The side-splitting show features magicians, fire-eaters, jugglers, ventriloquists, clean family comedians, live music AND barn yard animals. My child had soda sqirting out his nostrils during this one–clearly he thought it was hilarious. Click here to see a sneak peek video.
3. Alpine Slide at Ober Gatlinburg – Your ride combines a Scenic Chairlift ride up the mountain with a fun filled weaving, wandering dipping descent on one of two 1800′ tracks through woods and ski trails. You can control your own speed with a braking device on each sled. Accelerate or slow down as you ride down the mountain through curves, straight-aways and hairpin turns into the valley. Watche a video preview here. Price: $7.00 per person.
4. Junior Ranger Program. Kids—if you’re between the ages of 5-12, you can become a Junior Ranger! Pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for $2.50 at any park visitor center or at the Cades Cove or Elkmont campground. Complete the activities in the booklet then stop by a visitor center to talk to a ranger and receive your Junior Ranger badge. You can become a Junior Ranger at any time of year, but during spring, summer, and fall, ranger-led Junior Ranger programs are offered especially for children. Read through the schedule of ranger-led programs to find these special Junior Ranger programs. See previous blog post about the Junior Ranger Program.
5. Ripley’s Aquarium – Trip Advisor travelers voted this attraction the #1 Aquarium in United States. My family went to the aquarium the last week of May, and it was awe inspiring. The tunnel puts you just on the otherside of the glass from sharks as they swim over your head. Kids of all ages can touch horseshoe crabs and stingrays and watch divers feed the sharks. See video from the Aquarium here. The Saw Nose Shark (saw fish) is my favorite (pictured right). Contact Us for discount tickets!
6. MagiQuest . A 28,000 square foot indoor amusement park that offers an interactive magical journey that is tracked by your very own magical wand (think Pendragon & Harry Potter) also available is Pirate Golf in blacklight, Odyssey Mirror Maze, The Vault Laser Tag and so much more. This attraction will earn you brownie points like no other.
7. Flyaway Indoor Skydiving. This vertical wind tunnel that allows you to experience the freedom of human flightand is located at traffic light #5 in Pigeon Forge. As a flyer, participants attend a 20-minute training class, receive a suit, helmet & other safety equipment. Following a short review of the basics, a group of 5 flyers enters the wind tunnel with their instructor. Almost anyone can fly as long as you weigh at least 40 lbs. Watch this video for a preview of kids in flight. Link to pricing & coupons.
8. Dinosaur Walk Museum. Come face-to-face with a Tyrannosaurus Rex! Count the spikes on a Stegosaurus tail. Stand next to one of the most common predators, the Allosaurus. At this museum, the dinosaurs aren’t fossils or bones. They are life-size sculptures. You & your family can see one of the world’s largest collections of prehistoric animals, ranging from the two-story-high Tyrannosaurus Rex to a tiny 12-inch tall Microraptor. Other exhibits include giant sea lizards, flying reptiles, and replicas of bones, skulls, and skeletons of ancient prehistoric creatures. Pricing: Adults: $9.95, kids 4–18: $6.95 , kids 3 & under: free. Pricing does not include tax.
9. Dollywood KidsFest 2009. This theme park is a favorite of adults & children alike year ’round. However, Kidsfest is an extra special time at the park. In 2009, the dates are June 12 to August 2, and the feature this year is Creature Adventures starring the Kratt Brothers, the original creature adventurers, and all of their amazing animal friends! See Chris and Martin Kratt, stars of PBS’ popular Zoboomafoo series, as they introduce a fascinating cast of creatures. Click here for a full range of events.
10. Rent a Cabin – Kids love a theme, & themed vacations are no exception. Make a reservation at the swanky Bear Feet Adventure, enjoy a spectacular view from the Hillbilly Hilton, or go rustic with the chestnut logs of Riverhaven. They are cheaper than you think, and if you count the savings of having a fully-equipped kitchen, premium movie channels, pool table & swimming pool access, some cabins could be considered cost-efficient, pre-planned vacations within themselves.
This is just a sample because we could go on and on and on about all the things for kids (of all ages) to do in Gatlinburg. If you have any questions about a specific attraction that I haven’t covered, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’m happy to let you know whether your selection is kid-tested and/or parent approved.
For more ideas, see our post Things To Do: Gatlinburg Fun For The Kids- Part 2!
This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.