Our first article on Gatlinburg Fun For The Kids, published nearly 2 years ago has been extremely popular, so we decided to send some more kid friendly ideas your way! Some of these are repeats from the last article (they were just too good to leave out!), but we will include some fresh ideas as well! This article is a collaboration between a mom who has used her kid to test out pretty much all of these places, and a young lady who is still a kid at heart!
The self-proclaimed amusement 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? “WonderWorks takes family fun to new heights with the World’s Largest Indoor Ropes Course. Standing 50 feet tall, visitors will climb 4 stories of ropes as they encounter over 50 different obstacles and activities; including swinging steps, lily pads, a tremor bridge and more. Conquer your fears and get an adrenaline rush. This exciting experience is included in the price of General Admission. Closed shoes required for this experience and proper dress required. No skirts permitted. Must be at least 42″ ( 3’6″ ) with an adult or 48″ ( 4′ ) to participate alone. Maximum height is 80″ ( 6’8” ). Maximum weight limit is 300lbs and you must safely fit in the harness.” Your kids won’t want to leave (and neither will you). Stop by our office (207 Parkway) & pick up a coupon.
Dollywood & Splash Country
Dollywood is geared for family fun all year long, with roller coasters for the big kids, traditional fair rides and games for all ages, and several attractions specifically for the little bitties! Come during KidFest for extra special fun for the kids with shows, booths, and demonstrations specifically geared for the kids! I am particularly looking forward to Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 4D (as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been following this blog)! Opening on Memorial Day weekend, Splash Country brings a whole new world of water adventure to the scene and is definitely fun for the kids.
“The Track is your family headquarters for fun in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Our action–packed family fun recreation center, with many amusements, FEATURES the ultimate in go kart tracks, like The Wild Woody, a three–tiered go kart/roller coaster hybrid. Race your kart around our large figure eight style Track. Challenge your friends and family to exciting themed miniature golf, splash ‘em on Blaster Boats, and smash ‘em on Bumper Cars. Test your courage from the top of our Bungee Jumping Tower, or enjoy the thrill of a skydiving effect on The SkyFlyer! Visit Kids Country for your kid’s activities, which feature the following: The Rio Grande Train, The Carousel, The Red Baron Planes ride, The Spin Tops, The Swing, The Ferris Wheel, and The Noah’s Lark Swinging Boat! Also featured are two smaller go kart tracks better known as The Kiddie Karts and The Rookie Karts. Whether you are local here or on vacation, consider having your kid’s birthday party here with us. Maybe you are a part of a large group? We would be happy to put a vacation package together for your particular needs.”
Isn’t it every child’s dream to have a horse or a pony? Whether you are blessed enough to be able to provide that privilege to your children or not, we are sure they would enjoy a chance to ride one, even if it’s not theirs! Especially if your child is a nature-lover, don’t miss the opportunity to experience riding in the Smokies, with the beauty of woods, flowers, and wildlife all around. There are tons of great places to ride around here, offering differing types of rides trails, from beginner to advanced. For tons of great horseback riding ideas, visit our Horseback Riding! post.
The health-nut, mom-ish side of me says, “Candy stores! Stay away!” But the sugar-loving, kid-at-heart side of me says, “Oooooooo! CANDY!” And we’re sure your kid will say the same! There are so many enthralling candy stores around here, it’s really hard to pick! Dollywood has its Sweet Shoppe, where they make homemade candies of every variety and also offer colorful novelty candies sure to catch the eyes of your kids. Ripley’s also offers a Candy Factory where kids can mix and match their selections from every type of candy imaginable. Watch them make taffy the old-fashioned way at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen in the Village Shops near traffic light #6. My personal favorite is Aunt Mahalia’s Candy at light #5, where not only do they have delicious homemade (“made in small batches!”)candies of every kind, from taffy to fudge, but they even provide a wide selection of extremely delicious sugar-free candies! So whether you’re a health-nut, a diabetic, or you’re just trying to keep your kids from getting so hyper, there’s hope for you yet!
If you are coming in the winter, Ober Gatlinburg is one of the obvious winter activities, providing a venue for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, ice skating, and more! As I’m writing this, though, its Spring, and you may not know that Ober Gatlinburg is a year round attraction! This time of year you can still enjoy the aerial tramway, alpine slide, ice skating, wildlife encounters, scenic chairlift, Amaze’N Maze, a carousel, chair swing ride, Blue Cyclone Rapids water slide (in the summer), Kiddie Land & Rides, mini golf, arcade, and raft & shoot rides. Come enjoy the Spring and Summer side of Ober!
Maybe horseback riding is not quite enough of a novelty for your children. For something a little more exotic, try camel rides out in front of the Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge! “The ride includes a 6×8 souvenir photo with one of our extraordinary camels that is used in the actual production based on the life of Christ. This is fun for the entire family! Get up close and personal with our friendly dromedaries.” This is the Miracle Theater’s last season, though, so make sure to come this year!
Smoky Mountain Field School
The Smoky Mountain Field School offers high-quality workshops, hikes, and adventures for students of all ages who want to enhance their enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of the Smokies and the great outdoors. Family Programs are available specifically to provide a fun and educational experience to include the little ones. Just a few examples of upcoming classes are: Sensational Salamanders, Exploring Stream Life In The Smokies, Wildflowers and Trees With the Family, and Storytelling. Make sure you register ahead of time!
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.
This theater, located in Pigeon Forge just a short 10 – 15 minute drive from downtown Gatlinburg, is the award-winning family comedy variety show in the Smoky Mountains. The side-splitting show features magicians, fire-eaters, jugglers, ventriloquists, clean family comedians, live music AND barn yard animals. My child had soda squirting out his nostrils during this one–clearly he thought it was hilarious.
Rafting & Tubing
In my experience, a summer in my childhood was not complete without a rafting trip! If you and your children love thrill and adventure, look no further than a day of white water rafting! You will be an irreplaceable member of your rafting team, as you learn to paddle together according to your guide’s instructions! Experience the thrill of making it through those roaring rapids, and in the intensity, don’t forget to look at the gorgeous creation around you! If you are more interested in viewing the creation and less interested in thrill and adventure, perhaps tubing is for you! Enjoy a lovely afternoon floating down a calmer section of a creek or small river as you gaze at the beautiful surroundings! Either way, don’t forget the sunscreen! There are tons of places around here that can provide these aquatic adventures for you! Here are just a few: Smoky Mountain Outdoors, Rafting in the Smokies, and Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Rent a Cabin
Kids love games, and especially on vacation. Rent the beautiful At Trails End to enjoy a pool table and pin ball machine. Pointe of Grace provides air hockey and a shuffle board table. Or if your children love those video games, try Cub’s Crossing or Moose Crossing, both of which come with a Play Station 2 & XBox (a few games are in the cabin, but I’m sure your kids will want to bring their own favorites, or rent some from the local video store). A cabin is cheaper than you think, and if you count the savings of having a fully equipped kitchen, premium movie channels, pool table & swimming pool access (at some units), some cabins could be considered cost-efficient, pre-planned vacations within themselves.
We hope this has provided some more inspiration for your kid-friendly vacation! For more ideas see our previous post Things To Do: Gatlinburg Fun For The Kids.
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.