Fun, food, and family events in the Smokies
It’s no secret, Gatlinburg is a great place for families. With tons of family-friendly attractions, exciting events throughout the year (especially on holidays), a variety of food for every taste, and shops loaded with everything you could imagine – toys, books, doll clothes, candy, electronics, clothing, cowboy boots, specialty foods, and more – it is truly a vacation destination that will please everyone! The kids will never get bored in this charming mountain town with endless fun, and we even have great family cabins that offer entertainment without even walking out the door. Some have private home theaters and private indoor pools while others feature game tables, gaming consoles, or bunk beds that kids will love. All in all, Gatlinburg (and neighboring Pigeon Forge) is a place where you can take the family for days and days of fun. So if you’re traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains with kids, check out our kids’ guide to Gatlinburg. We’ll give you some tips for traveling with kids, along with some great ideas for places to eat, shop, explore, and play!
Top Tips for Traveling with Kids
Traveling with kids can prove challenging at times, but it can also be an adventure! If you’re heading to the Great Smoky Mountains this summer, check out our top 5 tips for traveling with kids.
Pack snacks. It’s always a good idea to have bottled water and non-melting snacks like crackers, nuts, or granola bars on hand. You can also bring along a small cooler for fruit or chocolate to keep everyone happy when stuck in traffic or between meals!
Bring on the games. Besides the favorite tablet or DVD player in the car, there are lots of fun car games you can play during your trip. One of my favorites was seeing who could spot the most states on license plates.
Take breaks. It can be tempting to hop in the car and buckle down for an 8-hour drive, but take time to rest and let the kids get out and stretch.
Let them take the wheel. Not literally, of course! But letting kids play a part in vacation planning can be a great way to get them excited about the destination instead of anxious about the long trip. Along the way, chat about what attractions or events you might check out once you get to Gatlinburg. Ask what they would like to do so they have even more to look forward to.
Be prepared. Bugs, bumps, and burns can put a damper on vacation. Remember to bring along bug spray (especially if you’ll be spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park), a small first aid kit, and sunscreen. If you have smaller ones, bring plenty of baby wipes for the ride!
Fun Food for the Kids
There are tons of great places to eat (and get treats afterwards) in Gatlinburg. Grab a piece of pizza at Slice Pizza Bakery after checking out views from the Gatlinburg Space Needle, have a pretzel and some fudge at Ober Gatlinburg before a ride on the Alpine Slide, get a footlong Ogle Dog at Fannie Farkle’s while you play arcade games, or pick up some candy at the Candy Factory after winding your way through Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze! Of course, you can always start your day with a stack of fluffy pancakes for the kids (Davy Crockett’s Breakfast Camp and the Pancake Pantry are 2 favorites) or get some fudge and candy apples at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen to take back to the cabin. If they’re craving something specific, kids will have their pick of cuisine in Gatlinburg, including Chinese, Japanese, German, Italian, Mexican, and so much more.
Gifts for Guys and Gals
We all know most kids are infamously averse to shopping. But that’s usually because our shopping consists of trying on endless pairs of jeans, checking shoe sizes, or spending hours at the grocery store. Not exactly a kid’s idea of fun. But in Gatlinburg, shopping can mean fun for the kids. There are dozens of stores along the Parkway in both Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Forge devoted to things kids of all ages love. The older kids might enjoy Smoky Mountain Knifeworks, Tervis, the “Life is Good” merchandise at Life According to Jake (in The Village Shops), Kryptonite Character Store (The Island) or hiking gear and t-shirts at The Day Hiker. The younger ones will love Cartoons and Toys (The Village Shops), or Build-A-Bear Workshop and The Toychest Company at The Island.
Summer Sun Fun
Don’t miss out on fun outside this summer in the Smokies. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts 800+ miles of trails to explore, so you’ll have ample opportunities for getting out in nature. You can go hiking, take a bike ride, go horseback riding, have a picnic in the park, cast a line for a day of fishing, find a swimming hole where you can cool off, or just hang out and enjoy a day in the great outdoors.
Exciting Attractions for Every Age
One of the things Gatlinburg is best known for is its wide variety of attractions. Check out some of our top picks for kids in Gatlinburg (and Pigeon Forge), including:
- Ober Gatlinburg
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
- Hillbilly Golf
- Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors
- Ripley’s Haunted Adventure
- The Escape Game (at The Island)
- Dollywood & Dollywood’s Splash Country