The scenic and bustling mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are a child’s playground. They’re home to tons of kid-friendly attractions, arcades, toy stores, and candy shops. It’s a great place to really let kids explore and have some fun. As you plan your trip to the Smoky Mountains, consider what the kids might want to do. Ask what two or three attractions they definitely don’t want to miss. And if you need more inspiration, read on to see some of our ideas for a day for the kids in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
I consider myself a kid at heart, as I find myself completely amused by the games my nieces and nephews like to play and the places they love to go. I have so much fun feeling like a kid again at attractions geared towards kids, because they often involve lots of hand-on learning and unique experiences. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge attractions are no exception.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in downtown Gatlinburg was a 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Winner, rated the #1 Aquarium in America on TripAdvisor, rated #8 Best Aquarium on USA Today’s 10 Best list, and named one of “America’s Best Aquariums” by Forbes. Of course, none of these will mean anything to a kid looking for a fun day, so just let them know that there are more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures that cover more than 350 different species in the aquarium. There are dive shows, underwater tunnels, stingray touch experiences, and interactive kids’ displays. There is even a new Penguin Playhouse where kids can crawl through tunnels and watch the penguins at play underwater. That should get their attention.
Fort Fun is another great place for a day with the kids. The Gatlinburg attraction features outdoor and indoor miniature golf, laser tag, bumper cars, a motion ride, a laser maze, a 3-D theater, gem mining, and arcade games! You could keep kids entertained here for an entire day. Kids will appreciate the variety of games, and you’ll appreciate the variety of ticket options that provide great deals.
Fannie Farkle’s sits in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, along the busy Parkway. In addition to their famous “Ogle Dogs,” they serve Hawaiian shave ice, sweet iced tea, and sausage subs. Inside, kids will love playing games, winning tickets, and picking out prizes. They have tons of arcade games, from the classic Skee Ball and Pac Mania to the newer Fruit Ninja and Wheel of Fortune. Best of all, the points never expire at Fannie Farkle’s, so your kids can save up their points for the next visit to claim an even bigger prize!
Just down the road in Pigeon Forge, WonderWorks is a hands-on learning experience for kids. It’s the “upside down” building on the Parkway, so you’re sure not to miss it. Exhibits inside will be educational and fun for the kids, focusing on natural disasters, light and sound, art, imagination, space, and physical challenges. There is even an indoor glow-in-the-dark ropes course and a laser tag arena!
If you want your kids to have a more outdoorsy experience while in the Smokies, drive over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hike, bike, go horseback riding, play in an open field, or have a picnic by the water. They will find plenty to explore in this famous national park. Kids can even become junior rangers through the park’s program.