40 Activities & Attractions for an Action-Packed Family Vacation

Gatlinburg is a vacation go-to for many reasons. Wineries, distilleries, charming wedding chapels, and cozy cabins make it perfect for romantic getaways, honeymoons, and wedding weekends. Large group lodges, a variety of restaurants, and places like Rocky Top Sports World, the Gatlinburg Convention Center, and the community centers in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg provide amenities for retreats, reunions, tournaments, and more. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – the most visited national park in the U.S. – for horseback riding, fishing, biking, and hiking on the 800+ miles of trails found there.

But Gatlinburg is probably best known for being a family-friendly vacation destination, offering tons of restaurants, fun events throughout the year, family-friendly attractions, kids’ activities, outlet shops, boutique stores, outdoor adventures, comfortable cabins, and high-action activities to keep everyone on their toes. From the youngest kiddos to the grandparents in the family, a family vacation in the Smokies has something for everyone!

  1. Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  2. Drive go karts at NASCAR SpeedPark.
  3. Get hands on at WonderWorks.
  4. Test your skills at Ripley’s Guinness World of Records Museum.
  5. Go ice skating at Ober Gatlinburg (indoor year-round).
  6. Ride the Alpine Slide at Ober Gatlinburg.
  7. Run from zombies at Outbreak: Dread the Undead.
  8. Have a 4-course dinner and watch incredible stunts and beautiful horses at Dixie Stampede.
  9. Cast a line in the cool waters of the Smokies’ streams.
  10. Skip driving and take the Gatlinburg Trolley around town.
  11. Rent a cabin with game tables – foosball, shuffleboard, pool, air hockey, and more – and have a family game night in the cabin.
  12. Fly through the trees with a canopy tour at Smoky Mountain Ziplines.
  13. Putt around – in blacklight – at Circus Golf in 3D.
  14. Ride roller coasters, watch a show, or play carnival games at Dollywood.
  15. Explore the new Anakeesta Aerial Adventure Park and Firefly Village.
  16. Pose with celebrities – including King Kong – at the Hollywood Wax Museum.
  17. Play arcade games and grab a footlong Ogle dog at Fannie Farkle’s.
  18. Experience a natural disaster at Earthquake – The Ride.
  19. Ride the Aerial Tramway to Ober Gatlinburg for incredible views of the Smokies.
  20. Get your adrenaline pumping with a ride on the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster.
  21. Get spooked with an Appalachian Ghostwalk or a walk through Ripley’s Haunted Adventure.
  22. Work together to break out at The Escape Game in Pigeon Forge.
  23. Play mini golf up the side of a mountain at Hillbilly Golf.
  24. Get 8 simulated rides for one price at the Motion Ride Movie Theater.
  25. Go skiing, snowboarding, and tubing (for young kids) at Ober Gatlinburg in winter.
  26. Play with the penguins at Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse in Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
  27. Take a horseback ride through the Smokies with Sugarlands Riding Stables or Smoky Mountain Stables.
  28. Splash around (year-round) at Wild Bear Falls Water Park.
  29. Cool off in summer at Dollywood’s Splash Country.
  30. Get 360-degree views of the city after a glass-elevator ride at the Gatlinburg Space Needle.
  31. Play arcade games at one of the many arcades along the Parkway.
  32. Get an old-time photo of the family – perfect for a souvenir – in downtown Gatlinburg.
  33. Gear up at the Nantahala Outdoor Center and take a whitewater rafting trip or float trip (for kids as young as 3) on the Upper and Lower Pigeon Rivers.
  34. Bike the Cades Cove loop for great views, wildlife viewing, historic buildings, and more.
  35. Try the ropes course at The Island.
  36. Build your own floating treasure and enter into the River Raft Regatta on July 4.
  37. Stop by the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair (July 14-23) to see talented craftsmen at work.
  38. Cheer on the teams competing in tournaments at Rocky Top Sports World.
  39. Challenge the kids to a game of laser tag at LazerPort Fun Center.
  40. Try to spot salamanders (the Smokies is home to 30+ species) on a hike in the national park.

Besides what you can do in town, our cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are loaded with great amenities for a fun family vacation in the Smokies. You can stay minutes from downtown (some even walking distance), perched high in the mountains with stunning views, or tucked away in a secluded grove of trees. You can explore downtown, or you can head back to your family cabin for games, relaxing in front of the fire, and even homemade meals. They’re equipped with full kitchens, dining tables, and living rooms, many with big screen TVs and Blu-ray players, game rooms, Wi-Fi, bunk beds, and more! Some even have private indoor pools and movie theaters, which are perfect for families with kids!

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