Sensory Activities & Attractions in the Smokies

Elevated stress levels, intensified emotions, and mental overload is not fun for anyone, especially those with special needs. It goes without saying that going on vacation with a loved one who requires extra care in public environments can be a challenge. In Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN, not only will you find peace and serenity at a secluded cabin rental, but there are also sensory activities and attractions that will aid your vacay experience, giving everyone in your party a chance to unwind and have fun together in the Great Smoky Mountains!

Titanic Museum Attraction

Instead of attempting to tour the Titanic Museum Attraction with heavy crowds, loud children, and pushy people, reserve an early-bird spot aboard the ship at 8:30 a.m. on a Thursday before the public begins to arrive around 9:00 a.m. This time is allotted for a limited number of families, so be sure to call and make your reservation ahead of time.

With low lighting throughout, your experience will begin with a spa-like calm. Grab your boarding pass, view the 4.5-million-dollar collection, and participate in fun activities, like touching a real iceberg, sitting in a lifeboat, and shoveling coal. Some of the exhibits can be noisy, so if your loved one has a sound sensitivity, bring along noise-cancelling headphones.

Dates: every Thursday, now – Aug 29
Time: 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Titanic Museum Attraction
2134 Parkway
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Watch as majestic sharks pass overhead, fish schools sway in unison, and manta rays glide across the sand on sensory-friendly nights at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Come in the evening on special dates around 5:00 p.m. for a quieter and more relaxed experience when the crowds have died down. And you’ll even get $3 off admission when you mention “sensory nights” at the ticket booth!

As ocean critters tend to provide a natural calm when viewed, you’ll already be one up on providing a tranquil experience for your loved ones. There are 2 floors of fishy fun, which include Touch a Ray Bay, Tropical Rainforest, Gallery of the Seas, and Penguin Playhouse. Plus, you can refuel with tasty food and bring home souvenirs from the gift shop.

Dates: Aug 7, Sep 18, Oct 16, Nov 20 & Dec 18
Time: 5:00 p.m. – closing

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
88 River Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738


Sensory overload can happen at a booming amusement park, and Dollywood understands the need for a place of serenity to decompress and recharge for the next fun adventure. That’s why they took initiative and created the Calming Room, a quiet place where guests of all ages can go to get away from all the hustle and bustle of rides, shows, craft demos, and the general crowded atmosphere.

Inside, you’ll find sensory items, like a tipi, weighted blankets, and fiber optic strands, to aid in relaxing. NEW 2020 additions provided through Covenant Health also include a new mounted activity panel, suggested by Dollywood Safety Manager, Judy Toth, that features letters, animals, and musical instruments to help guests decompress. 

Feel at ease as a group and leave the Calming Room with fresh minds, ready to make happy Smoky Mountain memories together. Call in advance to learn more, and when you arrive, feel free to speak with an attendant at the Ride Accessibility Center (adjacent to the Dollywood Emporium), who will guide you on how best to use and access the room.

Since its opening in 2016, Dollywood’s Calming Room has served 500 families and 350 new families said they visited the park because of the presence of the calming room! Dollywood and Covenant Health have more additions planned for the nursing areas, too – always aiming to best serve their guests!

Dates: year-round
Time: open – closing

2700 Dollywood Parks Boulevard
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Cabins for YOU

Find the ultimate in relaxation and serenity away from downtown excitement and city noise at a secluded or private cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains with Cabins for YOU. Catering to many needs, you’ll find the perfect fit for your loved one to feel calm and comfortable throughout your stay, with endless amenity options to aid in relaxation and entertainment for everyone.

Feel at home and at ease with homey conveniences like high-speed wireless internet, a fully equipped kitchen, and a washer and dryer set. Wade in the private indoor pool, soak in the steamy hot tub, shoot pool in the rec loft, watch movies in the theater, and bask in the peaceful quiet of nature with breathtaking mountain views. With 340+ options for YOU ranging from 1-16 bedrooms, we have just the cabin for your serene Smoky Mountain stay.

Dates: year-round
Time: 24/7

Address & Number
Pigeon Forge + Gatlinburg, TN

Bring the whole family for a memorable and peaceful experience in the Great Smoky Mountains at sensory attractions — and spend quality time together at your calming cabin.

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