70 Fun Things To Do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with Kids
Looking for the perfect family vacation destination in the mountains? My Florida-based family loves the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN area, home to endless kid-friendly attractions and outdoor recreation opportunities. We've visited this beautiful southern vacation spot several times in the last few years and always find new activities for all ages to enjoy, from toddlers to grandparents.
It helps that both of these Tennessee towns are just moments away from two of the area's top attractions: Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Dollywood, a mega theme park. And with so many family-friendly Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge hotels, you won't have trouble finding a great place to stay while you're in town.
Explore waterfalls, trek the mountains on a family hike, and take a scenic drive through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stroll the downtown streets of Gatlinburg, TN, filled with shops, dining, and attractions; take a gondola ride to a mountaintop theme park; and dress up in western wear for an old-time photo souvenir. In Pigeon Forge, you'll find Dollywood the central attraction! Read on for an extensive list of things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
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Walk the spectacular new SkyBridge, known as the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. Photo courtesy of the venue
Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg, TN
1. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
Cross the longest pedestrian suspension bridge—complete with glass floor panels in the middle—at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park.
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A treehouse village delights kids at Anakeesta, a mountaintop theme park. Photo courtesy of the park
Stroll a 16-bridge Treetop Skywalk, challenge your family to a dueling zip line adventure, play in a treehouse village, and explore all there is to offer at Anakeesta's mountaintop theme park.
3. Ober Gatlinburg
Spend a day at the Ober Gatlinburg mountaintop attraction, featuring year-round ice skating, a mountain coaster, ice bumper cars, a wildlife encounter, summer tubing, and more.
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Ride a moving, 340-foot glide path along the "ocean floor" at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Photo courtesy of the aquarium
4. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Kids can crawl through underwater tunnels to get an up-close view of the penguins at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
5. Gatlinburg Space Needle
Look over Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains from the 407-ft. observation tower of the iconic Gatlinburg Space Needle.
6. Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster
Top speeds of 35 miles per hour on the Rowdy Bear Mountain Alpine Coaster.
7. Wild Bear Falls Water Park
Splash around at Wild Bear Falls Water Park, regardless if it's hot or cold outside.
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Lock 'em up at Ripley's Believe It or Not in Gatlinburg, TN.
8. Ripley's Believe It or Not
Explore three stories of interactive exhibits at Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Enjoy 30,000-square-feet of family entertainment complete with games, simulators, and activities at Arcadia.
10. Hollywood Star Cars Museum
Take a photo with The Ghostbuster’s Ecto-1 or the Duke of Hazard’s General Lee Dodge Charger at the Hollywood Star Cars Museum.
11. Ripley's Moving Theater
Immerse yourself in a movie at Ripley’s Moving Theater.
12. Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen
Watch taffy being made at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen.
13. Old Town Photos
Capture your vacation memories and have fun while doing it with an old time photo experience.
14. Gatlin's Escape Games
Conquer a number of challenges in a race against the clock at Gatlin’s Escape Games.
15. Mysterious Mansion
Dare to tour the terrifying Mysterious Mansion.
16. Gatlinburg Pinball Museum
Play an array of both old and new games at the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum.
17. Gatlin's Rugged Ropes Course
Adventure through more than 30 challenges at Gatlin’s Rugged Ropes Course.
18. Hillbilly Golf
Ride an incline up a mountain to play a round of Hillbilly Golf.
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Spend the day on thrill or kiddie rides at the famed Dollywood amusement park. Photo courtesy of the park
Fun Things to Do in Pigeon Forge, TN
Thrill at the exciting rides and attractions at Dollywood, the mega theme park that carries the moniker of one of its owners, entertainer Dolly Parton.
20. Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud
Enjoy dinner and pick a side at the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud.
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Try a round of indoor (or outdoor) putt-putt at Crave Golf Club.
21. Crave Golf Club
Play a sweet round of miniature golf —with both indoor and outdoor courses—at the candy-themed Crave Golf Club.
22. TopJump Trampoline Park
Kids can jump off some energy on a rainy day at TopJump Trampoline Park.
Explore the Wonder Zones at WonderWorks indoor amusement park, featuring six immersive discovery zones, laser tag, a 4D simulator, and an indoor ropes course.
Climb through a Paula Deen adventure park!
24. Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud and Adventure Park
Compete in a lumberjack competition at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud and Adventure Park.
25. The Comedy Barn
Enjoy an evening of family-friendly laughs at The Comedy Barn.
Step inside a castle full of fun at MagiQuest, with four attractions including an interactive magic wand adventure, blacklight pirate golf, arcade, and mirror maze.
27. Beyond the Lens
Search for Bigfoot at Beyond the Lens!, a pop-culture-themed indoor entertainment spot.
28. Pirates Voyage
Set sail on a nautical journey at Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show for an interactive meal with the kids.
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Rev those engines in the go-karts at The Track.
29. The Track
Challenge your family to a go-kart race at The Track.
30. Goats on the Roof
Feed goats, mine for gems, and ride an alpine coaster at Goats on the Roof.
31. RainForest Adventures
Kids can mix with hundreds of tropical animals at the RainForest Adventures Zoo.
32. Iron Mountain Metal Craft
Wow the big kids by forging a knife at Iron Mountain Metal Craft.
33. Titanic Museum
Touch a real iceberg at the interactive Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge.
34. Hollywood Wax Museum
Take photos alongside celebrity wax replicas at the Hollywood Wax Museum.
Hit the slides at the Dollywood water park in Pigeon Forge. Photo courtesy of the park
35. Dollywood Splash Country
Cool off from the summer heat at Dollywood’s Splash Country water park.
36. Pigeon Forge Snow
Go snow tubing year-round at Pigeon Forge Snow, an indoor snow park.
37. Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
View the mountains from 200-feet up in the air on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.
38. Outdoor Gravity Park
Go zorbing. (Think: giant inflatable hamster ball.) Kids will thrill to roll down a 1,000-foot hill at the Outdoor Gravity Park.
39. Parrot Mountain
Explore acres of landscaped gardens and hundreds of birds at Parrot Mountain and Gardens.
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Dolly Parton's Stampede comes with dinner and entertainment. Photo courtesy of the restaurant
40. Dolly Parton's Stampede
Enjoy horse-riding stunts and musical productions alongside a four-course meal at Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
41. Three Monkeys Photo Emporium
Cuddle a real monkey and get a one-of-a-kind photo souvenir at Three Monkeys Photo Emporium.
42. Toy Box Mini Golf
Try your hand on an 18-hole toy-themed mini golf course. When you're done, enjoy a laser maze, take photos with giant toys, and shop at the candy and toy shop.
Stop to take in the breathtaking view. Photo courtesy of Visit Gatlinburg
Things to Do Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park
43. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Explore the stunning Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park, according to the National Park Service.
44. Grotto Falls
Hike leisurely up to Grotto Falls where you can walk behind the cascading waterfall.
Legacy Mountain, just outside of Pigeon Forge, offers some serious thrills, including zip lines and suspension bridges. Photo courtesy of the company
45. Zip line
Fly at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour between the mountains at Legacy Mountain Ziplines.
46. Go Caving
Adventure underground at the Forbidden Caverns.
47. Horseback Riding
Go horseback riding through the mountains with Sugarlands Riding Stables.
48. Laurel Falls
Hike a paved trail up to the 80-ft high Laurel Falls.
49. Get Your Junior Ranger Badge
Kids of all ages can participate in park activities to become Junior Ranger.
Hop out of the car to explore Cades Cove.
50. Cades Cove
Drive through historic Cades Cove and keep your eye out for wildlife that inhabit the park, such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, turkeys, and black bears.
51. Whitewater Rafting
Go whitewater rafting through the Smokies along the Pigeon River.
52. Ride the Rails
Climb aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad for a scenic excursion.
53. Go Swimming
Swim next to a waterfall at Midnight Hole.
Float the day away with River Rat Tubing and Whitewater. Photo courtesy of the company
54. Or Try Tubing
Float in a tube down the river in Townsend.
55. Tuckaleechee Caverns
View an underground waterfall at Tuckaleechee Caverns.
56. Take a Hike
Hike to the Alum Cave Bluffs.
57. Scenic Drive
Take a scenic drive through the 5.5-mile winding Roaring Fork Motor Trail.
58. The Sinks
Be sure to stop at the roadside waterfall known as The Sinks while driving through the national park.
59. Fly Fish
Learn to fly fish with a guided trout fishing adventure.
60. Clingmans Dome
On a clear day, see seven states atop the observation tower at Clingmans Dome, known as the highest peak in Rocky Mountains National Park but also in Tennessee.
61. Hit the AT
Hike part of the Appalachian Trail at the scenic Newfound Gap.
62. See a Ghost Town
Visit an abandoned resort ghost town in Elkmont.
63. Ride a Llama
Take a guided tour of the mountains on a llama trek.
Indulge in a famous giant cinnamon roll at Crockett's.
Family-Friendly Restaurants Near Gatlinburg, TN
64. Applewood Farmhouse
Try the signature apple fritters at Applewood Farmhouse.
65. Crockett's Breakfast Camp
Indulge in a big breakfast at Crockett’s and be sure to order one of the famous cinnamon rolls. Tip: join the waitlist ahead of time. It gets crowded, but it’s worth the wait!
66. Junction 35 Kitchen
Junction 35 Kitchen at The Mountain Mile offers a play area and courtyard just outside the restaurant, perfect for little ones to burn off some energy while waiting for their meal. They might also enjoy the little train ride around the plaza.
67. Flapjack's Pancake Cabin
Order a bear-shaped pancake at Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin.
68. Mama's Farmhouse
Enjoy a family-style meal at Mama’s Farmhouse. Check out the outdoor play area for kids and yard games for all guests.
69. Big Daddy's Pizzeria
Eat pizza and play arcade games at Big Daddy’s Pizzeria.
70. The Donut Friar
For a sweet treat, grab a few, or a dozen, delicious donuts at The Donut Friar.
Oak Haven Resort is an award-winning resort and spa nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Photo courtesy of the resort
Photos by the author except where noted