5 Family-Friendly Activities in the Smoky Mountains


Are you in search of the ideal combination of excitement and relaxation for your upcoming family vacation? Have you thought about considering the Great Smoky Mountains? This captivating range is nestled between North Carolina and Tennessee, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and historical intrigue.

But you may be wondering, “What kinds of things are available for families in the Smokies?” Well, this article will reveal an overview of some of the best activities that your family can enjoy together. Whether you’re keen on invigorating hikes or relaxed picnics, exploring historic sites, or observing wildlife in their natural habitat, your cherished journey begins right here in the geographic center of the Smokies.

  1. Hike to the Beautiful Waterfalls:

Waterfall seeing is a popular family pastime in the Smoky Mountains. These waterfalls provide a great chance for an enjoyable family adventure in a peaceful woodland setting. Here are some waterfalls you should see:

  • Laurel Falls: This 2.6-mile round-trip route will lead you to the magnificent 80-foot-high, double-tiered Laurel Falls. The trail is paved and kid-friendly, allowing you and your family to soak up the serenity of the surrounding forest along with the majesty of the waterfall.
  • Abrams Falls: A more challenging but rewarding 5-mile round-trip journey takes you through verdant woods to the magnificent Abrams Falls. Despite only being 20 feet high, the waterfall’s voluminous water flow creates a striking spectacle as it crashes into a large, serene pool.
  • Grotto Falls: The Grotto Falls route stands out for its unique ability to walk beneath a waterfall. This 3-mile round trek creates an amazing time for people of all ages by providing a cool, misty environment below the waterfall’s veil.
  1. Pay A Visit To The Island:

Families searching for a terrific and pleasurable time in the gorgeous Smoky Mountains should not miss The Island in Pigeon Forge. This family-friendly entertainment complex has a variety of attractions to offer guests of all ages:

  • The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel: Climb on this 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel for an exhilarating spin and a spectacular view of the Smoky Mountains countryside. Enjoy tranquil mountain views throughout the day and dazzling city lights at night.
  • The Island Performance Fountain: This modern fountain serves as the Island’s centerpiece, putting on a fascinating show that includes water dancing in conjunction with lighting and music. Each visit is unique due to an alternate choreographed dance being performed every half hour.
  • Ropes Course & Zipline: The Island Ropes Course is a multiple-level structure that tests your agility. Alternatively, ride the exhilarating Flying Horse Carousel, an amazing airborne activity that provides a bird’s-eye view over the Island.
  • 7D Dark Ride Adventure & Arcade City: Enjoy a multi-dimensional movie experience that mixes 3D films with heart-pounding motion, stunning effects, and interactive games.
  1. Spend A Day At Anakeesta:

Anakeesta, a Gatlinburg mountainside theme park, is an alluring getaway that advertises a day packed with kid-friendly attractions set against the lovely backdrop of the Smokies. Your journey begins with a lovely ascent on either a Ridge Rambler or a Chondola, bringing your first glimpse of the stunning views. After reaching the peak, your family can enjoy a variety of activities, such as: 

  • Treehouse Village Playground: This playground is a network of whimsically designed treehouses linked together with bridges and netting. A true paradise for kids who like climbing and exploring. 
  • AnaVista Tower: Climb this tower to reach the top of Gatlinburg for a magnificent 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains and downtown Gatlinburg. It is a sight to behold and a photo opportunity that cannot be ignored.
  • TreeTop Skywalk: Walk across the largest tree-based bridge in North America! It offers a thrilling walk above the forest floor. This skywalk lets you explore the treetops, giving you an up-close look at the forest’s canopy and its inhabitants.
  • Dueling Zipline Adventure: Witness a rush of exhilaration as you fly through the lush forest canopy, taking in amazing views of the nearby mountains. The best is it contains two parallel zip lines.
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  1. Enjoy At Ober Gatlinburg:

Ober Gatlinburg is a four-season recreation park and ski area that offers an eclectic mix of family-friendly activities. The top things to do in Ober Gatlinburg include:

  • Aerial Tramway: Begin your adventure in downtown Gatlinburg by stepping onto this scenic tramway. It offers a 2.1-mile ascent to the park, giving you stunning bird’s-eye views of the Smoky Mountains. Witness the undulating hills, lush greenery, and the town’s charming scenery unfolding beneath you.
  • Skiing and Snowboarding: With winter’s arrival, the park transforms into a snow-clad playground. Whether you’re a novice learning to make your first run or an advanced skier seeking a challenge, the park’s various slopes cater to all. Snowboarding enthusiasts also find their thrills on these snowy inclines.
  • Ice Skating: Regardless of the season, ice skating at Ober Gatlinburg’s sizable indoor ice arena is always an option. Glide and spin on the ice, providing year-round fun for individuals and families alike, even when the snow outside has melted away.
  1. Explore The Sea Life At Ripley’s Aquarium Of The Smokies:

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, takes travelers on a thrilling undersea adventure during which they can connect with a broad range of sea species. It’s an informative yet fun event for the entire family. Here are some of the activities and shows offered.:

  • Shark Lagoon: Take a rotating sidewalk down a submerged passageway and admire the various creatures, such as sharks’ tarpons and green sea turtles flying above.
  • Penguin Playhouse: Get down and personal with lively penguins in this indoor/outdoor environment. You may also crawl through open tunnels under the sea to watch the penguins swimming around you.
  • Touch a Stingray: Feel the silky wings of friendly stingrays in the touch pool.
  • Discovery Center: Enjoy interactive displays, puzzles, and a touch aquarium for a hands-on learning experience about the ocean’s richness.
  • Coral Reef: Enter a world of vibrant coral formations and witness tropical fish dart in and out in a brilliant display of colors.


With so much to offer, the Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect destination for family fun, bonding, and adventure. The range of activities ensures that every family member, regardless of age or interest, has a memorable time. So pack your bags, buckle up, and get ready to explore one of America’s greatest natural treasures.

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