You’re excited about all the possibilities of a great vacation for your young (and perhaps, growing) family. We’re excited that you’re considering bringing your little ones here to the Great Smoky Mountains! Not only are the Smokies a place of wonder and adventure for children of all ages, mom and dads can find lots to enjoy during the vacation, too!
Here are some of our favorite activities for young families visiting Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville and staying near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
1. Enjoy River-Bound Fun the Rat
Tubing on the Little River is so much for the whole family and family members aged 2 and up can begin the adventure tubing at Outpost A (our main outpost) in Townsend, Tennessee (unless high water conditions apply.) Make sure to check the water levels page on the day of your visit as water levels can change day to day based on rainfall.
Interested in something a little more challenging? Try starting your Townsend adventure on the Little River at Outpost B. All members of your group must be 6 or older. Again, you should check the water levels page on the day of your visit as water levels can change day to day based on rainfall.
White Water Rafting in Hartford, Tennessee is another River Rat adventure you won’t want to miss! We welcome rafters 3 and older to raft the Lower Pigeon River with us and rafters 8 and up to join us as we raft the Upper Pigeon River.
2. Explore the Smoky Mountains
Contrary to popular belief, hiking in the Smoky Mountains doesn’t have to be strenuous and you don’t need to be a skilled hiker to enjoy our beautiful mountain views and amazing access to nature:
Consider the Gatlinburg Trail, a nature walk through the woods that spans less than two miles. It’s just a mile from Sugarlands Visitor Center.
Laurel Falls is a paved trail, and comes in at about two and a half miles to the exquisite waterfall that is your reward for making the trek. Note that this is a popular and very busy trail during the busy season.
The Meigs Creek Trail follows the creek all the way to its headwaters along the northern slopes of Meigs Mountain. Along the way you’ll pass several small waterfalls and cascades, including the 18-foot Meigs Creek Cascades (also known as Upper Meigs Falls). During or after heavy rains, this trail will be a little more difficult.
3. Become a Junior Ranger in Gatlinburg
Junior Rangers help protect special places and stories within the National Park These learners and leaders teach others about keeping a safe distance from wildlife and learning more about their surroundings. You can complete several Junior Ranger activities and then print and color this badge.
4. Check Out Rowdy Bear Adventure Park
Seek your thrills at Rowdy Bear Adventure Park on a Mountain Glider – which is part hang gliding, part coaster – or take a ride on the Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster, a very unique way to experience the Smokies, reaching speeds you control of up to 35 mph. If you’re really feeling adventurous, try the Laser Gun Coaster, a 2-seat suspended Coaster that swings, dips, and soars about the Rowdy Bear Ridge. These are just a couple of the awesome activities your family will enjoy at Rowdy Bear, located in both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
5. See the Sights at Anakeesta
The mountain top village of Anakeesta is an absolute must for those staying near Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Sevierville. You’ll arrive via ski lift or gondola and then enjoy time with family and friends, stroll through the picturesque shops, have a fabulous dinner with a great view at the Cliff Top Restaurant and so much more!
6. Take in a show or climb the ropes at Lumberjack Feud Adventure Park
Check out a competition show between real, working Lumberjacks or try out their challenges for yourself at the Adventure Park, suspended high above Pigeon Forge, where you can compete in your own Log Roll, Boom Run, and Speed Climb. The Lumberjack Feud Adventure Park is big on outdoor fun and an active way to spend a couple of hours during your stay!
7. Take in the view at the Gatlinburg Sky Bridge
After riding to the top in Gatlinburg’s beloved Skylift, you’ll find a footbridge that crosses the sky 680 feet above the city. Guests enjoy panoramic views as they cross the glass-floor panels in the middle of the bridge’s span on the Gatlinburg Sky Bridge.
8. Learn Something New at Tremont Institute
For fifty years, Tremont Institute has modeled what an experiential classroom should be in one of the most ecologically diverse National Parks in the United States. The institute offers year-round learning opportunities for children and adults alike.
You may be asking, with so many activities for young families visiting the Great Smoky Mountains area, how will you ever choose? Relax and choose that seem to best fit your family as it is right now. We’ve found that many, many of our visitors return year after year, and we want to assure you that you’ll have plenty of time for additional family adventures in the Smokies on subsequent trips. So go ahead and draft you itinerary, grab a camera, and come visit us to make some Smoky Mountain memories!