Fun For Kids: The Best Activities in the Smoky Mountains

fun for kids

Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we forget to just breathe. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important to us: our families.

Why not escape the business of the city and the monotony of everyday life and head to the mountains?

‘But I can’t plan a vacation, I’ve got kids!’ you might be thinking to yourself. For a lot of families, the mere mention of a road trip with children is enough to trigger a migraine.

Planning activities that are fun for kids shouldn’t be tough. After all, vacations are all about relaxing.

We’ve done the hard work for you — all you have to do is enjoy. Here are some things you can do in the Smoky Mountains that’ll be fun for the whole family!

Fun For Kids: The Best Activities in the Smoky Mountains

Spend an Afternoon Hiking

The Smoky Mountains are known for their majestic beauty. Even your littlest ones can appreciate the wonder of nature as you take a leisurely stroll.

Be sure to check out of the area’s dozens of hiking trails, many of which are perfect picks for kids.

The National Parks Services website has a list of family-friendly trails. To save you some time, we’ve highlighted our favorites.

For instance, Porters Creek is a great opportunity to teach your kids about history. The area was originally part of a European settlement, and many remnants of the small town remain.

And if your little ones get fussy, no worries! The trail is around 2 miles to Porters Flat, the highlight of the trail.

You can also visit Abrams Falls if you’re feeling a bit adventurous. After all, nothing is more fun for kids than adventuring and exploring nature.

The falls themselves are about 20 feet tall, but it’s a bit of a hike to get to the scenic view. If you’re worried about grumpy kids, stock up on snacks and water bottles and make a day of it. Just think of how relaxing a family picnic could be.

We can practically hear the serene waterfall already!

Create a Game Out of Spotting Wildlife

You may remember a previous post where we detailed a fun activity called Wildlife Bingo.

If you need a quick refresher, we’ll give you the rundown. First, hop on the computer and find out what types of wildlife are typically found in the Smoky Mountains. Then, gather some 5 x 5 cards and begin to draw lines per your standard bingo card. Finally, fill in the spaces with the names of popular wildlife.

Every time an animal is spotted, your young ones can fill in one of the space.

While markers or pencils certainly do the trick, we suggest getting creative. If you want to make the activity more fun for kids, use trail mix as bingo tokens!

If you think that may not hold your kids’ attention, how about a wildlife scavenger hunt? The process is similar to Wildlife Bingo, except your young ones will cross wildlife off of a list.

If you need help coming up with animals to include, here are a few of our favorites:

  • Elk
  • Black bears
  • Falcons
  • Wolves
  • Deer
  • Birds

Spend some time reconnecting with nature. Your kids are sure to love these activities, and kids don’t get out enough as it is.

Dollywood/Dollywood’s Splash Mountain

No list of Smoky Mountains activities is complete without a mention of Dollywood. It is, after all, one of the area’s most famous attractions. And for good reason!

For decades, Dollywood has provided families a place to spend some time together. In fact, there’s so much to do that you may want to split your trip to Dollywood into two days.

For starters, you’ve got the traditional theme park. Kids and adults alike are sure to love the awesome thrills of the many rides.
The park has everything from roller coasters to log flumes to our favorite, bumper cars.

And with summer right around the corner, you’ll surely need to slow down and cool off. Be sure to stop by Splash Country, the waterpark offshoot of Dollywood.

Kids are sure to love the park’s newest attraction, The Tailspin Racer. The Racer places you belly-first onto a small raft and sends you plunging down as you race against fellow ride-goers. It’s a fast-paced experience that’ll have your kids screaming with delight.

But Mom and Dad deserve some R&R, too. Be sure to unwind on the Downbound Float Trip. You’ll get to experience all the beauty of nature while drifting down a lazy river at your own pace.

Finish off your day (or days) with dinner at Dolly Parton’s Dixieland Stampede. It’s dinner and a show with a fun, family-friendly twist!

Make sure to keep checking their website, as there are often family-oriented specials.

Visit the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum

Located in the heart of Gatlinburg, this museum is dedicated to all things odd.

It’s an affordable set of attractions that’ll be plenty of fun for kids. The Ripley’s museum has split off into a variety of activities, so here’s a briefing on what you’d be remiss to skip.

The Odditorium is the central figure of the Ripley’s attractions and features a massive collection of oddities. From shrunken heads to the infamous vortex tunnel, to a robot sculpture, your kids will be amazed.

And since the museum is spread over 3 floors, you can easily spend an entire day checking out the museum.

If your children are a bit older, they’re sure to enjoy Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. With live actors and a fun, but chilling atmosphere, your kids will be scared silly. A word of warning, however, children must be at least 6 or older to enter.

If you’re just looking for some good fun, there’s the Ripley’s Mini-Golf attraction. Teach your kids a thing or two about putt-putt while you play up to 54 holes on a variety of themed courses.

Finally, we absolutely love the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Children of all ages will love the aquarium. This massive aquarium gives you the chance to walk under tunnels and see marine life in massive habitats.

The Aquarium has become a bit of a staple in Gatlinburg, so we suggest making it your priority.

Be sure to check out the multi-attraction discount to save some cash.

There’s so much today in the Smoky Mountains! With so much to do and see, your trip is sure to be fun for kids.

Patriot Getaways is dedicated to helping you and your family create lasting memories. So what are you waiting for? Get away for a while, you deserve it.

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