Taking the kids to Gatlinburg? This mountain town is perfect for all ages! Your family’s toughest decisions will be what to do next, with countless attractions that let visitors discover natural wonders, soar over mountainsides, and explore their playful sides. Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, we have sure-fire fun on tap for you with these kid-friendly Gatlinburg attractions.

Head into the mountains – that’s probably why you came to Gatlinburg, after all! Start with Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort with year-round fun. This mountaintop amusement park has everything from kiddie rides to a wildlife park. Summertime visitors don’t have to miss out on the sensation of zipping down the slopes: Ober Gatlinburg’s newest attraction, the Ski Mountain Coaster, thrills riders with nearly 3,000 feet of zig-zagging mountainside track. An indoor ice-skating rink, dining with a spectacular view of the valley below, and unique shopping with everything from Smoky Mountain souvenirs to fine jewelry round out the attractions.

Ski resort chair-lifts are repurposed as scenic excursions in the summer months. Photo: flickr/ faungg

Ski resort chair-lifts are repurposed as scenic excursions in the summer months. Photo: flickr/ faungg

 

In winter, Ober Gatlinburg’s focus turns to fun in the snow. Snowboarding, snow tubing, and skiing are all on tap. There’s even a kid’s play area just for little ones who might not be ready for the fast-paced downhill action.

Getting to Ober Gatlinburg is an attraction in itself: you can soar over downtown and high above the trees on the aerial tramway. If you prefer driving, parking at the resort is available as well. Visit Ober Gatlinburg’s website to start planning your visit!

Try zip-lining or mountain biking at Climbworks, which boasts a mountain-biking course, complete with bike rentals, and more than two hours’ worth of zip-line adventures. Their zip-line course, studded with swinging bridges and treetop platforms, offers guests more than two hours above the ground! And with ziplining available for ages seven and up, all but the smallest of visitors experience this bird-like experience in the Smoky Mountains. Just take a look:

If you’re feeling a little been there-done that with hiking, but you’re not prepared to spend your day high in the tree-tops, mountain bike rentals are available for Climbworks’ introductory-level or advanced biking trails. Kids aged 12 and up will love the freedom of dashing down the mountain trails on bike – for independent-minded teens, it might be a welcome change from sauntering in the woods with their parents. Visit their website for details on these action-packed offerings.

Ready to relax a little? There are many, many mini-golf courses in Gatlinburg, but only one includes an incline train ride. We’re talking about Hillbilly Golf, where a train takes you up a mountainside, so that you can play your way back down through an Appalachian-themed putt-putt course, complete with covered wagons, log cabins, and Ma’s laundry out on the line. If it sounds cheesy, it is! But at the same time, when there’s a 300-foot incline train ride just to start playing golf, you have a pretty unique experience that’s worth a little kitsch. Check out their rave reviews on TripAdvisor and you’ll definitely add Hillbilly Golf to your Gatlinburg must-dos!

Looking for a little indoor fun? Gatlinburg has several entertainment complexes, ranging from massive (think of Ripley’s eight different attractions) to old-fashioned arcades (like Fannie Farkle’s Family Fun Parlor). They’re all perfect for whiling away a few hours in the evening or a rainy day when the mountains just aren’t calling as loudly as they usually do!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not of Gatlinburg is more than just the entertainment company’s signature “odditorium,” full of strange artifacts and specimens from around the world. There are seven more attractions at this outpost, including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Moving Theater 5D, Ripley’s Amazing Mirror Maze, two courses of Ripley’s Mini Golf, and Guinness World Records. You got all that?

Always close to nature, even the Ripley’s entertainment complex backs up to a mountain-fed stream. Photo: flickr/Brandon Shea

Always close to nature, even the Ripley’s entertainment complex backs up to a mountain-fed stream. Photo: flickr/Brandon Shea

 

Kids (especially boys!) seem to love all the gross-out fun in Ripley’s attractions, which ranges from shrunken heads to a giant robot made out of used car parts. The moving theater includes digital screens and motion-activated seats to send viewers right into the movie action. At Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, everyone screams – it’s a haunted house! – but the scares are designed to be kid-friendly, so there won’t be too many nightmares afterwards. And at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, one of Gatlinburg’s highest-rated attractions on TripAdvisor, you can explore unique exhibits, get up-close and personal with penguins, and meet poisonous frogs in a rainforest habitat. Visit the Ripley’s Gatlinburg website for bundled combo passes, which let you save on visiting multiple attractions.

For an arcade that will keep the kids busy, and hand-dipped corn dogs that will bring back county-fair nostalgia, try Fannie Farkle’s Family Fun Parlor. This arcade has been in business since the 1960s, but don’t worry – they’re up-to-date with the latest games. The corn dogs, on the other hand, are as traditional as they come.

There’s a little more variety at Fort Fun, which includes indoor and outdoor mini golf, laser tag, bumper cars, a motion simulator with a variety of ride scenarios, an arcade, and gem mining. Pay by the attraction or stick around for the afternoon with a package that lets you play and see it all.

The golf courses around Gatlinburg range from adorably hokey to elaborately themed. Photo: flickr/Xiaojia

The golf courses around Gatlinburg range from adorably hokey to elaborately themed. Photo: flickr/Xiaojia

You’ll even find an arcade at the Gatlinburg Space Needle, the 407’ observation tower that offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding mountains. After you’ve taken a glass-elevator ride to the top and taken in the sights, everyone can go crazy at the 25,000-square foot, two-story amusement center, Arcadia.

Arcades can be noisy, and there’s only so many rounds of mini-golf one can play. Consider a museum – Gatlinburg has some unique exhibitions that will earn a thumbs-up from the kids.

Do you have budding petrol-heads in the family? The Hollywood Star Cars Museum will captivate car fans of all ages, with famous cars from Hollywood history. Their collection features cars from The Fast and The Furious, Gone in 60 Seconds, Back to the Future, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Munsters. With that kind of range, there’s something here for everyone. It’s a great way to while away an hour after a busy day exploring the Smoky mountains.

If you’re ready to indulge in quirky collections, visit the Museum of Salt & Pepper Shakers. For a three-dollar admission (which goes towards your purchase of your very own shaker set from the gift shop) you can explore more than 20,000 pairs of salt and pepper shakers. Use it as a cautionary tale for your children who want to buy every single tchotchke they see, or just revel in the unbridled enthusiasm of the original collector. You might even spot the same set your grandparents had on their table. Check out the rave reviews for the museum on TripAdvisor!

From the peaks of Ober Gatlinburg to the quirky fun of Gatlinburg’s museums, your family will soon find there’s way more to this mountain town than hiking and fall leaves. Gatlinburg has everything you need for a totally unique family getaway.

Ready to plan your Gatlinburg getaway? Visit our Destinations tab to learn more about Gatlinburg Town Square By Exploria Resorts, where you can enjoy family-size villas in a creek-side location just a short walk from Gatlinburg’s attractions.

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