Best Things to do with Your Family in the Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountains offer a multitude of family-friendly activities and attractions. After a short drive through Pigeon Forge Parkway and Gatlinburg, you’ll be faced countless options of things to do with your family during your stay at Smoky Mountains Lodge. Here are the 10 best things to do with your family in the Smoky Mountains (and driving times from our cabin:

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (10min drive): Explore the most visited national park in the United States, known for its stunning natural beauty, hiking trails, wildlife, and scenic drives. Don’t miss Cades Cove, Clingman’s Dome, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

2. Dollywood (30min drive): Visit Dolly Parton’s popular theme park in Pigeon Forge, featuring thrilling rides, live entertainment, shows, and family-friendly attractions suitable for all ages. It’s the #1 ranked theme park by Tripadvisor.

3. Outdoor Gravity Park (29min drive): Roll down a hill inside a giant inflatable ball! This unique and memorable attraction is sure to garner some laughs and memories with the family. This is a great summer activity and bring your swimsuit because you’ll likely get wet.

4. Ober Gatlinburg (40min drive): Enjoy year-round family fun at Ober Gatlinburg. Ride the aerial tramway to the mountaintop, do some snow tubing, skiing or snowboarding in winter, try ice skating, ride the alpine slide, and experience other attractions and activities.

5. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (30min drive): Voted best aquarium of North America by USA Today, this is a must see indoor attraction. You’ll discover a fascinating underwater world with over 350 species at this acclaimed aquarium in Gatlinburg. Explore interactive exhibits, walk through their unbelievable Shark Lagoon underwater tunnel, and marvel at a wide variety of marine life. In addition of exploring the aquarium, some of their most popular add-on experiences are the Penguin Encounter and Turtle Time. We recommend booking these in advance as they can sell out! Kids under 2 are free.

6. Anakeesta (35min drive): Take a scenic chairlift ride to Anakeesta Mountain in Gatlinburg. Once there, enjoy treetop canopy walks, ziplining, a mountain coaster, gem mining, and picturesque views from the observation tower. Also check out their incredible Astra Lumina night walk!


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Mountain views from the deck
Mountain views from the deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Fire pit at dusk
Fire pit at dusk
7-seater hot tub
7-seater hot tub
Game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, and pool
Spacious Game room and movie space
Open living room
Open living room
Dedicated movie space + Popcorn machine!
Battle on the arcade games
Battle on the arcade games
Dining room + Kitchen island
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Second upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
2nd upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
2 twin bunk beds in the open game room
Jacuzzi off the 2nd king bedroom
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Driveway at dawn
Driveway at dawn
Access to the community pool
Access to the community pool

7. Foxfire Adventure Park (46min drive): Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the Smoky Mountains, Fox Fire Adventure Park offers an exhilarating escape for families seeking outdoor fun. This immersive park caters to adventurers of all ages, making it an ideal destination for families with kids. From thrilling zip lines, to challenging obstacle courses and swinging bridges, to rock climbing walls, there’s no shortage of excitement here. The park’s emphasis on safety ensures a worry-free experience for parents, allowing them to join in the excitement or relax and enjoy the scenic beauty. Located a bit out East past the Parkway, Fox Fire Adventure Park promises unforgettable memories and endless opportunities for family bonding amidst nature’s wonders.

8. Dinner Shows: There are several dinner shows in the area and most are expensive, but fantastic! It’s probably best for kids who are 8 and up (younger kids might not make it through). Some of the top recommended are Dolly Parton’s Stampede (high production value), Hatfield & McCoy (great food & comedy), Pirates Voyage (best for kids), the Comedy Barn, and the newest show in 2023, Array.

Pirates Dinner Show
Pirates Dinner Show
Hatfield and McCoys dinner
Hatfield and McCoys dinner

9. Goats on the Roof (17min drive) is a unique attraction where you could easily spend a half-day. They have goats running around their roof and have a great mountain coaster. As of May 2023, they’re in the process of installing some large-scale dinosaurs along the track, so watch out for the T-rex! Another great mountain coaster alternative for the family is Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Experience an exhilarating ride on the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, an individual coaster cart that zooms through the mountains, providing thrills for the whole family.

10. WonderWorks (26 min drive): Explore this interactive indoor amusement park in Pigeon Forge, featuring over 100 hands-on exhibits and activities that blend education and entertainment.

11. Smoky Mountain Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo (41min drive): Visit this petting zoo in Sevierville, where you can interact with a variety of animals, including deer, kangaroos, camels, zebras, and more.

12. Knife Forging: Go forge a one-of-a-kind knife at Circle Bar T Forge (29min drive), Iron Mountain Metal Craft (26min drive), or Viking Blade Forge (47min drive): This is an awesome and unique experience for your family to be a blacksmith and forge your own knife. Not only will you learn about the process of forging and making a knife, but you’ll actually be able to MAKE it and bring it home with you.

13. Soaky Mountain Water Park (38min drive): The summer months can be hot, so why not take the family to a huge water park!? This has several massive water slides, pools, and rides for all ages. Located in Sevierville.

14. Wilderness at the Smokies (36min drive): Right across the street from Soaky Mountain Water Park is this hotel and water park. You don’t have to have to stay at the resort to enjoy their water park. They offer a limited amount of day passes available between $40-$80/day per person, depending on the time of year. Be sure to check out their new and expanded for 2024 Kaleidoscope Kavern Lazy River.

15. Wild Bear Falls Water Park (33min drive): This is an exhilarating and safe aquatic adventure, and you don’t need to stay at Westgate Resorts to visit their water park. With thrilling water slides, a lazy river, and splash zones, it offers endless entertainment for all ages regardless of the weather outside. Parents can relax in the hot tubs while kids enjoy the interactive play areas, creating unforgettable memories in a vibrant and family-friendly environment. Plus, its convenient location near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park makes it a perfect addition to any family vacation itinerary. Day fees: Adults $35, Kids $18, and kids under 3 are free

16. Activate Gatlinburg (37min drive): Activate Gatlinburg offers an exciting adventure experience for both kids and adults, featuring a variety of interactive games and challenges. From thrilling obstacle courses, light games, light-up basketball, lazer tag, blacklight rock climbing, to virtual reality experiences, the attractions cater to groups of kids ages 10+ up to adults. With its immersive activities and state-of-the-art facilities, Activate Gatlinburg promises a memorable and engaging entertainment destination.

17. The Brown Buffalo Farm (45min drive): This hidden gem is worthy of a visit…plus it’s free! When you need a break from the crowds, hop in the car and drive the 15 scenic minutes through the Arts & Crafts Loop to have some time watching several of these magnificent, wild animals. Click here for directions.

18. Parrot Mountain (36min drive): Enjoy a wildlife sanctuary of many varieties of parrots and the surrounding gardens. A visit here would get you up close and personal with these beautiful birds and the lush gardens that the live in. Note that they typically close down during the slow months of January and February.

19. Skyland Ranch (27min drive): SkyLand Ranch combines all your favorite things about the Smoky Mountains into one exciting Sevierville attraction. Gorgeous views, exciting rides, shops and eateries, live entertainment, miniature animals, and more are waiting for you at SkyLand Ranch.

20. Jayell Ranch (30min): This is a premier outdoor adventure destination nestled in the scenic Smoky Mountains. Known for its thrilling ziplining experiences, visitors can soar through the treetops while enjoying breathtaking views. The ranch also offers horseback riding adventures, ATV tours for those seeking an adrenaline rush, and a family-friendly petting zoo where guests can interact with farm animals. With gem mining activities, pony rides for children, and the backdrop of the stunning Smokies, Jayell Ranch provides a diverse range of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

21. Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing & Rafting (14min drive): Embark on a thrilling family rafting adventure along the Pigeon River. Choose from calm float trips or more exciting whitewater rafting experiences suitable for different age groups.

22. Visit Mountain Mile (24min drive): As one of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee’s most unique shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations, there is something for everyone. They have a few thrill rides for the older kids and thrill seekers, but also have fun lawn games like checkers and corn hole. It is also a fantastic place to shop, get dinner, or relax on the lawn.

23. Lorelei’s Candles (42min drive): This handmade candle shop is a great hidden gem in Gatlinburg. They have tons of unique candles and you can also create your own hand-dipped candles. Let your imagination go wild!

24. Forbidden Caverns (48min drive): Take a guided tour of these mysterious underground caves near Sevierville. Learn about stalagmites, stalactites, and the intriguing history of the caverns.

Remember to check the operating hours, availability, and any specific requirements for each activity before visiting. The Smoky Mountains offer a wide range of attractions that cater to various interests and age groups, ensuring a memorable family vacation. Have fun and make memories with the family!

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What are your must-see things to do with your family in the area? We’d love to hear and add to our list! Comment below.

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