4 Fun Things to do with Kids in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg Vacation Photographer


If you're anything like me, your kids having fun while you're enjoying your Gatlinburg vacation is one of your biggest worries. Kiddos having fun, means the parents can relax and enjoy themselves as well. We LOVE Gatlinburg and having frequent "Staycations" since we live so close by. Gatlinburg really does have something for everyone, hiking, arcades, yummy treats, shopping, and more. Here's some of my favorite kid-approved activities in the Smoky Mountains. 

1. Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

Of course hiking has to be at the top of the list in the smokies! There are trails to suit every taste and skill level. One of our favorites is the Look Rock trail off of the Foothills Parkway ( Worth a drive itself!). It's only about a 10 minute hike to the top, on a partially paved trail. It's easy enough that even our "in-doorsy" daughter tolerates it for the beautiful view. Once you make it to the very top, you can see for miles and miles of beautiful mountains. We just recently hiked up there, so I happen to have a picture of the view. 

Taken from the top of the Look Rock Tower. Well worth the 10 minute hike!

Taken from the top of the Look Rock Tower. Well worth the 10 minute hike!

2. The Gatlinburg Ripley's Aquarium

A MUST do if you're visiting the Smoky Mountains on vacation. It's seriously the coolest aquarium I've ever been to! A perfect rainy day activity if you should run into bad weather. There are so many interactive exhibits geared towards all age ranges; toddlers right on up through adults. We spend hours there when we go, especially in the shark tunnel and petting the manta rays. Oh! And the penguins; talk about adorable! There's so much to take in, and fun for the whole family. 

3. Walking the Strip

The main strip in Gatlinburg has so much to do and see. You'll find homemade fudge and candies that you can watch them make in front of you, arcades, and all kinds of fun shops to poke around. As a bonus, it's also full of Pokestops ( my kids are obsessed!), so they have something to keep them occupied during the "boring" stretches. Prepare to spend a good hunk of your day walking, browsing, and maybe grabbing some Ben and Jerry's ice cream cones. 


4. Drive the Cades Cove Loop

The title is a bit mis-leading. For the kids to really enjoy it, I recommend you set aside several hours for Cades Cove. Enjoy the drive, but stop to explore. Sparks lane has a great little area where you can park your car, stretch your legs, and take in the nature. We frequently find tadpoles, and other critters in the creeks that make my girls giggle, enjoy the mountain views, and if we're lucky, maybe even a deer or two will let us get a good look. Finding all the critters is like Where's Waldo! It's a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon for free. It's also one of my favorite spots to photograph, if you need family pictures while you visit!

The view from Sparks Lane in Cades Cove.

The view from Sparks Lane in Cades Cove.


I hope you guys enjoy your stay, and if you need more ideas, feel free to reach out. These are just some highlights; there's so much more to do.