Ten Best Places to Visit in Gatlinburg with Your Family

Elaine Richardson

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Gatlinburg, Tennessee, located at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a treasure trove of natural beauty, adventure, and family fun. This charming town offers a unique blend of natural wonders and entertainment, making it an ideal destination for families seeking a memorable vacation. From scenic hikes and breathtaking vistas to interactive museums and unique shopping experiences, Gatlinburg has something to delight every member of the family.

Ober Mountain Adventure Park and Ski Area

Ober Mountain Adventure Park and Ski Area is a year-round destination for family fun. During the winter months, it transforms into a snowy paradise for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. When the snow melts, the park takes over with attractions such as the alpine slide, mountain coaster, and scenic chairlift rides. The park also features wildlife encounters and indoor ice skating, offering a variety of activities that cater to all interests and ages. Ober Mountain is the perfect place for families looking to enjoy the thrill of amusement park rides and take in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains in one location.

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A visit to Gatlinburg is incomplete without exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Renowned for its diverse flora and fauna, the park invites families to immerse themselves in nature. Hiking trails of varying difficulties, scenic drives, and numerous waterfalls offer endless opportunities for discovery and adventure. The park also serves as an outdoor classroom where the entire family can learn about the importance of conservation and the natural world. For convenience and easy access to the park, families should consider staying in one of the many Gatlinburg hotels located just steps from the entrance, allowing for multiple days of exploration and enjoyment in this vast natural playground.

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Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a gateway to the oceanic wonders right in the heart of the mountains. This aquarium is not just about observing; it’s about engaging with the marine world. The aquarium’s commitment to conservation and education shines through its exhibits, making every visit both fun and informative. It’s a place where curiosity is ignited, and the mysteries of the ocean are unveiled, making it a must-visit for families in Gatlinburg.

Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle offers a different kind of natural beauty – mesmerizing views from above. Families can ascend to the observation deck to witness the breathtaking vistas of the Smoky Mountains and the charming town of Gatlinburg below. However, the Gatlinburg Space Needle isn’t just about the views; it’s a hub of entertainment featuring an arcade and a laser tag arena that promises fun for the entire family. This landmark not only provides a bird’s-eye view of Gatlinburg’s beauty but also serves as a central point from which many of the town’s attractions can be explored.

The Village Shops

For a more laid-back experience, The Village Shops in Gatlinburg offer a charming escape. This collection of 27 boutiques, eateries, and galleries is designed to resemble a European village, providing a unique shopping and dining experience. Families can wander through the cobblestone pathways, discover one-of-a-kind souvenirs, indulge in homemade treats, and enjoy the quaint atmosphere.

Anakeesta

Anakeesta stands as a testament to Gatlinburg’s blend of nature and adventure. This unique outdoor experience takes families on a journey above the treetops, starting with a scenic chondola ride to the summit. Once there, visitors are greeted by a world of activities, from treetop skywalks and thrilling zip lines to a mountain coaster that winds through the forest. The park also offers tranquil spots like beautiful gardens and a fire pit area, perfect for families to relax and share stories of their day’s adventures. With dining options that boast spectacular views, Anakeesta provides a comprehensive experience that combines the thrill of adventure with the beauty of nature.

Gatlinburg SkyPark

The Gatlinburg SkyPark, home to the famous SkyBridge, offers an unparalleled perspective of the Smoky Mountains. The SkyBridge, recognized as the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, features a glass-floor section in the middle, providing a thrilling experience as visitors walk high above the forest floor. The SkyPark doesn’t just stop at the bridge; the SkyDeck offers a more grounded yet equally breathtaking viewpoint, and the SkyCenter is the perfect place to grab a bite or a souvenir. For families looking for a mix of thrill and scenic beauty, the Gatlinburg SkyPark is a must-visit.

Hollywood Star Cars Museum

For a change of pace, the Hollywood Star Cars Museum offers a fascinating journey through the history of film and television, showcased through its collection of iconic vehicles. From the Batmobile to General Lee, families can see up close the cars that played pivotal roles in their favorite movies and TV shows. The museum provides not only a walk down memory lane for adults but also a thrilling discovery for kids, making it a fun and memorable stop for the entire family. Interactive elements and photo opportunities with these legendary cars add to the experience, ensuring that every visitor leaves with great memories.

Gatlinburg Trail

For families seeking a gentle introduction to the natural beauty surrounding Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Trail offers a perfect solution. This easy-to-navigate trail allows visitors of all ages to enjoy a leisurely hike that showcases the beauty of the Smoky Mountains without the commitment of a strenuous trek. Along the way, hikers can enjoy scenic views, historic structures, and the chance to spot local wildlife, making it an ideal activity for families looking to spend quality time together in the great outdoors.

Sugarlands Visitor Center

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is more than just a starting point for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; it’s an attraction in itself. With museum exhibits that provide insight into the park’s wildlife and history, as well as a theater showing a short[a] film about the park, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for the natural wonder they are about to explore. The center also offers ranger-led programs, adding an educational component to the visitor experience. For families planning their adventure in the Smokies, a stop at the Sugarlands Visitor Center is invaluable.

Conclusion

Gatlinburg, with its natural beauty and a plethora of attractions, is a family vacation destination like no other. From the awe-inspiring Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the interactive and educational experiences at Ripley’s Aquarium and Sugarlands Visitor Center, there’s an adventure around every corner. A trip to Gatlinburg is more than just a getaway; it’s an opportunity for families to create lasting memories together in the heart of the Smokies.

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