Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN With Kids: 14 of the Best

Sweet southern charm, the rugged topography of the Great Smoky Mountains, and an avalanche of indoor and outdoor activities come together to make Gatlinburg a bastion of family fun.

From classic theme park amusement to white water rafting in churning rapids, every inch of this Tennesse haven is overflowing with ideas for Gatlinburg, things to do with kids. Follow along to discover the 14 best things to do in Gatlinburg TN with kids.

Brace yourself for an unforgettable wildlife encounter at the Ripley’s Aquarium, or perfect that stroke when you putt putt for hours on any of the area’s mini golf courses.

Let loose mountain style at Ober Gatlinburg when you partake in ice skating or scramble up a 30 ft rock climbing wall.

Feeling starved for adventure? Conclude your epic Gatlinburg family vacation with a swashbuckling pirate-themed supper and show.

Stop wasting precious time googling ‘Gatlinburg activities for families’ or ‘where to go in Gatlinburg with kids.’ Leave the legwork to our experts, and get ready to enjoy the best things to do with kids in Gatlinburg!

Gatlinburg for Kids Hotels

Revved and ready to tackle all of the amazing Gatlinburg attractions for kids? Before you set forth exploring the top-tier family-friendly activities in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, you’ll need to reserve your lodgings. Stay close to the downtown action at the Gatlinburg Town Square, or rest up in a rustic resort boasting scenic Smoky Mountain views.

Whatever your style, budget, and taste we provide a wide array of Gatlinburg Hotels. Treat your kiddies to the splashtastic fun of a hotel with a lazy river, or secure your standing as parent of the year with a room at a water park resort. Children of all ages will flip over their free access to the River Run body slide or the dynamic thrills of the River Chaser.

Don’t stress over booking, as you are always guaranteed our lowest rates online.

view of lazy pool and Riverstone Resort & Spa in background at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USAThings to do in Gatlinburg TN for Kids

Feel the force of a real earthquake, get down with everyone’s favorite country superstar, or swoon over the dreamiest ice cream sundae. Thanks to a plethora of arresting activities, attractions, and locale treasures you’ll never have to wonder what to do in Gatlinburg with kids* or the best things to do in Gatlinburg for families:


Wacky, wonderful, and upside down. Take a leap into the unexpected when you spend a day exploring every inch of this indoor amusement park. WonderWorks features over 35,000 square feet of thrilling immersive exhibits, activities, and entertainment. Capture the imagination of mini minds as you swing through a glow-in-the-dark indoor ropes course, or feel the voltage of a 100,000 Volt Tesla Coil.

Suit up for a spirited game of laser tag, or travel to the outer reaches of the galaxy in the Space Discovery Zone. Learn about the power of pulleys, play around with iridescent orbs in the Bubble Lab, or hang on for dear life during the 4D XD Motion Theater experience. Don’t forget to cap off your day of educational excitement with a stop for Dippin Dots and nachos at the Wonder Cafe.

exterior view of WonderWorks on a sunny day in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USADollywood

Sweet cinnamon bread, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster, and a real coal-fired steam engine. Nothing beats the timeless appeal of the Smoky Mountains’ most beloved theme park. Uncover the exhilaration of over 50 rides and attractions at Dollywood.

Take flight on the Wild Eagle roller coaster, or jam out to authentic Appalachian music. Observe master craftsmen as they blow dazzling glass ornaments or forge unique blacksmith creations. Fuel up on Dolly’s favorite BBQ pulled pork and Dutch Apple pie, or save room for a sugary deep-fried funnel cake.

This upcoming season, lucky visitors will be blessed by the park’s largest-ever expansion. Muster up your courage and hightail it to Wildwood Grove to take your turn on the brand-new Big Bear Mountain coaster. The park’s longest coaster will contain 3,990 ft. of track, onboard audio, and themed music.

A father holding his son on his back and both of them laughing at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USAPirates Voyage Dinner & Show

Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum! Prepare to walk the plank as you embark on a sea-worthy journey with Blackbeard’s fearsome crew. Determine your allegiance at the Pirates Voyage Dinner and Show and let the aquatic adventure unfold.

Gasp in awe as a full-sized pirate ship emerges, spot soaring tropical birds, and incredible acrobatics. From mermaids to aerial stunts, this dinner show boasts nonstop entertainment. Dig into a sumptuous four-course feast of Buccaneer Biscuits, creamy vegetable soup, and Cracklin’ Pan-Fried Chicken.

But, don’t take your eyes off the stage as you won’t want to miss a moment of pyrotechnics or sea lion shenanigans.

*Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of things to do with kids in Gatlinburg TN or kid-friendly stuff to do in Gatlinburg, simply a roundup of our favorite things to do with kids in Gatlinburg.
Kid Activities in Gatlinburg

aerial view over the Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show arena in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA
photo credit: Pirates Dinner Adventure – Orlando Florida via Facebook

Rafting with Smoky Mountain Outdoors

Are you ready to see the Smokies where only boats can go? Unplug, unwind, and let loose in the churning waters of the Pigeon River. Ditch indoor entertainment for nature’s majesty when you go Rafting with Smoky Mountain Outdoors.

This full-throttle adventure boasts breathtaking scenery and heart-pounding rafting thrills. Depending on your skill level you can opt for the Class III and IV Upper Pigeon River section for ages 8+, or the milder Class I and II Lower Pigeon River section for ages 3+.

SMO has earned numerous TripAdvisor accolades and guarantees a safe and enjoyable tour. No previous rafting experience is necessary, and every trip includes a professional river guide.

People White Water Rafting with Smoky Mountain Outdoors - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
photo credit: Smoky Mountain Outdoors via Facebook

Gatlin’s Fun Center

Rainy weather got you down? A sprinkle of showers doesn’t mean you need to put the Gatlinburg fun on pause. Keep the festivities going when you swing by Gatlin’s Fun Center. No matter the age and interests of your brood, you’ll find plenty of Smoky Mountain amusement.

Choose from 15 adventures including mini golf, laser tag, bumper cars, and more. Pretend like you’re in Mission Impossible as you navigate a laser maze challenge, or work out that road rage bumping, bashing, and spinning on the neon-lit bumper cars course. Hone your focus and show off those sharpshooter skills, as you dive into a game of laser tag in their 3,000-square-foot arena.

Crave Golf Club

What’s sweeter than a sundae? How about a hole-in-one? Delight in 38 holes of candy-coated fun when you take time to tame that stroke at Crave Golf Club. Earn your mini golf stripes when you conquer Pigeon Forge’s only 19-hole indoor mini-golf course and 19-hole rooftop course.

Enjoy sugary adornments such as a brightly colored castle, a giant gumball machine, and more as you work your way through the course. In addition to putt-putt, visitors can jump into mini bowling games, shop at the candy store, or play an escape room game.

Close up of a green mini golf club and a blue ball near a hole.Ice Cream in Gatlinburg

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make for unforgettable memories. Spoil your little munchkins with a creamy, dreamy, frozen treat at any of Gatlinburg’s best ice cream parlors:

  • Maddi Mae’s Café & Creamery – stop by the highest-rated cafe in Athens and Gatlinburg TN, for a luscious hand-dipped ice cream, sundae, or classic banana split. And if you are in the mood for something savory, check out their lauded signature sandwich offerings.
  • Mad Dog’s Creamery – donuts, ice cream, and milkshakes oh my! With locations in both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, you’ll never be too far from a scoop of Yellow Brick Road or Smoky Mountain Fudge. Be sure to stock up on some mouthwatering specialty donuts for the road, with flavors like Blueberry Fried Pie and Banana Pudding.
  • The Crazy Mason – do it for the ‘gram.’Outrageous milkshakes, sundaes, and dessert bombs are what’s on the menu at the Gatlinburg outpost of Crazy Mason. Have that camera at the ready, as you’ll want to capture every angle of towering creations such as the ‘Butter My Waffle’ or ‘Crazy Cotton Candy.’

Gatlinburg Tennessee Attractions for Families

Hollywood Wax Museum

Lights, action, camera! Strike a pose and show off that megawatt smile as you step into the spotlight. Own that red carpet and create tons of social media-worthy content when you visit one of the top wax museums in Tennessee. The Hollywood Wax Museum is a homage to celebrities past and present.

Cozy up to stars like Sandra Bullock, Lucille Ball, George Clooney, and more. Grab ahold of fun props and costumes as you preen and primp in front of the camera. In addition to diving into the ins and outs of wax figure making, you’ll also glean invaluable knowledge about your favorite celebrities and superstars.

A male kid and an adult woman have a photo with a vampire statue.
photo credit: Hollywood Wax Museum via Facebook

Ober Gatlinburg

All aboard! Jumpstart your epic alpine escape with a soaring Ober Gatlinburg Tram ride. This 10-minute trip serves up searing views. Plus, it’s your ticket into the enchantment of this mountain-themed ski area and amusement park. Tiny tots and teenagers will find hours of entertainment as they participate in indoor ice skating, Alpine Slides, and rock wall climbs.

Take a break from the nonstop adrenaline of the Ski Mountain coaster to appreciate the furry inhabitants of Tennessee with a wildlife encounter. Coo over a cuddly black bear family, or watch the River Otters frolic underwater. Wee mountain babes can even participate in age-appropriate attractions such as the kiddie umbrella ride.

Close up of kids riding the Alpin Slide on a sunny day at Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA
photo credit: Ober Gatlinburg via Facebook


Stroll high above the forest floor. Hear the call of a local woodpecker. Or speed through a zipline challenge. Daredevils of all ages will be in awe of the offerings of Tennessee’s award-winning outdoor family theme park, Anakeesta.

Hop into a Ridge Rambler truck. Work on your agility and swinging skills at the Treeventure Challenge course. Or search for special gems and fossils at the mining hub. Monkey around on the onsite playground, or enjoy spectacular views, BBQ, burgers, and more at the Cliff Top restaurant.

aerial view of Anakeesta surrounded by trees with mountains in distance during day in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA
photo credit: Anakeesta via Facebook

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Spirit yourself under the sea for an aquatic trip like no other. From a 340-foot underwater tunnel filled with sharks to curious sea turtles swimming by. Every inch of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is filled with marine wonders. First, feed Sally the Sea Turtle. Then see if you can spot a camouflaged Scorpion Fish. Or touch a velvety soft ray as they glide by.

Uncover the secrets of the coral reef, or come face to face with a Sand Tiger Shark. Next, work on your waddle as you observe Penguins. Need even more ocean time? Take a peek at the aquarium’s events calendar. You’ll find family-friendly sleepovers and other awesome seasonal experiences.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA Downtown Skyline Aerial

Equal parts idyllic and exciting, the Smoky Mountain enchantment of Gatlinburg Tennessee can not be denied. Round up your rugrats and get ready to embrace the wild side when you plan a trip to this down-home haven.

Step aboard a Chondola at Anakeesta and savor sweeping Mt LeConte views. Or take things in a more glamorous turn when you cozy up to Bradley Cooper and Michael Jackson at the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Make a date for wholesome Appalachian arts, crafts, and a wooden rollercoaster at Dollywood. Or revel in the timeless pleasure of a decked-out banana split with your little one.

Whether you opt to rappel, zip line, or take out your friends in cutthroat games of laser tag, Gatlinburg’s kid-friendly greatest hits will never disappoint.

Tell Us, What Are Your Top Things to Do With Kids in Gatlinburg?

Did we skip any of the best kid things to do in Gatlinburg TN?

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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

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