When it comes to kid-friendly activities, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge stand out as some of the best destinations in the country. As most people know, these two Smoky Mountain gems are filled with fantastic outdoor activities, and the good news is that most of these activities are tailored or suitable for families traveling with kids in tow.
You'll be spoiled for choice with countless places where your little ones can burn all their energy. From zip lines, ice-skating, and snow tubing to themed parks and water parks, and educational experiences in unique museums, the options are seemingly endless. The best part? These activities are as fun and entertaining for the little ones as they are for the adults.
In this blog, we've curated our top picks for the best activities for kids in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding areas.
Are you ready for some playtime? Let's get into it.
See and take pics with famous stars at Hollywood Wax Museum, Pigeon Forge
The Hollywood Wax Museum offers a unique experience for families with kids visiting Pigeon Forge. With lifelike wax figures of some of the world's most famous stars, people of all ages can have fun meeting their favorite idols, taking photos with them, listening to their music, learning about their personal lives, and immersing themselves in various scenarios.
Kids particularly enjoy the museum for its immersive experience. Each wax figure is accompanied by a unique scenario, and visitors can even use various props and costumes for some great photo opportunities.
The exhibit also provides interesting information and curiosities about the celebrities. Moreover, famous movie characters make cameo appearances. The favorite of the little ones? King Kong — kids just love to take pictures with the huge gorilla holding them in his hand.
Immerse yourself in themed fun at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge
No visit to Pigeon Forge is complete without spending a full day of fun with your kids at Dollywood. Co-owned by the country music legend Dolly Parton, Dollywood stands out as the premier themed park in the Smokies — a true paradise of rides, entertainment, and fantasy for the little ones (as well as for the big ones).
Kids of all ages will love the variety of over fifty rides available at the park. From classics like Flying Elephants, Busy Bees, Lucky Ducky, and Lemon Twist to the thrills of Big Bear Mountain and Tennessee Tornado roller coasters, Daredevil Falls, and the Great Tree Swing, there's excitement and different levels of adrenaline for everyone.
For family fun, don't miss Dolly's Express, the park's old-fashioned steam engine, and be sure to explore Wildwood Grove, a section featuring more amazing family-friendly rides. Beyond the rides, the park offers live music, captivating shows, exhibits, award-winning dining, and shopping opportunities.
Dollywood is open from mid-March through the end of December each year. During the Christmas season, the park transforms into an even more magical experience with fantastic decorations and shows. If you visit Pigeon Forge in the summer, you and your kids will also love Dollywood's Splash Country, a state-of-the-art waterpark featuring wonderful slides, pools, themed splash zones, and much more.
Go on fun rides and then have a great dinner at The Island, Pigeon Forge
The Island is an entertainment and shopping complex with options catering to both kids and adults. One of the biggest attractions for children is The Island's stunning fountain show, featuring a mesmerizing dance of water and lights. They will also have a blast riding the complex's Flying Horse Carousel, along with other exciting rides such as Clockwork, Funny Cars, Happy Swing, Spinning Parrots Coaster, Tree Fall Drop Tower, and much more. More fun awaits your little ones at Arcade City, where they can enjoy a variety of games, such as Laser Tag and The Escape Game.
Grown-ups will also be delighted by the excellent dining, shopping, and live music options. Enjoy free bluegrass music outside of the Ole Smoky Moonshine Barn. To wrap up your visit to this Pigeon Forge gem, take a ride on the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel. Share the experience with the whole family and admire a stunning view of the entire complex.
Enjoy winter all year round at Pigeon Forge Snow, Pigeon Forge
All year round, Pigeon Forge Snow, America's first indoor snow park, offers winter fun for both kids and parents. Regardless of the season you visit, the park features over ten lanes of snow tubing covered in powdery snow, providing a space where kiddos can release all their energy — and you can join them too!
The park works its magic using a one-of-a-kind snow-making technology to keep its space looking like a winter wonderland throughout the whole year. Beyond the snow tubing fun, the park offers areas where everyone can build snowmen, create snow forts, and engage in fun snow fights. There's also an open play area and a snack bar for everyone to recharge their batteries.
See nature & wildlife atOber Mountain Ski Area & Amusement Park, Gatlinburg
Home to several kid-friendly activities, Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area & Amusement Park is a mountainside destination that should be on everyone's bucket list when traveling to Gatlinburg with kids.
The fun begins even before you reach the park, as you take their Aerial Tramway — one of the largest in America — departing from downtown and carrying you up to the mountaintop. Expect breathtaking vistas along the way!
Once you and your kids arrive at the Adventure Park and Ski Area, you'll be spoiled for choice with entertainment. From skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating in winter to snow tubing, mini-golf, and exciting rides like the carousel, Mountain Coaster, and the Scenic Chairlift in summer. There's also an amazing game arcade.
The ultimate highlight for kids, though, is Ober's Wildlife Encounter, where they have the chance to spot bobcats, black bears, owls, and other fascinating creatures.
Explore the wonders of the underwater world at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg
Guess what? Gatlinburg is also home to beautiful sea creatures that captivate every child, and Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is the place to admire them. The venue showcases over 10,000 exotic sea creatures and offers several fun activities to make your kids spend a full day immersed in a true underwater wonderland.
One of the most popular activities in the aquarium is the opportunity for penguin encounters. Kids can shake flippers, pet the adorable creatures, and even take a photo with them to bring home as a souvenir. They can also pet stingrays (it is all very safe, we promise), feed Sally the Sea Turtle, watch live dive shows and animal training sessions, take part in educational experiences, and board the Ripley's Glass Bottom Boat Adventure to spot more incredible sea creatures.
However, the biggest hit at Ripley's Aquarium is the Shark Lagoon, where everyone is amazed to see the beauty of the kings of the ocean up close.
Enjoy more water fun at Wild Bear Falls Water Park, Gatlinburg
Want more water fun? Head to Wild Bear Falls, a mountain-themed water park offering great family-friendly entertainment all year round. Under its impressive retractable roof, your kids will have the time of their lives exploring the park's slides, lazy river, water splash areas, and several heated pools.
While your little ones have fun, you can relax in a hot tub or on the park's second floor, an area overlooking the pools featuring tables and chairs. The snack bar serves American classics such as wings, sandwiches, and pizza, as well as refreshing drinks.
Soak in the vistas and then enjoy a fantastic night walk at Anakeesta, Gatlinburg
Anakeesta offers plenty of outdoor adventures for your kids while you visit Gatlinburg. Nestled in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, this mountaintop park boasts not only breathtaking views but also many exciting activities, including zip-lining, gondola rides, an impressive treetop play area called the TreeTop Skywalk with several hanging bridges, and much more.
Be sure to stay until after the sun goes down to experience Astra Lumina, a fantastical night walk through the forest featuring wonderful light installations and projections. Anakeesta also offers charming boutiques and souvenir shops, as well as dining venues for the entire family to enjoy delicious food and stay energized to explore all the fun the park has to offer.
The Top Activities for Kids in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Around
Now that we've got you covered with these amazing kid-friendly activities, rest assured that whenever you choose to visit the Smoky Mountains, you and your kids will have the best time exploiting the region and all it has to offer.
While in town, why not enhance your stay with the stunning backdrop of the Smoky Mountains in a great rental property?
At Stony Brook, we offer an exceptional array of cabins and chalets in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Cosby, ranging from one to 16 bedrooms. As a family-owned service, we guarantee you'll have the best experience in the Smokies!