9 Fun Things to Do on a Family Vacation in Gatlinburg

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Nestled in the heart of Tennessee’s picturesque landscape, Gatlinburg, a charming mountain town, is a hidden gem that has become a beloved destination for families seeking unforgettable getaways. With its breathtaking natural beauty and diverse array of attractions, it’s no surprise that Gatlinburg annually welcomes approximately 12 million[a] visitors from near and far.

This vibrant town, situated on the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offers a unique blend of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and family-friendly activities. From exploring the pristine wilderness to indulging in scrumptious cuisine and thrilling entertainment, Gatlinburg is a place where cherished memories are made.

In this guide, we’ll unveil 9 exciting activities that will transform your family vacation into an extraordinary adventure, showcasing the wonders of Gatlinburg’s landscape and the warmth of its community.

Things to Do on a Family Vacation in Gatlinburg

With a plethora of enjoyable activities in Gatlinburg, planning the ideal itinerary to ensure you don’t miss out on any fun can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of family-friendly activities that you must explore during your Gatlinburg trip.

  1. Stay at Luxurious Accommodations

When embarking on a family vacation in Gatlinburg, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay is paramount. Gatlinburg, TN, boasts a range of family-friendly hotels that provide the perfect blend of luxury and convenience. These accommodations create a warm and inviting atmosphere for your family, allowing you to relax and rejuvenate after a day of exploration.

Family friendly hotels in Gatlinburg TN, like the Sidney James Mountain Lodge, offer amenities and services tailored to the needs of travelers with children, making your stay hassle-free. With spacious rooms, modern conveniences, and often stunning mountain views, these lodgings serve as a welcoming home base for your Gatlinburg adventure. Selecting the right family-friendly hotel sets the tone for an unforgettable vacation filled with fun and relaxation.

  1. Explore the Smokies

Gatlinburg is popular due to its proximity to the most visited national park in the US, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So, no trip to this town is truly complete without visiting the Smokies. Exploring the national park is the perfect opportunity to help your kids connect with nature and enjoy wildlife as well.

If you are looking for a family-friendly adventure, you can go for a hike with your family. There are several easy and stroller-friendly hiking trails in the national park. On the other hand, you can also plan a simple picnic or go for a drive through the park.

  1. Spend a Day at Herbert Holt Park

Herbert Holt Park is a famous attraction for visitors and residents alike in downtown Gatlinburg. While this park is a little hard to locate, the trip is definitely worth it. It is the perfect family-friendly and budget-friendly activity to enjoy on your trip.

The park has picnic tables, restrooms, walking trails, a playground area, and grills as well. But what makes this park special is that it has a beautiful child-friendly fishing stream, which is stocked weekly with rainbow trout. So, your children can try their hand at fishing and maybe even develop a life-long interest in this hobby. While there is no fee or permit required for fishing in the park, you will have to bring your own gear.

  1. Visit Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium is an amazing, fun-filled, and informative place you should visit, especially if you have young kids. Here, you can witness different types of marine life. The aquarium is home to sharks, sting rays, a tropical rainforest, and coral reefs as well. And you can also meet penguins face-to-face and take memorable pictures.

  1. Go-Karting

Go-karting is another thrilling and fun activity you can enjoy with your family. The activity is suitable for adults and children alike. You can also find special tracks for small children so they do not miss out on the fun. Some go-kart tracks also offer several other activities, such as arcade games, mini-golf, and amusement park rides.

  1. Visit the Gatlinburg Skypark

The Gatlinburg SkyPark is also a popular tourist attraction in Gatlinburg. The park is located on top of Crockett Mountain, and you can get here on a chairlift. Apart from this, you can also enjoy stunning views and a spectacular sunset at the park. As the day unfolds, consider hiking along the SkyTrail, leading you to the Tulip Tower, where you’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramic vistas from the observation area. If the journey makes you thirsty or weary, don’t worry – you can also savor refreshing drinks and snacks to keep your energy up. It’s a delightful way to fully embrace the beauty of the park and make the most of your visit.

  1. Enjoy a Round of Mini-Golf

Mini-golf offers a delightful and enjoyable pastime for your family, irrespective of your prior experience in the sport. It provides a playful opportunity to strengthen your bonds with loved ones as you venture into something new together. Gatlinburg offers numerous indoor mini-golf courses, ensuring that inclement weather won’t dampen your game day. Furthermore, these mini-golf venues boast distinctive themes, enhancing the overall enjoyment of the game.

  1. Check out Hollywood’s Star Car Museum

If you or your family is a fan of cool cars, then visiting Hollywood’s Star Car Museum should definitely be on your list of things to do in Gatlinburg. The museum is home to amazing cars that have appeared in movies over the years. You can see cars from the Fast and Furious franchise and other popular Hollywood movies. The museum also has the famous Batmobile!

  1. Explore Downtown Gatlinburg

While there are numerous fun activities to enjoy in Gatlinburg, just strolling along downtown Gatlinburg has a charm of its own, and it’s budget-friendly as well. You can enjoy colorful shop displays, get souvenirs, and even get your hands on some delicious free food samples as well. And you can also witness the art of making candy and taffy at candy shops.


Embarking on a family vacation provides an ideal escape from the daily grind, granting you the opportunity to cherish valuable moments with your loved ones. Gatlinburg, a quaint mountain town, stands as the ultimate destination for an indelible family adventure. This charming locale offers an abundance of engaging activities, from hiking and fishing to exploration of captivating aquariums and museums. To ensure a seamless and stress-free vacation experience, it is advisable to secure tickets and make reservations in advance. This thoughtful preparation will allow you to make the most of your getaway in this enchanting destination.