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Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg

Top Eleven Things To Do In Gatlinburg For Kids

DATE : July 22, 2015

More than 11 million visitors venture to Gatlinburg, Tennessee each year to experience the outdoors and adventures in the town's parks and surrounding area. Gatlinburg focuses on family-friendly entertainment that leads to a long list of child-appropriate activities. These are the top 11 things to do in Gatlinburg for kids for the 11 million annual visitors.

Fannie Farkle's Family Fun Parlor

Fannie Farkle's Family Fun Parlor has carnival-style food and arcade games that are safe for children, including old arcade games to ignite nostalgia in parents. This restaurant/arcade is famous for its foot-long corndog, which employees make from scratch in front of customers. Children can collect points with each game they play to use toward a toy in the Redemption Center before leaving.

Wild Bear Falls Water Park

One of the best indoor water parks in Gatlinburg is Wild Bear Falls Water Park. Boasting as the fifth largest indoor water park in the United States, the park has over 60,000 square feet of slides, pools and treehouses. The design of the park benefits both children and parents, with the chance for parents to relax and watch nearby while children play safely. Kids can go tubing in a shallow, controlled pool and meet their parents at the snack bar. Children under three years old enter for free.

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is a mountain and ski resort with plenty of outdoor children's activities, open to resort guests and visitors for a fee. One of the most popular activities for children is the Alpine Slide. Children and their parents ride a chairlift over the Smoky Mountains until they reach the slide. Kids slide down 1800 feet past scenic mountain views. Ober Gatlinburg also features a carousel and playground for small children, an ice skating rink and a tour for children ages five and up to see bears, otters and other animals in their natural habitat.

Scavenger Hike Adventures

As part of an effort to help people learn more about the mountains in and surrounding Gatlinburg, Scavenger Hike Adventures provides books with clues to steer adventurers of various ages and abilities on hikes. Books on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and Shenandoah National Park provide plenty of options for families with children. After solving the hunt, children and parents alike can receive a certificate of their adventure.

Cataract Falls

The hike to Cataract Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a fun and easy hike even for young children. It is a short half-mile hike from Sugarlands Visitor Center, insuring a safe route close to park staff. The trail does not have any hills or steep inclines, making it an easy trek for little kids. The waterfall is approximately 25-feet high with steps for older children to get closer to the waterfall. With all of the natural surroundings, there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

Sugarlands Riding Stables

Children at least five years of age can ride through the mountains on horseback at Sugarlands Riding Stables. The one to two-hour tours in the Great Smoky Mountains take families on trails that offer a glimpse at native animals and plants. The tour guides are experiences and offer information about the surroundings in addition to a safe riding experience. Small horses are available for children.


ZipGatlinburg offers a nine-course zipline in Gatlinburg for children five and older. Kids experience what it is like to fly through the forest while safe in a harness. The course has four points at which it connects to the ground level, making it an easy course for kids. Older kids also enjoy the Tree Trek, which includes an obstacle course and swinging bridges over the trees. The children and parents only Trapeze Net lets children ages four to 12 jump like an acrobat and play games with the view of the mountains.

Space Needle

The Space Needle in Downtown Gatlinburg provides a 400-foot glass elevator ride to the highest man-made point in Gatlinburg, allowing a scenic view of the town and surrounding park. Kids can look out from the observatory and use telescopes to hunt for nearby wildlife. The Space Needle also has an arcade, theater, restaurant and shops.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is one of eight Ripley's attraction in Gatlinburg. This interactive aquarium lets children put their hands in a fish tank, safely swim in a tank with sting rays and see a variety of aquatic creatures. Children as young as four can even work with a penguin to create a work of art, as children and professional staff interact with penguins as they design art using their feet as paintbrushes. Parents can arrange sleepovers at the aquarium as well.

Ripley's Mirror Maze and Candy Factory

Families venture through a maze filled with mirrors and long hallways at Ripley's Mirror Maze. Kids have fun seeing themselves through several corridors as they try to find their way. Every 30 minutes employees walk through the maze to find anyone who might be lost. After families find their way through the maze, they can head over to Ripley's Candy Factory, found at the same location, for a sweet treat.

Hollywood Star Cars Museum

Hollywood Star Cars Museum features vehicles from famous television shows and movies, including the Batmobile. As an interactive museum, kids can climb inside most of the cars for pictures. The museum occasionally receives celebrity visitors. Children under six years old get in free, while children up to 12 receive a discount.

Children's attractions and activities in Gatlinburg, Tennessee abound for kids ranging in age from toddlers to the young at heart. The family-friendly environment of the entire city makes it easy to find opportunities to make memories with children. These are some of the most fun ways to entertain children and create a memorable vacation in Gatlinburg.