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Kid-Friendly Attractions in the Smoky Mountains

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The Smoky Mountains are a haven for families seeking adventure, beauty, and memorable experiences. From the natural wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the excitement of nearby attractions, there is something to captivate every member of the family. Today I am sharing ten of the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the Smoky Mountains, ensuring your family trip is filled with joy and laughter.

The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, one of the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the Smoky Mountains

Whether your kids love thrilling rides, nature walks, or interactive learning, the Smokies offer an array of activities to keep them engaged and enthralled.

1. Dollywood: A Dream Destination for Kids

Dollywood, the world-famous theme park in the Smoky Mountains region, is a paradise for children of all ages. With rides ranging from the thrilling Thunderhead wooden coaster to the gentle Village Carousel, there is something for everyone.

The park also hosts various seasonal festivals, offering unique entertainment and activities that change throughout the year. Children can watch skilled craftsmen, enjoy live performances, and even meet friendly animals at Dolly’s Farmhouse Friends. Dollywood combines the spirit of the Smokies with the joy of childhood wonder.

2. Outdoor Adventures: Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains

When it comes to finding things to do in the Smoky Mountains, the options are as vast as the landscapes. Families can venture on scenic hikes, such as the easy, kid-friendly Laurel Falls Trail, which leads to a stunning waterfall.

For a bit of educational fun, the Junior Ranger program at Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers children a chance to learn about the park’s flora and fauna through interactive activities. Whether it’s horseback riding or exploring the many streams and rivers, the Smokies are a playground for young adventurers.

3. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is another of our top must-see kid-friendly attractions in the Smoky Mountains! An exciting educational journey under the sea, children can explore ocean life through exhibits like Shark Lagoon, where they can come face-to-face with snappy sharks and graceful rays through a moving walkway.

The Penguin Playhouse offers an up-close look at these charming creatures. The aquarium’s interactive components, like touching a jellyfish or horseshoe crab, make learning fun and engaging for kids, ensuring they leave with newfound knowledge and big smiles.

4. Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is a thrilling ride that puts children in control of their adventure. Riders can navigate their sleds down the mountain on a track that twists and turns through the woods, offering both excitement and beautiful views of the surrounding scenery.

The coaster is designed for safety with controlled speeds, making it a fun and exhilarating experience for kids and parents alike. It’s a must-do for families looking for a mix of adrenaline and scenic beauty in their kid-friendly attractions in the Smoky Mountains.

5. The Island in Pigeon Forge

The Island in Pigeon Forge is a hub of family fun, featuring attractions like The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel that offers breathtaking views of the mountains. Kids can enjoy the interactive fountain, rope course, and numerous amusement rides.

The Island also provides plenty of shopping and dining options, making it a perfect spot for families to spend an entire day. With regular live music and special events, The Island delivers entertainment and enjoyment for all ages.

A view of the great smoky mountains on a cloudy day with the sun shining down on the haze which the mountains are famous for.

6. Gatlinburg Space Needle

One of the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the Smoky Mountains, the Gatlinburg Space Needle offers a unique vantage point from which to view the Smoky Mountains. Standing at 407 feet tall, this observation tower provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape.

Families can ride glass elevators up to the top where educational panels explain the history and geography of the area. It’s not only a great photo opportunity but also an educational experience that gives children a bird’s-eye view of the beauty that surrounds them.

7. Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo

For animal-loving kids, the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo is a delightful attraction. Here, children can interact directly with a variety of animals, including deer, kangaroos, and emus.

The opportunity to feed and pet these friendly creatures up close is both thrilling and educational, teaching kids about different species in an engaging environment. This experience is a wonderful way for children to connect with nature and learn about wildlife conservation.

8. Ober Mountain Amusement Park and Ski Area

Ober Mountain offers a mix of year-round kid-friendly attractions in the Smoky Mountains that are perfect for families. During winter, it transforms into a ski resort with snowboarding, tubing, and skiing opportunities

In warmer months, the amusement park features rides, mini-golf, and an alpine slide. The Aerial Tramway, which transports guests from downtown Gatlinburg up to the amusement park, provides stunning views of the Smokies. This diversity makes Ober Mountain a thrilling destination for families visiting at any time of the year.

9. Foothills Parkway

Foothills Parkway is one of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains, providing panoramic views that are easy to access by car. This less-crowded alternative to the more famous Cades Cove offers numerous pull-offs and picnic areas where families can enjoy the scenery at their own pace.

It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely drive, where kids can marvel at the mountain vistas and parents can enjoy the peaceful beauty of the Smokies without the need for strenuous hiking.

10. Heritage Carriage Rides of Pigeon Forge

To experience a piece of old-world charm, Heritage Carriage Rides of Pigeon Forge offers a unique family activity. These guided carriage rides take families through scenic routes, offering a relaxed way to see the sights while learning about the history of the area. The gentle pace of the horse-drawn carriage makes it ideal for young children and a memorable way to end a day of exploring.

Conclusion: A Smoky Mountain Family Adventure

The Smoky Mountains are an extraordinary destination for families. From thrilling theme parks and scenic natural wonders to educational experiences with animals and history, there’s no shortage of kid-friendly attractions in the Smoky Mountains to fill your days. Each attraction not only entertains but also provides opportunities for families to learn and grow together.

So, pack your bags and head to the Smoky Mountains for a vacation that promises adventure, relaxation, and a lifetime of cherished family memories!

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