70 Fun Things To Do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with Kids

Climb to the highest point in Tennessee at Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Climb to the highest point in Tennessee at Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
9/24/22 - By Charlotte B

Looking for the perfect family vacation destination in the mountains? My Florida-based family loves the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN area, home to endless kid-friendly attractions and outdoor recreation opportunities. We've visited this beautiful southern vacation spot several times in the last few years and always find new activities for all ages to enjoy, from toddlers to grandparents.

It helps that both of these Tennessee towns are just moments away from two of the area's top attractions: Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Dollywood, a mega theme park. And with so many family-friendly Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge hotels, you won't have trouble finding a great place to stay while you're in town.


Explore waterfalls, trek the mountains on a family hike, and take a scenic drive through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stroll the downtown streets of Gatlinburg, TN, filled with shops, dining, and attractions; take a gondola ride to a mountaintop theme park; and dress up in western wear for an old-time photo souvenir. In Pigeon Forge, you'll find Dollywood the central attraction! Read on for an extensive list of things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge
Walk the spectacular new SkyBridge, known as the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. Photo courtesy of the venue

Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg, TN

1. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

Cross the longest pedestrian suspension bridge—complete with glass floor panels in the middle—at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park.

RELATED: The Best Pigeon Forge Hotels and Hotels in Gatlinburg, TN for Families

A treehouse village delights kids at Anakeesta, a mountaintop theme park. Photo courtesy of the park

2. Anakeesta

Stroll a 16-bridge Treetop Skywalk, challenge your family to a dueling zip line adventure, play in a treehouse village, and explore all there is to offer at Anakeesta's mountaintop theme park.

3. Ober Gatlinburg

Spend a day at the Ober Gatlinburg mountaintop attraction, featuring year-round ice skating, a mountain coaster, ice bumper cars, a wildlife encounter, summer tubing, and more.

RELATED: Chattanooga with Kids: 25 Best Things To Do in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Ride a moving, 340-foot glide path along the "ocean floor" at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

4. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Kids can crawl through underwater tunnels to get an up-close view of the penguins at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

5. Gatlinburg Space Needle

Look over Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains from the 407-ft. observation tower of the iconic Gatlinburg Space Needle.

6. Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster

Top speeds of 35 miles per hour on the Rowdy Bear Mountain Alpine Coaster.

7. Wild Bear Falls Water Park

Splash around at Wild Bear Falls Water Park, regardless if it's hot or cold outside.

RELATED: Nashville with Kids: 60 Best Things To Do in Nashville, TN

Lock 'em up at Ripley's Believe It or Not in Gatlinburg, TN.

8. Ripley's Believe It or Not

Explore three stories of interactive exhibits at Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

9. Arcadia

Enjoy 30,000-square-feet of family entertainment complete with games, simulators, and activities at Arcadia.

10. Hollywood Star Cars Museum

Take a photo with The Ghostbuster’s Ecto-1 or the Duke of Hazard’s General Lee Dodge Charger at the Hollywood Star Cars Museum

11. Ripley's Moving Theater

Immerse yourself in a movie at Ripley’s Moving Theater.

12. Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen

Watch taffy being made at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen.

13. Old Town Photos

Capture your vacation memories and have fun while doing it with an old time photo experience.

14. Gatlin's Escape Games

Conquer a number of challenges in a race against the clock at Gatlin’s Escape Games.

15. Mysterious Mansion

Dare to tour the terrifying Mysterious Mansion.

16. Gatlinburg Pinball Museum

Play an array of both old and new games at the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum.

17. Gatlin's Rugged Ropes Course

Adventure through more than 30 challenges at Gatlin’s Rugged Ropes Course.

18. Hillbilly Golf

Ride an incline up a mountain to play a round of Hillbilly Golf.

RELATED: Memphis with Kids: 25 Great Things To Do in Memphis, TN

Spend the day on thrill or kiddie rides at the famed Dollywood amusement park. Photo courtesy of the park

Fun Things to Do in Pigeon Forge, TN

19. Dollywood

Thrill at the exciting rides and attractions at Dollywood, the mega theme park that carries the moniker of one of its owners, entertainer Dolly Parton.

20. Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud

Enjoy dinner and pick a side at the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud.

RELATED: 25 Fun Things To Do in Myrtle Beach, SC with Kids

Try a round of indoor (or outdoor) putt-putt at Crave Golf Club.

21. Crave Golf Club

Play a sweet round of miniature golf —with both indoor and outdoor courses—at the candy-themed Crave Golf Club.

22. TopJump Trampoline Park

Kids can jump off some energy on a rainy day at TopJump Trampoline Park.

23. WonderWorks

Explore the Wonder Zones at WonderWorks indoor amusement park, featuring six immersive discovery zones, laser tag, a 4D simulator, and an indoor ropes course.

Climb through a Paula Deen adventure park!

24. Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud and Adventure Park

Compete in a lumberjack competition at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud and Adventure Park.

25. The Comedy Barn

Enjoy an evening of family-friendly laughs at The Comedy Barn.

26. MagiQuest

Step inside a castle full of fun at MagiQuest, with four attractions including an interactive magic wand adventure, blacklight pirate golf, arcade, and mirror maze.

27. Beyond the Lens

Search for Bigfoot at Beyond the Lens!, a pop-culture-themed indoor entertainment spot.

28. Pirates Voyage 

Set sail on a nautical journey at Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show for an interactive meal with the kids.

RELATED: 40 Fun Things To Do in Shenandoah Valley with Kids

Rev those engines in the go-karts at The Track.

29. The Track

Challenge your family to a go-kart race at The Track.

30. Goats on the Roof

Feed goats, mine for gems, and ride an alpine coaster at Goats on the Roof.

31. RainForest Adventures

Kids can mix with hundreds of tropical animals at the RainForest Adventures Zoo.

32. Iron Mountain Metal Craft

Wow the big kids by forging a knife at Iron Mountain Metal Craft.

33. Titanic Museum

Touch a real iceberg at the interactive Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge.

34. Hollywood Wax Museum

Take photos alongside celebrity wax replicas at the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Hit the slides at the Dollywood water park in Pigeon Forge. Photo courtesy of the park

35. Dollywood Splash Country

Cool off from the summer heat at Dollywood’s Splash Country water park.

36. Pigeon Forge Snow

Go snow tubing year-round at Pigeon Forge Snow, an indoor snow park.

37. Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

View the mountains from 200-feet up in the air on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.

38. Outdoor Gravity Park

Go zorbing. (Think: giant inflatable hamster ball.) Kids will thrill to roll down a 1,000-foot hill at the Outdoor Gravity Park.

39. Parrot Mountain

Explore acres of landscaped gardens and hundreds of birds at Parrot Mountain and Gardens.

RELATED: U.S. National Parks Guide: Where to Go and What to See with Kids

woman performs a horse a show in front of an audience Dolly Parton's Stampede
Dolly Parton's Stampede comes with dinner and entertainment. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

40. Dolly Parton's Stampede

Enjoy horse-riding stunts and musical productions alongside a four-course meal at Dolly Parton’s Stampede.

41. Three Monkeys Photo Emporium

Cuddle a real monkey and get a one-of-a-kind photo souvenir at Three Monkeys Photo Emporium.

42. Toy Box Mini Golf

Try your hand on an 18-hole toy-themed mini golf course. When you're done, enjoy a laser maze, take photos with giant toys, and shop at the candy and toy shop. 

Stop to take in the breathtaking view. Photo courtesy of Visit Gatlinburg

Things to Do Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

43. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Explore the stunning Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park, according to the National Park Service.

44. Grotto Falls

Hike leisurely up to Grotto Falls where you can walk behind the cascading waterfall.

child walking across a sky bridge
Legacy Mountain, just outside of Pigeon Forge, offers some serious thrills, including zip lines and suspension bridges. Photo courtesy of the company

45. Zip line

Fly at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour between the mountains at Legacy Mountain Ziplines.

46. Go Caving

Adventure underground at the Forbidden Caverns.

47. Horseback Riding

Go horseback riding through the mountains with Sugarlands Riding Stables.

48. Laurel Falls

Hike a paved trail up to the 80-ft high Laurel Falls.

49. Get Your Junior Ranger Badge

Kids of all ages can participate in park activities to become Junior Ranger.

Hop out of the car to explore Cades Cove.

50. Cades Cove

Drive through historic Cades Cove and keep your eye out for wildlife that inhabit the park, such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, turkeys, and black bears.

51. Whitewater Rafting

Go whitewater rafting through the Smokies along the Pigeon River.

52. Ride the Rails

Climb aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad for a scenic excursion.

53. Go Swimming

Swim next to a waterfall at Midnight Hole.

people tubing down a river
Float the day away with River Rat Tubing and Whitewater. Photo courtesy of the company

54. Or Try Tubing

Float in a tube down the river in Townsend.

55. Tuckaleechee Caverns

View an underground waterfall at Tuckaleechee Caverns.

56. Take a Hike

Hike to the Alum Cave Bluffs.

57. Scenic Drive

Take a scenic drive through the 5.5-mile winding Roaring Fork Motor Trail.

58. The Sinks

Be sure to stop at the roadside waterfall known as The Sinks while driving through the national park.

59. Fly Fish

Learn to fly fish with a guided trout fishing adventure.

60. Clingmans Dome

On a clear day, see seven states atop the observation tower at Clingmans Dome, known as the highest peak in Rocky Mountains National Park but also in Tennessee.

61. Hit the AT

Hike part of the Appalachian Trail at the scenic Newfound Gap.

62. See a Ghost Town

Visit an abandoned resort ghost town in Elkmont.

63. Ride a Llama

Take a guided tour of the mountains on a llama trek.

Indulge in a famous giant cinnamon roll at Crockett's. 

Family-Friendly Restaurants Near Gatlinburg, TN

64. Applewood Farmhouse

Try the signature apple fritters at Applewood Farmhouse.

65. Crockett's Breakfast Camp

Indulge in a big breakfast at Crockett’s and be sure to order one of the famous cinnamon rolls. Tip: join the waitlist ahead of time. It gets crowded, but it’s worth the wait!

66. Junction 35 Kitchen

Junction 35 Kitchen at The Mountain Mile offers a play area and courtyard just outside the restaurant, perfect for little ones to burn off some energy while waiting for their meal. They might also enjoy the little train ride around the plaza.

67. Flapjack's Pancake Cabin

Order a bear-shaped pancake at Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin.

68. Mama's Farmhouse

Enjoy a family-style meal at Mama’s Farmhouse. Check out the outdoor play area for kids and yard games for all guests.

69. Big Daddy's Pizzeria

Eat pizza and play arcade games at Big Daddy’s Pizzeria.

70. The Donut Friar

For a sweet treat, grab a few, or a dozen, delicious donuts at The Donut Friar.

Oak Haven Resort is an award-winning resort and spa nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Photo courtesy of the resort

Photos by the author except where noted

Places featured in this article:

Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Gatlinburg

Ripley's Moving Theater

Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud and Adventure Park