Visiting Gatlinburg Tennessee is the perfect family vacation. There are so many fun things to do in Gatlinburg with kids that will keep your whole family busy and excited.
Have family adventures exploring the best Gatlinburg attractions from the Great Smoky Mountains to Ober Gatlinburg. Then take in the beautiful views from the Gatlinburg Space Needle or Anakeesta.
Once in town, visit the Gatlinburg Aquarium, the quirky Ripley’s Museums, Hollywood Star Cars Museum, and Hillbilly Golf.
Or check out some kids’ favorites like arcades, laser tag, escape rooms, ropes courses, and more.
There are so many fun things to do in Gatlinburg! You’re sure to find the perfect place to entertain the whole family.
Follow along to learn about the best Gatlinburg attractions.
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Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN with Kids
Table of Contents
Smoky Mountains National Park
Gatlinburg is one of the main entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As the most visited National Park in the country, you will find some truly stunning mountain scenery. There is a huge variety of things to do while visiting the Smoky Mountains.
Start out at the visitor centers to find the best family hikes. Make sure to check out the hikes leading to cool waterfalls. Learn some history of the area and see over 90 historic structures on Ranger-led tours and the Cades Cove scenic drive.
Visit the tallest peak at Clingman’s Dome and walk along the Appalachian Trail. Learn more about all the great family activities in my Guide to the Smoky Mountains.
Gatlinburg is the perfect location to stay while visiting the Smoky Mountains. There are tons of hotels and great Gatlinburg cabin options to stay in while checking out the park. Find my recommendations for Gatlinburg Cabin rentals in my Guide to the Smoky Mountains.
Best Gatlinburg Attractions
Here are the best attractions and activites for families in the Gatlinburg area.
Tip: Start your trip by going to the Gatlinburg Visitor Center to grab the coupon books for the attractions below and restaurants in the area.
Gatlinburg Welcome Center Address: 1011 Banner Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Ready for some family fun? Ober Gatlinburg is an all-season Amusement Park and Ski Area. So no matter what time of year you visit, there will be something fun to do!
To get to Ober Gatlinburg, go to the middle of town and board at the lower terminal Aerial Tramway. From there, you will board the Aerial Tramway and take a scenic 2.1-mile ride up the mountain to Ober Gatlinburg. The view on the ride up is beautiful.
You’ll find a ticket office on the ground to purchase your tramway fee or you can purchase online ahead of time. There is also a parking lot located by the lower terminal. The other option is to drive to the top but there is only a small parking lot available.
Summer in Ober Gatlinburg
Spring, Summer, and Fall at Ober Gatlinburg families have a blast at the Amusement Park. Kids will have a so much fun riding the Mountain Coaster, Alpine Slide, and water rides.
Then let them run through the maze and play a round of miniature golf.
There is also a chair lift to ride up a little higher on the mountain for better views that is worth going up to.
For the younger kids, there is a kiddie ride and kiddie land to explore. When it gets too hot, head inside for ice skating, ice bumper cars, an arcade, shopping, and food.
Lastly, make sure to check out the wild animal encounter.
Winter in Ober Gatlinburg
Wintertime Ober Gatlinburg is known for its skiing. It is Tennessee’s #1 skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing destination. This would be a great weekend winter getaway for the family. If you stay in town, you don’t even need to drive, just ride the Aerial Tramway up to the top of the mountain.
They offer a variety of activities based on skill levels from the Cubbies Snow zone for little kids to play in the snow to a Terrain Park for more advanced skiers. You will also find all the indoor activities available for the rest of the year like indoor ice skating, an arcade, and a food court..
What I like about Ober Gatlinburg is it offers a variety of activities great for all age groups any time of year. Our negative is it can be pricey to visit.
They do offer wristbands that bundle a whole bunch of activities together for one price. We took advantage of this and I think we saved money vs. paying for each activity individually.
However, decide how many activities you plan to do and then determine what’s best for your family. Find the rates here
Address to Lower Terminal – 1001 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN
For more information visit: Ober Gatlinburg
Related Article – 15 Best Road Trip Games for Kids at the Dollar Store
Gatlinburg Space Needle
Looking for some good views of the area? Take a ride up the Gatlinburg Space Needle. It has 360-degree views of the Smoky Mountains. At the top, you will find free viewfinders to get a better look.
Visitors ride a glass elevator over 400 feet to the observation deck. At the bottom, find a 25,000 sq ft. playground with an arcade, laser tag area, a theater, and The Captured, which is a live escape game.
When you get hungry, try out their New York-style Pizza. This could be a fun evening activity for the kids after visiting the Smoky Mountains or Ober Gatlinburg.
Address – 115 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg, TN
For More Information Visit: Gatlinburg Space Needle
Gatlinburg Aquarium – Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Want to visit the ocean while in the mountains? Head to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium is located right in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg so you can walk to stores and restaurants when you’re done.
Kids can see penguins, stingrays, sea turtles, sharks, walk through an underwater tunnel, and more. Visit the Discovery Center for hands-on activities and touch moon jellies. Let the kids learn more about the aquatic animals by watching the free live chats, feeding shows, or a live wildlife encounter.
If you want something really special, try out the live penguin encounters at the penguin playhouse.
This would be a great option on a rainy day in Gatlinburg. It’s a really fun afternoon out and a great experience for the entire family.
Address – 88 River Road, Gatlinburg, TN
For more information visit: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Gatlinburg has 8 unique attractions all located in town. Do your kids like odd and crazy things? Or do they read the Ripley’s Believe It or Not books? Then you will want to check these out. I will be honest, the attractions are really touristy and quirky but kids love it.
Here’s a brief description of all the Ripley attractions.
Tip: Check on deals if you bundle tickets for more than 1 location.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium is one of the strangest museums you will ever see. The odd items are housed in a 12,500 sq ft. building in downtown with 500 exhibits. Find a shark submarine, cars covered in crystals, shrunken heads, a climbing area, strange animals, and more.
Ripley’s Moving Theater – This location offers 5D Movies for a unique experience. It has cool digital effects and motion seats to make you feel like you’re in the movie. The movies change so check listings before you go. Some previous ones were Cars Movie and Despicable Me
Ripley’s Hall of Mirrors – Work together as a family to try and find your way out of the twists, turns, and dead ends through this mirror maze.
Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini Golf – Play a round of mini-golf on the Mountain themed interactive course.
Ripley’s Old McDonalds’s Farm Mini Golf – Three 18-hole mini golf courses with a barnyard farm theme.
Ripley’s Haunted Adventure – If your kids are brave, head to this 10,000 sq ft. Haunted Mansion where live actors jump out at you while you try to find your way out. It’s pretty creepy and you must be at least 6 years old to enter.
Ripley’s Super Fun Zone! – A retro-themed fun zone with 2 laser tag arenas, and an 18-hole indoor miniature golf course. Plus a souvenir shop with favorite pop icons, 80’s bands, retro video shirts & more.
Tip: If you plan to see more than one of these, I suggest you take advantage of the group pricing in their combo pass. This will save you a little bit of money. You can find the pricing online to purchase ahead of time.
Related Article – Easiest Money-Saving Tips for Family Vacation
Anakeesta Mountaintop Adventure Park
Head up to Anakeesta Mountaintop Adventure Park with amazing views and fun attractions for all ages. Take the chondola up from downtown Gatlinburg to the 70-acre park 600′ above Gatlinburg.
Some of the treetop adventures include lush botanical gardens and a treetop skywalk with a hanging bridge that will give you amazing views. If you feel more adventurous try the dueling zipline tour or the Rail Runner mountain coaster. For kids, there is a netted play area and a TreeVenture Challenge course.
When you’re done let the kids enjoy hand-dipped ice cream while the parents enjoy a cold beer. Make sure to have dinner up there too and enjoy the sunset and views around their fire pits at this unique Gatlinburg experience.
Address: 576 Parkway Gatlinburg
For more information visit: Anakeesta
Hollywood Star Cars Museum
The Hollywood Star Cars Museum is a cool museum that holds cars from Hollywood movies and TV shows from over the past 50 years. If you’re a movie lover or a car lover, you will really enjoy this museum.
They have over 40 Cars in the museum. Some of the highlights are the Batmobile from the 1966 TV show, the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, Fast & the Furious Cars, a Back to the Future Delorean, and a Beach Boys 1955 Thunderbird. Enjoy strolling through and checking out these fun and memorable cars.
Address – 914 Parkway, Gatlinburg TN
For More Information Visit: Hollywood Star Cars
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Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg
This is not your average miniature golf spot! At Hillbilly Golf start out by riding a tram up the incline 300 feet to the top of the hill overlooking Gatlinburg. At the top, you will find two 18 hole courses and pretty views of the town.
The holes are filled with fun cliche hillbilly ideas like moonshine sills and outhouses. You start at the top of the hill but you make your way down as you play. At the end, you will take one more short tram ride to the bottom.
It’s a really unique mini-golf experience I think the whole family will enjoy.
Tip: It is really easy to lose balls as you play down the hill so try and bring some extras.
Address – 340 Parkway, Gatlinburg TN
The Escape Game Gatlinburg
Get the whole family involved in playing escape room games right in downtown Gatlinburg at The Escape Game. You’ll have a great time going through the multiple escape rooms per game and getting unlimited hints to help your family succeed.
Tip: Fun activity to play before or after dinner in downtown Gatlinburg.
Address: 105 Reagan Dr. Gatlinburg
For more information visit: The Escape Game Gatlinburg
7D Shoot Em Up Cinema
Kids & parents will have a blast at Shoot Em Up Cinema a 7D cinema in downtown Gatlinburg. Put on your 3D glasses and grab your six shooter to play. You’ll not only see the images you’ll feel the water, and movement in your seat to make the game more exciting.
You’ll also find a large arcade game area when you exit the game.
This is a quick and fun activity to take the kids while strolling downtown Gatlinburg.
Address: 815 Parkway, Gatlinburg
The Village Shops
In this cute little European village right in downtown Gatlinburg, you’ll find 27 unique shops to wander through.
We loved the old-world atmosphere as a break from the touristy town.
Address: 634 Parkway, Gatlinburg
For More Information Visit: The Village Shops
Gatlin’s Fun Center
The Gatlin’s Fun Center is almost like a little alcove tucked off of Parkway that is filled with family activities.
Here you will find Mini Golf, Rugged Ropes Adventure Course, laser tag, black light golf, bumper cars, laser maze, atomic rush, and 4 escape rooms.
This is a great area to head to before or after dinner when eating in downtown.
Address: 716 Parkway, Gatlinburg
For more information visit: Gatlin’s Fun Center
Moonshine Mountain Coaster
This thrilling ride was formerly known as Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster but has had major updates and has been renamed to Moonshine Mountain Coaster.
Built on 10 acres of scenic mountains you’ll whizz through the trees on over 3000 feet of track. The ride will take a rider about 5 minutes you’ll have controls to help you go as fast or slow as you want.
It’s a unique ride not to be missed while in Gatlinburg.
Address: 306 Parkway, Gatlinburg
For more information visit: Moonshine Mountain Coaster
There are tons of spots to stop throughout Downtown Gatlinburg to stop and let the kids play a few arcade games.
Where to Park in Downtown Gatlinburg & FREE Trolley
There is street parking in downtown Gatlinburg but it’s hard to come by as it’s a very busy area. However, if you go earlier in the day you might get lucky.
You will find several paid parking garages to use when you’re downtown. Check on the City of Gatlinburg’s website for a list of public and private parking garages to choose from.
The other option is to take the Gatlinburg Trolly System. You’ll be able to park in free lots and grab a ride to downtown on the free trolly. This is a great option in summer when the area is super busy.
Visit the Gatlinburg Trolly page to find a parking lot located near you.
Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
There are tons of options for lodging in the Gatlinburg, TN area. If you want to walk to all the activities in Gatlinburg consider staying in the downtown area at the Bearskin Lodge on the River.
Another great option for families is to stay in a cabin or condo. This will allow you to spread out and make your own meals to save some money. Many offer great amenities too like hot tubs, pools, and restaurants.
We love to use Booking.com to explore all our options when looking for hotels. It helps us get a better idea of what is available and the reviews are very helpful. See if it helps you too!
Have you found a few fun things to do in Gatlinburg with kids? It really is a great place for a family vacation. You have the beauty of the Smoky Mountains and the touristy side of Ober Gatlinburg and the Ripley’s Aquarium. You should be able to find a perfect Gatlinburg attraction everyone in your family will love!
Let me know if you have any questions or more attractions to visit in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.
Want to learn more about the Smoky Mountains, make sure to check out my Family Guide to the Smoky Mountains. It includes the best hikes for families and everything you need to know before you go.
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