Visiting Gatlinburg TN is a great family-friendly vacation. There are so many fun things to do in Gatlinburg to keep your whole family busy and excited. Have family adventures exploring the Great Smoky Mountains and Ober Gatlinburg. Then take in the beautiful views from the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Once in town, visit the Gatlinburg Aquarium, the quirky Ripley’s Museums, Hollywood Star Cars Museum, and Hillbilly Golf. There are so many fun things to do! Follow along with me as I show you the best Gatlinburg attractions.
Things to Do in Gatlinburg
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 ones leading to cool waterfalls. Learn some history of the area and see over 90 historic structures on Ranger-led tours and the Cades Cove driving tour. 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.
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. There is 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 brings on the Amusement Park. Kids will have a blast 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. 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 their 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
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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. You will 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
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. Kids can see penguins, stingrays, sharks, and more. Visit the Discovery Center for hands-on activities and touch moon jellies. Let the kids learn more about the aquatic animals watching the free live chats and feeding shows. If you want something really special, try out the live penguin encounters. This would be a great option on a rainy day in Gatlinburg.
Address – 88 River Road, Gatlinburg, TN
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.
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, 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 your 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.
Ripley’s Mini Golf – Play a round of mini-golf on the Mountain themed interactive course.
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.
Guinness World Records Adventures – Here the Guinness records books come to life with cool exhibits, games, memorabilia, galleries, videos and more. All that you love about the books but in real life.
Tip: If you plan to see more then 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
Hollywood Star Cars Museum
This cool museum holds cars from Hollywood movies and TV shows from over the past 50 years. If your 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
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Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg
This is not your average miniature golf spot! 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. 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
Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
There are tons of options for lodging in 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 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 your 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 something 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. If you want to learn more about the Smoky Mountains, make sure to check out my Family Guide to the Smoky Mountains.
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