There is traveling and then there is traveling with toddlers. That is why we created a great list of the top 5 things to do in Gatlinburg with small kids. These attractions have been toddler approved, with a few of them being completely free!
The Smoky Mountains is a top family vacation destination for a reason. That is because they have perfected family travel down to an art. While deemed touristy, there are endless attractions, shows, and activities to do in Gatlinburg with kids. As yearly visitors, we have deemed these seven activities the best for those traveling with small children.
We were provided complimentary admission into these Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge attractions to show you how toddler-friendly these attractions are.
Ripley’s Odditorium Believe It Or Not!
Start your adventure by hopping an elevator to the third floor and work your way down. We spent two hours noodling through the different areas, each one with hands-on experiences that were quite impressive.
One unique factor I liked about Ripley’s Believe it or not was that exhibits were fun for all ages!
While little ones may be more hands-on, take a minute to read the plagues and descriptions to bring more life into the exhibit. Ripley’s Odditorium is located in the heart of Gatlinburg on the strip. Parking can found in nearby lots or if you are lucky you may even snag street parking.
Save money by looking for coupons in local coupon books or online. If you are planning on visiting more than one of Ripley’s attractions save money by checking out their specials online.
Hike A Trail Down To A Mountain Stream
My only piece of advice is to choose your trails wisely. You know your child and their limits better than anyone. If only a quick pullover and walk to the mountain stream is what your toddler will tolerate then so be it.
It will allow you to enjoy a little bit of the beauty this area is so well known for. We found that anything less than a mile is best, otherwise, we will be carrying her back to the car.
I recommend visiting the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. This is a beautiful scenic drive through the mountains with plenty of great spots to pull over for hiking. There is even a small trail around the historic Ogle Farmstead which is a great space for a toddler to explore the historic cabins.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
With over 10 galleries showcasing everything from penguins to a coral reef. A highlight of the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smoky’s is a 340 ft moving walkway that transports you through an underwater tunnel through Shark Lagoon for an up-close experience with these majestic animals.
This is the perfect thing to do in Gatlinburg with small kids. Aquariums have always been my go-to for traveling with little ones because the fish tend to captivate them.
Ripley’s Aquarium caters to their young guests with a new four-story play structure, a discovery center, and endless interactive exhibits. Not to mention the penguin playhouse! Parking can be located in a nearby garage behind the aquarium for a fee. Look for savings on admission on Ripley’s website or in local coupon guides.
Wear Farm City Park Playground
With a playground designed for toddlers, another for older children, and peaceful walking trails there is something for everyone. We stumbled across this gem while on a pursuit for a toddler-friendly playground that wasn’t tied in with a campground. Pack a picnic and enjoy the beautiful mountain backdrop.
Dollywood With A Toddler
I have dedicated an entire post to tips and reasons for Visiting Dollywood With A Toddler but one of my top reasons is that children under 4 get in free! Dollywood even gives readmission stamps so that if your little one tires you can take a break for naptime.
If you ask my daughter she will tell you that the highlight of Dollywood for her is the little ride, Piggy Parade!
Visit The Island At Pigeon Forge
The Island at Pigeon Forge has a variety of activities, restaurants along with top-notch attractions. A favorite is to watch the fountain show. Grab one of the many chairs, sit back and enjoy the free fountain show. It is especially magical at night as the fountains change colors.
Other fun toddler finds at the Island include a special toddler rope course, a variety of rides, and the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.
Discover more fun things to do with kids in Pigeon Forge.
Ride A Few Rides At The Track Family Fun Park
One of the most popular things we did with our toddler in Pigeon Forge was the small train at the Track Family Fun Park. The carousel came in a close second. This is a perfect option if you are looking to only ride a few rides without paying Dollywood pricing.
Did we mention they have one of the best go-kart tracks in the Smokies? If your child is tall enough they can accompany an adult in a two-seater go-kart.
These are just a few of the great things to do in and around Gatlinburg for small kids.
The Perfect Smoky Mountain Souvenir
If you are looking for the perfect souvenir, it doesn’t get better than toddler old time photos! Cherish those memories! We hope you and your family enjoy your next trip to the Smoky Mountains.