There is traveling and then there is traveling with a toddler. A majority of your travel plans will often revolve around finding attractions and dining options that cater to small children. Throw in a nap, a good tantrum or two, add in bedtime at 7:30 pm and you have your itinerary. The good thing when traveling to Gatlinburg, Tennessee is that they have family-travel down to an art. While deemed touristy, there is literally anything and everything to do, which includes attractions geared towards toddlers. 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!
I remember visiting here when I was young and wow, has it changed! A recent remodel has left the museum brimming with quirky, strange and unique displays. With three floors of interactive exhibits, it is essentially a giant children’s museum. 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! As an adult, I really enjoyed the kaleidoscope room, their motion exhibit and so much more. 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 attraction save money by checking out their specials online.
Hike A Trail Down To A Mountain Stream
If there is one thing to enjoy while visiting Gatlinburg it is the Great Smoky Mountain, National Park. Unplug from the tourists, shopping, and sea of attractions by doing a little hiking. Taking a nature walk or hike will not only let unleash some of the pent up energy but also be fun and educational. 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. Learn more about the Roaring Fork Motor Trail here.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Step out of the mountains and into an undersea world that will leave you spellbound. Peer into the underwater world of sharks, stingrays and over 10,000 exotic sea creatures. 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 toddler-friendly activity in Gatlinburg. 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 of 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.
Keep in mind that the Aquarium offers sensory-friendly nights, for those who may need a little quieter experience at the aquarium. Check out their website for more information.
Wear Farm City Park Playground
Looking for a budget-friendly activity that is perfect for a toddler? Look no further than Wear Farm City Park. 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
As one of the top attractions in the Gatlinburg area, Dollywood has many reasons why families flock their year after year. You get an entire day packed full of entertainment including top-notch shows, rides, and a personal favorite, the Cinnamon Bread at the Grist Mill. I have a whole post dedicated 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!
These are just a few of the great toddler-friendly attractions you can find in and around Gatlinburg. If you are looking for the perfect souvenir, it doesn’t get better than toddler old tyme photos! Cherish those memories! We hope you and your family enjoy your next trip to the Smoky Mountains.
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