The Great Smoky Mountains draw visitors from near and far. The area is filled with natural wonders and man-made delights that thrill kids and kids-at-heart. Families can have fun and affordable vacations any time of the year when they visit this spectacular southern mountain range. Head to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Sevierville, TN to start an unforgettable mountain holiday.
Take a look at our list of the Top 10 Favorite Things to Do With Kids in the Smoky Mountains for the 2015 Season:
1. Cabin-Dwelling (Year-Round) A family cannot consider a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains without thinking about camping. However, traditional camping is often unsuitable to the youngest members of the family. Gatlinburg Cabins are available in a variety of sizes and locations. Families can choose one bedroom, cottage style cabins or can opt for home-away-from-home cabins with a room for each child. Cabins have entertainment, like free high-speed Internet and video games, as well as spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains. Best of all, families can experience the mountains while remaining safe and comfortable.
2. Visitor Centers (Year-Round) Spend an afternoon at one of the four visitors centers in the Great Smoky Mountains for special exhibits, to purchase park guides, or to meet with a park ranger. Each of the visitor centers have public restrooms within the buildings or nearby and bookshops for purchasing pleasures. The Sugarlands Visitor Center offers a free, 20 minute film about the park. The Oconaluftee Visitor Center has a museum that replicates a farmhouse as well as other structures from days gone by, complete with demonstrations. Cades Cove Visitor Center has a grist meal that offers corn meal milling demonstrations and several log structures that can be explored
3. Music of the Mountains (April) Every April, the Great Smoky Mountains welcomes the Music of the Mountains Festival. This festival celebrates traditional Appalachian music at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This year, the Music of the Mountains Festival will be held for three days beginning on April 20.
4. Dollywood (Year-Round) Pigeon Forge, TN is home to one of the world’s top theme parks: Dollywood. Dollywood offers the perfect reprieve for Smoky Mountain vacationers. The theme park has rides for young children as well as daredevils. One of the newest is the Wild Eagle, which makes visitors feel as though they are literally flying over the Great Smoky Mountains. Others might enjoy more relaxed attractions like the Calico Falls Schoolhouse, a recreation of schools from days gone by. The theme park also offers a number of festivals and attractions throughout the year.
5. Mountain Life Festival (September) The Mountain Life Festival is held at the Mountain Farm Museum on September 21. Visitors can watch as items like soap, apple butter, and even brooms are made by hand. Sorghum molasses is made with a horse-powered cane mill, which is a sight to behold for kids of all ages.
6. Horseback Riding and Hayrides, and Carriage Rides (Year-Round) Head to one of the horseback riding stables in the Great Smoky Mountains to explore the area on horseback. Beginners are welcome, but kids must be at least six years old to ride the horses. Those with younger children or who simply prefer to have a less active role in the ride can take part in a hayride or carriage ride.
7. Smoky Mountain Field School (March – November) Families can take classes together during their trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. Learn about the bears that make the mountains their home. Explore edible nature, backpacking, Native American music, and so much more. Families of all sizes, ages, and interests can find a course or workshop that suits their need for knowledge and fun.
8. Auto Touring (Year-Round) A great choice for those who may wish to spend a short amount of time in the mountains, auto touring offers the opportunity to see the sights in an easy, comfortable way. The Great Smoky Mountains are over 800 square miles. Five major loops are accessible by vehicle. Stop at a visitor center to purchase a guide that will help all in the car learn more about the sights they see, or download a free app that offers area information with or without cell service.
To learn more about the auto tours: https://www.hearthsidecabinrentals.com/blog/smoky-mountains/smoky-mountain-tour/
9. Festival of Christmas Past (December) Take the kids on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains for an old-fashioned Christmas celebration. The Festival of Christmas Past, held this year on December 14, is a free public holiday. Gather for harp-singing, stories from the past, and the famed Christmas Memories Walk. The walk is led by costumed guides who share stories of the holidays in the mountains. Families can also take part in craft activities, which they are then allowed to take with them.
10. Holiday Homecoming (December) The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is a great place to celebrate the Christmas season. On December 21. Listen to the music, share in the crafts, and taste fresh cookies and hot apple cider.
Looking for more things to do in the Smoky Mountains?
Check out this list of attractions in Gatlinburg TN for more family fun!