6 Things for Families to do in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a great place to visit with kids. Here are my top six things to do as a family in Gatlinburg!

  • Cades Cove – While Cades Cove isn’t directly in Gatlinburg, it is well worth the 45min-1hr drive outside of the city. My husband was on the fence about whether we should drive there, and it ended up being our entire family’s trip highlight. We did Abrams Falls Trail which was 2.5 miles to the falls and another 2.5 miles back. This trail was fun. It had a good stop at a rock formation about halfway through where we stopped to rest on the way there and back. My son (7) did well with it although he did complain a few times about his feet hurting. Our toddler was in a hiking carrier on my husband’s back most of the time. At one point she even fell asleep! The falls itself was small but still pretty. We let the kids get naked and wade in the ice-cold water (it was a beautiful, hot day). It took us a couple hours total and we got no phone services the entire hike. But it was great being able to disconnect. Prior to the hike, we brought a picnic lunch and ate at the picnic table. After the hike, we drove the loop and stopped for some photo ops. We even saw some bears! It was a perfect day.
  • Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park – We didn’t get to do anything other than Cades Cove within Tennessee, but we did go to the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC and did some hiking. Overall, there are tons of hikes throughout TN and NC that you can do. Even if you aren’t super active, there are hikes that are great for novice hikers (like me!).
  • Downtown Gatlinburg – Downtown Gatlinburg is full of cute and cheesy shops and activities. While there’s a lot to choose from, the only thing we ended up doing was the Skybridge… twice!
    • Skybridge – The Skybridge gives you a wristband and you are allowed up an unlimited amount of times within that day. We took full advantage of this and went during the day and again at sunset/night. You go up the mountainside via a ski lift (a little scary with a toddler!) and there’s a shop and photo op at the top. Then you walk across the bridge (which doesn’t feel very stable but is) and at one point the bridge is made of glass and you can see below. We did the bridge in daylight and again when it was night. The wind made it a little bit scarier at night.
  • Downtown Pigeon Forge – We didn’t spend much time in Pigeon Forge but there are certainly tons of activities. One of the activities we want to do if we go back when the kids are all old enough to do so is alpine sledding. Hattie was under the age allowed so it wasn’t worth it this trip. There is also dinner theater shows like Dolly Parton’s Stampede. We plan to do those next time!
  • Dollywood – We had such a blast at Dollywood. If you ask Jude, his favorite activity on our trip was Dollywood. It was full of activities for both our kids – it really tailored to toddlers. We loved the atmosphere and we had great weather. You can read more about our day at Dollywood here.
  • Hang out at your cabin and have family time – This is an absolute must, y’all! To get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, make sure you rent a cabin outside of the city with pretty mountain views. We really loved our cabin and just hanging out as a family. It was well worth it.

I hope this guide gives you a good start to planning your vacation in Gatlinburg! We were a bit nervous prior to going because so many people didn’t seem to love it, but we really enjoyed all of the nature and the fun activities that were offered. Traveling with family is always an adventure and we really loved this one! See what our entire road trip itinerary was like here.