Family Adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains

Choosing an adventure for the entire family comes easily when visiting Gatlinburg, TN. No matter what time of year it is, this mountainous area has something available for all manner of adventure seekers. These range from outdoor adventures to family entertainment, and are suitable for all ages. Year after year, families from all over come to visit and vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Great Smoky Mountains


If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, hiking in the Smoky Mountains National Park is an activity that interests families from all over. There are miles and miles of hiking trails to choose from, for all types of hikers, from beginners to the very advanced. Don’t forget to bring your dog, because there are pet-friendly trails, as well. If there are children or grandparents on your family adventure, then a day hike on a family friendly trail would be a perfect choice. Trail lengths can range from less than a mile to over 13 miles, so part of your adventure could be spent hiking and camping. While on these hikes be prepared to see breathtaking views, waterfalls, and wildlife. There are even pieces of history to be seen on some trails.

Hiking has its risks, so to ensure a fun, but safe adventure, make sure to prepare and plan accordingly. Planning which trails to take in advance is important so that everyone can be prepared. If needed, stop at one of the park’s visitor centers which offer more fun facts and information about the trails.


Picnic basket

The idea of packing a lunch and finding that perfect spot to picnic with your family can be an adventure all on its own. Picture forests, waterfalls, and nature all around while you enjoy your meal. That’s exactly what you get at the picnic areas in the Smoky Mountains!

Most picnic areas have a raised grill, while others offer only a picnic table. For larger families or groups, there are pavilions. These picnic spots can usually be sited from the scenic roads, and you’re able to stop at one whenever the mood strikes. For those so inclined, it is possible to reserve some picnic areas.



Zipping from tree top to tree top is fun for any age, although it is not usually recommended for those under five years of age. No experience is needed. Options for zip-lining include guided or self-guided adventures. There are multiple places in the area that offer different courses and lengths, so the choice is all yours.  Gatlinburg Zip Lining and Ropes Course Adventures is just one of the many places that provide a zip-line adventure.  This once in a lifetime journey can be enjoyed by everyone and all of the equipment is provided for you.

It is recommended that you make reservations in advance for a zip-line adventure. Age, weight, health, and clothing restrictions vary between places so be sure to call prior to your visit and arrive prepared.


For family entertainment, there are multiple arcades that are situated in the Smoky Mountain region. To ensure that a good time is had by all, be sure to venture to one of these arcades. Arcades offer not only video games but some also offer laser tag, bumper cars, and mini golf. In most arcades, tokens and tickets equal a prize to be won, which most young people find hard to resist! These arcades open early and they usually close around 9:00 p.m. Forget to pack a lunch? Gatlinburg’s fun centers are usually always serving food.


To experience history of all sorts on your family adventure, you’ll want to visit one of the area’s museums. Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium, is situated in Gatlinburg, and is a fairly large attraction. In addition to the Odditorium, Ripley’s offers a moving theater, haunted adventure, mirror maze, golf, and world record museum. These are encounters that can’t be found anywhere else. Just imagine the reactions when seeing things like an eight legged buffalo or a shrunken head.

For a less freakish time, but still an unusual site, pay a visit to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. Yes, seriously. The name says it all–the museum displays a huge collection of salt and pepper shakers–20,000 of them! Or go to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, home to cars from all sorts of famous movies. There is also Christ in the Smokies, a religious museum. These are only a few of the fun museum’s you can visit to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Amusement Parks

Time for an amusement adventure? Look no further! Dollywood is here. Dollywood is actually two parks–an amusement park and a water park. Whether you experience one or both, these award winning, friendly theme parks provide an entertainment adventure for your entire family. Noted for being one of the best theme parks in the country, Dollywood offers attractions that can’t be found anywhere else. Visiting Dollywood will leave everyone smiling.


Chief Operating Manager Andy Gladstein writes on behalf of Elk Springs Resort in Gatlinburg, Tenessee.

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