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Family Fun: 5 Tips for Planning a Trip to the Smokies with Kids

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For those who don’t know, The Smokies are a mountain range in the southeastern United States. The area stretches across Tennessee and North Carolina. Here, you’ll find beautiful towns like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, with many family-friendly activities and attractions. These include outdoor adventures, delicious food, exciting theme parks, and many more fun activities for a memorable time with your kids.

Well-maintained hiking trails and awesome waterfalls at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offer a refreshing family retreat. Moreover, there are many exciting adventures to enjoy, including the thrilling Ober Mountain Amusement Park or the educational experience at Ripley’s Aquarium. Your family will also love the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster ride or the Gatlinburg SkyPark, both of which let you explore the surrounding beauty in a thrilling way.

So, if you’re planning a trip to America’s most popular national park, you’ll need a few tips for a memorable time with your little ones. Here they are:  

Choose a Family-Friendly Accommodation

There is a wide range of lodging options available for families visiting the Smokies. From comfortable cabins to well-equipped hotel rooms and modern condominiums, each option offers a unique experience. 

When selecting the right accommodation, make sure it offers facilities for a comfortable stay with your little ones. For instance, you may opt for a lovely mountain cabin that offers a breathtaking view and plenty of outdoor space for your kids to play. 

Choose lodgings that provide convenient access to the wonderful attractions in Gatlinburg. Features such as spacious living areas, accessibility to family-friendly attractions, great restaurants nearby, and a range of useful facilities can enhance the comfort and enjoyment of your family’s Smoky Mountains getaway. You can find and book some of the best places to stay in Gatlinburg for families online on platforms such as Vacation Rentals in Gatlinburg. There are several options, offering different amenities and proximity to famous locations within the city. 

Pack your essentials

Make your trip comfortable, and pack all the important stuff for yourself and your kids. Here is a checklist you can go through so that you don’t forget any of the essentials:

  • Suitable clothing according to the season during which you are making your trip.
  • Keep in mind that there are going to be a lot of outdoor activities in the Smoky Mountains. Do pack sunscreen and insect repellent. Additionally, a first-aid kit will also come in handy in case of unexpected illness or minor injuries. 
  • If you are planning hiking adventures with your kids, pack sturdy shoes for everyone. 
  • Don’t forget to pack your kids’ electronic gadgets, such as tablets. These devices are very helpful during long car rides or waiting times at restaurants.  

Plan Outdoor Activities 

One of the most exciting parts of your trip to the Smokies is the exciting outdoor activities your kids would love.

Here are some of the most enjoyable outdoor adventures to try on your family vacation: 

  • Hiking Adventures

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park features different hiking trails to let you enjoy the surrounding beauty. These trails are safe and easy for kids to walk on since the paths are well-maintained. 

  • Captivating Waterfalls

There are many spectacular waterfalls in the National Park. Let your kids enjoy the enchanting experience of walking behind the tumbling waters at Grotto Falls or enjoy a picnic at the easily accessible Adams Falls. 

  • Gatlinburg SkyPark

Enjoy the cool experience of taking a chair-lift ride up a mountain to observe the beautiful scenery on the way. The park also features North America’s longest bridge – The SkyLift Bridge. It gives you an amazing view of the Smokies and the surrounding beauty. 

  • Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster ride

Take an exciting roller coaster ride in the mountains. It takes you on a twisting track that shows you the captivating natural beauty on the way. The ride is perfect for kids as you can control the speed to make it comfortable and safe. 

Educational Experiences for Kids

Provide a fun learning experience to your kids on your exciting vacation to the Smokies. Here are some must-try activities to include in your plan: 

  • Junior Ranger Program

Here is an amazing opportunity for your kids to learn about nature, conservation, and the interesting history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From observing wildlife with Rangers to exploring the park’s geological features, the program includes many educational activities for kids. 

  • Ripley’s Aquarium

Discover the fascinating underwater world at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. Your kids would love to observe various sea creatures, such as sharks, colorful fish, and sea turtles. 

  • Gatlinburg Space Needle

Imagine observing the beauty of the Smoky Mountains from a height of 124 meters! The Gatlinburg Space Needle is a tall tower with an observation deck at the top. Take an elevator right to the deck and enjoy the unbelievably beautiful view with your family. Moreover, there are educational exhibits and displays to help your kids learn about the geography and historical facts about the area.

  • Ober Mountain

Here is a fun treat if you are planning a winter vacation to the Smokies. Kids can have the time of their lives as they learn to ice-skate or go skiing. 

The Best Family Eating Spots 

When traveling with kids, it’s a good idea to know about your dining options in advance. The information is particularly useful if you have picky eaters.

Here are some of the top eating places your kids would love:

  • The Pancake Pantry

Make your mornings a fun-filled affair at the Pancake Pantry. From chocolate chip pancakes to an array of yummy toppings, the place offers delicious breakfast options for kids.

  • Mellow Mushroom

Take your picky eaters to the Mellow Mushroom for a fun pizza party. They offer all sorts of flavors here, giving many options to visitors of all ages. Additionally, you can enjoy a unique pizza experience with innovative toppings, like fresh fruits and figs. 

  • Bennett’s Pit BBQ

One of the most popular family-friendly spots in Tennessee is the Bennett’s Pit BBQ. The place has a warm and welcoming atmosphere with a friendly staff. But what makes it stand out is the mouthwatering BBQ items on the menu. From crispy chicken tenders to BBQ Ribs, the restaurant offers a delicious meal for the whole family. 

  • Puckers Sports Grill 

The sports-themed atmosphere at Puckers Sports Grill is really cool. They have a collection of kid-friendly items on the menu, such as burgers and pizzas. Watch your favorite games with your kids and cheer for your teams while you eat. 

Final Thoughts 

A trip to the Smokies is an opportunity for families to enjoy many exciting outdoor activities. It’s also a great way for kids to learn about wildlife, geographical features, and the history of the area. From booking comfortable accommodations to shortlisting the places you would be visiting, with these five tips in hand, you can easily plan an enjoyable and memorable vacation with your little buddies.

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