We went to Gatlinburg this Spring Break, and we had a great time. It had been about 20 years since we had visited, but it wasn’t much different than what we remembered.
Here’s where we went and some of our observations about how to have fun in Gatlinburg with kids.
We stayed at the Park Vista DoubleTree Hotel. We picked this one for the indoor pool with water slide. The kids absolutely loved the pool. One day we were the only ones in the pool, even in the middle of Spring Break. It was a lot of fun.
One of the first things you realize about Gatlinburg is that it is a tourist trap. That’s okay, though, because you know that going in to the trip. Our family is devoted to not spending too much money, and we know how to find great fun without breaking the bank, even if we’re in an area known for tourism.
Things to Do in Gatlinburg
Visit the magic shop
We went to Doc’s Magic Shop. There’s nothing like a free “show” that will amaze your kids. The people were friendly and the prices were good for little tricks any kids can do and amaze their friends with.
Eat something sweet
There are plenty of places to get delicious candy, caramel apples, and fudge. We dipped into one of those stores on a rainy morning on our way to find coffee. Be sure to get some samples before deciding on what to purchase.
Gatlinburg is home to so many Ripley’s attractions. I don’t know how many, but there are a lot. We visited 4 of them: The Aquarium, the Odditorium, the Maze, and the Mini Golf (in Pigeon Forge). My personal favorite was the Aquarium, but I like aquariums in general anyway. The Maze was fun (but short), and you can go back all day if you want. The Odditorium had a lot of cool exhibits in it, but some of them were a little scary for our kids.
Shoot some targets
Outside of the “Shoot ‘Em Up Cinema” is an old school target range. It’s incredibly inexpensive. I think we paid $5 for 5 turns of 22 shots each. Each of us took our time and got to participate. It was a fun experience for the kids (watch the video).
Go for a Hike
We took a day to drive to the Great Smoky Mountains and hiked up to Laurel Falls. It’s rated as an easy hike, but if you’re like us and aren’t used to hiking, it will still be a challenge. The sign says 1.2 miles one way, but it felt longer than that. The good news is that it is paved and generally easy. The waterfall at the end of the trail is worth the hike.
Here’s a video of our Ripley’s day in Gatlinburg:
Has your family gone to Gatlinburg? What was your favorite thing to do?