Thinking of taking a trip to Gatlinburg with your little ones? Wondering is Gatlinburg good for small kids? Look no further! This article is here to answer all your questions and provide you with an insight into whether Gatlinburg is a suitable place for your family vacation. From exciting attractions to family-friendly accommodations, this charming town has something for everyone in the family to enjoy. So, read on to discover why Gatlinburg could be the perfect destination for your next adventure with your small kids. Yes, Gatlinburg is a fantastic destination for families with small kids.
With its wide range of family-friendly attractions, outdoor activities, and special events, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re visiting in the summer, fall, winter, or spring, Gatlinburg has plenty to offer. From the breathtaking beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains to the thrilling rides and attractions, you can create unforgettable memories with your little ones. So, let’s dive into the best time to visit, family-friendly attractions, outdoor activities, special events and festivals, dining options for kids, accommodation choices, safety and security, tips for traveling with small kids, cost considerations, and local resources and services in Gatlinburg.
Is Gatlinburg Good For Small Kids – Best Time to Visit
Gatlinburg is a vibrant and exciting place to visit during the summer months. The warm weather allows families to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. From hiking the numerous trails in the Great Smoky Mountains to horseback riding through picturesque landscapes, there is no shortage of ways to explore the beauty of the region. Picnic areas are scattered throughout the area, perfect for relaxing and enjoying a family meal in nature. The summer months also offer longer daylight hours, giving you more time to make the most of your vacation. However, keep in mind that summer is a popular time for tourists, so expect larger crowds.
Fall is arguably one of the best times to visit Gatlinburg. The stunning foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains creates a mesmerizing backdrop for your family adventures. Take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway or venture out on a hike to witness the vibrant colors of the changing leaves up close. Fall also brings a plethora of harvest festivals and events. From apple picking to pumpkin patches, there are endless opportunities for family fun. The cooler weather during this season provides a comfortable atmosphere for outdoor activities and exploration.
Winter in Gatlinburg is truly magical. The town is transformed into a winter wonderland, with twinkling lights, holiday decorations, and festive events. Gatlinburg Winter Magic is a must-see event, featuring stunning light displays throughout the town. Your kids will be mesmerized by the enchanting sights as you take a leisurely stroll along the streets. Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales is another winter event that brings Gatlinburg to life with live music and storytelling. For those who enjoy arts and crafts, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is a fantastic opportunity to shop for unique gifts and witness the talents of local artisans.
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Gatlinburg, as nature comes alive with colorful blooms and fresh greenery. The weather is mild, making it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the Great Smoky Mountains. Springtime also brings various festivals and events to Gatlinburg. From the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage to the Gatlinburg Ribfest and Wings, there is always something exciting happening. The town is less crowded during the spring months compared to the peak tourist season, allowing you to enjoy a more relaxed and peaceful vacation.
Gatlinburg Space Needle
The Gatlinburg Space Needle is a must-visit attraction for families with small kids. Standing at 407 feet tall, this observation tower offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the town of Gatlinburg. Your little ones will be amazed as they look out over the scenic beauty of the surrounding area. The Space Needle also features an arcade, giving kids the opportunity to enjoy some fun games and entertainment.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is an absolute delight for kids of all ages. From colorful tropical fish to playful penguins and majestic sharks, this aquarium houses a diverse range of marine life. Your kids can learn about underwater ecosystems, attend interactive shows, and even touch stingrays. With its interactive exhibits and educational opportunities, Ripley’s Aquarium provides a memorable and educational experience for the whole family.
Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
For a thrilling adventure that the whole family can enjoy, head to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. The SkyLift is a scenic chairlift ride that takes you up 500 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain. From there, you can soak in breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg. At the top, you’ll find a pedestrian bridge, playground, and plenty of photo opportunities. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon together, enjoying the beauty of the mountain scenery.
Gatlinburg is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and there are numerous hiking trails suitable for families with small kids. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a wide range of trails that vary in difficulty and length. For families with young children, the Laurel Falls Trail is a popular choice. It is a paved trail that leads to a stunning waterfall and is relatively easy to navigate. Another family-friendly hike is the Alum Cave Trail, which features beautiful views and interesting geological formations.
One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty of the area is by horseback riding. Several stables in Gatlinburg offer guided horseback riding tours suitable for riders of all ages and experience levels. Your kids will love the opportunity to ride through scenic trails surrounded by the majestic mountains. It’s a great way to create lasting memories and experience the great outdoors from a different perspective.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed outdoor activity, there are several picnic areas in and around Gatlinburg. Pack a delicious picnic lunch and find a scenic spot to enjoy a meal with your family. Some popular picnic areas include Mynatt Park, Chimneys Picnic Area, and Greenbrier Picnic Area. These areas provide tables, grills, and restroom facilities, making it convenient for families with young children.
Special Events and Festivals
Gatlinburg Winter Magic
During the winter season, Gatlinburg comes alive with the magic of twinkling lights and festive decorations. Gatlinburg Winter Magic is a spectacular event that transforms the town into a winter wonderland. From late November until February, millions of LED lights illuminate the streets, creating a magical atmosphere for visitors. Your kids will be captivated by the enchanting light displays and the festive spirit of the town.
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales
If your family enjoys music and storytelling, then Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales is a must-see event. Held in downtown Gatlinburg during the summer months, this interactive event features local musicians, actors, and storytellers who bring the history and culture of the region to life. Your kids will be entertained by the lively performances and have the opportunity to participate in sing-alongs and storytelling sessions.
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
For families who appreciate art and craftsmanship, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is a perfect event to attend. Held in July and October, this fair brings together over 180 artists and craftsmen from around the country. Your kids can observe demonstrations of various crafts, watch artisans create intricate works of art, and even purchase unique handmade items. It’s a fantastic opportunity to support local artists and inspire creativity in your little ones.
Dining Options for Kids
The Pancake Pantry
For a delicious breakfast or brunch, head to The Pancake Pantry. This iconic restaurant has been serving up mouthwatering pancakes since 1960 and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. With a wide variety of pancake flavors, including chocolate chip, banana walnut, and sweet potato, there’s something to satisfy every craving. The Pancake Pantry also offers other breakfast options like omelets and French toast, ensuring there’s something for everyone in your family to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly restaurant with a fun and laid-back atmosphere, Mellow Mushroom is a great choice. This pizza joint offers a wide selection of creative and delicious pizzas, as well as sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. The psychedelic decor and friendly staff create a welcoming environment for families. Kids will love the vibrant colors and funky artwork, making it an enjoyable dining experience for the whole family.
Crockett’s Breakfast Camp
For a unique dining experience that transports you back in time, visit Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. This rustic cabin-themed restaurant serves up hearty breakfast dishes inspired by the pioneer days. From fluffy pancakes to savory breakfast skillets, there’s no shortage of delicious options for you and your little ones. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make this restaurant a memorable stop during your visit to Gatlinburg.
Hotels with Family Suites
Many hotels in Gatlinburg offer family suites or adjoining rooms to accommodate families with small kids. These suites provide extra space and privacy, allowing everyone to have a comfortable stay. Some hotels also offer amenities such as cribs, high chairs, and baby-proofing kits upon request. Look for hotels with kid-friendly amenities like swimming pools, outdoor play areas, and game rooms to keep your little ones entertained during your stay.
Cabins and Chalets with Kid-friendly Amenities
If you’re looking for a more secluded and cozy accommodation option, consider renting a cabin or chalet in Gatlinburg. There are numerous rental companies that offer cabins with kid-friendly amenities such as game rooms, hot tubs, and outdoor play areas. Staying in a cabin allows your family to enjoy the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains while still being close to all the attractions and activities in Gatlinburg.
Campgrounds and RV Parks
For families who enjoy camping and outdoor adventures, there are several campgrounds and RV parks in and around Gatlinburg. These options provide a more rustic experience and allow you to immerse yourself in nature. Many campgrounds offer amenities such as playgrounds, swimming pools, and hiking trails. It’s a great option for families who want to spend quality time together and create lasting memories around a campfire.
Safety and Security
Accessibility and Stroller Friendliness
Gatlinburg strives to be an accessible destination for families with small kids. Many attractions, parks, and trails are stroller-friendly and provide accessible paths and facilities. When visiting Gatlinburg, it’s important to check the accessibility features of the places you plan to visit and ensure they meet your family’s needs. Most popular attractions have accessible entrances, ramps, and elevators, making it easier for families with strollers to navigate.
First Aid and Medical Facilities
In case of any medical emergencies or first aid needs, Gatlinburg has several medical facilities and pharmacies available. It’s always a good idea to carry a small first aid kit with basic supplies like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relief medication. Familiarize yourself with the location of the nearest medical facilities and pharmacies, especially if your child has any specific medical needs.
Child Protection Services
Gatlinburg takes the safety and well-being of children seriously. If you have any concerns or need assistance related to child protection, there are resources available in the area. Familiarize yourself with the contact information for local child protection services or reach out to the local police department for guidance. It’s always better to be prepared and know the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your family.
Tips for Traveling with Small Kids
When traveling with small kids, packing essentials is essential for a smooth and enjoyable trip. Some must-have items include diapers, wipes, extra clothes, bottles or sippy cups, snacks, sunscreen, and insect repellent. It’s also a good idea to bring along some favorite toys or games to keep your kids entertained during travel and downtime. Don’t forget to pack any necessary medications or medical supplies your child may need.
Planning Rest Stops
Long car rides can be challenging for young children, so it’s important to plan regular rest stops. Look for parks, playgrounds, or rest areas along your route where your little ones can stretch their legs and burn off some energy. Having designated break times can help prevent meltdowns and make the journey more enjoyable for everyone. It’s also a good opportunity to have a picnic and enjoy some quality time together as a family.
Keeping Kids Entertained
To keep your kids entertained during the trip, consider packing activity books, coloring supplies, and small toys. Portable electronic devices can also be a lifesaver for long journeys. Download some educational games or movies that your child can enjoy during travel. If your child gets car sick, avoid activities that may exacerbate the symptoms and opt for quieter forms of entertainment, such as audiobooks or soothing music.
Gatlinburg offers a range of budget-friendly activities that won’t break the bank. Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is completely free and provides endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Take advantage of the numerous hiking trails, scenic drives, and picnic areas that the park offers. Additionally, the town of Gatlinburg hosts various free events and festivals throughout the year, allowing families to enjoy entertainment without spending a dime.
Free Attractions and Parks
In addition to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are several free attractions and parks in Gatlinburg that are perfect for families with small kids. Visit the Gatlinburg Trail, which offers a scenic stroll along the river and is suitable for strollers. The Ogle Horse Barn and Nature Trail is another free attraction where your kids can learn about the region’s history and see farm animals up close. Explore the Gatlinburg Veterans Memorial Park, a beautiful tribute to the military, or visit the Gatlinburg Farmers Market during the summer months for fresh produce and local crafts.
Discounts and Deals for Families
Gatlinburg understands the importance of affordability for families on vacation. Many attractions, restaurants, and hotels offer special discounts and deals for families with small kids. Look out for coupon books or online promotions that can help you save money during your stay. Some attractions also offer discounted or free admission for young children, ensuring that your family can experience all the fun without breaking the bank.
Local Resources and Services
Baby Gear Rental Services
If you’re traveling with a small child and don’t want to carry all the necessary baby gear, there are baby gear rental services available in the Gatlinburg area. These services allow you to rent items like cribs, strollers, high chairs, and car seats, eliminating the need to bring them from home. It’s a convenient option that saves space in your luggage and ensures that you have everything you need to keep your little one comfortable during your trip.
Pediatricians and Medical Services
In the event that your child requires medical attention during your visit to Gatlinburg, there are pediatricians and medical services available in the area. Familiarize yourself with the contact information and locations of nearby medical facilities. Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to have travel insurance that covers any unexpected medical expenses.
If you’re in need of childcare services during your visit to Gatlinburg, there are licensed childcare facilities available in the area. These facilities offer a safe and engaging environment for your little ones while you explore the attractions and enjoy some adult time. It’s important to research and choose a reputable facility that meets your family’s needs.
In conclusion, Gatlinburg is an excellent destination for families with small kids. The wide range of family-friendly attractions, outdoor activities, and special events ensure that there is never a dull moment. Whether you choose to visit in the summer, fall, winter, or spring, Gatlinburg has something to offer year-round. From the breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains to the exciting attractions and delicious dining options, there is no shortage of fun and memorable experiences. So pack your bags, bring your little ones along, and get ready to create lasting memories in Gatlinburg.