10 Reasons You Need to Take a Trip to the Smokies with Your Kids

trip the smokies with kids

The thrill of exploring the natural wonders of the Smoky Mountains is most enjoyable with family. Far from the bustling cities, traveling to this beautiful location with kids means creating lasting memories. 

In the southeastern United States lies enchanting terrains, offering plenty of activities that cater to the curiosity and energy of young adventurers. 

When experiencing the thrills of amusement parks or soaking in the natural beauty, the Smokies serve as an ideal playground for local and international visitors. 

In this article, we explore ten compelling reasons why the Smoky Mountains should be your next family travel destination.

Immersive Nature Experiences

Sugalands Valley Nature Trail

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a fantastic place full of wildlife and plants, making it a great spot for families to enjoy nature. Here, kids can experience real-life examples of what they learn in their science books. 

The park offers fun and educational ranger-led programs that teach about the environment, animals, and how to protect nature. 

Easy trails, like the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, are great for children. They can walk through the forest, learn a lot, and have fun. 

This park is a place where toddlers can grow to love and respect natural habitation, all while making memories that last a lifetime.

Explore Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

Gatlinburg SkyBridge

The towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are bustling with attractions that cater wonderfully to families. 

Some of the best things to do in Gatlinburg include exploring Ober Mountain, which offers activities like skiing in winter and alpine slides in the summer. 

The Gatlinburg SkyPark is perfect for those seeking stunning rocky views. Over in Pigeon Forge, families can explore the wonders of the Titanic Museum and visit the Island. 

Both towns are more than just gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; they offer a variety of experiences that are sure to delight visitors of all ages. 

Opened in 1954, the Gatlinburg Sky Lift is an icon of the city. You can catch a lift from the bottom, located on the Parkway downtown.

Adventure and Outdoor Fun 

Grotto Falls

The Smokies are also a goldmine for families seeking adventure. The region boasts a wide array of outdoor activities that are perfect for kids of all ages. 

Take a thrilling horseback ride through scenic trails, zip-line over lush forests, or enjoy a hike to Grotto Falls. The diverse landscape provides the perfect backdrop for these exciting adventures. 

Always remember that safety comes first and being well-prepared for any outdoor activity is a good idea, especially when venturing into the wilderness with children.

Engaging in Historical and Cultural Learning

 Cades Cove

The Smoky Mountains are rich in history and culture, offering educational experiences for kids. 

Historical sites like Cades Cove offer a glimpse into 19th-century life, while cultural centers and museums showcase the heritage of the Native Americans and early settlers. 

These attractions provide an interactive way for children to learn about the past, understand different cultures, and see history come alive beyond the classroom. 

Amusement Parks and Attractions

Dollywood Theme Park

No trip to the Smokies would be complete without a visit to its famous amusement parks. Dollywood, located in Pigeon Forge, is a delight for children with its exciting rides, live entertainment, and cultural exhibits. 

The Moonshine Mountain Coaster in Gatlinburg offers a unique and exhilarating ride through the landscape. These parks are designed not just for thrill, but also for creating joyous family memories.

Seasonal Activities and Festivals

Snow Sports in the Smokies

The Smokies come alive with unique activities and festivals each season, making any time of year ideal for a family visit. 

Spring brings a burst of wildflowers and autumn dazzles with spectacular fall foliage. 

Winter in this location is a wonderland of opportunities for snow sports and cozy cabin stays. 

Summer offers outdoor concerts, cultural festivals, and Fourth of July celebrations. These seasonal events provide not just entertainment, but also a way for children to connect with nature and local traditions in a fun and engaging manner. 

The graph below shows the number of visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the United States has been growing despite a slight decrease due to the pandemic lockdown. 

Number of Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains in the U.S. from 2008-2022.

Scenic Beauty and Photography

 Clingmans Dome

One of the greatest joys of visiting the Smokies with your family is the abundance of breathtaking scenic views, perfect for group photos that capture the essence of your trip. 

The panoramic vistas from Clingmans Dome, the serene beauty of Cades Cove, and the majestic waterfalls along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail offer endless opportunities for stunning photography. 

These picturesque backdrops are not only a photographer’s dream, but also a way for families to preserve their memories of the journey. 

Map out your hike before heading out and make sure you have enough time to complete it, especially before dark.

Kid-Friendly Dining and Accommodations

Cabins and Ranch for Families in the Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountain region caters to families in every aspect, including dining and accommodations. 

From restaurants serving kid-approved meals to lodging with family-oriented amenities, there’s an option for every taste and budget. 

Many cabins in the area offer pools, playgrounds, and special activities for children, ensuring that your comfort and enjoyment are taken care of after a day full of adventures.

Educational Workshops and Programs 

Mountain Farm Museum 

Beyond the natural beauty and outdoor activities, the Smokies offer a range of educational workshops and programs that are both fun and informative. 

These programs, often held in visitor centers and museums, cover topics like wildlife, ecology, and the cultural history of the region. 

Participating in these workshops allows children to learn new skills, from wilderness survival to traditional Appalachian crafts, enriching their understanding of the world around them. 

Relaxation and Bonding Opportunities

Family Campground in the Smoky Mountains

A trip to the Smokies offers a precious opportunity for families to relax and bond. When sharing stories around a campfire, enjoying a leisurely picnic, or simply taking in the tranquility of the mountains, these moments allow families to connect on a deeper level. 

The idyllic place provides a peaceful respite from daily life, where families can unwind, laugh, and grow closer together. 


A trip to the Smoky Mountains with your kids is more than just a vacation; it’s an exploration into a world of wonder and shared experiences. 

Each activity and attraction in the Smokies is an opportunity for learning, adventure, and creating lasting family bonds. 

From the excitement of seasonal festivals to the quiet moments of beauty in nature, the Smokies offer a diverse and enriching experience for families.

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