If you’re planning a trip to Gatlinburg with your toddler in tow, then you’re in luck. Gatlinburg is filled with fun things for the whole family, including the littlest members of your family. Read on to learn more about the top attractions for toddlers in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area.
Planning a family vacation with toddlers can feel like a formidable task, especially when it comes to choosing destinations that will keep your little ones entertained.
But you’re in luck. Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a treasure trove of attractions that are not only toddler-friendly but also engaging for the whole family. From marine life exploration to outdoor adventures, there’s something for every tiny explorer in Gatlinburg. Best of all, these attractions will still entertain the older kids, too, so kids of all ages can enjoy a vacation here.
This guide will help you discover the best Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers.
Your first stop in Gatlinburg should be Ripley’s Aquarium, a world-class facility that captivates children and adults alike. Step into this underwater world and be amazed by the vibrant colors, captivating exotic sea creatures, and interactive exhibits. Your toddler will be wide-eyed with wonder as they come face-to-face with some of the ocean’s most fascinating inhabitants.
The aquarium has several exhibits designed specifically with toddlers in mind. The Discovery Center offers interactive exhibits where your little ones can touch horseshoe crabs and learn about different aquatic species. There’s also the Penguin Playhouse, where toddlers can crawl through tunnels and pop up in domes right in the middle of the penguin habitat.
Remember to take your time as you make your way through the aquarium. Allow your toddler to set the pace and explore each exhibit thoroughly. Your toddler’s joy and excitement as they discover the wonders of the underwater world will be worth every moment.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-visit for families with toddlers. The park is home to over 800 miles of hiking trails, but don’t worry—you won’t have to tackle them all. There are plenty of easy, toddler-friendly trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls, historic buildings, and breathtaking overlooks.
The Sugarlands Visitor Center is a great starting point. Here, you can get information about the park, pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for your toddler, and explore the center’s nature exhibits. The nearby Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is an easy, flat, half-mile trail perfect for little legs.
Next, head out to the Gatlinburg Trail for a little tot-friendly hike.
Don’t forget to pack a picnic. There are numerous picnic areas throughout the park where you can take a break and enjoy a meal amidst beautiful surroundings. And keep your eyes peeled—you might spot some wildlife! Seeing a deer, turkey, or even a bear (from a safe distance, of course) can be a thrilling experience for a toddler.
If you’re visiting Gatlinburg during the warmer months, a day at Dollywood’s Splash Country is a must. This water adventure park offers a variety of attractions that are perfect for toddlers. The park’s focus on family fun ensures that your toddler will have plenty to do and see.
The Little Creek Falls area is designed specifically for children under 48 inches tall. Here, your toddler can splash around in the shallow pool, slide down mini water slides, and play with interactive water features. There’s also a shaded seating area for parents, so you can keep a close eye on your little one while they play.
After the fun at Little Creek Falls, you can head to the Cascades, an 8,000-square-foot lagoon-style pool with a cascading waterfall, interactive elements, and plenty of lounge chairs for relaxation. Your toddler can continue their water play here while you take a well-deserved break.
The Cascades is a top attraction for kids of all ages. Photo credit: www.dollywood.com
Next, take your toddler on a wildlife adventure at the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm. This attraction offers a unique opportunity for your toddler to interact with friendly deer in a secure environment.
Right from the moment you step into the farm, you’ll be surrounded by the calm and serenity of nature. The farm is home to a variety of animals, but the deer are the main attraction. They roam freely in the area, and your toddler will be thrilled to see them up close.
The staff at the farm provide special feed that your toddler can give to the deer. This makes for a great bonding experience between your child and the animals. The deer are gentle and used to human interaction, making it safe for your toddler.
The farm also has a petting zoo where your toddler can meet and feed other animals like goats, horses, and rabbits. This hands-on experience will not only entertain your toddler but also teach them about different animals.
The Gatlinburg Space Needle is another must-visit attraction. Though it might not seem like a toddler-friendly place at first glance, it offers a unique experience that your toddler will love.
As you ride the glass elevator to the top of the Space Needle, your toddler will be captivated by the sights and sounds of both the elevator and the spectacular views of the city and surrounding countryside. Once you reach the top, truly panoramic, 360-degree views of the Smoky Mountains and the city below await you.
At the top, there’s an observation deck with safety rails, where your toddler can safely enjoy the breathtaking views. They’ll love pointing out the buildings, people, and cars below. It’s like watching a vibrant, moving picture book.
The Space Needle also houses the Arcadia Planet Fun, a huge arcade with hundreds of arcade games. While some games might be too advanced for your toddler, there are plenty of age-appropriate options. They can enjoy games like skee-ball, air hockey, and various kiddie rides.
Finally, no trip to Gatlinburg is complete without visiting the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. This old-fashioned candy store is a wonderland for toddlers. In fact, they’ve been cooking up their own homemade taffy daily since 1950 – with the same recipe!
As soon as you step in, the sweet aroma of freshly made candies fills the air. Your toddler can watch as skilled candy makers create delicious treats right before their eyes. From taffy pulling to candy apple dipping, it’s a mesmerizing process.
Your toddler will be thrilled to pick from a rainbow of candies. From lollipops to chocolates, there’s something for every sweet tooth. The staff are friendly and patient, readily answering any questions your toddler might have about the candies.
Of course, the hardest part as a parent is getting them to leave! As a parent of a 5 year old, I definitely understand that struggle. But, vacation is a time for a little spoiling, so it’s a good experience for everyone to get out of there routine (and rules) for just a little bit. Planning a trip to a play area or for a fun ride after may be a good idea, so they’ve got something to look forward to after coming here.
I know – parenting a toddler is tough! Take care of yourself too, and treat yourself to a Luxury Vacation Rental in the Tennessee Mountains.
Welcome to Ober Gatlinburg, a paradise for fun-seeking toddlers. It’s not just a ski area; it’s an amusement park too, offering a myriad of activities for your little ones. Perched in the Smoky Mountains, it provides an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Your toddlers will love the carousel. The colorful, whimsical animals captivate their attention, and the gentle movement is soothing. Also, let them try out the kiddie land and mini-golf, designed with the safety and enjoyment of little ones in mind.
Don’t forget to ride the Aerial Tramway. It’s a breathtaking 2.1-mile ride up to the mountain. Your toddler will be thrilled by the panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg.
Photo: Ober Gatlinburg
Next stop, Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. Now officially called Gatlinburg SkyPark, this attraction offers a unique perspective of the Smoky Mountains, making it a must-visit for every family.
Begin your adventure with a ride on the SkyLift, a chairlift that takes you up 500 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain. Your toddler will be fascinated by the views of the town and the surrounding mountains. At the top, you’ll find the SkyDeck, a fantastic spot to relax and enjoy the scenery.
But the real attraction is the SkyBridge. Walking across it can be both thrilling and a bit scary, but don’t worry, your toddler can enjoy the view from your arms or the stroller.
Photo: Marcus Watson. Gatlinburg SkyPark
When it’s time to cool off, head over to Wild Bear Falls Water Park. This indoor water park is one of the most exciting Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers.
Your toddler will love the Little Pigeon River, a splash pad made just for them. They can float along in a tube, enjoying the gentle water. For the more adventurous toddlers, there’s the “Cubs’ Crawl.” This interactive playground features a toddler-sized slide and lots of water sprays to splash in.
There are options for the adults, too, like Cades Cove, a 900-foot lazy river, and Grotto Falls, the ultimate hot tub experience.
The water park also has their own Roaring Fork Snack Bar with kid-friendly options, as well as appetizers, sandwiches, and salads for the grown ups. They offer to-go meals too, so you can grab a bite and watch as your toddler has the time of their life.
Last but not least, make sure to visit Patriot Park. This peaceful park is a great place for toddlers to run around and burn off some energy.
The park is home to several memorials honoring those who have served our country. While these may not interest your toddler, they’ll love the walking path. It’s a half-mile loop, perfect for a stroller ride or a toddling adventure.
Also, Patriot Park hosts many festivals throughout the year. If you’re lucky, your visit may coincide with one. These events often include live music, food vendors, and activities for kids. If you come to Gatlinburg during Easter, they have their annual Easter Egg Hunt the small children in your family will love.
The Bottom Line
No matter what your toddler enjoys, you’re sure to find it in Gatlinburg. From the thrill of Ober Gatlinburg and Gatlinburg SkyLift Park to the fun of Wild Bear Falls Water Park and the calm of Patriot Park, there’s something for every toddler. So, why wait? Start planning your trip to the best Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers today.