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Heading to the Smokies with tiny tots? Check out our ultimate guide to the best Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers – parent tested and approved.
If you’re looking for some fun things to do with your toddler in Gatlinburg, you’ve come to the right place! We visit Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas several times a year, and with four kids we’ve definitely had our share of toddler adventures!
So whether you’re looking for outdoor fun on a hot summer day, wanting to avoid the rain on a gloomy day or just want to see it all, you’ll find plenty of Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers in this ultimate guide.
If you’re traveling here for a family vacation, don’t feel like your limited because you’re traveling with small children, there is something here for the entire family! (Yep, older kids and adults, too!)
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is one of the most popular Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers because they will have the time of their lives seeing all the amazing animals. From the penguins to the sharks, there is so much for them to see and do. The best part is that they can even touch some of the animals!
Here are some of our favorite attractions at the aquarium:
Penguin Playhouse: The Penguin Playhouse is one of the most popular exhibits at the aquarium. Kids love to watch the penguins and even crawl through tunnels to get a closer view.
Touch a Ray Bay: The Touch a Ray Bay exhibit is a great way for kids to learn about these amazing sea creatures. They can even reach out and touch one of the rays!
Shark Tunnel: The Shark Tunnel is a must-see for any child who loves these fascinating creatures. They will be able to see different species of sharks, a giant sea turtle, and tons of colorful fish from an underwater tunnel.
They also have a ton of hands-on, interactive activities as well as a giant indoor play structure! This is perfect for when the weather is too hot, too cold or it’s raining outside.
Here are our kiddos the last time we visited the aquarium (this is a special exhibit that is not always at the aquarium):
Location: 88 River Road, Gatlinburg
Ober Gatlinburg is another great place to take toddlers in Gatlinburg. This attraction has a lot to offer including an scenic aerial tramway, alpine slide, ice skating rink, arcade games, and more. There is also a Wildlife Encounter where kids can see animals like otters, snakes, and frogs up close. And, of course, no visit to Ober Gatlinburg would be complete without taking a ride on the carousel!
Some of our favorite things to do at Ober Gatlinburg are:
Ride the Aerial Tramway: The Aerial Tramway is one of the most popular attractions at Ober Gatlinburg. This is a great way to see the city from above and get a bird’s eye view of the Smoky Mountains.
Skate at the Ice Skating Rink: The ice skating rink is a great place to cool off in the summer or have some fun in the winter. It’s also a great activity for kids of all ages.
Ride the Alpine Slide: The Alpine Slide is a great way to get some thrills while enjoying the beautiful scenery. This is definitely one of the most popular attractions at Ober Gatlinburg!
Visit the Wildlife Encounter: The Wildlife Encounter is a great place to learn about different animals and even see some up close. Kids will love seeing the black bears, river otters, and many more species and native wildlife in this unique zoo.
Location: 1339 Ski Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg
Dollywood and Splash Country
Dollywood and Splash Country are two of the most popular places to take toddlers in the Gatlinburg area. Dollywood is a great place to experience some of the best rides, shows, and attractions in the Smokies. Splash Country is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day. We get season passes here most years, and we love this amusement park AND the water park so much.
Our favorite toddler activities at the theme park:
Rides: There are a ton of great rides for toddlers at Dollywood. Some of our favorites include the Busy Bees, Carousel, and the Frogs & Fireflies.
Shows: There are also several great shows for toddlers at Dollywood. Our favorites include the Christmas light show with interactive wands and the Summer 3D Lights and Drones show. Also, the Imagination Playhouse has 20 minute kid’s shows from popular books!
Attractions: There are also several great attractions for toddlers at Dollywood. Our favorites include the Woodworking Shop, the Glassblowing demonstration, and the Firehouse Fun Yard.
In addition to all of these great activities, Dollywood also has a fantastic indoor play area called Hidden Hollow. This is perfect for when the weather is too hot or too cold outside. And don’t forget to see the largest exhibition of non-releasable bald eagles in the US.
Our favorite things to do at Dollywood’s Splash Country:
There are a ton of great rides and water adventures for toddlers at Splash Country. Some of our favorites include the Bear Mountain Fire Tower, the Cascades, and Little Creek Falls.
So when you visit in the summer months, whether you are looking for pint-sized slides or a splash pad or two, you’re sure to find them at Splash Country.
We have soooo many great pictures from Dollywood, here is one of our favorite toddler rides:
Location: 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge
Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Horseback Riding
The Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Petting Zoo is a great place to take toddlers in the Gatlinburg area. This populalr attraction is home to a variety of animals including deer, goats, and lots of exotic animals. Kids will love getting up close and personal with zebras, camels and more. The farm also offers pony rides, which is a lot of fun for the littles.
Some of our favorite things to do at the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm:
Feed the Animals: One of the best parts about the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm is that you can feed the animals. The farm has a variety of food options for purchase.
Horseback Riding: Horseback riding is a great way to see the Smoky Mountains. The farm offers small, very gentle horses perfect for any age. We have taken a pony ride with an 18-month-old and he loved it so much. (Somewhere I have pictures of this!)
Location: 478 Happy Hollow Ln, Sevierville
Hillbilly Golf is one of the most popular miniature golf courses in the area – and definitely the most unique. It’s one of the best Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers because they can enjoy the fun, challenging course while also getting some fresh air and exercise.
Start your course with an incline ride up, which is fun all in itself. The course is full of fun obstacles and challenges that kids will love as they work their way down the side of a mountain.
They might need a little help getting their ball in each hole, but it’s so much fun who cares about keeping score?
Here we are at Hillbilly Golf (the youngest is in pre-k now, but it’s great for toddlers, too!):
Location: 340 Parkway, Gatlinburg
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are a lot of fun things for the whole family to do at the National Park for toddlers. This is the most visited National Park in the United States – and for good reason!
One of our favorites is to explore Cades Cove. This is a beautiful valley that is home to a variety of wildlife including deer, bears, and turkeys as well as some wonderful historic buildings to explore.
There are a lot of toddler-friendly hiking trails you can explore with your tot and many waterfalls and other things to see along the way. If you come in the spring you’ll find lots of wildflowers, too, on a kid-friendly hike.
Also, be sure to visit the Sugarlands Visitors Center for some great souvenirs to take home and learn about the park.
Here we are at Laurel Falls with a 5-year-old and a 2-and-a-half-year old (and I was 7 months pregnant with number three!)
Parrot Mountain is another great place to take toddlers in the Gatlinburg area. This beautiful park is home to a variety of birds including parrots, macaws, and cockatiels.
The park is nestled in four acres of lush flowers and plants has a variety of things to do including a bird show, feeding the birds, and exploring the gardens. Make sure to visit the baby bird nursery where you can view all the babies.
And don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out. They have a great selection of bird-themed toys and souvenirs, and you can even get a pet bird of your very own if you like.
Location: 1471 McCarter Hollow Rd, Pigeon Forge
The Island in Pigeon Forge is a great place to take toddlers. This is a family-friendly destination with a lot of things to do for kids of all ages.
One of the most popularGatlinburg attractions for toddlers is the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. This 200-foot tall Ferris wheel offers breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge.
The Island is also home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. There are also lots of kiddie rides that toddlers will love. You can purchase just a ticket to the wheel or a card which allows you to ride all the rides, which is what we do when we go to the Island.
You can eat at Paula Deen’s, make a new furry friend to take home at Build A Bear and so much more at the Island. Sometimes we head to the mountains just for a visit there alone!
Location: 131 The Island Drive, Pigeon Forge
Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen
For our family, a trip to the Smoky Mountains isn’t complete until we visit the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. This is a great place to take toddlers because they can watch the candy being made right in front of them and satisfy their sweet tooth.
You’ll find a variety of sweets to choose from including fudge, chocolates, taffy, and more. And if you’re looking for a souvenir to take home, they have a great selection of Smoky Mountain-themed gifts.
The Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen is a must-stop on our list when we visit Gatlinburg with our toddlers. It’s a great place to take a break from all the walking and explore all the delicious treats the Smokies have to offer.
Location: 744 Parkway, Gatlinburg
Whew! Feeling exhausted yet? There are so many great things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for toddlers!
Here are some other Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers:
- Go Karts (for kids 3 and up)
- Gem Mining
- Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster (age 3 to 9 can ride with an adult)
- Gatlin’s Fun Center (mini golf, laser tag and more)
- Gatlinburg Space Needle (in downtown Gatlinburg, you can’t miss it!)
- Ripley’s Attractions (they have a LOT more than just the aquarium)
- Downtown Gatlinburg (our kids love to walk the strip and check out the shops)
- Picnic Areas (there are a lot of great spots in the Smokies)
- Pigeon Forge and Sevierville area playgrounds (we love to visit these, especially the one on Wears Valley Road)
Final Thoughts on Gatlinburg Attractions for Toddlers
There are so many fun things to do in this area! I hope you take your toddler on an adventure and visit one or more of these Gatlinburg attractions for toddlers.
We’ve taken each of our four boys to Gatlinburg as toddlers and never felt like we were limited in what we could do because we had a young child with us, as you can see from some of these pictures.
The Smokies are so much fun for everyone!