The Smoky Mountains has fun, excitement and stimulation for body, mind and soul whether you’ve just been born or broke the world record for having lived the longest. There’s all kinds of things for everyone in-between those parameters to enjoy as well, but one thing that we find our visitors with younger kids often ask us about are affordable attractions that will be appropriate for their small frames and growing brains.
If you’re wondering about what you can find for kid-friendly fun ideas in the Smokies, we’ll get you started with 5 recommendations right here:
1. The Island in Pigeon Forge
The Island in Pigeon Forge is a great start for fun ideas that little kids can enjoy without totally emptying the wallet. This attraction is centrally located in Pigeon Forge, easy to get in and out of, and features attractions that are paid for individually as opposed to one large ticket per person, and combines shops, rides and atmosphere items that kids will indeed get a kick out of. Rides include “Funny Cars”, “Lil’ Ribbits”, “Sky Tykes”, “Spinning Parrots Coaster”, “The Flying Horse Carousel”, and the “Twist ‘N’ Shout”. Atmosphere items that kids can look forward to include exotic birds from Parrot Mountain, “Miner’s Gems” gem mining, and a synchronized water fountain show at the Island fountain.
See more on The Island at https://islandinpigeonforge.com/.
2. Cades Cove Loop
On a completely different side of the mountain, metaphorically and literally, is the crown jewel of historical and nature attractions in the Smoky Mountains with Cades Cove in nearby Townsend, TN. To describe Cades Cove and all that can be done there would take more space than we need in this article, what we recommend for families with younger children is to do the driving loop where the kids can see sights and wildlife like deer, turkeys, black bears and others from the safety of being inside the vehicle. Cades Cove is FREE as well and generally takes about 2-4 hours to complete the loop. A great way to start a family outing day!
See more on Cades Cove at http://www.cadescove.net.
3. Kid’s Country at The Track
Before The Island and many of the other smaller family fun parks came in on the Pigeon Forge parkway, The Track in the downtown Pigeon Forge had been the de facto place to bring small kids some rides and family entertainment appropriate for them. Well, the Track is still a big hit with kids today if always seeing dozens of families enjoying it every time you drive by is any indication. The Track features Kid’s Country where small children can enjoy a carousel, “Kiddie Karts”, “Red Baron Airplane”, mini Ferris Wheel, mini train (this one seems to be particularly popular), “spin tops”, “Jungle Jumper” and more. If you have older kids in tow as you entertain the younger ones, they’ll find plenty to do at The Track as well with more size-appropriate rides and thrills. Cost is a number of tickets per person per ride, but the park does not require an overall pass per person to enter.
See more on The Track at https://funatthetrack.com/pages/pigeon-forge-location.
4. Hollywood Star Cars Museum
Potentially the smallest impacting attraction on this list, but it’s hard to deny that small kids really like two things: cool cars and things they saw in movies or TV coming to life. Hollywood Star Cars Museum combines those things in one concise but memorable museum experience where kids and adults get to see The Batmobile, another Batmobile, S.H.I.E.L.D. Hummer H3T from The Avengers, Herbie The Love Bug, The Munsters Drag-U-La, General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, the 1981 DeLorean from Back To The Future, Bumblebee from Transformers and even the Flintstone-Mobile from the 1994 Live-Action Flintstones movie.
See more on the Hollywood Star Cars Museum at http://www.starcarstn.com/.
5. City Parks
Naturally, the city parks of a vacation destination are often the perfect combination of fun for little kids and affordability and Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville all feature excellent and excellently maintained municipal parks that are reasonably easy to get to. 6 parks are spread out across Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville and most will feature any combination of playground equipment, sports fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, creeks you can fish from, picnic tables, pavilions, feeding stations for ducks and geese, accessibility from city trolleys and much more.
See more on the city parks of Sevier County at https://smokymountainwelcomeguide.com/free-area-parks/.