family-friendly adventures in the Smokies

The mountains are beckoning you to your next grand adventure! Only beyond the Great Smoky Mountain ridge are there exciting and extraordinary activities to tempt the most spirited of travelers. Explore the enchanting towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for your next globe-trotting journey, where your group can embark upon countless family-friendly adventures. There are simply too many indoor and outdoor experiences to fit into one day, so be prepared to map out your quest over several days. Read on for a quick guide to get started!

lodging options in Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge Lodging

You’ve heard the call of the mountains to your next exhilarating travel endeavor, but you’ll need a place to set up a base camp first. Your home away from home should be just as captivating as the thrilling outdoor adventures and fantastical indoor curiosities you seek. Look no further than these two luxurious Pigeon Forge hotels!

relaxing lazy river at Courtyard by Marriott

Courtyard by Marriott

Courtyard by Marriott is ideal for travel adventurers who want to stay in touch with the beautiful outdoors without skimping on the luxury factor. Located in the heart of Pigeon Forge on the Little Pigeon River, you’ll find a riverwalk trail and even a secret garden upon exploring their grounds. 

This picturesque hotel feels more like a modern resort with its shimmering lazy river, cozy fire pits, indoor and outdoor pools, and hot tub. Inside their contemporary guest rooms, you can enjoy all your favorite earthly comforts, like plush bedding, kitchenette amenities, fast WiFi, and a flat-screen television with access to Netflix and Hulu. 

Look forward to waking up feeling revitalized, and indulge in the splendid views of the river or mountains from your private balcony. Courtyard by Marriott is a surefire enabler for all your dashing Smoky Mountain escapades!

Pigeon Forge hotel room -- La Quinta Inn & Suites

La Quinta Inn & Suites

While you’re not out and on the prowl for your next adventure, La Quinta Inn & Suites brings the intrigue to homebase. Keep the mood lively at any time of day or night at their 24-hour indoor pool and hot tub. Or, simply revel in your pet-friendly queen suite, fully furnished with modern décor, a flat-screen television, microwave and mini-fridge, or delight in your luxurious king suite with a relaxing Whirlpool bath. 

Take advantage of the complimentary waffle breakfast and WiFi before moving on to the conveniently close-by eateries, attractions, shops and theatres of central Pigeon Forge. When your hotel room is as comfortable as it is competitively priced, you won’t want to go home!

indoor activities at the aquarium

Indoor Adventures

The key to a glorious indoor adventure is its unique ability to sweep you off your feet and spirit you away into a world of fantasy. Nature is already overflowing with alien realms, like the azure underwater habitat of sharks, turtles, penguins and tropical fishes. Even scattered throughout the domain of humanity, there are bizarre stories and eccentric artifacts that enchant the mind and challenge perception. In these ways, Ripley’s Aquarium and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium can show you a whole new world!

penguin at Ripley's Aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium

Dive into the vast underworlds of aquatic life at the “Best U.S. Aquarium,” according to USA Today! Ripley’s Aquarium houses nine unique experiences. Start with Tropical Rainforest for a fascinating intro to South America’s poisonous dart frogs and piranhas, and then check out Ocean Realm’s astonishing sampling of the ocean’s diversity of colorful fish. Move on to Shark Lagoon, featuring a 340-foot glidepath through a transparent tunnel on the ocean floor for up-close views of sharks, stingrays and sea turtles. Then stop by Touch A Ray Bay to find out how smooth a stingray’s back feels. Ripley’s Aquarium also hosts hands-on experiences, such as a glass boat tour through Shark Lagoon and painting with penguins.

indoor adventures at Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium

Off-the-wall objects and bizarre artworks hailing from all over the world make Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium a wacky experience for all ages. Try wrapping your mind around shrunken heads, two-headed creatures, eccentric art pieces made out of just about anything, and anomalous people like the world’s Tallest Man and Smallest Woman. 

The odditorium consists of sixteen themed galleries, including art exhibits, interactive displays, and fascinatingly unique humans. Watch the legless Short T. Dangerously perform a handstand walk on fiery glass, or say hello to Wadlow the Tallest Man and Lucia Zarate the Smallest Woman. Then, test your perception in the dazzling colors of the Kaleidoscope Room or the mind-boggling Optical Illusion Room. 

You could never expect the kinds of outlandish rarities you’ll find at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium.

outdoor adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains

Outdoor Adventures

The mountainous slopes and Appalachian climate lend themselves well to family-friendly adventures among the outside elements. You won’t know whether it’s the rush of wind or adrenaline that makes the rides at Rowdy Bear Mountain and Adventure Raceway so addictively fun. Plus, therapeutic outdoor recreation with farm animals makes Wears Valley Ranch an adventurer’s dream.

driving go-carts on the track at Adventure Raceway

Adventure Raceway

Indulge your need for speed at Adventure Raceway, a go-kart track located on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Their elevated wooden go-kart track spirals up for three towering stories until it reaches “The Hump,” where it descends in another racing spiral. 

This all-ages activity is the perfect opportunity to challenge your fellow adventurers to a friendly competition or to test your top speeds and go-kart driving skills! Alternatively, hop on the Bumper Boats during the hottest days of summer and spray one another with water for a silly way to cool off. 

For almost thirty years, Adventure Raceway has delighted families, couples and groups with electrifying speeds and splashing fun.

outdoor activities at Rowdy Bear Mountain

Rowdy Bear Mountain Alpine Coaster & Mountain Glider

Rowdy Bear Mountain features two unique and family-friendly amusement rides on the Parkway in Gatlinburg and the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. The Alpine Coaster dashes through the beautiful forest during the daytime, reaching up to 35 mph speeds. At night, the track transforms into a spectacular whirlwind of color with over 50,000 vibrant LED lights. Plus, this one-of-a-kind coaster not only allows you to ride in your own cart but also enables you to control how fast your cart goes. 

The Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider is the world’s first mountain glider to soar from mountain heights through the treetops. This single-rail coaster simulates the elation of hang gliding and free-falling but keeps you strapped in at all times for a much safer experience. Rediscover the mountains through the thrill of intense acceleration and sensational heights!

outdoor adventures at Wears Valley Ranch

Wears Valley Ranch

Primarily purposed as a home and school for children in need in Sevierville, Wears Valley Ranch is dedicated to creating an environment that bolsters spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual development. In keeping with this mission, the 120-acre grounds are home to an art gallery, exquisite gardens, a whimsical chapel, and an abundance of adorable farm animals. When you visit the ranch, you’ll get a chance to tour the property and see the horses, chickens, sheep, and longhorn cattle. Before you leave, don’t forget to try some exceptional ice cream made right there in Wears Valley Ranch.


Come hungry for excitement and magic! The multitude of family-friendly adventures awaiting in the Great Smoky Mountains will whisk you away into fascinating new worlds and adrenaline-pumping recreation. With such a unique spread of indoor and outdoor activities to choose from, you can’t miss out on a multi-day quest to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Content on this page is subject to change. Please contact the locations mentioned to see if promotions, hours, pricing, etc. are still valid.

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller is a native Tennessean who currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina. She loves spending time in the great outdoors, such as camping, hiking, and mountain biking. She also enjoys exploring all that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

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