Ripley's Aquarium Penguin Tunnel

It can certainly be stressful for families who are trying to entertain younger ones while on vacation, but there are so many engaging attractions for toddlers in the Smoky Mountains. So, here are four great attractions in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for families with kids and younger children.

Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Petting Zoo

Your toddler is going to love an old-fashioned pony ride at Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Petting Zoo. Watch their eyes light up as they feed exotic animals like zebras, camels, and kangaroos. A truly educational and exhilarating experience for young visitors. You and the family are also invited to walk among the delicate deer, hand feed them treats, and snap photos with these sweet creatures.

This a pretty exciting attraction for adults as well, so don’t think the little ones will be having all the fun! There are so many animals to see and so much to learn, including views of the local wildlife that you’d see in places like Cades Cove and other exhilarating mountain trails. Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Petting Zoo is guaranteed to be a family favorite on your trip to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Create unforgettable memories at one of the most incredible experiences in Gatlinburg for kids, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Unique attractions like the Penguin Encounter offer a great learning experience for you and your little ones,  ages four and up. Where else can you pet and take photos with these adorable arctic birds? You can even make art with the penguins! Help these Penguin Picassos paint an 8×10 canvas and take it home to remember this special time with the family.

Ripley’s Aquarium also offers Expedition Camps, which are half-day adventures that include storytime, scavenger hunts, crafts, and more. This educational experience is great for ages four and up. The camps allow children to explore on their own while being guided by talented educational staff. They also offer Aquarist Camps for older children in your family (up to age 13). Your little ones may come home declaring dreams of becoming aquatic explorers when they’re all grown up!


Although Dollywood in Pigeon Forge is known for exciting thrill rides, there is plenty to do for the little ones onsite as well. A dedicated area known as the Country Fair is the perfect place for young children. The Country Fair is equipped with flying elephants, bumper cars, and spinning teacups. You can also hop on the Dollywood Express, which is sure to wow any train-loving youngster as you chug through the mountains on a real steam engine.

Relax and unwind if you are staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort with a story-telling experience for your children, the perfect distraction for toddlers and a great way to get off your feet after a long day. These stories come from Dolly’s Imagination Library, an incredible worldwide program that celebrates the southern tradition of storytelling.

Wild Bear Falls

Another great thing to do in Gatlinburg with toddlers is to visit Wild Bear Falls, an incredible indoor water park in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. Kids under three get in free, and the Little Pigeon River spray park is reserved for toddlers only. Youngsters can splash and play in their own area, safe from deeper waters and other patrons looking for more intense water attractions.

Hope your young ones love the Smokies as much as we do! We know they will be creating life-long memories here in the mountains with all of the fun things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with kids. Can’t wait to see them smile! Show us your favorite moments by tagging us and sharing your photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Follow Us: @mobilebrochure

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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