kid-friendly activities and eat in the smokies

Though Eastern Tennessee may be best known for its adventurous outdoors and scenic natural beauty, the Smokies are a coveted destination for the “fun for all-ages” attractions available in the off-season, too. Don’t let the winter blues stop you from enjoying quality family time at a movie theater in Gatlinburg or a go-kart race in Pigeon Forge! Plus, some of the best places to eat in the Smoky Mountain towns are only steps away from the most popular indoor things to do. Get out of town for a weekend of family fun with these kid-friendly activities and delicious eats!

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge movie theaters

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge Movie Theaters

Sure, you could sit at home and mindlessly watch Netflix like any other boring weeknight. Or, you could become immersed in a world of fantastical adventure, thanks to the state-of-the-art visual and sensory technology of a Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge movie theater. For kids especially, the effect is all too believable!

For instance, Governor’s Crossing 14 is equipped with a 55-foot wide screen and 46,000 watts of surround sound. Grab a bag of popcorn and some sodas, then settle into your reclining chair to follow heroes like Neo from the Matrix, Spiderman, and the Ghostbusters in riveting high definition! By far the most unique movie theater in Gatlinburg, Ripley’s Moving Theater takes the cinematic experience a step even further. Digital 3D effects and 5D motion simulation technology make rushing through the snow during “Snow Ride” and tearing across galaxies in “Cosmic Race” feel so real! Follow the link to Ripley’s Moving Theater for a $2 off regular admission coupon. At Shoot ‘Em Up Cinema 7D, not only will you don your 3D glasses, but you’ll also take up your gun and mount your trusty steed. This extraordinary Gatlinburg movie theater incorporates motion simulation into an interactive movie screening where you’ll compete against your family members to shoot as many targets as you can.

Ripley's Super Fun Park

Ripley’s Super Fun Park

Ripley’s Super Fun Park is a thrilling way to blow off steam when the kids start getting restless. Just off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, this multi-level go-kart racing track spans three and a half stories of nonstop corkscrews, twists and turns. Young drivers can learn the ropes on the Kiddie Track and then get more practice on the Rookie Track. More experienced drivers can head straight to the Family Track to see who’s racing skills deserve the gold! Afterward, check out the 10,000 square foot arcade for a few tiebreaker games before moving on to your well-earned dinner.

best places to eat in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Best Places to Eat For Families

A long afternoon of go-karting and interactive adventures on the big screen is enough to work up an appetite for anyone, no matter how big or small! When spending quality time with the kids, choosing where to go for lunch or dinner is their special privilege. These budget-friendly restaurants just so happen to be kids’ favorite places to eat in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Geno's Pizza

Geno’s Pizza

There’s never a time when kids don’t want pizza. Thankfully for you, it’s a quick and affordable option, too. At Geno’s Pizza, however, you won’t be sacrificing quality for convenience. With locations in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Kodak, you’ll be able to grab a slice of the best pie in the Smokies no matter where your adventures take you. This family-owned and -operated restaurant makes all their dough from scratch and incorporates only the freshest ingredients. Ask them to fire up one of their signature pizzas, like the All Meat Lovers, the Vegetarian Special, or the Loaded Pepperoni, and you won’t be disappointed. Even if you’re not in the mood for pizza, you can’t go wrong with their oven-baked subs, fresh garden salads or calzones.

Dick's Last Resort

Dick’s Last Resort

Do you have a certain trouble-maker or smart aleck in your life? Take that goofball to Dick’s Last Resort, and they’ll show them how it’s done! Your young hooligan can expect to meet their match when the server adorns everyone in a silly paper hat with a personalized slogan written for all to see. The adults can expect the beer and margs to be cold, and the whole family can expect the fried chicken, baby back ribs, Lowcountry shrimp, and crab legs to taste delicious — but it all comes with a hilarious side of sarcasm from the staff! Follow the link above to snag a coupon for a free appetizer.

Shoney's Restaurants

Shoney’s Restaurants

Shoney’s is your friendly neighborhood diner, where the fresh food bar is always well-stocked with your favorite all-American foods. Stop by for a sustaining breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, steak and biscuits, or enjoy a midday meal of sandwiches and burgers with hickory-smoked bacon. Look forward to dinner at Shoney’s, too, when you’ll get to sink your teeth into a 10-ounce ribeye, half-pound grilled beef patty, hand-breaded shrimp, or crispy whitefish filet. The fresh food bar is also always well-stocked with piping hot options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kids age 12 and under can chow down on a burger, chicken tenders or spaghetti, and then convince you to splurge on some Shoney’s World Famous hot fudge cake, skillet cookie or strawberry pie for dessert!

Steak 'n' Shake

Steak ‘n Shake

At Steak ‘n Shake, you’ll start with your choice of mouth-watering steakburgers cooked to your order, like the Western BBQ ‘n’ Bacon, the Bacon and Cheese, or the Royale topped with a fried egg, cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Then pair that with a round of exciting milkshake flavors, like Nutella, Reese’s Peanut Butter, Butterfinger, or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Last but not least, chow down on a side of chili, fries and onion rings, or order a few to share with the whole table. A big juicy burger and a decadent milkshake are two things your kiddos will never turn down!

Mama's Chicken Kitchen

Mama’s Chicken Kitchen

No one in their right mind can resist authentic Southern fried chicken! In Gatlinburg, Mama’s Chicken Kitchen raises the standard with savory entrées of chicken breast, thighs, tenders, chicken and dumplings, and even chicken liver. You can’t go wrong with their chicken wings either, which come doused in your choice of homemade sauce. If you’d rather picnic on the trails or relax at your hotel, their to-go bucket of 10 pieces of chicken, two pints of sides, biscuits and jam will be more than enough to feed a family of four.

Healthy Balance Meals

Healthy Balance Meals

When on vacation, it can be challenging to remain faithful to your diet or to set a good example for your children. Healthy Balance Meals makes nutrition on-the-go so much easier! Any of their homemade frozen entrées can be taken with you and stored at your hotel or cabin for later. Not staying for more than a day or two? Drop into their downtown Sevierville location for a healthy lunch or dinner of chicken, ham or turkey sandwiches, veggie-filled wraps, grilled paninis, and lean beef or turkey burgers. Check out the link above for a handy 10% off coupon for dine-in or take-out!

candy stores in Gatlinburg, TN

Candy Stores in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

The Smokies are no stranger to the fine art of sugar and sweetness. The last stop of your weekend of family fun should be to one of the dessert and candy stores in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Adina’s Sweet Shop makes everything from cakes and cupcakes to ice cream and candy. Treat your taste buds to an oreo cupcake with just as much icing as cake, a pecan pie to take home, or a custom-made birthday cake for your child’s special day. Adina’s is perhaps most famous for keeping true to their Appalachian heritage with their one-of-a-kind moonshine-flavored cupcakes. Grab the coupon from the link above, and get a free scoop of ice cream when you buy one scoop.

Located in Pigeon Forge at The Mountain Mile, Cream & Sugar Sweet Shoppe is always worth a visit. First, grab a cone of homemade ice cream, then browse an entire store full of every kind of candy you could possibly want. Don’t be surprised when your kids each bring home a Halloween-worthy haul of gummy bears, chocolate-covered snacks, rock candy, truffles and more!

Between crazy school schedules and a busy final quarter at work, it can be hard to find a chance to set aside special quality time just for you and your kids. When you do finally get that long-awaited chance to treat them, movies, playtime, and yummy food are always exceptional ideas. While those things alone are sure to delight them, a surprise escape to their favorite fun-filled mountain getaway is guaranteed to light up their whole world. Even in cold weather, there is never a shortage of kid-friendly things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to help you make time for the most important part of your life!

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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