Thanks to Dolly Parton and her fabulous Dollywood, Tennessee’s earned its place on the map as a top amusement park destination. Additionally, thanks to the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee offers the perfect backdrop for exciting mountain coasters. Whether you’re looking for kid-friendly rides or thrilling mega-coasters, the state of Tennessee has it all. In fact, several cities in Tennessee boast multiple amusement parks, so pick a central Tennessee vacation rental, and you can experience them all!

1. Dollywood, Pigeon Forge

dollywood park ride
Source: dollywood.com

Recognized as one of the world’s best theme parks, Dollywood isn’t just for Dolly Parton fans. It offers more than 40 rides and attractions, including the Thunderhead wooden coaster, the steel thriller Mystery Mine and the Wild Eagle. If anyone in the family is afraid of roller coasters, Dollywood isn’t just about the rides. It also has top-notch entertainment with live performances of country, bluegrass, Southern gospel, classic rock ‘n’ roll and Appalachian music as well as master craftsmen demonstrating the authentic artistry of the area’s rich heritage.

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2. The Island in Pigeon Forge, Pigeon Forge

the island
Source: Flickr/Jim Grey

Also located in Pigeon Forge, The Island in Pigeon Forge is a 23-acre entertainment center offering you and your family affordable fun both day and night. On top of The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200-foot-high observation wheel, The Island boasts a multi-million dollar fountain show programmed to perform with coordinating light and sound, other fun rides and attractions, as well as unique shopping and dining. It’s fun for the whole family! Purchase the unlimited 2-day rides pass to enjoy all The Island has to offer at a great price. You can stay at The Margaritaville Island Hotel or Margaritaville Island Inn both located at The Island, or stay across the Parkway in a vacation rental near Wear Farm City Park.

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3. Nashville Shores, Hermitage

waterslide park

Nashville Shores includes a waterpark and a treetop adventure park, so you can take your lake vacation “from serene to extreme!” Nashville Shores Waterpark features more than one million gallons of summer fun including thrilling slides, a wave pool, lazy river, pools, a beautiful beach, lake cruises and more. On the other hand, The Treetop Adventure Park is an aerial adventure course set in the beautiful woods of Nashville Shores which features suspended bridges, ten zip lines, cargo nets, ladders, Tarzan jumps, and other thrilling elements. You can’t go wrong, no matter which adventure you choose!

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4. The Coaster at Goats on the Roof, Pigeon Forge

goats on the roof
Source: thecoastertn.com

Did you have any idea that Pigeon Forget was so full of adrenaline pumping family fun? This family-friendly Alpine Coaster in Pigeon Forge lets you control your own speed with hand brakes. Zip through the mile-long track at almost 30 miles per hour, or slow it down for anyone who’s a little nervous and doesn’t have the need to speed. What sets this coaster apart from the other Pigeon Forge attractions is that it offers a view that can’t be seen anywhere else in town.

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5. Rowdy Bear Mountain, Gatlinburg

the fastest gravity alpine coaster in gatlinburg
Source: rowdybearcoaster.com

Zip and zoom through the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains on the Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster. You control the speed (up to 35 mph) on this gravity propelled coasted ride with your own hand brakes. Then, head over to the First Mountain Glider in the world! This thrill ride combines free falling and hand-gliding into a safe and fun experience. Before you buy your tickets, check their website, Facebook, and Groupon for any deals and specials!

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6. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

gatlinburg mountain coaster
Source: gatlinburgmountaincoaster.com

With tubular rails that guarantee a smooth, comfortable ride, the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is the fastest mountain coaster in Tennessee. You be racing so quickly that the ride will be over before you know it. Good news because you can ride again for half the price! Parking can be a bit tricky here, so go early to get a prime spot in the parking lot, or park in the city parking just down the block.

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7. Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area

chairlift ride
Source: Flickr/Michael Winters

From downtown Gatlinburg, you can hop on to the 120-passenger aerial tramway for a ride to this ski area. Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area has a 600-foot vertical drop, nine beautiful trails and an amusement park complete with indoor ice skating, wildlife encounter, Alpine Slide, water rides and more. That means you can have year-round, whether or not you ski or snowboard. For the most bang for your buck, purchase a wristband at the Amusement Park to get unlimited use of the park’s activities, excluding the Aerial Tramway, Snow Tubing & Ski Mountain Coaster.

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8. Fun Mountain, Gatlinburg

space ship inspired ride

This small amusement park in the Smoky Mountains includes some great rides for the younger kids as well as a few more exciting ones you might remember from your own childhood like a Scrambler and Tilt-A-Whirl. A long chair lift, go-karts, and mini golf are also available here. Single ride tickets are available, or you can purchase an armband which allows your access to all rides for two hours.

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9. Lake Winnie Amusement Park, Chattanooga

kids on an amusement park ride

This small, traditional amusement park in Chattanooga is actually on the Georgia state line. Attractions here include the Wild Lightnin’ steel coaster, the wooden coaster, Cannon Ball, a bunch of spinning rides such as a Paratrooper and a Wave Swinger, and some kiddie rides. Admission to neighboring Soakya Water Park is included with your Lake Winnie ticket, so be prepared for a full day of family fun!

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