Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of northeastern Tennessee, the Dollywood area of Pigeon Forge attracts families and thrill seekers for an extended weekend or longer holiday. Book a stay at a Dollywood vacation rental close to the gates of this Appalachian-themed amusement park, or enjoy a little solitude at a cabin tucked away in the woods. Downtown Pigeon Forge offers a plethora of fun activities, including children’s museums, an aquarium, dinner theater, and a trolley. For nature lovers, spend your days fishing, hiking, and biking. Check out the top 10 things to do with your kids in Dollywood.
1. Enjoy Some Thrilling Rides
With more than 40 rides in the park, Dollywood Amusement Park has something for everyone in your family to get excited about. Your tweens and teens will beg to hop on the Drop Line and plunge down to earth in a free fall or to ride one of the coasters, while smaller kids flock to the kiddie rides and merry-go-rounds. To cool off, stop into one of the musical shows throughout the park to listen to some toe-tapping country music.
2. Get all Wet
After a day at the Dollywood Amusement Park, cool off at the adjacent Dollywood’s Splash Country. Reserve a canopy or retreat so your family has a place to relax and regroup in between rides. Your teens can ride the steeper and more thrilling rides, such as the SwiftWater Run and the Fire Tower Fall that’s almost straight down. At Little Creek Falls, little ones have their own retreat with a playground in shallow water with water guns and a large bucket of water that dumps on the crowds.
3. See for Miles
While exploring the downtown area of Pigeon Forge, take the family for a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. At the top end of the ride, you’re more than 200 feet in the air with stunning views in all directions. In the evenings, the wheel becomes a light show with the LED lights along the gondolas and spokes. Located on the Island, the ride is just the start of an afternoon of shopping for souvenirs concluding with a dinner at one of the restaurants.
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4. See Some Dinosaurs
Most little ones are enthralled with the idea of dinosaurs, and if your kids are no different, which makes an afternoon at Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride the perfect choice. Climb aboard one of the boats and get ready for a trip down the river through caves, geysers, and jungles. As you wind your way through the ride, various prehistoric dinos make an appearance to the glee of your kids.
5. Race Down the Mountain
Take the kids on a thrilling ride down the mountain that they won’t soon forget at the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. This single car coaster travels more than a mile down the mountain, and the driver of each car controls the speed so you can take in the views. To ride alone, kids must be 56″ tall and 16 years old. However, children 38 inches and over can ride with a parent or older sibling who meets the ride alone requirements.
6. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Enjoy a short drive through the mountains for a visit to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies on a rainy afternoon. In the Shark Lagoon, your family finds themselves walking under the sea as sharks swim above head and on both sides. The Touch a Ray exhibit lets little ones touch the smooth skin of a stingray. Opt for one of the additional experiences to pet a penguin or swim with the stingrays.
7. Roll Down a Hill
Ever wonder how the hamster feels in one of those big rolling balls? At the Outdoor Gravity Park, your family can check out one of the cool new sports called zorbing, brought to the U.S. from New Zealand, as they climb inside an inflated and padded ball for a roll down the hill. Up to three people can ride down the three unique tracks together, and children under six years of age must ride with a parent.
8. Learn a Little Science
On a rainy afternoon, stop by an intriguing building that appears to be built upside-down for an afternoon of science at WonderWorks. With more than 100 hands-on exhibits, this museum teaches your kids about space, extreme weather, and art without them ever realizing it. Sign up for an exciting game of laser tag, and let your kids work out some of their sibling rivalry or check out the ropes course for some high thrills.
9. See Performing Pets
For an afternoon of fun and laughs, take the family to the Amazing Animal Acts show at the Comedy Barn Theater. Here, your kids can watch their favorite cats and dogs perform tricks on stage. Along with your average house pets, watch pigs and mini donkey get into the fun. Check the schedule and book in advance since the show is only live two or three times per week.
10. Enjoy a Speedy Day
Around the Dollywood and Pigeon Forge area, there are several go-kart race tracks, where you can see which of your kids has a lead foot. Choose from Adventure Raceway, Blake Jones Racing Center and a few others offer varied courses and skill levels. Most of these tracks have height requirements to race. Most of them offer other activities including bumper boats and arcades.
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