Often referred to as the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a picturesque town with sweeping views of the mountain peaks and valleys below. Gatlinburg vacation rentals vary from cozy furnished cabins to stunning modern apartments near the center of town. There are plenty of activities for families planning a stay. From biking and hiking to amusement parks and relaxing, you’ll be sure to find something entertaining for everyone. This guide details 10 popular attractions for those staying in Gatlinburg.
1. Tour Ripley’s Haunted Adventure
If your children love scary movies or are fans of the macabre, they will love touring Ripleys Haunted Adventure. The number one haunted house in Gatlinburg, Ripleys has a host of actors lurking around every corner ready to welcome you into their home. Its extremely dark and cool inside, so its the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon or a hot day. The special effects are amazing, and you can purchase discount tickets to the Odditorium for another day. This attraction is for best for teens and children over the age of 6.
2. Splash Around at Westgate Wild Bear Falls
If you’re looking for a place to cool off and escape the heat of the day at your vacation rental, take the kids to the Westgate Wild Bear Falls. This indoor/outdoor waterpark has a retractable roof that keeps the fun going in the winter and during inclement weather. Float around the lazy river on a colorful tube and enjoy the mountain-themed decor. Slide down the slides, plus kids enjoy the large tree house that dumps gallons of water periodically. If you get hungry, the park has a snack bar with plenty to eat and drink.
3. Take a Ride on the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
This Smoky Mountain Alpine coaster is one of the longest downhill tracks in the United States. The ride takes about 7 to 8 minutes from start to finish, and you’ll want to ride several times. The cars include handles that let you control your speed, and if you prefer to not let the kids go alone, the cars are big enough for two.
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4. View Gatlinburg From Above on the Sky Lift
Experience breathtaking views of Gatlinburg from above on the Alpine Sky Lift. The ride goes up an astonishing 1,800-feet in the air to the top of Crockett Mountain. Settle in your seat with the kids as the seat makes its slow trek up the mountain and then prepare for the turn that delivers views through the lush forest of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the way down. From here, you may be able to see your vacation rental.
5. Set Some Records at the Guinness World of Records
One of the most popular museums for families, the Guinness World Records Museum details hundreds of accomplishments from people all over the world. Take a tour of authentic memorabilia from past events, and take part in some cool games and trivia. Watch videos of past record setters, and then attempt to break your own records.
6. Play a Round of Mini Golf at Treasure Quest Golf
Challenge family members to a round of mini golf at the Treasure Quest Golf Course. Each hole has a fairly simple layout, which is ideal for young players, and there are several black light holes that provide a stunning display at night. As you play, you can also take part in the scavenger hunt that makes the game more interesting while you wait for others to follow through.
7. Go Sledding at the Ober Ski Area
If you are booking a vacation rental for a winter trip, you won’t want to miss the thrills and excitement of the Ober ski area. Rent snowboards or skis and make your way down the powdery snow. There’s a skating rink for those who want to try out their spinning skills, and several shops for souvenirs. In the summer, the park transforms with water rides and a coaster.
8. Watch a Flick at the Motion Ride Movie Theater
Gatlinburg’s only 5D theater, the Motion Ride Movie Theater makes you feel like you are part of the action. You’ll find colorful digital effects and moving seats for increased realism. Join your favorite cartoon characters from Looney Toons or Angry Birds as they are up to their usual tricks and stunts.
9. View the Animals at Ripley’s Aquarium
Stare in awe at the marine life at Ripley’s Aquarium. Home to more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures in 10 different themed galleries, Ripley’s provides a whole day’s worth of fun. Take a glass-bottomed boat ride, or walk through the water tunnel under the sharks. Watch the mermaid dive show, or spend a few hours waddling with the penguins. Kids will enjoy petting the sting rays, and you can even take part in feedings.
10. Go Rafting Down the Nantahala
If you prefer being outdoors, join up with the Nantahala Outdoor Center for an afternoon of whitewater rafting on the river. You and the family will travel down 8 miles of slow rapids to learn how to navigate the waters with your guide before plunging into the whitewater rapids. Before heading back to your vacation rental, head down the zip lines to experience the dense forest from a different vantage point.
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