Nestled along the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend provides your family with the low-key mountain vacation that you’ve been dreaming about. This town sits along the eastern edge of Tennessee and within minutes of the North Carolina state line. You’ll find Townsend vacation rentals tucked away in the woods or family homes close to the Townsend downtown area. Fresh air and outdoor activities will take up the majority of your time in the area. Your kids will love biking, hiking, fishing, and exploring. However, you want to make sure you have a game plan to keep them entertained, so here’s a guide to the top nine things in Townsend to do with kids of all ages.

1. Tuckaleechee Caverns

When the weather turns warm, take your family to the Tuckaleechee Caverns for some underground exploration, where it’s a lot cooler. These caves are around twenty to thirty million years old, and you’ll learn a lot of local history and folk lore on your guided tour. You’ll see the “Big Room,” a cave so large that a football stadium could sit inside, and followed by a visit to the Silver Falls. The falls cascade more than 200 feet into the pool below. Your kids will love the idea of an underground waterfall.

2. Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center

Located close to the town’s entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. You can stop here before a day in the park or save it for a rainy afternoon. Wander through the museum and learn more about the local area and the history of this area dating back to colonial times. There’s also a period village set up to help your kids visualize what it was like to live in this area before the modern world took over.

3. Skiing

If you arrive in town in the wintertime, bring your skis and store them in your vacation rental. A short drive from Townsend sits the skiing area of Ober Gatlinburg. This ski resort offers numerous trails for all level of skiers. Your family can rent ski equipment and take a lesson to learn the basics or brush up on rusty skills. Your teens and tween can try their hand at snowboarding at this resort. There’s even a dedicated area where you can go snow tubing.

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4. Ice Skate in Ober Gatlinburg

In the summer months, load your family into the car for the short drive to Ober Gatlinburg for a day of fun. Ride the tram to the top of the mountain, enjoying the stunning scenery on the way up and down. Put on ice skates and see if you remember how to do a spin or teach your little ones how to ice skate. There’s a small cafe that serves snacks when your troops tire out.

5. Horseback Riding

After a few days hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains, give your feet a rest and take the family to the Cades Cove Riding Stables. Schedule a trail ride with an expert guide to spending an afternoon exploring the area on horseback. This riding stable offers several trail rides. You and your family can ride at sunrise and enjoy watching the sun come up over the mountains or sleep in and enjoy one later in the day. During your ride, the trail guide offers up local history and information about the town and surrounding area.

6. Hayride

Nothing reminds you of fall and the upcoming season like a hayride. If you’re staying in Townsend during the fall or early winter months, consider a hayride with the family. A few local stables and farms offer hayrides out by Cades Cove. Grab a blanket from your vacation rental and snuggle up with your family for a tour of the farmland that dates back to the 18th century as you ride along behind a tractor or horses. Pack a thermos of hot chocolate to share with your kids if they get cold.

7. Clingmans Dome

For views, you can’t find just anywhere else, take the family into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and to the highest point of the mountains to arrive at Clingmans Dome. This is an observation tower that extends out over the land and offers views that seem to go on forever. You can drive most of the way and park close to the tower. If you arrive in the morning, you might get to see the valley covered in fog, giving the area a magical quality.

8. Dollywood

For thrills and family fun, take the kids for a day trip into Pigeon Forge to Dollywood. This Appalachian-themed amusement park that country singer, Dolly Parton helped to design. Ride roller coasters, take in a show and enjoy a family meal together. If it’s a hot summer’s day, visit the attached water park to float on the lazy river while your kids and husband enjoy the towering water slides. You can even check out the stores in the park for some one-of-a-kind souvenirs and craft items.

9. Go Fishing

Around town, you’ll find plenty of creeks and waterways to enjoy some fishing. Pack a cooler and fishing gear to make a day of it. Your kids will love sitting on the banks and putting bait on their hooks with your help. If you have a good day, throw your catch in the cooler and make up a fresh fish dinner back at your vacation rental.

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