Gatlinburg Family Vacation: Top 2023 Tennessee Guide

Gatlinburg Family Vacation: The Ultimate Guide

Are you looking for an unforgettable family vacation? A Gatlinburg family vacation is a fantastic destination for families in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Living nearby, we spend a lot of time in the area with our family.

Gatlinburg Overview
Downtown Gatlinburg
Great Smoky Mountains

Gatlinburg Overview

Living near Gatlinburg, the Smoky Mountain area is one of our favorite places to go with our kids out of all the places we’ve traveled.

Top Thing To Do: Anakeesta

Where To Stay: Margaritaville Gatlinburg is our favorite resort in the area. While it’s not the cheapest, it’s a new resort with a nice pool and a great location.

Where To Eat: Ole Red (not because the food is amazing, but because of the live nightly entertainment)

How To Get There: The closest airport is Knoxville (TYS), about an hour away. A rental car is almost a requirement due to the distance between attractions. Click here for deals on Discover rental cars. Gatlinburg is also within a day’s drive of 2/3rds of the country’s population!

Gatlinburg Links:

Top Attractions for Families

Gatlinburg and the surrounding area are chock-full fun and exciting attractions for the whole family.

Check out our complete guide to the top fun things to do in Gatlinburg here. But here are some must-see spots:


Anakeesta: Gatlinburg Family Vacation

Anakeesta is our top attraction in Gatlinburg, and we usually buy season passes. See our complete guide to Anakeesta here. It makes a great early morning or evening excursion in the summer, avoiding the hottest part of the day on the ski lift to the top of the mountain.

Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium is a favorite among kids and adults alike. Get up close and personal with sea turtles, sharks, and other fascinating marine life. Don’t miss the interactive exhibits and the mesmerizing underwater tunnel.

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is a ski resort and amusement park that offers year-round family fun. There’s something for everyone, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to water rides and a mountain coaster in the summer.

Mountain Coaster

For thrill-seekers, a Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is a must-try. This coaster zips through the breathtaking mountain scenery, providing an adrenaline-pumping experience with incredible views.

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community

The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is fantastic for exploring local art and picking up unique souvenirs. This eight-mile loop is home to numerous talented artisans, from pottery to woodcarvings.

Outdoor Activities for Families

Gatlinburg is the perfect place for families who love the great outdoors. Some popular activities include:

  • Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Horseback riding through scenic trails
  • Picnicking in beautiful picnic areas
  • Exploring mountain streams on a scenic drive

Family-Friendly Lodging

Gatlinburg offers various lodging options for families, from cozy cabins to full-service resorts. Some popular choices include:

Top Places to Stay in Gatlinburg: From Resorts to Cozy Cabins

After a day of exploring, nothing is better than retreating to a cozy cabin nestled in the mountains. Gatlinburg offers a variety of cabin rentals, ranging from rustic log cabins to luxurious mountain retreats. Many cabins feature fire pits, hot tubs, and stunning mountain views—perfect for a relaxing winter getaway.

Gatlinburg offers a variety of accommodations to suit every traveler’s taste and budget. Here are some of the top-rated places to stay in Gatlinburg, including luxurious resorts and charming vacation rentals:

Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg

Top Hotel
Margaritaville Gatlinburg

Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg


Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg is a 4-star resort located on the main parkway (Hwy 441) in Gatlinburg. We have stayed at this resort several times, and while it’s not the cheapest resort in Gatlinburg, it’s by far our favorite.

This tropical-inspired retreat offers well-appointed rooms and suites, an indoor and outdoor pool, a fitness center, and an on-site spa.

The resort’s convenient location across the street from Anakeesta makes it a perfect base for exploring the best of Gatlinburg.

Margaritaville Gatlinburg: A Tropical Escape in the Heart of the Smokies

After an action-packed day at Anakeesta, unwind and relax at Margaritaville Gatlinburg, a tropical oasis just a short walk from the mountaintop theme park. Inspired by the laid-back lifestyle of singer Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville Gatlinburg offers a unique dining and entertainment experience that transports you to a tropical paradise.

Dining at Margaritaville Gatlinburg

The Margaritaville Restaurant offers a delectable menu featuring a variety of island-inspired dishes, such as the signature Cheeseburger in Paradise, Volcano Nachos, and Coconut Shrimp. Kids will love the diverse options on the Little Parakeet’s menu, ensuring that even the pickiest eaters find something they enjoy.

Try one of Margaritaville’s famous frozen concoctions or specialty cocktails, like the classic Margarita or the refreshing Rum Runner. Non-alcoholic options are also available, making Margaritaville a great destination for the entire family.

Map of the best deals on top hotels and VRBOs in Gatlinburg:

Dining Options for Families

Gatlinburg has no shortage of delicious dining options for families. Some local favorites include:

More Amazing Attractions and Activities

Downtown Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg Downtown

Downtown Gatlinburg is a bustling hub of activity, perfect for families to explore. You’ll find various fun things, such as playing miniature golf, a mirror maze, or shopping for souvenirs at charming gift shops.

Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the entire town. Ride the glass elevator to new heights and take in the stunning scenery from the observation deck.

Water Park and Game Rooms

For indoor fun, check out the area’s water parks and game rooms. Kids will love splashing around in the pools, zooming down water slides, and challenging each other to friendly competitions at the pool tables.

Wildlife Encounters

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears. Keep your eyes peeled for these majestic creatures during your family vacation, but remember to maintain a safe distance and respect their natural habitat.

Planning Your Gatlinburg Family Vacation

When planning your next family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN, consider these tips to make the most of your trip:

  • If it’s your first time visiting, plan to spend at least a few days exploring the area to take in all the best things it offers.
  • For a truly immersive experience, consider staying in one of the many Gatlinburg cabins with scenic views, hot tubs, and game rooms.
  • Make the most of your vacation by trying new activities, like horseback riding or visiting the lesser-known Tennessee towns nearby.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking views and favorite moments from your family vacation.

Family Fun for All Ages

Gatlinburg has something for everyone, from young children to outdoor lovers looking for adventure. Whether planning a short break or an extended family vacation, Gatlinburg, nestled in the United States’ most visited national park, is a great place to create lasting memories. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your unforgettable Gatlinburg family vacation today!

Gatlinburg Family Vacation FAQs

Q: What’s the best time to visit Gatlinburg for a family vacation?

A: Gatlinburg is a great destination year-round, but the most popular times to visit are during the summer months and fall foliage season.

Q: What are some fun activities for younger children in Gatlinburg?

A: Younger kids will love attractions like mini-golf, ice cream shops, and the indoor amusement park at Ripley’s.

Q: Are there any scenic drives in the area?

A: Absolutely! One of the most popular scenic drives is the Cades Cove Loop Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This 11-mile, one-way loop offers stunning views, historic sites, and wildlife encounters.

Q: What are some great outdoor activities for older kids and teens?

A: Older kids and teens will enjoy hiking to the observation tower at Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the park, ziplining through the forest, and trying out the longest pedestrian suspension bridge at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park.

Q: Is Gatlinburg close to other popular destinations?

A: Yes! Gatlinburg is just a short drive from Pigeon Forge, another family-friendly destination with attractions like the Dollywood theme park and Dolly Parton’s Stampede dinner show.

In Conclusion

A Gatlinburg family vacation is an unforgettable experience filled with fun, adventure, and quality time spent together. With its wide range of attractions, outdoor activities, and family-friendly lodging and dining options, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is the perfect place for your next family trip. So pack your bags, hit the road, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains

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