Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one of our favorite getaways for a long weekend or even for a full week + because there’s so much to do there! It’s only about four hours away from us PLUS we get to go through Great Smoky Mountain National Park on our drive to Gatlinburg. We just got back from our Spring in the Smokies trip over spring break and we had so much fun exploring Gatlinburg and spending time together as a family. There are so many fun things to do in Gatlinburg with Kids and we always make sure to check out some new (to us!) attractions while still visiting our old favorites.
A huge thanks to Visit Gatlinburg for hosting us on our Spring in the Smokies getaway. We received complimentary admission to the attractions listed but all opinions are honest and my own.
RIPLEY’S AQUARIUM OF THE SMOKIES
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, affectionately referred to as the Gatlinburg Aquarium by our crew, is one of those places that we visit each and every time we’re in Gatlinburg. Even though there were no big additions since our last visit, it’s still a fun aquarium to explore- and we HAD to update our picture of the kids in front of the giant wall of fish.
The tunnel through Shark Lagoon is one of our favorite parts of the aquarium. You hop on the moving walkways and travel through 340 feet of underwater tunnels as schools of fish, sharks, and sawfish surround you.
Another favorite for our family is Touch A Ray Bay where you can actually TOUCH a stingray. The kids love leaning over the edge and sticking their hands in the water for the chance to touch a stingray as it glides by.
RIPLEY’S MARVELOUS MIRROR MAZE
The rest of the attractions that we visited on this trip were new to us! We checked out Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze, and the kids thought it was ah-MAZE-ing! I think they would have been content to spend the whole day there if we’d let them. Your ticket to the mirror maze gets you in as many times as you’d like for the entire day so we stopped by again after dinner for a few more trips through the maze which seemed like a fair compromise.
After getting suited up (in plastic gloves!) they entered the mirror maze and had to find their way through the twists and turns- and spinning doors! We were the only people in the mirror maze for about fifteen minutes so the kids were able to race through and compete to see who could complete the maze in the least amount of time. Ben was the winner in our group and finished in 18 seconds!
Another new to us attraction, Anakeesta, quickly became a family favorite and I can say without a doubt that we will be back! To get to the top of Anakeesta Mountain you board their one-of-a-kind Chondola- either a 4-person chairlift or 6-person enclosed gondola for the ride 600′ up the mountain. Since it was raining, we opted for the gondola, or rather two of them since we’re a family of seven. It is important to note that the backside is somewhat exposed for ventilation so the girls got a bit wet on our way up but they didn’t seem to mind.
Jacob took the big kids on the Tree Canopy Walk, a series of 16 connected bridges, 40-60 feet above the forest floor, and they had so much fun! While Ellie was big enough to go (there’s no height requirement other than they have to be able to walk unassisted and cannot be carried), I was concerned that it would be really slippery since it was pouring rain. It worked out for the best because it was a bit slippery/steep and she would have gotten soaked, and I already promised her that we’ll go again so that she can experience the Tree Canopy Walk, too!
ROWDY BEAR MOUNTAIN COASTER
The Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster was a huge hit with our crew!
The gravity-propelled alpine mountain coaster goes up to 35 miles an hour is it twists and turns down the side of the mountain. Ellie wasn’t tall enough to ride alone (need to be 54″+), but she was tall enough to ride tandem with dad (38″+).
She had her hands up in the air the whole way down the mountain! The driver can control the speed by applying the brakes if needed, but I don’t think they used them at all!
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS ADVENTURE
Another Ripley’s attraction, Guinness World Records Adventure was surprisingly fun! The kids got a kick out of seeing all the weird world records- and a bit grossed out by the longest fingernails.
Before you get started, you set up a pass with your profile so that if you do any of the Guinness World Record Offical Attempt activities, you can scan your pass and there’s a record. The fastest virtual hopscotch time was Lexie’s favorite and she did it over and over and over. The world record is just under 3 seconds and Lexie did it in a little over 4 seconds- not bad at all!
We had a great time exploring Gatlinburg on our Spring in the Smokies trip and added some new attractions to our must-do list (I’m lookin’ at you, Anakeesta!) for future trips. I love that our visits allow us to spend time together as a family and get out and explore all the fun things to do in Gatlinburg.