5 Things to Do on Your Family Vacation to the Smoky Mountains

5 Things to Do on Your Family Vacation to the Smoky Mountains

Last Updated on March 2, 2023

The Smoky Mountains are a nature lover’s paradise, offering abundant outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery. Whether you’re looking to hike through the forest, picnic in a picturesque environment, zipline through the treetops, or simply take a scenic drive, the Smokies have it all. 

And with its family-friendly atmosphere, there’s no better place to create unforgettable memories with your loved ones. So why wait? Escape the stresses of everyday life and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains.

This article highlights five things you can do on your family vacation to the Smoky Mountains.

Join the Events

Attending events when traveling to the Smoky Mountains is an excellent way for your family to experience the culture and traditions of the area. The Smokies are known for their rich heritage and events that celebrate everything from arts and crafts to music and food. 

One of the most popular events is the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, which occurs twice a year in July and October. It has hundreds of booths that showcase handmade crafts, including pottery, woodcarving, and jewelry. Families can browse the booths, watch demonstrations, and even participate in hands-on workshops to learn new skills. 

Another famous event is the Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood between November and January each year. This holiday extravaganza features millions of twinkling lights, festive decorations, and live shows. Your family can ride the roller coasters, visit Santa’s workshop, and enjoy traditional holiday treats, all while relishing the sights of the season.

Foodies will also find plenty of Smoky Mountain events to satisfy their taste buds. The Gatlinburg Food and Wine Festival occurs in April and features local cuisine and wine from the surrounding area. Likewise, the Bloomin’ Barbeque and Bluegrass Festival in May celebrates BBQ and music from this unique genre with fantastic live performances.

Besides, you can also attend other events like the Winter Carnival of Magic, Dancing with the Stars, or Hamfest.

Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must for a family vacation in the area. This park is known for its diverse wildlife, scenic vistas, and ancient mountain ranges. With over 800 miles of trails, you can hike through the lush forest. You can climb the highest peaks or stroll through the valleys to discover the park’s hidden treasures—just plan ahead before you set off on your adventure by carrying appropriate gear, food, and water.  

There are numerous hiking trails suited for all skill levels. The most popular trail is the 2.2-mile hike to Laurel Falls, which leads to a beautiful waterfall that cascades into a pool below. Here, you can enjoy a picnic lunch while enjoying the stunning views. The Alum Cave Trail is an excellent option for a more challenging hike. 

Moreover, fishing is a common activity in the park, with thousands of miles of streams and rivers. These water bodies are home to various fish, including trout and bass. You can spend a day fishing in the park and enjoy the serenity of the surrounding landscape.

Visit the Gatlinburg SkyBridge

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is among the most renowned attractions in the area and a must-see for families visiting the Smokies. This 680-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge offers spectacular sights of the landscape. It is suspended 140 feet above the ground at its highest point, giving you a thrilling and unique perspective of the mountains. 

Walking on the bridge is an exhilarating experience. Your family can take their time to enjoy the views and snap some amazing photos along the way. At the end of the bridge, you can take an elevator up to the SkyDeck—a glass floor platform that rises above the bridge. Standing on the SkyDeck gives you a panoramic view of the mountains below, and it’s an excellent spot for photography. 

The SkyBridge is open year-round, with each season offering a unique sight of the mountains. During the fall, you can enjoy the vibrant colors of the changing leaves. Meanwhile, winter promises a peaceful and serene atmosphere. In the spring and summer, families can take in the lush greenery and abundant wildlife.

Go Ziplining

If you’re seeking adventure and excitement, you must try ziplining during your vacation. The area has several zipline courses that provide incredible sights of the mountains and forests while offering an adventurous experience. Remember, ziplining is perfect for families with older children; ziplining with young children may be unsafe. 

The Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park has a famous zipline course. It features seven zipline lines that vary in length and height. The course takes you through the treetops and over waterfalls, offering an unforgettable experience. The park also provides other activities like wall climbing, a swinging bridge, and a high ropes course. 

Legacy Mountain Ziplines also has a zipline with six lines that span over 4.5 miles. The course takes visitors through the forests and valleys of the Smoky Mountains, offering a mesmerizing view of the area. Amazingly, the park is also home to other activities, such as a laser gun shooting range and a mountain coaster.

Take a Scenic Drive

If you prefer a leisurely experience, a scenic drive through the Smoky Mountains is an excellent way to sightsee the natural beauty. The region offers several picturesque routes highlighting the mountains, valleys, and forests. 

For instance, Blue Ridge Parkway, a famous route from Virginia to North Carolina, offers an unbelievable view of the Smokies, showcasing the region’s stunning fall foliage and spring blooms. Along the way, your family can stop at various overlooks, hiking trails, and picnic areas to enjoy the scenery and have a family outing. 

Similarly, the Foothills Parkway, which winds through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is another great option. The Parkway promises panoramic views of the mountains, valleys, and rolling hills, making it a favorite among nature enthusiasts and photographers. 


The Smoky Mountains are a treasure trove of natural wonders and offer plenty of family-friendly activities. From picnicking and ziplining to attending events and taking scenic drives, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or prefer a relaxation vacation, the Smoky Mountains offer something for everyone.

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