5 Things to Do With Your Kids in the Smoky Mountains

5 Things to Do With Your Kids in the Smoky Mountains

Last Updated on April 21, 2024

Are you looking for some fun and new things to do with your kids in the Smoky Mountains? The Great National Park is bliss for outdoor adventurers of all ages. This spectacular destination is one of the best places for a family vacation, with a range of kid-friendly activities. Undoubtedly, it is the most visited national park in the U.S. 

From becoming a junior ranger to hiking through scenic trails, the amazing park in the eastern United States offers many memorable experiences, especially for children. But with so many wonderful attractions, deciding which activities to see or try out first can become hard. 

But don’t worry. In this article, we will explore the six most interesting things to do in the Smoky Mountains with your kids for a fantastic family vacation. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Bike Riding Through Cades Cove

If you are looking for an auto tour, then Cades Cove is the most popular spot to visit. Not only that, but the park also gives you an opportunity to bike the road. If you cannot bring your own bikes, you can easily rent them in the campground at the Cades Cove Bike Rental Shop. Moreover, depending on your kid’s ability, you can easily adjust the ride distance as the two roads bisect the main loop road.

For instance, when you visit Cades Cove Visitor Center, you can take a 4-mile bike ride, exiting Sparks Lane and ride the main loop on the way back. Similarly, you can take an 8-mile ride if you take Hyatt Lane or a full 11-mile loop ride. In fact, the beautiful area has it all, including hiking trails, a campground, wildlife, a scenic drive, and more. 

2. Let Your Kids Be Junior Rangers

Inspire your kids to become junior rangers and enjoy a day of adventure. If you have kids between the ages of 5 to 12, you can easily collect a junior ranger booklet for a small fee from any of the campgrounds or the park’s Visitor Centers. It is also a great chance to enhance your kids’ understanding of the wildlife in the park. 

So, help them complete all the adventurous activities mentioned in the booklet and then return to the Visitor Center and collect their hard-earned Junior Ranger badge. You can also find some ranger-led programs for your kids and make them participate so they can learn about the incredible park directly from an official ranger. No doubt, kids love this opportunity as they get to connect with everything in the park and earn a memorable Junior Ranger badge, making it one of the most fun activities to do with kids. 

Explore Wondrous Insects
source / gettyimages

3. Explore Wondrous Insects

You might have witnessed fireflies flickering their fancy lights after dark before but have you ever seen them synchronize amongst them? If not, then you must visit the Smoky Mountains. The national park features almost 19 different species of fireflies, including the rarest species of synchronous fireflies with fancy flashing patterns. The insects flash in unison for about two weeks in June, and the best place to watch them is in the Elkmont area from 10 pm to midnight.

Also, monarch butterflies migrate annually and put on an amazing show from August through October. You can watch them fly in formation from Clingman’s Dome or Bald or any other higher elevation in the park. It is one of the best opportunities for your kids to witness the wondrous display of natural beauty and learn about biodiversity, the variety of life forms found in different ecosystems, and the importance of preserving such unique habitats. 

4. TopJump Trampoline & Extreme Arena

Ready to fly high, flip, and dunk? Visit TopJump Trampoline & Extreme Arena. It is one of the top spots for families with active kids and offers an extreme but safe adventure for people of all ages. From basketball and virtual reality arena to dodgeball, the exciting trampoline park is full of adrenaline rush activities. 

Also, one of the park’s major highlights is the Fire & Ice Ninja Course, where your kids can navigate through an exciting obstacle course of rungs, ramps, steps, and beams. TopJump is also home to the first-ever sky-high climbing adventure of the nation known as Cliffhanger Challenges, which includes 21 unique climbing lines to test your as well as your kids’ abilities. Moreover, there is a huge arcade and Sugar Rush Candy Store, let alone a place for parents to sit and relax and enjoy the beauty of the whole park. 

5. Enjoy Horseback Riding

The national park also allows you to saddle up and see the beauty of the Smoky Mountains not from a hilltop but from a new perspective—horseback. There are various stables located within the park, offering guided, exciting riding options for everyone, including more experienced riders and beginners. 

For instance, the four most popular places to take a guided trail ride are Sugarlands Riding Stables, Smoky Mountains Riding Stables, Cades Cove Riding Stables, and Smokemont Riding Stables. Also, some stables provide horse-drawn rides, which are more suitable and safer for small children. 

The best part is, if you have your own horse, you can also ride it. In fact, half of the trails in the park allow horses, as there are around five drive-in horse camps. From mid-March to late November, you can easily explore the park’s scenic trails on horseback while breathing in the refreshing mountain air. So, take your kids for horseback riding in the Smoky Mountains and create lasting memories as your kids discover the park in a new way. 


As you now know, the gorgeous natural park offers an incredible family vacation with plenty of fun things to do with your kids. With tons of family-friendly attractions and breathtaking mountains, it is impossible not to fall in love with the Smoky Mountains. 

It is a place where you get the best of both worlds; the countless entertainment combined with incredible outdoors all in one place. So, visit the Smoky Mountains National Park with your kids and enjoy the above-discussed exciting activities. 

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