Kid Testers Recommend Kid-Friendly Smoky Mountain Activities

We haven’t heard from the CabinConnection Kid Testers for awhile. So I thought it might be fun to interview them about their favorite things to do in the Smoky Mountain area. We’ve had these kids at restaurants, shows, in the mountains, camping, staying in cabins, in Gatlinburg, in Pigeon Forge, in caves — they’ve pretty much done it all.

So I asked them: “Out of all the things to do and eat in the Smoky Mountain area, what are your top 10 favorites?” Here’s what I got:

Jaybin’s Top Ten:

The CabinConnection Kid Testers — Kinsen, Parker, and Jaybin. Parker will be sharing his Smoky Mountain favorites in, oh, about 3 years.

1. Swim in a mountain stream. Jaybin loves nothing more than getting in his swimsuit and jumping in a cold, mountain stream. Of course, he knows that caution is super important here, and that grown-ups have to be close on hand. Here’s more info about swimming in the Smokies, along with some good swimming holes to try.

2. Take a hike. Jaybin says he doesn’t care if the hike is to a waterfall or just to see the sights, he loves to set off on a good hike. If you’re thinking about taking a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, here’s a great resource for deciding which hike to take. Remember, a “moderate” hike is more difficult than “strenuous” hike here in Indiana!

3. Adventure Mountain at Dollywood. The kids loved, loved this family-oriented ropes course. I bet Kinsen will mention it, too. It really is super fun and creatively designed. Here’s info about Adventure Mountain, and here’s an in-depth review of our experience there.

4. Get an Ogle Dog. Again, this is a family tradition, so it’s on the kids’ radar. But these all-beef foot-long corn dogs are hard to beat. Grab one at Fannie Farkle’s in Gatlinburg. And here’s the story of why we love them so much.

5. Hot tub in a cabin. Our kids love nothing more than to pile a bunch of family members in a big log cabin. And, of course, it has to have a hot tub. At least once during the stay, we turn the temp low and let the kids “swim” in the tub for awhile, with close adult supervision, of course!

6. Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf at the NASCAR Speedway. Jaybin has fond memories of the mini golf place “with the dragon that sticks his head out of the castle.” I’m glad he remembers it that way, but in reality, the dragon wasn’t working when we where there! The NASCAR speedpark is a great option for families, though. Here’s more info about it, and here’s a review of the mini golf.

7. Go Carts at The Track. The Track in Pigeon Forge has mostly go-carts adults can drive, but there are a few for little ones. Which scores BIG points in my son’s book! He LOVES that he can drive a few, and loves that he can ride along with dad on others. Fun spot, with rides for kids, too. (Insider tip: NASCAR Speedway is cheaper for something very similar!) Here’s our Kid Testers’ review of The Track.

8. MagiQuest. Okay, to be honest, I’m shocked this came in at number 8. Usually, MagiQuest is the very FIRST thing our kids want to do when we hit the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. They LOVE it. My son’s direct quote: “MagiQuest is the best, because you can fight dragons and stuff with your magic wand!” Every kids’ dream. (And I have to admit, fun for adults too. Though pricey.) Here’s a review of MagiQuest, if you’re interested.

9. Camping. Jaybin just had his first camping experience in the Smokies. It was a hit! The campgrounds in the park are really nice. We stayed at Elkmont Campgrounds. Lots of fun!

10. Rock Hopping. Well, when it isn’t warm enough for swimming, our kids love what we call “rock hopping.” They put on a sturdy pair of tennis shoes and can occupy themselves for hours hopping from rock to rock on a mountain stream. So much fun! I love it, too! Here’s more about rock hopping, and how to make sure kids are safe!


Kinsen’s Top Ten:

1. MagiQuest. This is much more expected — not at all surprised that my daughter considers MagiQuest to be at the top of her list.

2. Hot tub in a cabin. See above!

3. Mini Golf. Kinsen says she prefers the outdoor mini golf courses in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Personally, I think she’s thinking of the Ripley courses, but she wouldn’t commit to any particular one. In case you’re curious, here’s a review of the Ripley courses.

4. Rock hopping. See above.

5. Camping. Another match! Ha!

6. Looking for the Titanic Pigeon Forge Museum. Okay, I thought this was weird. The kids haven’t ever actually been in the Titanic Pigeon Forge museum, but they love just LOOKING for it on the Parkway. It’s become like an icon to them. And if you haven’t ever seen the building, it IS that amazing! It looks like the actual Titanic, with water rushing by the front (bow?). It’s pretty impressive. I guess I look for it, too.

7. Adventure Mountain at Dollywood. See above.

8. SkyLift. The SkyLift attraction is in Gatlinburg, and it takes visitors on a ride up the mountain for an amazing view. It’s fun, though it’s pricey. (And just between me and, well, all of you, the Ober Gatlinburg Tram is a better value for families — read more here.)

9. Ogle Dogs. Yes, they love them!

10. Looking through the shops. I think she’s referring to the fun little shops along the Parkway in Gatlinburg. I can tell you that the kids’ favorite little shop is All Sauced Up, because of the 150 — yes, you read that right! — free samples offered daily. They LOVE free samples! (I’ve taught them well.) Here’s a store review.


So, what’s your favorite? What did the kids miss?

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