4 Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for Families
The Appy Lodge was not only created as a place to pay homage to the Appalachian Trail but also with a hope to encourage guests to fall in love with the great outdoors. We want your family to have a great experience in Gatlinburg and leave with unforgettable memories of your time in our beautiful Smoky Mountains. Our Happy family would love to see your children year after year and have the opportunity to watch them grow into great stewards of the mountains. That’s why we have put together a few of our favorite things to do as a family in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We know that if your children spend time in the mountains as they grow up that they will not only have lifelong memories of time with you, but they will also pass on their love for park to their children. A cycle that we hope will continue for many generations to come!
Take a Hike!
With close to 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, every family can find a trail that’s perfect for their adventure! Visit the Sugarlands Visitors Center to pick up a trail map and speak with park staff about everything from the weather forecast to tips and directions. While you’re there, pick up a Hike the Smokies – For Families log book. Your family can record your mileage in the booklet and then receive a special sticker or pin for hiking milestones! Bonus Tip: Grab a copy of Scavenger Hike Adventures to make your hikes even more fun for the whole family! Check out our other Smoky Mountains blog posts before you come to town for tips and trails that you’ll love!
Take a Drive and Have a Pit Stop Picnic
The park is absolutely stunning even if you just choose to take a drive. Drive up Newfound Gap Road to soak up the views from higher elevations or up to Clingmans Dome to visit the highest point in the Smokies and on the entire Appalachian Trail. It’s a great spot for a family photo as well! Cruise the Roaring Fork Motor Trail located near downtown Gatlinburg or pack the binoculars and take the family for a wildlife watching drive in Cades Cove. The Foothills Parkway is also an excellent drive as well and has magnificent views! You’ll find plenty of pull off, nature trails and quiet walkways in the park if you do decide to stretch your legs some along the way. To make it a full day adventure, pack a picnic and make a pit stop at one of the many picnic areas for a feast in the forest. Most picnic areas are also located near a stunning Smokies stream, so don’t forget the swimsuits! Everyone in the family will enjoy taking a dip and having some splash time before and after your picnic.
Explore the Park with a Ranger!
The national park offers fantastic ranger-led programs during the spring, summer and autumn months. You’ll find a calendar on their website that lists all the events and programs that are scheduled during your visit to the Smokies. You can also participate in the Junior Ranger, Not-So-Junior Ranger program as well as daily demonstrations at the Mingus Mill and Cable Mill. The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont offers wonderful programs including citizen science opportunities such a Monarch butterfly tagging in Cades Cove and bird banding events. Sugarlands Science is also a family-friendly speaker series that is free to guests in the park.
Take a Tour
If you’re visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time and you want some assistance with exploring the park, the area offers many options. Visitors that have had plenty of days in the area and on the trails, will still enjoy some of the unique tours that you can participate in during your time in the Smokies. Families that want to get a good look at the park from the roads, but prefer to sit back and ride, will enjoy one of the most recent additions to the area. The Pink Adventure Tours offer tours of the park in a custom-built, open-air Pink Jeep Wrangler. If you’re wanting to explore the backcountry areas, local hiking guides, like those at A Walk in the Woods are highly experienced and a great option for a safe and knowledge filled time on the trails. Do you love Cades Cove but dislike the traffic? Cades Cove Riding Stables offer horseback riding, a carriage ride and even a hayride. You’ll find bikes that are available for rent as well next to the Cades Cove Campground store.
Are you ready to start exploring America’s most visited national park?
The NOC Gatlinburg is a perfect place to start! Located in downtown Gatlinburg and just before the park entrance, the store has an incredible amount of maps, books, outdoor gear and anything else that you may need to start your adventure. They even offer some types of gear as a rental option! You’ll also find info for not only scheduling a guided hike or day on the river, but also daily forecast and important information about current conditions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Where to Stay
Regardless of how you decide to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can’t go wrong! At The Appy Lodge, we take great pride in the history and beauty of our mountains as well as our love for family time. We would love for you to be our guests and surround yourself with the magic of the hills and valleys that we are blessed to call home. Let the Appy Lodge be your home away from home. Choose the room that’s perfect for you, play in our indoor and outdoor pool, workout in the gym, relax by the fireplace, enjoy your in-room amenities and join us for a complimentary breakfast each morning.
The Executive Queen Room is great for families. However, if you’re a family with one or two small children and would love to experience a King Suite you’ll find that our pull out sofa gives you the option to have separate sleeping areas and the bonus space of having a living area. To take a Virtual Tour of the King Suite, click here! → Our King Suite