Take a horseback ride down some trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are a couple of stables to choose from, with rides lasting one or two hours and routes ranging from four to eight miles. Rates are $25 to $50, depending on the length of the ride. Smoky Mountain Riding Stables is just inside the park, four miles east of Gatlinburg on Hwy. 321. Sugarland Riding Stables is a mile inside the park near the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Hours for the stables are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during most months and are extended during the summer to 6 p.m. Riding is for ages 5 and up.
Ober Gatlinburg is on top of a mountain overlooking the town, and the most exciting way to reach the top is by way of the Aerial Tram. The cable tram hauls up to 120 visitors at a time up and down the mountain every 20 minutes. On top, you will find a ski resort, an amusement park and shopping. A ticket gives you passage for two days and includes as many trips as you want to take during that time.
The skiing is for all ages, so kids are welcome as young as 3 or 4. The amusement park is geared for little ones as well as older children, with activities such as water slides, a kiddie park, a fun house, a Velcro wall and bounce houses.
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains is a good place to visit if you love the outdoors. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, camping and fishing. The Appalachian Trail runs through the area, as does the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Sugarlands Visitor Center, two miles south of Gatlinburg, features an indoor museum on the history of the park.
Whitewater rafting down the Pigeon River is a thrilling experience if you are up for the adventure. Trips usually take a couple of hours, and you should plan to be wet by the end. It is best to wear loose, comfortable clothes, and you should never wear jeans or sweats. These items get heavy when wet and can slow you down when you need to be able to move quickly. One rafting company that can help you book your trip is Rafting in the Smokies. The upper Pigeon River is a little rougher, and some companies won't take children younger than 8. The lower Pigeon River is a bit calmer and more of a float trip, so the minimum age can be as young as 3, depending on which business you choose.
Rafting in the Smokies
PO Box 592
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Ripley Aquarium in Gatlinburg hosts a shark lagoon, a tropical rain forest and a sting ray lagoon where kids have the chance to touch one. Tickets are $4 for ages 2 to 5, $10 for ages 6 to 11 and $19 for ages 12 and older. Special programs for preschoolers each month teach them about different marine life through stories, crafts and aquarium exploring.