Things to Do For Kids in Great Smoky Mountains National Park North Carolina

  • By: Charlotte
  • Date: October 18, 2022
  • Time to read: 3 min.

Things to Do For Kids in Great Smoky Mountains National Park North Carolina

Things to Do For Kids in Great Smoky Mountains National Park  North Carolina and Tennessee

If you’re planning a trip to North Carolina with children, there are many things you can do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many of the hikes and programs are designed for children. You can also visit nearby Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. These two cities are right next to the park, and offer many fun activities for kids.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

If you’re a parent with children, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smoky Mountains is a great place to bring them. The aquarium is home to a variety of colorful fish from all over the world, including regal tang, foxface bunnyfish, and sohltang. You can also take behind-the scenes tours of the aquarium to learn about the animals and their care.

The aquarium’s Ocean Realm exhibit allows kids to see deep-sea creatures up close. These creatures use camouflage and burrowing to defend themselves against larger predators. You can also watch sharks and sea turtles swim right over you, as well as eels and other creatures. Participation in interactive exhibits and live shows is open to all visitors.


If you are traveling with children, there are plenty of things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park North Carolina, and Sugarlands is one of them. The Sugarlands Visitor Center offers nature and animal exhibits, as well as a bookstore and movie about the park. Easy hikes are available for children. The National Parks website provides lots of information about parks and trails across the country.

For hiking enthusiasts, Arch Rock is a popular trail located 8.7 miles south of Sugarlands Visitor Center. The trailhead is located on the east side of Newfound Gap Road, which is also a parking lot. The hike is 4.4 miles roundtrip and includes several interesting sights. The trail can be crowded during peak season so arrive early.

Clingman’s Dome

Clingman’s Dome is renowned for its spectacular views. This popular attraction is open year-round except from December 1 to March 31. The road will be closed during these months due to the maintenance costs.

Clingman’s Dome, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail and in the Smokies, is also the highest. It is also the third highest point in Eastern North America. Clingman’s Dome is named after a Civil War general, and a UNC professor. Another mountain near the park called Mount Mitchell is even higher and stands at 6,684 feet. During the summer, you can drive up Clingman’s Dome to get an incredible view of the surrounding mountains.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is a great hiking destination for families in North Carolina. This national park’s hiking trails are easy enough for children to follow, and the blazes (painted trees) will let you know which way to go. The blazes are white-painted and measure approximately two inches in width and six inches in height. These blazes are used to mark the trail’s route, and to indicate where to go. You can also find blue blazes, which mark side trails and pathways to shelters. The trail also has white blazes, which indicate side trails, directions changes, and obscure turns.

The Laurel Falls Trail is the most popular trail in the park, and is an easy hike. This trail offers expansive views of the surrounding hills. This trail is great for picnicking and is a popular spot to view wildflowers in spring. The Charles Bunion Trail, located on the Appalachian Trail, is another popular trail in the park. It’s an 8-mile roundtrip hike that offers incredible views of the Smokies.

Waterrock Knob

Waterrock Knob’s summit is a great place to see the sun rise or set. There’s also a trail leading to the summit that is perfect for families. Because of its elevation, it can be chilly at night. You might consider bringing your headlamp.

The Waterrock Knob trail begins as a paved ramp, then gradually turns to dirt. The first mile is flat and easy, but the trail soon narrows. There are rest areas at strategic points on the trail. The top is just over a mile away, and the views are spectacular.

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