Those few weeks of winter that your kids have off school are a precious opportunity to get out of town and indulge in some family fun. However, it can be puzzling to find a vacation destination suited to the cold season.
No matter the time of year, the small towns of the Great Smoky Mountains are always abuzz with kid-friendly activities. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge attractions like these require no warm weather but only a child-like sense of play!
1. Play In The Snow
The mountains are always a top choice among wintertime vacation-goers for the ample opportunities to play in the snow. At Ober Gatlinburg, the slopes call you to don your skis and snowboards for hours of thrilling winter sports.
Beginners to snowsports can take advantage of their equipment rentals and lessons, while experienced practitioners get started on the six intermediate and three advanced slopes. Even if you’re not a fan of skiing or snowboarding, the 90-minute snow tubing sessions are hard to pass up.
Ober Gatlinburg has plenty to do indoors and off the slopes as well, such as ice skating, ice bumper cars, an alpine slide, a rock-climbing wall, an indoor mall, and much more. Plan to stay close by in downtown Gatlinburg, and take the Aerial Tramway up Mount Harrison on your way to Ober for magnificent views of the snow-capped mountains.
If you’re staying in Pigeon Forge, you can still get your fill of snowy adventures. Pigeon Forge Snow is not just any snow tubing park.
Open all year round, this unique indoor venue maintains a comfortable temperature of about 65°F, made possible by top-of-the-line technology generating real snow. As a result, you and your family can enjoy the thrill of tubing the slopes without the discomfort of freezing temperatures.
Pigeon Forge Snow also has a massive Snow Play Area, where people of all ages are welcome to build snowmen, create snow angels, and engage in epic snowball fights. When you need a break, head to the second level for hot refreshments and a seating area overlooking the slope.
2. Visit An Interactive Museum
When it’s too cold even for skiing or snowboarding, a museum can be a cozy way to spend the afternoon indoors. You might be thinking your kids might get bored at a museum. However, the fun-filled, interactive museums of Pigeon Forge are anything but conventional!
WonderWorks was specifically designed for kids, allowing them to learn about science through their natural instinct to play. Explore six Wonder Zones to learn about extreme weather conditions, mind-blowing concepts of physics, light, and sound, space, imagination, illusion, and wacky art.
For instance, kids will get a chance to try on a life-sized replica of an EVA suit and then go for a ride in a 2-person gyroscope for astronaut training. They can experiment with interlocking gears to understand the way energy is exchanged within a machine. Last but not least, they will love releasing their pent-up energy at the laser tag arena, glow-in-the-dark ropes course, and 4D XD motion theater.
Alcatraz East Crime Museum is also a fun and engaging way to sneak in some educational content. Through more than 100 hands-on activities, five galleries, rotating temporary exhibits, and a comprehensive artifacts center, you’ll get an inside peek at the history of American crime. Journey through the evolution of crime from gunslingers of the Old West to 9/11.
Understand how a lie detector test works, and solve crimes using forensic science. Get a bird’s eye view of the law enforcement system, from local police to lawmakers to the FBI. Learn how to recognize counterfeit goods, and imagine going on a car chase in one of their real-life getaway cars! Alcatraz East Crime Museum is a must for the junior detective or forensic enthusiast in your family.
3. Get Lost In A Fantasy World
The picturesque blue slopes and enchanting forests make the Smokies a fantasy land in and of themselves. However, there’s nothing quite like getting lost in another world where magic and heroic tales abound!
At MagiQuest, you’ll get to watch your youngest’s eyes widen in wonder as they journey through fairytale lands to grow into a master mage. A magic wand and mysterious clue book will guide them on the interactive treasure hunting game, where they’ll meet beautiful fairies, evil goblins, lovely princesses, and mystical creatures.
After an epic adventure through forests, villages, and dungeons, they’ll defeat the devilish dragon and unlock the special magic of imagination within themselves! Afterward, check out the other adventures at the MagiQuest venue, including Pirate Golf, an arcade, and a mirror maze.
The swashbuckling adventures of Captain Blackbeard and Quartermaster Calico Jack are sure to ignite your child’s imagination. At Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, get ready for a legendary adventure on the high seas, on land, and across two life-sized pirate ships in an indoor lagoon.
The Crimson and the Sapphire crews put their high-flying stunts, acrobatics, and sword fighting skills to good use to fight creepy skeletons and recover the long-lost sunken treasure. Exotic birds, mesmerizing mermaids, and silly sea lions bless them on their journey.
Meanwhile, your family gets to dig into a four-course feast of creamy veggie soup, fried chicken, sugar-cured ham, corn on the cob, herb-basted potato, and peach turnover. Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show is an exciting way to enjoy a phenomenal family dinner while the tide carries you away into the world of pirates and their sea-faring exploits!
4. Escape To The Smokies For Winter
Fun times rarely have to be put on hold for winter weather in the Great Smoky Mountains. In fact, the cold temperatures and snowy conditions are ideal for outdoor winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.
Plus, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are full of fun indoor activities that kids will love, from interactive educational experiences to fantastical storytime adventures. Start planning your family getaway in the Smokies before you miss out on some of the best months of the year!