Dave’s Top 5 Smokies Summer Attractions for Families

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Date Published/Updated: 05/17/2024
Author: Heidi Fendos
Location: Sevierville, TN.

Being the dad of three kids ranging in age from 5-15 and the general manager of Soaky Mountain, I’d like to think I have some pretty good recommendations for ways that families can enjoy the Smoky Mountain Region.

Here are my Top 5 Recommendations for Things to Do in the Smokies with your family in summer.

1. Soaky Mountain Waterpark

Andrews Family at Soaky Mountain WaterparkEven if I wasn’t the general manager of Soaky Mountain Waterpark, our amusement park would still be at the top of the list for fun things to do in summer in the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg region. Our three kids love Soaky’s wave pool with its massive waves; the WIBIT water obstacle course; and our crazy adventure river which is anything but lazy. Our teenager also loves our two water coasters, and our younger guys love The Hive and Boomer’s Bay with its mini versions of the buy attractions. There literally is an attraction for each of our family members to enjoy.

2. Ripley’s Aquarium

If your kids are as into fish as ours are, you have to check out Ripley’s Aquarium in nearby Gatlinburg. The sprawling aquarium features more than 350 individual species and truly offers families an amazing underwater adventure.

Our kids love the schooling fish, camouflaged flounders and other species in the Ocean Realm. In the Shark Lagoon they’re big fans of the moving glidepath that brings you face-to-face with sharks, sawfish and green sea turtles.

The Tropical Rainforest area is also really neat because it lets your family step into one of the oldest living ecosystems on the planet to discover poison dart frogs, arapaima, piranhas and more! Plus, there is a Pacific-inspired coral reef, and the gallery of the seas gives you the opportunity to encounter the Pacific giant octopus, sea anemones, living coral and weedy season dragons.

Our kids love touching the baby sting rays in aquarium’s tropical lagoon and they also really like the kid-focused Discovery Center where you can get up and close with unique species and the Penguin Playhouse where you can check out the playful personalities of the endangered African penguins.

For more information on Ripley’s Aquarium visit https://www.ripleys.com/attractions/ripleys-aquarium-of-the-smokies

3. Adventure Forest at Wilderness at the Smokies

You don’t have to be a guest of Wilderness at the Smokies to check out their Adventure Forest. And I can honestly say this is our family’s favorite beat the heat or rainy day adventure. Our entire family really loves the mini bowling alley and black light mini golf. As our guys get older they are really starting to get into the laser and the climbing wall as well. Our older daughter also loves the new XDD theater that has almost has a roller coaster feel because of #D technology that let’s you ride, blast and compete your way into four different adventures.

For more information Wilderness at the Smokies Adventure Forest Visit: https://www.wildernessatthesmokies.com/adventureforest/

4. Ripley’s Old McDonald Mini-Golf

Located close to Tanger Outlet Mall, this attraction features THREE, 18- hole putt putt courses so if your family is up for the challenge, you can play 54 holes of mini golf. Each hole has fun animatronic barnyard characters, a farmyard soundtrack and interesting obstacles our kids absolutely love. It’s based off of the old song “Old MacDonald had A Farm” and you can pretty much find all of the animals mentioned in the song on the courses. It’s sure to leave your family smiling!

For more information on Ripley’s Old McDonald Min-Golf visit: https://www.ripleys.com/gatlinburg/ripleys-mini-golf/

5. Wear Farm City Park

We love this 118 acre park! It has two really great playgrounds, some really nice walking trails, five baseball diamonds where the kids can run the bases and burn off some steam, a basketball court, a multi-purpose field perfect for kicking around a soccer ball and a football field. It’s open daily is often the home of softball tournaments and family reunions.

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