Category Archives: Toddlers and Kids Activities

Discover Kid Friendly, Toddler Friendly Activities in the Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountain 4th of July For 2022

It is late May and the Summer season is right around the corner in the Smokies (and the rest of the hemisphere, obviously), we wanted to get you acquainted with THE big Summer event we all look forward to – the Smoky Mountain 4th of July for 2022. The size and popularity of the 4th of July events between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg can not be understated and those who want to come to the Smokies for the event will want to begin planning as soon as you finish reading this post. It’s pretty much never too early to begin planning for the 4th of July in the Smokies!

So let’s cut to the chase. Here is the rundown for Fourth of July this year. Mypigeonforge.com writes:

Patriot Festival

Patriot Festival returns once again in 2022. This year’s annual 4th of July celebration is headlined by country superstar Josh Turner! This event is proudly presented by 107.7 WIVK and the City of Pigeon Forge.

Josh Turner has received multiple GRAMMY, CMA, and ACM nominations and has also joined the Grand Ole Opry. Country music legends such as Randy Travis, John Anderson, Johnny Cash, Vern Gosdin and Hank Williams have inspired his most recent album, Country State of Mind. The new album features dozens of songs, including songs from those five legends among others, span more than half a century of classic country music.

For nearly two decades, Turner has been one of country music’s most recognizable voices, and he has never kept his reverence for traditional country music a secret. Josh looks forward to performing some of his greatest hits in Pigeon Forge, celebrating America’s birthday in style.

Fireworks Celebration

Pigeon Forge will mark Independence Day with the city’s annual fireworks on Monday, July 4th, capping the holiday weekend. The spectacular fireworks display will be simulcast by WIVK-FM 107.7 FM radio station in Knoxville.

Patriot Festival guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Umbrellas, tents, and coolers are not permitted. Food vendors will be available. Free parking is provided at the Teaster Lane Municipal parking lot, and a free shuttle operates every 20 minutes between the lot and festival site.

Event Schedule

4:00pm: Welcome / Veterans Tribute

4:15pm: Pigeon Forge Community Chorus Patriotic Salute

5:20pm: Liquid Velvet

6:45pm: Swamp River Revival

8:30pm: Josh Turner

9:50pm: Fireworks”

See this article in full at https://www.mypigeonforge.com/event/patriot-festival.

And Gatlinburg.com writes:

First Independence Day Parade in the Nation

Gatlinburg’s award-winning Fourth of July Midnight Parade will step off at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, July 4.

The parade steps off at the intersection of East Parkway and Baskins Creek Bypass turning south onto the Parkway at traffic light #3. The parade continues through town ending at Ski Mountain Road. Parade-goers are encouraged to arrive early on Sunday, July 3, to avoid traffic and secure a place to watch the Midnight Parade along the Parkway.

The First Independence Day Parade in the Nation has garnered national attention and award recognition for excellence in entertainment. The parade has been named by National Geographic Traveler Magazine as a “Top Ten Parade to see in the US” and recognized by Livability.com as one of the “Five Best Fourth of July Celebrations in Smaller Cities.” Additionally, the event has earned multiple Grand Pinnacle Awards by the International Festivals and Events Association.

Gatlinburg’s River Raft Regatta

Gatlinburg’s most-nail biting race of the summer returns! Set against the backdrop of Gatlinburg’s fun-filled Fourth of July celebration, comes the ever-competitive River Raft Regatta, an annual race of unmanned floatables down the Little Pigeon River.

All contestants will begin the day at the race’s starting line at the former Christ in the Smokies Museum, beginning from 11 a.m. to register their floatable. The race kicks off at 1 p.m. and ends after all floatables have crossed the finish line at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Eventgoers can opt to enter a rented rubber duck into the competition (or bring your own at no cost) for $2 or 3 for $5 onsite. All proceeds go to the Gatlinburg Chamber Foundation and is a great way to for everyone to participate in this fun, thrilling event. This year’s River Raft Regatta will issue trophies to those who finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Treasure, Duck and Most Creative Float categories.

Gatlinburg’s Fireworks Finale

Join the celebration in downtown Gatlinburg to mark our nation’s “Independence Day” with a spectacular 20-minute firework show starting at 11:00 p.m. from the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Spectators can view the fireworks from any vantage point in Gatlinburg. This event is designated as a Top 20 event by the Southeast Tourism Society.

See these events and more at Gatlinburg.com/events/.

Smoky Mountains for the Kids!

Smoky Mountain Kids, attention Moms and Dads…… what is fun to do in the Smokies with kids?  Everything!  We always like to encourage outdoor activity and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park as the #1 activity to consider when visiting the Smoky Mountain Area. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the reason these communities have grown and become a vacation destination so we hope that you might visit the park and learn and teach your children about the beauty of the park and it’s importance to our well being. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is an excellent place to take the children or the family!. You will find stop off locations for short walks or light picnics, you will find trail heads to water falls such as Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls, along with gorgeous scenery and wildlife. At the beginning of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is Mynatt Park, which we can highly recommend for free kids fishing and a picnic. At the end of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail you will find Ely’s Mill, a very unique and memorable top. There are many favorite locations in the Smokies, Metcalf Bottoms and more so take your time and do some exploring!

It is not difficult to find information about Dollywood, Anakeesta and The Island.  We know there are mountain coasters and mini-golf, we want to share with you some of the small businesses in the area that are fantastic. Small business Smoky Mountains we could call it! These choices are for kids of ages up to 12.

Gatlinburg:

Izzy BeesIzzy Bees Stuffed Friends
Build a bear or a forest animal at Izzy Bees, located in the Mountain Mall in Gatlinburg.  This store is locally owned and operated and has really cute options to build your own friend and dress the friends and choose among many options.  Prices are the best in the area and this is guaranteed fun for the kiddos and will make an excellent memory and souvenir.

 

Hillbilly Golf
Located on the parkway as you enter Gatlinburg you will find Hillbilly Golf on the left before you see stoplight #3. Hillbilly Golf recently celebrated their 50th anniversary and it is long time staple in Gatlinburg for kids and family fun.  It’s the original, give it a try the kids will love it.

Pigeon Forge

Toy Box Mini Golf
Located at 112 Dollywood Lane, Toy Box Mini Golf is one of the newest mini golf amusements in the area and seems to be a real hit with the kids.  It is full of nostalgia in its decor and loaded with all kinds of amusements and fun for the family.  Find it on Dollywood Lane in Pigeon Forge.

The Smoky Mountain area has many free parks and we know kids love parks.  Outside of the main park, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in which you will find hiking and fishing and all kinds of exploring as mentioned above, these parks are community parks that the kids will love and have no admission fee!

Smoky Mountain Free Area Parks.

For Kid Friendly Restaurant Choices and favorite Family Restaurants in the Smokies, visit here with just a click!

Trout Farm

Kids Love The Trout Farm!

Have you heard of The English Mountain Trout Farm?  Located in the Sevierville area just off 411 are several attractions we know the kids and the family will enjoy.  One of them is The English Mountain Trout Farm.

Enjoy a beautiful ride to a less visited area of Sevier County and the Smoky Mountains English Mountain Trout Farm is located at 291 Blowing Cave Rd., Sevierville, Tennessee 37876.  English Mountain Trout Farm has a little bit of fun for all ages.  You don’t have to have children with you to enjoy your visit, however, we highly recommend this visit for toddlers and children.  This attraction is also a very good wheelchair accessible location for those with special needs.

At the Trout Farm you can catch your fish and have them cook it for you!  You Hook ‘Em and We’ll Cook ‘Em you will hear them say!  Bait, fishing poles and fishing attendants are all part of the experience when you pay your small fee for your license for the time you are fishing. If you prefer to just enjoy their delicious Trout, then you can simply order and eat, they are known for their delicious home cooked foods.

Dine In or Take Out, Outdoor Seating, High chairs and wheelchair access makes The English Mountain Trout Farm one of our favorite picks for things to do with Toddlers and Children in the Smoky Mountains.’ Did we mention the Gem Mine?  Oh my, who knew it was so much fun to Gem Mine. The kids will love it and so will you.  This is such a great place for families!

The English Mountain Trout Farm is highly rated by Trip Advisor and others. Expect a wonderful experience when you visit.

https://www.englishmountaintroutfarm.net

Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse

Where Are Good Kid Friendly Restaurants?

We often get this question and have also traveled with kids so we want to give you some suggestions that cover many thoughts and ideas.

As far as Discounted Kids Meals or Free Kids Meals, please contact the restaurant to be sure they are continuing the most recent deals we are aware of.

Cici’s Pizza allows kids 3 and under to eat for $1.99, includes drink.

Golden Coral allows the 3 and under to eat free with an adult meal.

Texas Roadhouse allows older kids eat for $2.99 with an adult meal.

Shoney’s allows kids under 4 to eat with an adult at no cost.

We hope you like these suggestions.  There are so many more but these are some of our favorites.

Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse.
Located in Pigeon Forge, on the parkway, this restaurant is also an affordable choice as they honor kids with a free meal with an adult!  100 singing chickens will entertain the kids while they wait for their food!

Big Daddy’s Pizza
Located in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, we can recommend this place for its excellent pizza and menu that accommodates many diet types families may have. Find a great atmosphere and excellent food at Big Daddy’s Pizza. Find arcade games and good diet choices.

Because Pizza is a popular family choice, you will find many Pizza Places.  Mellow Mushroom is on the parkway in Pigeon Forge along with Big Daddy’s we mention above. You will find a Pappa Johns, Dominos, Little Caesars, and Pizza Hut in each community. Genos Pizza is on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge and also will delivery about anywhere.  Pick up Pizza by the slice and many other delicious ready made and price friendly things at Weigel’s stores.

Breakfast and the Pancake Houses.

The Flapjacks Pancake Houses and Reagan’s Pancake House and the Log Cabin Pancake Houses are ALL GREAT! There is an IHOP in town on the Parkway between Sevierville and Pigeon Forge also if that is a favorite. You will find the Pancake House type restaurants in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville and really all of them are very good.  If you happen to be in Wears Valley give Hillbilly’s Restaurant a try!

Wears Valley is a great place to find some of the locally owned restaurants and shops.  Hillbilly’s Restaurant would be a fun stop for all ages including kids, Paw Paw’s is just great fixin’s and there is really a lot to experience in Wears Valley that is not as crowded and a more down home experience. Where to Eat in Wears Valley

Fudge Shops In The Smokies

Want to know what some of the most varied unsung heroes of Smoky Mountain tourism are? The fudge shoppes. From downtown Gatlinburg to midway through Sevierville, the main connected road has more than a few cocoa confectionery places with a variety of flavors to suit tastes, along with sugar-free fudge available at many of the stores. Most fudge that can be purchased come in candy stores that offer even more taste-tackular options for the sugar-craven.

Here are some fudge places to hop through listed here:

* Old Mill Candy Kitchen *
177 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
(877)-653-6455
https://old-mill.com/

From their website:
“Appalachia has long been a haven for homemade candies. The Old Mill Candy Kitchen proudly carries on this regional tradition, with fudges, brittles, divinity, caramels, taffy, hand-dipped chocolates, and hard candies to satisfy every sweet tooth. From bubbling copper kettles cooking up brittle to our vintage taffy-wrapping machine, The Old Mill Candy Kitchen is filled with old-time candy-making fun. And we add a fresh twist with seasonal favorites and our own innovations like our famous Bear Paws. Stop by or shop online today!”

* Country Candy Kitchen *
3341 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
865-453-6006
http://countrycandykitchen.com/

From their website:
“See taffy being made daily in our stores (times vary somewhat). Choose your favorite flavors or grab a handful of assorted. The copper kettle fudge is our original recipe, and really is handmade in copper kettles. Choose assorted or your favorite flavor, a handy knife is included (Peanut Butters are not included in assortments). Marble slab homemade fudge is a new recipe and comes in 8 oz. slabs all the way up to 6 pound slabs. Great for parties and family get-togethers! Our hand-dipped chocolate candies come in an assortment of nut clusters, caramels, pecan turtles and jellies. A wonderful choice for gift giving or sampling.”

* Farmhouse Sweets *
3220 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
(865) 366-1283
https://farmhouse-sweets.business.site/

* Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen *
744 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
865-436-4886
https://www.olesmokycandykitchen.com/

* Fudge Shoppe Of The Smokies *
716 Parkway #114, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 430-5052
https://www.fudgeshoppeofthesmokies.com/

From their website:
“Fresh delicious fudge. Seasonal and year around programs. Low minimum orders. We combine sugar, pure cream, butter, corn syrup and the base flavoring to make each batch. For example, we use real imported Dutched Chocolate for the chocolate bases and pure natural vanilla extract for the vanilla bases. All the base ingredients are combined in a big copper pot and cooked until they reach the correct temperature. The base is then poured onto a marble slab and allowed to cool. After about 10 minutes of creaming air into the fudge it begins to get thick and its much harder to toss. That’s when we swap out the paddle for a small spatula and continue the creaming process. The final step is for you to come and enjoy some for yourself!”

* Kilwin’s Chocolates *
645 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(888) 454-5946
https://www.kilwins.com/

From their website:
“We at Kilwins always enjoy serving you the highest quality, best tasting products we possibly can. As we work through the recovery phase of the pandemic our caring store owners are doing their best to serve you. Each store is now open subject to that store’s specific needs, requirements and guidance from national, state, and local authorities. We continue our concern and support for those impacted by the pandemic with our number one concern being health and safety. Please call your local store or select the “Locations” link at the top of this page to find a Kilwins store near you for store hours or any questions you may have. Thank you very much for your patronage, which we really appreciate. We continue to do our very best.”

* Chocolate Monkey *
2631 Parkway #1, Pigeon Forge, TN 37862
(865) 366-3181
https://chocolate-monkey.business.site/

1001 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Located in Ober Gatlinburg
(865) 436-8244

* The Fudgery *
131 The Island Dr #3106, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
865-774-7800
http://www.fudgeryfudge.com/

* Big Rock Candy Kitchen *
131 The Island Dr, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
(865)-366-1701
https://islandinpigeonforge.com/poi/big-rocky-candy-kitchen/

From their website:
“Homemade sweets and treats made from scratch. Between salt water taffy, creamy fudge, crisp caramel apples, gourmet popcorn and gelato you are sure to find something to satisfy your sweet tooth. Come on down, meet our friendly staff and taste the best candies in the Smokies! Free samples anyone?”

******************************************************************************

Where To See Snow in the Smokies

Now that the Winter Holidays are done for another 10 months or so, we enter a quieter season of the other half of Winterfest in the Smokies. Don’t think that there isn’t anything worth coming to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Wears Valley, though, with the special events no longer the big focus of the season, there are different things that these Winter months provide visitors and locals alike.

And the biggest one of them is snow.

Although we do often see some snowfall before January, and 2019 into 2020 showed us a little more snow than usual, our real season for snow doesn’t begin until after the near year begins. We see our biggest snowfalls in January, February and sometimes in March as well. We usually get at least one really good snowfall of several inches at once, good enough to close local schools for a week, but we don’t always know when we can expect that snowfall to come in. Therefore many people come to the Smokies wondering where they can see the snow, because it is possible for snow to come in with short notice while they are vacation, and there are major elevation differences where it is possible to see snow high in the mountains even when it’s reasonably mild on the parkway in Pigeon Forge.

Here are our recommendations of how to enjoy snow in the Smokies and where to find them:

Ober Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Snow
The first recommendations are sort of a cheat, but if you want to be as close to guaranteed snow-styled fun in the Smokies, Ober Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Snow are the best places for them. The reason for this is they CREATE their own snow at their attraction establishments daily – Ober Gatlinburg from early-mid December to around the start of the March (give or take a week) and Pigeon Forge Snow all-year-round. Ober Gatlinburg creates snow so winter sports enthusiasts can get their snowboarding, skiing, snow tubing, ice skating and fill of more while Pigeon Forge Snow offers indoor snow tubing and a snow play area for the little’uns. And don’t forget the views you can see from the Ober Gatlinburg attraction and its gondola cars.

See Ober Gatlinburg at www.obergatlinburg.com and Pigeon Forge Snow at www.pigeonforgesnow.com.

Newfound Gap
Newfound Gap is also somewhat tricky as it comes with the caveat that, often, when there is snow, the National Park Service will close sections of the road for safety. That being said, because Newfound Gap is the road that goes straight into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, connecting Gatlinburg to Cherokee, even if the road is closed at the Sugarlands Visitors Center, you will still get quite a lot of gorgeous views of the snow covering the dense and lush surrounding forest – and the Visitors Center itself and the outdoor trails to it are usually open during snowfall as well. This author himself has hiked the nearby trail when 2 or more inches of snow had fallen and shut down much of the rest of the town. It was an extremely memorable experience.

See the Sugarlands Visitors Center at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm.

Gatlinburg SkyLift and SkyBridge
The Gatlinburg SkyLift is one of the oldest attractions in town and has consistently provided decades of views and atmospheric wonder for Gatlinburg visitors. They have a much newer attraction and one that got national attention with the SkyBridge that was completed in 2019. The SkyBridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge on the continent and both the Lift and the Bridge will give you incredible views of snow-covered Smoky Mountains – some that were previously unable to obtain without a drone.

See more on the Gatlinburg SkyLift and SkyBridge at https://www.gatlinburgskylift.com.

Space Needle
Short of turning yourself into a bird, there is no better way to see the sights of Gatlinburg from the center of the city than the impossible-to-miss Space Needle. The Space Needle takes visitors over 400 feet above the ground of the downtown strip and allows for full 360 degree views of the city, the woods, the mountains and the peaks of the mountains as well as coin-operated super binocular stations that let you see incredibly close up on the city and those distant, white-covered peaks. Practically no visit to Gatlinburg is complete without going to the Gatlinburg Space Needle.

See more on the Gatlinburg Space Needle at https://www.gatlinburgspaceneedle.com/.

Where are the Most Popular Places in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is filled with wonderful locations your family can access to experience the Smokies. There are endless websites of information about many of the wonderful places to visit in the Smoky Mountains. We have selected these locations due to their proximity to Chalet Village and our area. When you stay with Chalet Village you will have close proximity to these most popular areas of the Smokies.

Chimney Tops
The chimneys top a sheer rise of almost 2,000 feet and were known to the Cherokee as “Dukiskwal-guni” (forked antlers). From the overlook on Newfound Gap Road, passersby can see the 30-foot deep “flue” in the right-hand peak which gives the outcropping its name. The Chimneys Picnic Area, located in a ravine on the mountain’s side, is an excellent place to stop for a leisurely lunch.

Mount LeConte
Mt. LeConte is the Park’s third highest peak at 6,593 feet. Despite runner-up ranking, LeConte serves as the focal point of the Park. The summit offers unforgettable views from two different overlooks, Myrtle Point and Cliff Top. Hikers can choose from five different trails to the top, ranging from 11 to 16 miles roundtrip.

Newfound Gap
In 1940 Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially dedicated the Park from this majestic site. The road, completed in 1932, straddles Tennessee and North Carolina here. Originally, Indian Gap, a point two miles west, was thought to be the lowest gap in the mountains, but Newfound Gap was discovered to be lower in elevation, thus the name.

Charlie’s Bunion
This 1,000-foot sheer drop-off can be found four miles east along the Appalachian Trail. The cliff is named after a bunion that prevented Charlie Conner, an Oconaluftee settler, from traveling through the Gap in 1928. Fellow travelers claimed the bare mountain resembled their friend’s bunion.

Clingman’s Dome
Clingman’s Dome is the Smokies’ highest peak and the third highest point east of the Mississippi. Named for a colorful Civil War general, Clingman’s Dome rears its head 6,642 feet. The observation tower , located 7 miles off Newfound Gap Road, looks out on an ever-changing view. Occasionally the peak is above cloud level, creating a surrealistic scene of mountaintops floating in an ocean of white.

Andrews Bald
A picture-perfect picnic spot, Andrews Bald offers glorious views of the towering mountain ranges of North Carolina and Georgia. It’s a 3.6 mile roundtrip hike from the Forney Ridge parking area at Clingmans Dome and is the most accessible bald in the Park.

Smokemont
This area was first a pioneer settlement called Bradleytown. During the 1920s logging boom, Smokemont became a busy village, sawmill and railroad terminal to haul lumber down from the forest. Today, it is a popular Park campground with a self-guiding nature trail through the reborn forest.

Select your vacation cabin at https://www.chaletvillage.com.