Entertainment Ideas for the Whole Family!

By: Jackie Eurice-Kenney
A show in Pigeon Forge
Photo Credit: www.dollywood.com

Captivating shows, cool exhibits and entertaining attractions make the Smoky Mountains a great place for families to explore and play. The best part is the great memories you’ll take home with you.

Animal Adventures

Get a little wild and interact with animals! The nearly 600 animals, reptiles and birds that reside at the Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo are a sight to behold at both indoor and outdoor exhibits. Watch as monkeys and lemurs frolic before visitors and see the rarely glimpsed golden-headed lion tamarin and the South American kinkajou. And at the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm Exotic Petting Zoo, watch the kids’ eyes light up as they feel the velvet antlers of a real-live reindeer. This one-of-a-kind zoo also lets its visitors feed a few of the more docile animals, play among the baby deer and even pet exotic zebras and llamas.

For aquatic species, take another exploration of the wild in Gatlinburg at Ripley’s Aquarium. Learn about fish, amphibians and creatures of the sea as you walk past the many tanks in which they reside. You’ll even have the opportunity to interact with some of the sea creatures such as starfish and horseshoe crabs.

Bird enthusiasts should definitely plan to visit Parrot Mountain and Garden of Eden. This sanctuary for our feathered friends offers visitors the chance to wander landscaped gardens while meeting and feeding the resident birds. True to its name, parrots, toucans, and other tropical birds fly overhead and climb on your arms. Visit the hatchery where there may be a chance to see a baby emerging from its shell.


History, Hollywood and science museums can be really fun experiences for visiting families. Pop culture awaits those who visit the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge. Feel free to stand beside one of the many celebrities you’ll “encounter” such as Taylor Swift, Dale Earnhardt Jr., or even John Wayne. At WonderWorks, an interactive experience awaits families in an educational and playful setting. You can be a human lightning rod in one “experiment” or feel yourself flying in the 4D XD Simulator Ride Motion Theater. Meanwhile, discover crime-solving techniques and learn about sordid tales from the past at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum. Young and old detectives in the making may want to snoop around the exhibits that delve into notorious crimes that took place in America. Nearby at the Titanic Museum, you can see the Titantic as it was in its former splendor—from the grand staircase to the intricate clothing that would have been worn by the ship’s elite passengers. Artifacts and personal items that have emerged from the 1912 tragedy are on display, providing glimpses of the people who sailed on the ill-fated vessel.

Games & Sports

When was the last time the parents challenged the kids to a competitive activity? At MagiQuest, try your skills at any one (or all) of the attraction’s games. In addition to a huge mirror maze and mini golf, there’s also The Vault—where the daring try to navigate around a laser-light obstacle course—as well as the MagiQuest adventure itself. Using a magic wand, participants are able to reveal clues that will help them complete their epic quest. Families can also try putting around a mini-golf course in search of that elusive hole-in-one. Wind past waterfalls and through ancient ruins and caves at Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf. The family can also engage in some friendly rivalry at Dubby’s Lazer Port Fun Center in a thrilling game of laser tag. Another fun, safe place where both children and adults can expel their energy while jumping, climbing and playing is TopJump Trampoline Park. Here, you’ll find an arcade, the Clip ‘N Climb obstacle course, and of course, some springy trampolines. The kids will literally be bouncing off the walls!


One of the star attractions in Pigeon Forge, Dollywood, is stocked with amazing rides, entertaining shows and the chance to spend time together. The excitement doesn’t stop at this brilliantly themed park, especially when you’re crashing down into the water on the Daredevil Falls log flume ride or looping around the Tennessee Tornado roller coaster. There’s even a neighboring waterpark, Splash Country, with thrilling slides and tubing rides that are sure to delight. One of the most popular rides is the Bear Mountain Fire Tower where you get soaked on slides, by water cannons, and by a huge bucket of water! But there are many more options spread over 35 acres of fun to be had at this park. Everyone is bound to have a sensational time at Dollywood.


Since you’re in Tennessee (home of “Music City”), musical performances are king! And when it comes to theatrical entertainment, the venues in the Smokies are dazzling. Take in some foot-tapping country music at the variety shows offered at Smoky Mountain Opry or the Country Tonite Theatre. To watch some exciting, high-energy competition, buy tickets to Paula Deen’s LumberJack Feud Show And Adventure. Several shows even offer dinner, serving up great food along with fantastic performances. These include: Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction; Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage; the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud; and the Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show. Take your pick (but don’t forget to buy combo tickets) and watch some unforgettable acts!

This area is packed with great places for exceptional family-bonding activities. See as many as you can and make the most out of your Smoky Mountains vacation.