Thanks to the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce for hosting my family over the weekend. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.
Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in our country? It actually wins by a landslide, drawing roughly 9 million visitors a year, which is double the amount that the second most visited national park receives. The park is located in Tennessee and North Carolina and on the Tennessee side, is right next to the city of Gatlinburg.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that so many people are searching for things to do in Gatlinburg to compliment a trip to the Smoky Mountains. But I’d like to let you in on a little secret: some of the most fun things to do in the area are actually just down the road in Sevierville, TN. Sevierville is within very easy striking distance of Gatlinburg and the national park and it is also filled to the brim with fun activities for the entire family.
We recently headed up to Sevierville for the weekend and absolutely LOVED how many cool things we could do, all within a 5-10 minute drive of each other! I want to highlight two fun destinations that are perfect for families with kids.
Rainforest Adventures is a very fun spot for any animal lovers. The attraction is largely indoors (and fair warning, it DOES smell like a lot of animals call this place home!). You can see a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and bugs. There is plenty to see and some really interesting material for older kids and adults to read.
We got to watch this fellow snack on a fly, which was AMAZING! Those tongues are crazy fast, y’all! And we also spent a little time with the serval cat, who was most excellent at providing great photo ops.
In fact, the entire place was filled with really fun photo opportunities of super cool animals. My kids were thoroughly entertained for about an hour, and I think if your kids are able to read the info signs they might want to stay about 2 hours. This isn’t an “all day” attraction, but it is certainly worthy of a piece of your day.
The outdoor portion of Rainforest Adventures includes opportunities to feed llamas, ostriches, sheep, goats and even a pig. Bring your quarters (or get change made in the gift shop) so you can purchase some food. I think we spent $1 and that was the best dollar we spent all day because Layah was positively tickled by the experience. She laughed and jumped and squealed the entire time. It was priceless!
Rainforest Adventures is open 9-5 every day of the year except Christmas Day, and children under 3 are free, kids 3-12 are $7.99, adults are $12.99 and those over 55 are $10.99. You can actually get discounted tickets if you purchase them in advance online, so be sure to take advantage of that savings opportunity!
One building you can’t help but notice on the road between Sevierville and Gatlinburg is the one that’s upside-down.
This is Wonderworks and it is an excellent destination for kids, tweens and teens, as well as for the adults who are with them. While younger kids may work through the displays more quickly, I think tweens and teens can stay entertained for an entire afternoon here! You can also come and go as you please during the day that you purchase your ticket, so leaving to grab lunch or even to go take a nap is no problem, which I really appreciate, since kids can be unpredictable at times and you might need to cut your visit short for some reason.
Wonderworks is overflowing with highly interactive displays, many of which are based on matters related to science. For example, perhaps you want to experience category 1 hurricane winds. My father-in-law thought they were “a breeze” (hee hee) but I was “blown away!” (somebody stop me!).
You can also feel the exact temperature of the water the night that the Titanic sank and see just how long you can keep your hand in it before you need to pull it out. My mother-in-law did 40 seconds, which was 10 seconds longer than the person who went before her. It really helps you understand how the unfortunate victims would have died very quickly in water that cold when you see that you can only stand it, yourself, for a matter of seconds before you remove your hand.
One of the coolest things we saw, though we didn’t attempt it because our kids were too small, was the obstacle course that was WAY up high in the air. I could tell it was very popular with older kids!
Tim tried out the bed of nails with great success, though it freaked our kids out a bit!
I think our very favorite exhibit (and I’ve only scratched the surface of the exhibits with the above photos!) was the bubble making area. We spent a good deal of time there making bubbles that were absolutely enormous. SO much fun for kids and adults, alike!
Wonderworks is $15.99 for kids and $24.99 for adults. So it isn’t cheap! For that reason, I would hesitate to recommend this for families with kids 6 and under, unless you have a 5 or 6-year-old that is very adventurous and willing to jump in and try everything out. But if you have older kids, I think this is very much worth the money because there is just SO much to do! I also like that you can go in the morning and play for a bit, leave for a spell, and come back and do it again in the afternoon. That can really help you get your money’s worth!
Have you been to Sevierville, TN? I’d love to hear about what you did there, or if it is a place on your radar to visit! I actually have a vacation giveaway coming up, so stay tuned!!! 🙂