Weekend Trip to Visit Gatlinburg, TN


Our teenager plays basketball and his team ends their year with a tournament in Gatlinburg, TN. Last year, we went with a 5-month-old baby and a teenager. This year, we made the trip with a toddler and teenager. I knew that I needed to make some significant changes from our last trip in order for this one to be successful. Here’s how it went.

Family Road Trip!

The drive from Northern Virginia to Gatlinburg, TN is about 8 hours. The night before we left, I went to the Dollar Tree and picked out eight brand new toys for my toddler to open while we were on the road. He would get a new one about every hour, they would maintain their novelty for the trip, and be promptly donated, recycled, or thrown away when we got home. He got some magnets, wind up toys, bubbles, play food, and some other trinkets. Between music, podcasts, naps, snacks, and these toys we actually managed a screen free road trip there and back! Check out this article for some road trip must-haves.

Rating: 8/10- Would use these tactic again! Road trips with toddlers are still painful.

Exploring Downtown Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is known for its strip full of food, shopping, and tourist excursions. We stayed near the strip and walked to breakfast at the Pancake Pantry. It was packed, delicious, and kid friendly. After that, we explored downtown until it was obviously time for our sweet toddler to take a nap and took the quick walk back to our condo.

Rating: 8/10- It was so much fun and a very enjoyable experience. Would have loved to do more and plan better around naptimes.

Visit Gatlinburg, TN
Inside the Gatlinburg mall

Gorgeous Parks (National and Not)

Gatlinburg is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We had the most wonderful experience at the visitor’s center where helpful guides showed us where to find the kid and stroller friendly trails. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge did not have a shortage of clean, fun, and spacious playgrounds either. If you’re looking for some National Parks close to home, you can find out more here.

Rating: 10/10- Being in nature was the highlight of the trip to visit Gatlinburg, TN! We had so much fun each day exploring and finding new places for our little guy to play.

Exploring a section of the Smoky Mountains National Park

It was a fun weekend getaway to explore the Tennessee mountains! Planning ahead for the road trip and going with the flow for what Gatlinburg had to offer made for an enjoyable trip.

Also, if you are planning a longer trip to visit Gatlinburg, TN, Pigeon Forge is nearby along with Dollywood. See our tips to visit Dollywood here.


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