Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are super popular getaway destinations. The smokies are close enough to us that it’s an easy long weekend trip, and there is so much to do in the area that you never feel like it’s the same vacation twice.
What I also love about the area as a weekend getaway is that there is something for everyone. Nature lovers? The hiking trails are superb. Girlfriends getaway? Tons of shopping. Romantic weekend? Gorgeous views, wineries, and terrific dining. Looking for Gatlinburg things to do with kids? Putt-putt and go-carts galore. But, what about teens? Are there things to do in Gatlinburg with teens? You bet!
Ready for the perfect weekend itinerary with teens? Read on …
Even if you have a teen who is stuck to their technology, I highly encourage you to get them outside in the Smoky Mountains National Park. A great way to get them excited about a hike is to find one with a waterfall or cabin. Something to break up the hiking or give them a destination to work towards.
I’d also suggest letting them pick out the trail. Let them download the app AllTrails (a terrific app by the way) and research a few trails that sound interesting to them. The teenagers get to use their technology and by selecting the trail they have a bit more ownership with the outcome.
Finally, keep the hiking short. On our last trip, we hiked two of the three days we were there but made sure it was only for part of the day – which left us lots of time to enjoy other Gatlinburg attractions.
Related Post: The Best Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains
Pizza, Pasta, and Pancakes
There are SO MANY delicious options for restaurants in Gatlinburg, but when visiting with teens, it makes sense to stick with food most of them like. Here are a few of the best Gatlinburg restaurants that cover several major teenage food groups!
After a long day of hiking and sightseeing, sometimes pizza is the perfect dinner. We found J. Del’s Pizza to be the perfect mix of delicious and quick! Their New York Style pizza is tasty no matter what toppings you add, and the garlic knots are amazing. Add a cannoli for dessert and you’ve got a teenage worthy dinner that the adults will enjoy too! If you want to really relax, pick up your order to go and enjoy it in your hotel or condo. Bonus – leftovers are great the next day!
I’ve yet to meet a teen that doesn’t love pasta, so another place with food that is sure to please is Taste of Italy. Another local spot that is off the beaten path, this family-owned Italian restaurant has the usual mix of pasta dishes along with a few unique sandwiches. For the adults, it’s especially fun to bring a bottle of your own wine, and let them uncork it for you!
Finally, you can’t spend a weekend in Gatlinburg without enjoying pancakes. It seems like there is a pancake spot on every corner, so we did a quick search on Yelp to try to find the BEST one. We ended up at Crockett’s 1875 Breakfast Camp which is located at the very end of the main strip in Gatlinburg. Even on a Monday morning, there was a 45-minute wait, but we were able to put our name in and walk the strip while we waited. And it was worth the wait.
The portions are HUGE! I would highly recommend sharing a meal as we barely put a dent in our breakfasts. The pancakes are super interesting with a bit of cornmeal in them and thick! Each one was definitely an inch or more in height. Yum!!!
Related Post: If you are staying in a condo or cabin, check out this FREE downloadable meal plan and grocery list perfect for a week of vacation!
Enjoy some downtime
Between all the hiking and eating, be sure to allow your teen some downtime. Teens aren’t always fans of getting up early, and I’ve noticed most of them love to be a little lazy sometimes!
Pick a resort or hotel that offers at least a pool. A few hours relaxing by the pool or half an hour soaking in the hot tub after being outside all day is wonderful. For both your teens AND you!
We also love resorts that have activities, and many of the condos around Gatlinburg offer them. On our recent trip, we played Bingo, putt-putt, cornhole, and more! Fun, right?
You might also consider bringing along a new movie to watch, some games to play, or even spa supplies! After a day of hiking, a foot scrub will feel heavenly! You can easily find plenty of things to do at your Gatlinburg accommodations!
Related Post: The BEST Family Games – these are perfect for traveling!
Check out some “teen” activities
Normally I’ll pass on some of the cheesier activities available in Gatlinburg, but with teens along, it might be smart to indulge them in a few.
Gatlinburg is loaded with go-cart tracks, putt-putt courses, carnival-type rides, and other fun attractions. I know my teens get a kick out of racing – especially before they had a driver’s license, so that’s always a fun outing.
On our last trip, we went outside our comfort zone and checked out the Mysterious Mansion. As I have a teenager who loves haunted houses, this was a big hit. It was a bit pricey, but it was SCARY! Well worth the experience and I suspect we’ll be laughing about our reactions for years.
Just remember when visiting Gatlinburg with teens that mixing up your itinerary and trying new things will make for a fun and memorable trip!
What are your favorite things to do in Gatlinburg with kids?
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