When you live in South Carolina, snow is far from a sure thing. While this is not necessarily bad thing for those of us who detest the cold, it can be kind of a bummer for children – doubly so for little girls who are in their Elsa-obsessed era. The good news is there are many places within about a four hour radius of Columbia where you can see snow. One of these places is Gatlinburg, TN. My sister and I met up there for a weekend family trip a few years ago and our preschoolers had a blast.
There is so much to do in the Gatlinburg area (I’m including Sevierville and Pigeon Forge in this) – amusement parks, hiking, fine dining, you name it. Because we were traveling with a three year old and a four year old, we focused our trip on things that would be fun to them. Here are my recommendations for things to do while you’re in Gatlinburg, including a place with a 100% chance of snow.
Anakeesta is a beautiful outdoor park in the heart of Gatlinburg. When we went in January, it was a true winter wonderland. Visitors ride to the top of the mountain park in either a chair lift or a gondola, depending on the size of your party. The views at the top are amazing! Our kids really enjoyed the Treetop Skywalk and the Anakeesta Smoky Mountain Observation Tower. Older kids might like the mountain coasters or ziplining.
2. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
If you need a little break from the outdoors, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a great option. Our kids had a great time exploring the different exhibits and watching the different aquatic creatures swim around their tanks. Make sure you time your visit so that you can attend the penguin parade – a daily show that features the penguins marching around the aquarium.
3. Pigeon Forge Snow
While it is quite possible that it might be snowing when you visit Gatlinburg, snow is not a guarantee. That’s why we ventured to Pigeon Forge Snow – an indoor snow park. Pigeon Forge Snow has a corner of man-made snow perfect for little kids! The best part is that the building stays around 70 degrees all year, so you don’t even need to be cold to enjoy the snow. Older kids can try out tubing while they are there.
We had a lovely time during our visit to Gatlinburg, and our kids really enjoyed playing in the indoor and outdoor snow. Gatlinburg has so many other things to offer. I look forward to going again when my children are old enough to enjoy Dollywood.