5 Tips to Plan a Winter Vacation in Gatlinburg with Your Kids


The beautiful city of Gatlinburg is located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Nestled in the lush, rolling hills of the Appalachians, Gatlinburg is the place to be for your next family vacation. Although the town is a popular year-round vacation spot, it is incredibly wonderful in the winter.

The town is blanketed in snow, creating a picture-perfect scene. The tall peaks of the mountains are also covered with a fresh layer of snow, and the air is crisp and clean. The trees stand tall, their bare branches glistening in the winter sun.

You might think winter is a bad time to visit Gatlinburg with family as there will be extra things to prepare. But with the proper preparation, you can set yourself up for the most memorable time of your life.

We will give you some tips to make the most of your family trip.

Decide How You Will Get There

You have a few options to travel there, which include: 

  • Traveling by car: Gatlinburg is easily accessible by road if you live nearby and it can make for a fun road trip with the entire family. Do check the weather forecast before you leave.
  • Traveling by plane: If you live far away, traveling by air is a good option. The closest airport to Gatlinburg is the McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, which is about a 45-minute drive away.
  • By bus: Several bus companies offer regular service to Gatlinburg from cities like Nashville, Knoxville, and Atlanta.
  • By train: There is no train service directly to Gatlinburg, but you can take a train to the Knoxville station and then transfer to a bus or shuttle to get to Gatlinburg.

Weather Updates

The Gatlinburg weather can vary significantly in winter, with temperatures generally ranging between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It also averages around nine inches of snow in January and February.

In other cold months, you can see a mix of cloudy and clear days and some rain too. These weather conditions mean the streets and sidewalks can get slippery, so pack appropriate shoes.

When planning your trip, check the weather forecast to be prepared for various weather conditions. The city can be magnificent this time of the year, provided you have planned for it.

Pack Accordingly

Now that we have established that it will be very cold when you get to Gatlinburg, you need to pack accordingly. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Pack layers of clothing: Layering your clothing will help you stay warm and adjust to the changing temperatures. Pack a mix of lightweight and heavier pieces, such as long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, and jackets, especially for kids, so they can take off a few layers if they feel irritated.
  • Pack comfortable shoes: Since you will be going out and participating in activities such as hiking, it is essential to pack comfortable shoes. Children get cranky if the shoes are uncomfortable, so be sure to pack a few options, including waterproof ones.
  • Remember your swimsuit: While it may be cold outside, many hotels and cabins in Gatlinburg have indoor pools and hot tubs. They are perfect for a warm and relaxing soak. It will be a good change for the kids from the outside weather.

The Accommodation

Your accommodations will play a massive part in your overall Gatlinburg experience. Since you will be traveling with children, you need a place with all the necessary amenities to keep them comfortable and occupied. Let us discuss some of the available options.

  • Gatlinburg is famous for its cozy cabin rentals, which offer a rustic and private vacation experience. Many cabins are located in the Great Smoky Mountains and provide beautiful views and easy access to outdoor activities like hiking and skiing. Cabins are available in all sizes and have facilities likehot tubs, fireplaces and kitchens.
  • Hotels: Gatlinburg has several hotels and motels to choose from, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury options. Many hotels offer amenities like indoor pools, fitness centers, and on-site restaurants.
  • Airbnb: Another option that might suit a family vacation is Airbnb. It would allow you to choose from various options, depending on your needs and budget.

Whatever option you choose, it would be wise to make your reservations in advance to avoid any inconvenience later. Gatlinburg can get busy around this time of the year!

Plan Your Activities

The most crucial part of your trip is the various activities you will participate in. Winter activities differ significantly from those in the summer. Here are some places you can visit in winter and have a fantastic time:

  • The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies: It is a popular attraction in Gatlinburg, with over 10,000 sea creatures in ten themed galleries. Kids will love seeing the colorful fishes and other sea creatures up close. They can then head to the Penguin Playhouse, which will be a fun experience for them.
  • Go Skiing or Snowboarding: If you want to enjoy the Gatlinburg winter, you must visit Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort. With over nine different slopes, everyone can enjoy the experience of skiing and snowboarding. The resort also houses a school for beginners, soyou can still enjoy learning the basics even if you have no prior experience. The resort also has a restaurant.
  • Take a scenic drive: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a beautiful place to explore during the winter, with stunning views of the snow-covered mountains. Take a scenic drive through the park and stop at some viewpoints to enjoy the views. These breathtaking views make great spots for taking pictures and having snowball fights.
  • Indoor Activities: Plenty of indoor activities can keep you interested in Gatlinburg. These can be excellent backup plans in the event of inclement weather. You can visit the Hollywood Stars Car Museum or the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Centre. You can also take the children to enjoy laser tag, escape rooms, and indoor mini-golf.


In conclusion, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a great destination for winter. There are plenty of activities to enjoy with family as it offers multiple things for all family members. Whether you want to hit the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, hike through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or play a round of laser tag or mini golf, you won’t be bored.

When planning your winter vacation to Gatlinburg, pack warm clothing and waterproof shoes or boots to prepare for the cold and potentially inclement weather. It’s also a good idea to book your accommodations in advance, as hotels and cabin rentals can fill up quickly during the peak tourist season.

Overall, Gatlinburg is a great place to visit during winter, with a wide range of activities and attractions to enjoy. Whether traveling with your familyor going solo, you’ll find plenty to see and do in Gatlinburg.

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