One of our family’s favorite get-away spots is nestled in the heart of The Great Smoky Mountains: Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and just this past week, we ventured over for a day of fun together.
Gatlinburg, TN is a scenic, mountain town that offers activities for all ages – fun for the whole family for sure! You’ve heard me talk about our lifestyle of homeschooling – how in our family culture, we have embraced a round-the-clock spirit of learning, and Gatlinburg gifted us with all kinds of different opportunities to learn together.
Our Family Field Trip to Gatlinburg, TN
We kicked off our day with breakfast on-the-go and a morning at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
We spotted all kinds of different fish (and other animals!) that we have been reading about together this year,
and Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse brought to life all the things we recently learned from reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins and seeing a play production of the story.
Next, we decided it was time to grab some lunch, and No Way Jose’s Cantina did not disappoint. The fresh guacamole can’t be beat.
From the aquarium, we crossed the street and landed right in their parking lot. Smooth and easy for our family of six.
Heads Up: Strollers are not allowed in this restaurant, so if you’re traveling with one, be ready to stow it away in the front lobby while you eat.
Following lunch, we ventured further into town to explore The Village Shops and enjoy donuts from The Donut Friar.
What a beautiful day! The weather was perfect, and the donuts were even better!
Next up, Gatlinburg’s Space Needle! Well, Daddy and the boys made their way to the top while the one with the fear of heights (ME!) hung out with the girls down below – and finished sipping her coffee.
Love this view from the top that Daddy snapped with the camera! Gorgeous mountains and adorable smiles all around!
The boys were feeling adventurous, so they also decided to pop in to Ripley’s Amazing Mirror Maze while the one with claustrophobia (ME!) strolled the sidewalks with the girls.
What can I say? I’m more into penguins…and donuts. Ha!
At this point in our day, it was early afternoon, and the girls were ready for a snooze. We made our way back to the minivan, and while the little ones napped in the car, we drove through the Arts & Crafts Community! There are so many neat learning opportunities found within this loop full of talented craftsman. Did you know your kids could dip a candle at Lorelei Candles Factory or create pottery at Fowler’s Clay Works?
Our favorite stop was Make it Magic – where the boys picked out new magic tricks to add to their growing collection of illusions. It has been almost 15 years since I first visited this cabin, and it was really special to be back in this sweet little spot with my boys – while daddy hung out in the minivan with two sleeping girls.
As we finished up our time in the Arts & Crafts Community, the girls started to wake up and we decided it was time to head over to our next adventure: Ober Gatlinburg!
First up, a stop at Ober’s year-round indoor ice skating rink. This was the first time our boys had been on ice skates, and it was every bit as fun to watch you would imagine! Ha! Daddy worked HARD keeping everyone upright, and they can’t wait to try it again.
Next up, Ober’s Wildlife Encounter – another fantastic spot to see so many things we have been learning about together this year: nocturnal animals, how bees make honey, animals that hibernate, and more!
This homeschooling mama loves nothing more than to hear her kids say things like, I just read about that! or Mommy, remember when we saw this at ________?
Having a ringside seat to watch them as they make these kinds of real-life connections is special to say the least.
Everyone’s favorite part of the Wildlife Encounter? Watching the caretaker feed the otters!
The Alpine Slide and the Ski Mountain Coaster were also Ober must-dos for Daddy and the boys. Then it was time to grab some dinner: pizza at Mellow Mushroom! YUM! What a great way to wrap up our day of learning together in Gatlinburg.