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Summer Family Vacation at Ober Gatlinburg

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Thanks to Ober Gatlinburg for hosting our family’s visit!

You really haven’t visited the Smokies unless you’ve hiked at least a stretch in the Smokies.  And you really haven’t visited the tourist town of Gatlinburg unless you’ve been to Ober Gatlinburg.  This place offers incredible views of the Great Smoky Mountains next door and Gatlinburg below while being a playground for families to have old-fashioned fun!

Just riding the aerial tram up to Ober Gatlinburg has been an experience in itself for the kids.  While I waxed nostalgic at the summertime mountain views, they were fascinated by the chance of spotting a bear from the tram, and by the aerial views of mountainside cabins that reminded them of Barbie’s Dream House.

Ober tram

Once at the top, we had our pick of things to do at this summertime version of the popular winter ski resort.  The kids competed for record times in the outdoor maze that kept their interest while building teamwork.  They spotted the looping blue loom for a water raft ride, and that eventually became their favorite.  They wanted to ride it over and over.

Ober maze slide

My perennial favorite is Ober’s ice skating rink lined with colorful flags.  There’s just something about the international flare of this place with the smell of pizza baking at one of the nearby cafes that seems so inviting.  Since we visited on a sweltering summer day, the ice was the perfect place to cool off for a couple of hours.

Ober skating

I intended for us to visit every single attraction at Ober Gatlinburg to tell you about them, but we ran out of time in just one day.  I could see why some families might plan for two days here.  The classic Alpine slide was a must-do for the kids, and I think they would have ridden the chair lift back up to slide down over and over if given the chance.

A few suggestions for your first visit:

  • Plan on parking and riding the aerial tram up the mountain, to save wear and tear on your car.
  • Budget to buy snacks, drinks and casual meals there, as they don’t allow outside food or drink.
  • Dress in layers to move from outdoors to the skating rink and back.
  • Check out ride restrictions to plan who in your family can ride what.
  • Invest in armbands for unlimited visits to most of the activities, so kids can revisit their favorites.

Smokies from Tram

One of the best things about Ober Gatlinburg is that even for those of us visiting from nearby Knoxville, this amusement park provides an experience that feels like a world apart – even if for just a little while.  I can’t wait to hear about your experience there! Hint: can you imagine the colorful views of those mountainsides painted with trees in October?

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