If you're looking for a family-friendly activity in the great outdoors, look no further than Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains. Here are 10 tips to make the most of your visit with kids in tow:
1. START EARLY.
Cades Cove is one of the most popular attractions in the Smokies, so it can get quite crowded, especially during the summer months. To avoid the crowds (and the heat), plan to arrive early in the morning. The gate opens at daybreak, and you'll want to be one of the first in line.
2. BRING SNACKS AND DRINKS.
Picnic lunches are always a hit with kids, or you can bring along some snacks and drinks to keep everyone fueled up for a day of exploring.
3. TAKE YOUR TIME.
There's no need to rush through Cades Cove. The loop road is 11 miles long, and you can take your time meandering through the scenic valley. Stop at all of the pull-offs to explore the historic buildings and take in the views.
4. KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR WILDLIFE.
Cades Cove is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, turkey, bears, and even coyotes. Be sure to have your cameras ready to snap a photo of any animals you spot along the way.
5. VISIT DURING DIFFERENT SEASONS.
Cades Cove is beautiful during all seasons of the year, so try to visit during different times to see the changing landscapes. Spring is a great time to see wildflowers in bloom, while fall brings gorgeous foliage. Winter can be quieter, but you might get lucky and spot some snow-covered views.
6. GO ON A HIKE.
There are several hiking trails that branch off from Cades Cove, so lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail. Younger kids will enjoy an easy hike to Abrams Falls, while older kids (and adults) can challenge themselves on a longer hike up to Mount LeConte.
7. TAKE A HORSEBACK RIDE.
One of the best ways to see Cades Cove is on horseback. There is a stable located in Cades Cove, and you can sign up for a guided trail ride.
8. GO FOR A BIKE RIDE.
Exploring Cades Cove by bike is a great way to cover more ground and see even more of the scenic valley. You can bring your own bikes, or you can rent them from one of the nearby stables.
9. GO FISHING.
If your kids are into fishing, they'll be happy to know that Cades Cove is home to several streams and ponds where they can cast their line.
10. HAVE FUN!
Above all, just relax and have fun with your family. Cades Cove is a special place that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, so take your time and savor the experience.