One of my favorite places to take guests is the Sugarlands Visitor Center. If you live local and have never been there, you are truly missing out. This sophisticated center packs a big punch with its varied display of preserved flora and fauna. The center also features a nature trail (that leads to Cataract falls), 20 minute informative park video and gift shop packed with mountain-themed gifts and educational gear.
The visitors center is one of the best things to do with kids in the Smoky Mountains.
The museum portion of the center is truly the star. The museum has a variety of ranger-led programs. On one of my trips, they were answering questions about bears and had a bear pelt that the kids could touch and feel. There are many ferocious taxidermied animals for kids to enjoy including a black bear, a wild boar and a variety of venomous snakes. There are of course many cute and cuddly animals as well, such as possums, raccoons and different types of owls. All of the animals are behind glass. Some were easier to photograph than others. Like this bushy guy,
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and this cuddly girl.
What kid doesn’t LOVE a good wild cat?
The center also features a nice nature trail, with dirt path, that leads you down to Cataract Falls. You only have to walk about 1/4 mile to get to the falls.
The 20 minute informational park video is excellent but best for older kids (middle to late elementary and up). The visuals are stunning and it provides tons of information about the park, much of which I had never heard before. The video details the past, present and future of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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The museum store is also delightful and features a variety of awesome educational tools for kids, including several Smoky Mountain-themed children’s books with amazing photographs! The shelves are also filled with rustic gifts, many of which are made by local artisans.
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Whether you are a permanent resident or a welcomed vacationer, the Sugarlands Visitors Center is an attraction that is not to be missed.