We will be in Franklin for 4 days and plan on gem mining but was curious as to what else we must do.
I suggest posting on the family travels forum.
Near Bryson City is Deep Creek where they have tubing and there is a fairly easy waterfall hike. Very short distance, not a big waterfall. In the center of Cherokee there is a creek that I see people even bring their lawn chairs and sit in the water, nice area to have a picnic and let the kids play. There is a small bamboo forest there. At the Oconluftee visitors center on the south end of the smoky mountains park there is a sort of farm there and they have chickens running around, some hogs and sometimes the horses will be out. You can sometimes see elk in the field next door in the early evenings.