Okay, so you finally figured out how to afford the gas and lodging for your dream vacation…but what are you going to do once you get here? Gatlinburg is notorious for some very big entertainment like Dollywood and Dixie Stampede–and we love both of those places–but some of Gatlinburg’s best family entertainment is very budget-friendly.
1. Auto Touring Newfound Gap Road – The 33-mile drive from Gatlinburg to Cherokee North Carolina along Newfound Gap Road is the only route that completely traverses the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The drive offers a unique opportunity to enjoy an abbreviated experience of everything the Park has to offer, without necessarily trekking far from your automobile. Click here for a complete list of Great Smoky Mountains Nat’l Park Auto Tours.
2. Carriage, Wagon or Horseback Tours – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a number of ways to tour the park. A Hayride through Cades Cove is sure to entertain the kids and for $6 per person, it can be an affordable way to enjoy your vacation. Looking for a romantic tour for just the two of you? How about a horseback tour? For more information having a wagon ride through downtown Gatlinburg, click here.
3. Festivals & Fireworks – Gatlinburg is home to some great festivals, parades & fireworks including 4th of July, Ribfest, the Chili Cookoff, the Scottish Games & Festival and so many more. Admission is low cost or often free. Gatlinburg hosts the first Independence Day parade in the country at 1 minute past midnight of July 3rd each year…come early to save your seat on the parade route. In 2009, the theme is 75 Years of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
4. Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum – This is the World’s Only Museum devoted to salt & pepper shakers… it’ll be a trip down memory lane for most. With over 20,000 salt and pepper shakers, you’re bound to see great pairs from your childhood. Admission is only $3 per adult, kids 12 & under are free…AND your $3 will be taken off the cost of any set of salt and pepper shakers you purchase from the gift shop!
5. Shopping…or Window Shopping – While we realize that shopping requires disposible funds, window shopping is free. If you are trying to avoid the t-shirt shops and souvenier vendors? Take a stroll through The Village Shops. Located on the Parkway behind the Pancake Pantry, you will find original art, home decor, hiking gear, freshly-made doughnuts, children’s toys, celtic accessories and so much more. Outdoor dining, lively fountains, and scenic photo opportunities abound.
6. Fishing – You’ll need to buy a license or two, but trout fishing in the Smokies has been a long time favorite of both locals and visitors. The City of Gatlinburg stocks the river every Thursday, but any other day you are welcome to cast a line. Visit our previous trout-fishing blog entry for all the details about which licenses you’ll need and where to get them.
7. Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community – The largest group of independent artisans in North America inhabit an 8-mile loop in Gatlinburg. Artisans whittle, paint, sew, cast, weave and carve to create original collectibles such as candles, baskets, quilts, brooms, pottery, jewelry, dolls, ceramics, silver smithing, and more. Looking is free, so make your plans to visit!
8. Winery Tour – Wine may not be the first thing that pops to mind when contemplating what to do in Gatlinburg, but Smoky Mountain Winery opened its doors in 1981. Take a free tour of the production facilities then follow it up with a free tasting of more than 20 available award-winning wines. Take a bottle home to remember your honeymoon, anniversary or family reunion!
9. Fireflies in Mid-June – Synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are one of 14 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns. Starting at 6 p.m., visitors may board the trolley ($1 per person) from the Sugarlands Visitor Center (click here for directions). It will take you to the Little River Trailhead at Elkmont. The last trolley back leaves at 11 p.m. (no private vehicles will be allowed after 5 p.m.) For park rules on firefly show etiquette, visit here.
10. Rent a Cabin – Remember that your vacation doesn’t always have to be about things to do and places to go. When you rent a cabin in the smokies, you can customize your vacation to include gamerooms, hot tubs, swimming pools, premium movie channels, gaming systems, water access, spectacular mountain views and so much more. Enjoy uninterrupted time with your family as well as the cost-saving of fully-equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, and amenities that are sure to keep your family entertained. Click here to browse the options!
For a link to “Cheap or Free Things to Do in Gatlinburg Part 2,” Click Here!
This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.