We know vacation can be expensive, but we also know it doesn’t have to be expensive. At A Day In The Smokies, we want you to love the Smokies like we do–not feel like it took your last penny. Our original “Cheap or Free Things to Do” in Gatlinburg blog post has been our most popular to date. So, by popular demand, here are a few more things to do in Gatlinburg on a budget:
1. People Watching. Everyone’s a people watcher…whether it is from a mall bench or your front porch swing, people are always fun to watch. People on vacation can be even more fun…and you’ve go to eat. Why not make the most of both? Gatlinburg is a day’s drive from almost 1/2 the US, so you are sure to see sights you never expected in Gatlinburg. And where are the perfect vantage points? We like the outdoor patio at TGI Friday’s (between traffic lights #8 and #10 in Downtown Gatlinburg) and Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. 2nd floor deck that overlooks the Parkway (located at traffic light #8). My personal favorite is the outdoor cantina at No Way Jose’s. A raspberry daiquiri (available both with and without alcohol) and a basket of chips are the perfect way to watch the crowd walk by or even watch the trout fishermen in the river below. No Way Jose’s Cantina is located at traffic light #5 in Downtown Gatlinburg.
2. Hiking. There isn’t any better place to hike than the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether your looking for an Easy Summer Hike or a Waterfall Walk, the Great Smoky Mountains Trail Map will provide you with trails to suit any need. There are even a couple of trail that allow you to take your dog along. Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free.
3. Cars, cars, cars. Can’t get enough of antique cars and hot rods? Each Spring & Fall, Pigeon Forge is home to “Rod Runs.” Check the events calendar for dates each September. These events include hundreds of cars both on display and for sale. Looking is free, and the only price you’ll pay is a bit of traffic. Stay at Golf Vista or a Gatlinburg Cabin and take advantage of the Spring Specials! Even if you don’t make it to town during the rod runs, you can visit Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville year ’round. The Museum is home to over 90 muscle cars worth over $7 million. Tickets are $9.75 +tax for adults & $4 for children ages 8 – 12. Children under 8 are free!
4. A Day at the Park. You’ll be surprised to hear that I’m not talking about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this time. The City of Gatlinburg Recreation Department cares for several public parks. Mynatt Park off the Historic Motor Nature Trail in Gatlinburg offers picnic areas, charcoal grills, horseshoe pits, a playground, tennis courts, and even a fishing stream (12 and under only).
Mills Park is located just a couple of miles outside of downtown Gatlinburg near Gatlinburg Pittman High School and offers many of the same amenities as Mynatt Park, plus covered pavilions (available for rent to non-residents for as little as $25), a 9-hole disc (Frisbee) golf course, and even a skate park. So pack a picnic lunch and spend the day in the park!
5. Go Hollywood. Do you love Hollywood Memorabilia? Visit Cooter’s Museum (located near traffic light #5 in Downtown Gatlinburg) to see relics like the “General Lee” from the Dukes of Hazzard TV show. Admission to the museum is free; however, there is a charge for go kart racing and other activities if you choose to participate. Hollywood Star Cars (located near traffic light #8 in Downtown Gatlinburg) offers a tour of vehicles from movies you love from Back to the Future to Fast & Furious. As of 7/21/09, Tickets are $11.99 +tax for adults & $6.99 for children ages 6 – 12. Children under 6 are free! Don’t forget to print the coupon page for an additional discount.
6. Take a Swim! Regardless of the time of year you visit, you can always take a swim at the Gatlinburg Community Center’s Indoor Swimming Pool which is open to the public–for residents and visitors. Swimming costs around $2 per session, and showers and locker room use are included. While you are there, take advantage of the other amenities the community center has to offer like bowling and racquet ball.
7. Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales. This popular eight-week summer event truly highlights one of Gatlinburg’s greatest assets – the walkability of the community – and provides guests with an interactive, educational and entertaining experience the whole family can enjoy. The collection of personalities and performers arrive nightly at 5 p.m. in the center of town. Visitors witness a magical transformation of sidewalk to stage as the characters disperse along the downtown Parkway for an evening of entertainment and storytelling until 10 p.m. As many as 18 nightly acts perform throughout the evening. All of this entertainment is free.
8. Putt-Putt. There are lots of opportunities to play putt-putt in the Smokies, but we love Fort Fun (located between traffic lights #6 and #8 in Downtown Gatlinburg’s Reagan Terrace). You have your choice of two putt-putt courses and a whole host of other activities. If your family loves putt-putt, this is the course for you because they offer an unlimited package that allows you to play again and again throughout your stay for just $15.99.
9. Historic Tours. Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds one of the best collections of log buildings in the eastern United States. Nearly 80 historic structures—houses, barns, outbuildings, churches, schools, and grist mills—have been preserved or rehabilitated in the park. The best places to see them are at Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Oconaluftee, and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Self-guiding auto tour booklets are available at each place to enhance your visit.
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!
To see the original “10 Cheap or Free Things to Do in Gatlinburg,” 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.