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 Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail-“The narrow, winding, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail invites you to slow down and enjoy the forest and historic buildings of the area. The 6-mile-long, one-way, loop road is a favorite side trip for many people who frequently visit the Smokies. It offers rushing mountain streams, glimpses of old-growth forest, and a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings.” 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, and so many more. Admission is low cost or often free. The next parade will be the Annual Festival of Lights Christmas Parade which will be held on December 2! This has been selected as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, so don’t miss it. Come back for New Years to see the ball drop and fireworks downtown! Stay in City Lights Cabin or one of the Cabins of Winfield Heights for a view of the fireworks right from your cabin!
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. Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery Tour-“A visit to Ole Smoky Distillery is the true moonshine experience. As you approach the entrance, you can detect the distinct smell of our grains cooking and fermenting. You’ll see authentic working moonshine stills and experience the process from beginning to end. Our distillers will take the time to visit with you and answer any questions about the history and lore of moonshining in East Tennessee.”
“After you see, smell and hear about the process, we offer you a taste of our shine for free. Samples of our Original Unaged Corn Whiskey, White Lightnin’ and Moonshine Cherries – plus we offer seasonal and special flavors that aren’t available in package stores. And of course, you’ll be able to buy plenty of moonshine and Ole Smoky merchandise to take home with you.” (Both the tour and the taste testing are free!)
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.