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gatlinburg scenic overlook during fall

Cheap Things to Do in Gatlinburg: How to Plan an Affordable Family Vacation

DATE : October 6, 2023

A Smoky Mountain vacation can be both economical and entertaining, where you can get away from it all without spending it all. From finding cheap things to do in Gatlinburg to taking advantage of online specials, here are a few budget-friendly vacation tips to help you plan an affordable trip to the Smokies: 

Ride the Gatlinburg trolley.

One of the best ways to have a budget-friendly Smoky Mountain vacation is to ride the Gatlinburg trolley. You’ll save money on gas and parking, as there are no fares or fees to ride the trolley, and it operates every day with multiple routes. One route even takes you through the entire Great Smoky Arts and Craft Community loop!

Find cheap things to do in Gatlinburg. 

davy crockett golfThere are many cheap things you can do in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains, from local, seasonal events to cheap activities along the downtown strip. Check out a few of our top recommendations:

Wine Tastings & Moonshine Samples: At Tennessee Cider Co. located at the Mountain Mall, you can enjoy 3 samples of their on-tap hard cider for free, or spend $5 for samples of all of their on-tap options plus their honey mango mead and blackberry dessert wine. Other distilleries and wineries such as Sugarland Cellars offer affordable tastings of their local wine, moonshine, whiskey, and more. 

Mini Golf: Playing a few rounds on a miniature golf course is a fun and affordable activity for all ages! Davy Crockett’s Mini Golf features two 18-hole courses situated conveniently on the Parkway and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains.  

Window Shopping: The Gatlinburg strip has so many interesting and one-of-a-kind shops. Sometimes it can be just as fun to window shop and browse all of the unique products you won’t find anywhere else. 

Watch for online specials. 

You can buy combo tickets and bundles for all of Ripley’s attractions, which will save you a lot of money. Check online to see if you can reserve show and attraction tickets in advance for a special online price. Also, pay attention to children’s pricing; some attractions and shows offer free admission for a child with a paying adult. 

Spend time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

One of the best free and cheap things to do in Gatlinburg is spending time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s the most visited national park in the US, and for good reason! Entrance is free to all visitors, and while parking passes are now required, you can still enjoy multiple days exploring the park and stick to your budget. Here are just a few examples of activities you can do with your family:

Hiking: Whether you want a waterfall hike, nature walk, or panoramic view from a mountaintop, there are plenty of family-friendly hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains to explore. Abrams Falls in Cades Cove is an extremely popular area in the national park, as well as Laurel Falls, Greenbrier, and Elkmont.

bikes at cades coveBiking: Connecting downtown Gatlinburg with the Sugarlands Visitor Center inside the national park, the Gatlinburg Trail is great for bike riding. Also, Cades Cove has vehicle-free Wednesdays, so you can bike along the scenic loop without disturbance from cars!

Fishing: The Smokies contain many river and steam access points for fishing! You can fish year-round in the park, and an up-to-date fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 13. Take a picnic to Metcalf Bottoms and spend some time relaxing after fishing for trout and bass. 

Scenic drives: Taking a drive through the mountains isn’t just a cheap thing to do in Gatlinburg– it’s completely free! We suggest taking the Gatlinburg Bypass road and stopping at the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook for some of the most breathtaking views, especially during the fall! Upper Tremont Road, the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and the Foothills Parkway are other beautiful roads full of scenery, historic sites, and mountain views. 

Take advantage of our hotel discounts.

We pride ourselves on being an affordable place to stay in Gatlinburg with lots of extra amenities and perks. Don’t be afraid to ask us about coupons and discounts; we may have some money-saving tips to share! We also have first responders, veteran, and military discounts, in addition to a Guest Rewards Program, with points that never expire! 

Now you know how to plan an affordable vacation and have some ideas for cheap things to do in Gatlinburg! The next step is to book your stay. Take a closer look at The Bearskin Lodge specials and discounts so you can save even more money on your stay with us. We hope to see you very soon!