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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Updated: Mar 1, 2023


In the fall of 2020, we took an adventure to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a friend of ours 40th birthday. We wanted to experience Fall in the mountains and we were not disappointed. Gatlinburg is a small mountain town located in eastern Tennessee, United States. It is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains and is surrounded by the natural beauty of the area, including forests, rivers, and waterfalls.

One of the main attractions in Gatlinburg is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park in the United States. The park features miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

In addition to its natural beauty, Gatlinburg is also known for its family-friendly attractions and entertainment. One popular attraction is the Gatlinburg SkyLift, which takes visitors on a scenic ride up to the top of Crockett Mountain, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the town and the surrounding area.

Other popular attractions in Gatlinburg include the Ober Gatlinburg ski resort and amusement park, the Gatlinburg Space Needle, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, and the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community.

The town also features a variety of restaurants, shops, and accommodations, ranging from rustic cabins and lodges to luxury resorts and hotels. Overall, Gatlinburg offers a unique blend of natural beauty and modern amenities, making it a popular destination for visitors from all over the world.


 

Traveling to Gatlinburg, Tennessee on a budget is definitely possible with some smart planning and research. Here are some tips on how to travel to Gatlinburg on a budget:

  1. Plan ahead and book early: Flights and accommodations tend to be cheaper when booked in advance. Try to book at least a few months before your trip to get the best deals.

  2. Consider alternative transportation: If you're driving, consider carpooling with friends or family to save on gas and tolls. Alternatively, consider taking a bus or a train, which can be more affordable than flying.

  3. Look for affordable accommodations: Gatlinburg offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, motels, cabins, and campgrounds. Look for affordable options that fit your budget.

  4. Avoid peak travel times: Prices tend to be higher during peak travel times, such as holidays and weekends. Consider traveling during the off-season to save money.

  5. Cook your own meals: Consider staying in accommodations with kitchen facilities and cooking your own meals. This can save you a lot of money on eating out.

  6. Research free activities: Gatlinburg offers many free activities, such as hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visiting local parks, and exploring the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community.

  7. Use discount websites: Look for deals on travel websites, such as Expedia or Booking.com, and consider using coupon and discount websites like Groupon to save on attractions and activities.

  8. Take advantage of free transportation: Gatlinburg offers a trolley system that provides affordable transportation throughout the town. Consider using the trolley instead of driving to save money on gas and parking.



 

Gatlinburg, Tennessee offers many budget-friendly activities that allow visitors to experience the natural beauty and attractions of the area without breaking the bank. Here are some ideas for budget-friendly things to do in Gatlinburg:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Admission to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free, and there are numerous hiking trails and scenic drives to explore.

  2. Gatlinburg Trail: This easy 2-mile roundtrip trail runs from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the outskirts of Gatlinburg and offers scenic views of the Little Pigeon River and the surrounding forest.

  3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: This 5.5-mile one-way scenic drive offers views of historic homes, waterfalls, and wildlife.

  4. Sugarlands Distilling Company: This local distillery offers free tours and tastings of their award-winning moonshine and whiskey.

  5. Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community: This community of artists and craftsmen offers a variety of unique handmade items, including pottery, jewelry, and woodcarvings.

  6. Mynatt Park: This free public park offers a playground, picnic tables, and a walking trail with views of the Little Pigeon River.

  7. Ole Smoky Moonshine: This distillery in downtown Gatlinburg offers free tours and tastings of their moonshine and whiskey.

  8. Gatlinburg Farmers Market: This market offers fresh produce, handmade crafts, and live music on Saturdays from May through October.

  9. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum: This quirky museum displays over 20,000 salt and pepper shakers from around the world and offers a unique experience for visitors.

  10. Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Village: This community of artists and craftsmen offers a variety of handmade items, including pottery, woodwork, and candles, and is a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts. Admission is free.

 

Some of our favorite things....


We rented a cabin in the outskirts of Gatlinburg in Pigeon Forge as a more affordable option. We split the cabin with three other couples which cut cost tremendously. Why yes.... that is a picture of my husband in his Christmas pj's drinking a beer!


Here is some information on lodging in a cabin in Pigeon Forge:

  1. Types of Cabins: There are a variety of cabins available in Pigeon Forge, ranging from small, rustic cabins to large, luxurious cabins with multiple bedrooms and amenities like hot tubs and game rooms. You can choose a cabin based on your budget and the size of your group.

  2. Location: Cabins in Pigeon Forge are typically located in the mountains or in secluded areas, providing privacy and beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains. However, some cabins may be located closer to the town center, making it easier to access nearby attractions.

  3. Amenities: Cabins in Pigeon Forge typically offer a range of amenities, including fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces, and outdoor grills. Some cabins may also have amenities like hot tubs, pool tables, and home theaters.

  4. Cost: The cost of lodging in a cabin in Pigeon Forge varies depending on the size of the cabin, the location, and the amenities offered. However, cabin rentals can be more affordable than staying in a hotel or resort, especially if you're traveling with a large group.

  5. Booking: You can book a cabin in Pigeon Forge through a rental company or directly with the cabin owner. Be sure to read reviews and check the cancellation policy before booking.

  6. Availability: Cabins in Pigeon Forge can book up quickly during peak travel times, such as holidays and weekends. Be sure to book your cabin in advance to ensure availability.

  7. Cleaning Fee: Many cabin rentals in Pigeon Forge charge a cleaning fee, which is an additional fee to cover the cost of cleaning the cabin after your stay.

Overall, lodging in a cabin in Pigeon Forge can be a unique and memorable experience, offering a cozy and comfortable place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Smoky Mountains.


 

We visited Anakeesta, which is an outdoor theme park located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, that is situated atop a mountain with stunning views of the Smoky Mountains. Here's some information on Anakeesta:

  1. Attractions: Anakeesta offers a variety of attractions, including zip-lining, a mountain coaster, a treetop skywalk, and a gem mining experience. There is also a mountain playground for children and a scenic chairlift ride to the top of the mountain.

  2. Dining: There are several dining options available at Anakeesta, including a BBQ restaurant, a burger and beer garden, and an ice cream parlor. The restaurants offer a variety of food options, including vegetarian and gluten-free options.

  3. Shopping: Anakeesta also has several retail shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs, clothing, and locally made crafts.

  4. Views: One of the main attractions of Anakeesta is the stunning views of the Smoky Mountains. Visitors can take in the panoramic views from the overlook tower or while enjoying a meal at one of the restaurants.

  5. Tickets: Admission to Anakeesta varies depending on the time of year and the attractions you want to experience. Discounts are often available for online ticket purchases and for visitors who arrive after 5:00 pm.

  6. Accessibility: Anakeesta is located atop a mountain and requires a chairlift or a gondola ride to reach the top. The park is not wheelchair accessible, but the staff is available to assist visitors with mobility issues.

  7. Hours of operation: Anakeesta is open year-round, with hours varying depending on the season. The park is closed on certain holidays, so be sure to check the park's website for updated hours of operation.

Overall, Anakeesta is a unique outdoor theme park with a variety of attractions and dining options, and stunning views of the Smoky Mountains. We even saw some baby bear cubs!


 

What would a trip to Gatlinburg be without a little moonshine tasting? Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine is a distillery located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, that offers moonshine tastings to visitors. Here's some information on the moonshine tastings at Ole Smoky:

  1. Tastings: Visitors to Ole Smoky can sample a variety of moonshine flavors, including classic flavors like original, apple pie, and peach, as well as seasonal and limited edition flavors. The tastings are typically served in small cups and include a variety of flavors.

  2. Guided tours: In addition to tastings, Ole Smoky offers guided tours of the distillery, which provide visitors with an overview of the moonshine-making process, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the distillery.

  3. Retail store: After the tasting or tour, visitors can browse the retail store, which features a wide selection of moonshine products, as well as Ole Smoky branded merchandise.

  4. Hours of operation: Ole Smoky is open year-round, with hours varying depending on the season. The distillery is closed on certain holidays, so be sure to check the distillery's website for updated hours of operation.

  5. Price: The price of moonshine tastings at Ole Smoky varies depending on the number of flavors you want to try. Visitors can typically purchase tasting tickets in advance or on-site at the distillery.

Overall, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine is a popular destination for visitors to Gatlinburg who are interested in trying moonshine and learning more about the distilling process. The tastings, tours, and retail store make for a fun and unique experience in the heart of the Smoky Mountains.


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