Planning a budget conscious trip to the Smokies isn’t as tricky as you may think. From museums and public parks that provide a wide range of activities to local businesses offering free (or very low cost) attractions, options abound for those seeking to come and enjoy the area without breaking the bank. In order to spark some ideas for you, we gathered some ideas for free (or incredibly affordable) things to do in Gatlinburg as well as the neighboring cities of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge.
Rocky Top Wine Trail
Who doesn’t like wine? Okay, even if you don’t want to indulge in the free tastings at the six Smoky Mountain winery locations, it’s still going to be a fun experience. You’ll get free tours of the cellars and tank room at Mountain Valley Winery, Sugarland Cellars, and Hillside Winery, as well as be entered to win a vacation package, get $100 in local food cards, and then get a wine glass and shot glass at the end. You don’t need to visit them all at once. They are open daily. Just make sure you get your winery passport before you head to the second location.
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this is a beautiful 80-foot tall natural waterfall. Expect a lot of traffic on the weekends yearly and throughout the summer. As the GSMP suggests, bring water when you’re on the Laurel Falls Trail! You should keep yourself hydrated whenever you exercise, and hiking is no different. If you have small children, you should be aware there are steep and slippery sections. It’s not a stroller-friendly trail area. The whole trail is about 2.6 miles round-trip and you should allow yourself at least a couple of hours. You can get more information about the falls on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website. Let us know if you happen to spot a bear!
Great Smokies Flea Market
Yes, you could spend money and actually buy things here, but it’s worth noting that you don’t have to pay to park or get into the Great Smokies Flea Market. If you are staying in a cabin, condo, or hotel room with a kitchen or cooking amenities you can take advantage of the local produce, which is available in the farmer’s market area. They are pet-friendly, so your best furry friend is welcome to come with you on a leash. Speaking of being friendly, you can also roll in on an RV, semi, tour bus, etc. Besides the shopping, they have free entertainment, a Sunday morning worship service, and free wi-fi.
Treasuring the Word Rare Bible & Book Museum
Located in Sevierville, TN, the small museum is home to a rare Bibles, artifacts, Hebrew scrolls, and a history of the Bible’s voyage into English text. They don’t have an admission but appreciate voluntary donations, which you can put in a box. Some of the Bibles on display date back to the 1500s! They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m from March to December, closed all major holidays. Keep in mind that it might be hard to get the most of the museum if you have small children. Visit their website for more.
Sevierville City Park
The Mt. Ton of Fun playground in Sevierville is part of the Sevierville City Park. Everything in the park is free (playground, basketball and tennis courts, and baseball field) except the Family Aquatic Center. Most children would squeal for joy at the sight of the 20,000 square foot wooden adventure experience aptly named “Mt Ton of Fun.” There are two sections: one for toddlers, and one for bigger kids. Your youngsters can play on the treehouse, space ship, and climbing wall, or choose to swing or play on monkey bars. For safety, the entire wooden play area is fenced in, so you don’t have to worry about your kids wandering off to other places in the City Park. The City of Sevierville is working on adding a new inclusive playground area, which will enable children of all types, including those with special needs, to enjoy.
Even the Family Aquatic Center is affordable. Adults are $5 a day and kids are $4 (ages 4–12). Kids under four are free! They have a 25-meter pool outside (2–12 feet deep) with two small waterslides for kids and a splash pad.
The Little River Railroad & Lumber Company Museum
The Little River Railroad & Lumber Company Museum has free admission and also welcomes donations. It gets its history from the logging industry in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that occurred from 1901 until 1939. If your kids (or you) are into trains, be sure to put this stop in Townsend, TN, on your list (about 45 minutes to the west of Gatlinburg). They have a few engines outside as well as equipment supporting the logging business, like the log loader and portable houses that could be loaded onto flatcars to travel to worksites. They have a nice gift shop as well that has models and toys, books, souvenirs, and apparel. Visit their site to check hours of operation, as they vary throughout the year.
Whether you plan to visit with the whole family or are looking for a couple’s getaway, we hope you got a few new, unique, and interesting ideas from our list! Don’t forget to comment below if you have other suggestions for free or affordable places to visit or things to do while in Gatlinburg, Sevierville, or Pigeon Forge, TN. For those who plan to visit soon, be sure to register with us. We’d be happy to send you special offers, plus you’ll be able to save your favorite brochures in your Suitcase for easy access later! And don’t forget to check out this month’s Giveaway. What better way to boost a tight budget than to win free stuff!
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