If you assumed a vacation isn’t in the cards for you this year due to financial reasons, think again. First of all, you can cut down on logistical expenses significantly by taking advantage of the area’s many budget-friendly hotels. Alternatively, you could live adventurously and stay at one of the $30 campgrounds in the Smokies. After all, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the region’s primary attraction. Starting in March 2023, entry only costs $5 per day or $15 per week.
Hiking, camping, and fishing inside the Park are a few of the more obvious cheap things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. However, these scenic mountain cities offer much more for those on a tight budget. Our favorite things to do on the cheap involve whiskey and wine tastings, artisanal crafts, and discounted window shopping.
If you are an avid adult beverage enthusiast, you’ll love the Smokies. The land and its lore lend themselves well to the brewing arts. You’ll find no shortage of craft beer, whiskey, and wine in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge! The best part is that many venues allow you to sample their inventions free of charge. When it comes to finding cheap things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, nothing beats free booze!
Whiskey & Moonshine
The Great Smoky Mountains played a major role in the history of moonshine in the United States, from the arrival of whiskey-brewing Scots-Irish immigrants to Prohibition. As a result, a mastery of distillation is now a quintessential cultural trait of Tennessee. People come from far and wide to tour Tennessee whiskey distilleries like these and sample authentic white lightnin’.
- Old Forge Distillery – Using stone-ground grains from The Old Mill, fresh mountain water, and 200-year old recipes, Old Forge Distillery delivers authentic moonshine in striking flavors like French Toast, Elderflower, and Vanilla Bean.
- Tennessee Legend Distillery – Stop by Tennessee Legend Distillery to try a wide variety of moonshines, whiskies, rums, vodkas, gins, and cream liqueurs for free. This Sevierville distillery prides itself in taking inspiration from the legendary moonshiners as well as their own Smoky Mountain heritage.
- Sugarlands Distilling Co. – Sugarlands is the only place where live entertainment meets a rustic barn setting. Don’t miss their cheap $5 samples of authentic moonshine from bootlegging legends like Mark Ramsey, Digger Manes, and Mark Rogers.
- Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery – Tennessee’s first legal distillery has locations in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, where you can enjoy live bluegrass music and try recipes dating back to the 1800s for cheap. Moonshine and whiskey tastings cost $5, but you will also receive a $5 coupon to use toward the purchase of a bottle!
Not only do Smoky Mountain inhabitants love their firewater, but the soil and climate are ideal for cultivating wine-making grapes. That’s right – you don’t have to go all the way to Napa Valley to find popular grape varieties grown locally, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Pinot Grigio. In addition, uncommon varieties like Catawba, Concord, and Muscadine are native to these hazy hills. The resulting wines create unconventional flavors you won’t find elsewhere! You can try them all on the Rocky Top Wine Trail.
It’s completely free to embark on the Rocky Top Wine Trail, a self-guided tour covering five distinct Smoky Mountain wineries: Mill Bridge Winery, Apple Barn Winery, Apple Barn Cider House, Mountain Valley Winery, and Hillside Winery. Start at any location to pick up a passport, and the door to tasting over 75 unique wines opens for free. After three stamps on your passport, you’ll even receive a free wine glass. After five stamps, you’ll earn a second surprise gift!
Check Out the Local Arts & Crafts
It costs nothing to have a curious mind and an interest in other cultures. One of the best cheap things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is to get to know the local way of life through an appreciation for its homegrown arts. The Great Smoky Mountains is home to the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, the largest independent organization of artisans in the country. The 8-mile loop features over 100 craftsmen, from blacksmiths to woodworkers, fine artists to tanners, and glass blowers to candle-makers. Free parking is available at each shop, and it’s free to go window shopping or chat with the artists.
Direct your gaze northward. Head out next to Kodak, TN, where the Great Smokies Flea Market sits on 43+ acres of farmland. Under one gigantic rooftop, over 1,000 rotating vendors sell everything from hunting knives and guns to electronics, cosmetics, toys, pet supplies, books, movies, musical instruments, and food products. Treat yourself to free food samples, browse the items up to 70% off, and participate in fun family events. Plus, parking and entry are free!
Find Awesome Discounts
The best part about the diversity of shops in the Smokies is discovering interesting items you didn’t know you wanted. Sometimes, an exploratory look around without purchasing anything is enough to tickle your fancy. Then again, it would be a shame not to go home with at least one item that delights you the most!
If you’re vacationing on a budget, you can upgrade from window shopping to splurging, thanks to the local coupon resources. For starters, Mobile Brochure offers coupons to many of our favorite local businesses. Additionally, the Gatlinburg Attractions site and Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau often post discounts to shops, restaurants, hotels, attractions, and entertainment as well. Local discounts like these will ensure that a shopping spree is still one of the most cheap things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!
Some destinations around the world require you to fork out some serious cash just to get there – let alone pursue all the activities you’d want to do! Thank goodness the Smokies aren’t one of them. There certainly are some pricier activities out there, too, like thrilling amusement park rides, ATV and horseback rides, and dinner shows. That said, you’ll also find more than enough cheap things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to make it a worthwhile vacation!
Content on this page is subject to change. Please contact the locations mentioned to see if promotions, hours, pricing, etc. are still valid.
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