Recently the Duggar family (all 18 of them) came and visited the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area. The thought of taking all of those children on vacation is simply daunting! Actually, thinking about how much it would cost to take a family of that size on vacation spawned this blog post. We wanted to share a practical list with you that can help you save money on your next visit to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. On a budget, there’s plenty you can do to save money.
Saving money in Gatlinburg and being budget savvy isn’t extremely difficult. There is lots to do here but if you’re wanting to save money you need to think outside the box and remember that the best part about the Smokies is the view of the Smokies. The traditional all day visit to the shops in Pigeon Forge isn’t going to cut it when you’re on a budget in Gatlinburg.
Here are the top 12 ways to stay within a budget in Gatlinburg and save money…
- Rent a budget cabin – We know this sounds like we’ve got an agenda, but seriously there are a lot of perks to staying in a cabin in Gatlinburg as opposed to a hotel. Cabins offer lots of entertainment. Many have hot tubs, pool tables, game rooms, cable TV, great views, full kitchens, spacious living rooms, and more. It will be a lot easier to spend a night in with the family at a cabin with a great view than it would be if you were staying in a hotel.
- Buy Groceries – We all know that it is more budget friendly to buy food from a grocery store than to eat out. Go shopping at the local Food City in Gatlinburg and buy food for breakfast and dinner. Lunch is up to you. If you think you’ll be out and about then you may want to eat out for this meal only. Since you’re staying in a budget friendly Gatlinburg cabin you’ll have a refrigerator to store the food in and you’ll have a stove to cook on. Don’t forget that many cabins have grills so it may be fun to have the men put the chef hats on one evening and grill some steaks for everyone.
- Shop local – While downtown Gatlinburg is lots of fun, sometimes you can find better Gatlinburg budget deals on food and retail items by stopping at a “local” establishment instead of going to some of the mainstream places in downtown Gatlinburg.
- Limit yourself to one show – There are many shows in Gatlinburg, and if you’re not careful you can end up taking the family to a different one every night. Instead, have the family pick a Gatlinburg show that you can attend some time during your visit.
- Go hiking – Hiking in the Smokies is a magnificent experience and it‘s definitely budget friendly for Gatlinburg. Our state park is the most visited state park in the nation! Hiking is free and it tires everyone out so they’ll be ready to go back to the cabin and rest for the night.
- Buy some fudge – Gatlinburg is known for having good taffy and good fudge. Consider buying some candy while you’re out and about. This will help curb appetites and will help everyone forget that you’re not eating out all week.
- Give everyone a sock of coins – There are plenty of arcade type places in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area. A budget friendly idea for your Gatlinburg visit is to give everyone a bag of coins at the beginning of the trip and take them to the arcade a couple of times. It’ll be a fun way for the kids to exert some energy and the parents to have some fun with them.
- Walk everywhere! – Parking and traffic are some of the most frustrating things about Gatlinburg. It’s a good idea to get a cabin close to town and walk as much as possible. There is some free parking downtown, but during peak seasons you’ll end up paying for parking and since you’ll have to walk downtown anyways you might as well save a few dollars.
- Sing your heart out at karaoke – There are a couple of restaurants that have karaoke on a nightly basis in Gatlinburg. A budget savvy way of going out to eat for dinner would be to go to one of these and then to encourage everyone in the group to karaoke. Some of the locations also have pool tables, and dart boards.
- Pack snacks – Bring some dry food snacks like pretzels or nuts with you when you go into town. This way whenever someone gets hungry at an inconvenient time you can break them out and satisfy the craving before it gets out of hand.
- Ride the Trolley – The trolley is out all day and costs start at .25 cents per passenger. If you need to go somewhere and can’t walk, this would be a great way to save. Taking the trolley is cheaper than parking your car in downtown.
- Ask for discounts – Ask the company that you’re renting a cabin from if they can get you discounted tickets to shows. Many times shows will provide special coupons to rental programs to give to their guests. Last minute cabin rentals are sometimes discounted.
Since we like you so much we decided that 12 just wasn’t enough, hence the +2. Here are our two bonus tips for staying on a budget in Gatlinburg and saving money
- Go to shows that let kids in free – There are a few budget friendly shows in the area that let one child under 12 in free per paying adult. Comedy Barn, Black Bear Jamboree, and Miracle Theater are three that are included in this list.
- Visit Dollywood for free – If you purchase a ticket at the Dollywood box office after 3pm, you get the next day free. This will give you two budget friendly days of fun for the price of one, and with there being so many things to do at Dollywood it will help you fit more of it in.