30 Ways to Play in the Smokies When You’re Short on Cash

Vacation costs add up. Between finding a place to stay, travel costs, going out to eat, souvenirs, and attractions, cash starts to get short. Thankfully, we have budget-friendly cabins that won’t break the bank, and Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have activities, attractions, shops, and even restaurants to fit almost any budget.

If you’re working with a budget but want to plan plenty of fun for your vacation in the Smokies, read on. The list could go on and on, but we’ve started with 30 ways to play in the Smokies when you’re short on cash.

  1. Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are more than 800 miles of trails to explore.
  2. Watch the show fountains dance from a rocking chair at The Island.
  3. Take a scenic drive on the 11-mile Cades Cove loop road.
  4. Play foosball, pool, air hockey, shuffleboard, arcade games, and darts in your own cabin.
  5. Stroll for the afternoon at The Island in Pigeon Forge.
  6. Have a movie night in your own theater at the cabin. Pop your own popcorn, have your favorite drinks, and save a ton of cash.
  7. Take the FREE Gatlinburg Trolley during summer.
  8. Get the kids in FREE at a dinner show downtown. (check online for age restrictions)
  9. Throw a ball, have a picnic, or play Frisbee at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge.
  10. Dollywood isn’t free, but if you buy your ticket after 3 p.m. for the day, you’ll get the next day free! And with extended summer hours, that’s tons of time to play in the park.
  11. Grab a free sample of fudge or taffy at the candy kitchen at The Old Mill and take a $3 tour of the still-working grist mill.
  12. Plan your trip for Wilderness Wildlife Week, where free classes, guided hikes, seminars, and kids’ activities cover everything from the flora and fauna of the area to how to live green.
  13. Shake it up at the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum. Admission is just $3 for adults, kids 12 and under are free, and the price of admission goes towards any purchase in the gift shop!
  14. Play at the Pigeon Forge Community Center, where they have $3 classes at the aquatics center, $3 admission to the outdoor pool, $1 bowling on Thursday nights, and $6 day passes for access to basketball courts, a wellness center, and more!
  15. Tap your toes to the sounds of live bluegrass in the Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler in downtown Gatlinburg. Bonus: snag a few free moonshine samples at the distiller here!
  16. Get a FREE history lesson at Sugarlands Visitor Center, with a 20-minute orientation video about the area. The center also has natural history exhibits and ranger-led talks in spring, summer, and fall.
  17. Spend a summer day splashing at your cabin’s community pool.
  18. Take a self-guided tour of the historic buildings found all throughout the area, from homesteads and mills to churches and schools.
  19. Check out the beautiful trees – and give to a good cause – during the annual Festival of Trees in Gatlinburg.
  20. Meet the talented artisans along the 8-mile loop of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community.
  21. Ride the trolley in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge instead of dealing with traffic; fares range from $0.50 to $2, so getting around will be easy and budget-friendly.
  22. Make your favorite meals in the cabin. Our full kitchens make it easy, and you can have fun cooking together and saving some cash.
  23. Save on designer duds at The Tanger Outlets in Sevierville.
  24. Take advantage of our Cabins for YOU discount program. You’ll save at some of the top attractions in the area just by staying with us!
  25. Browse at one of the arts and crafts shows put on by the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. (Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas)
  26. While it’s not on the lowest end of ticket prices, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has so much to do that it can take up an entire afternoon. It houses 10,000+ sea creatures, boasts dive shows, underwater tunnels, and interactive kids’ exhibits, and really has something for kids and adults of all ages. It’s definitely a “bang for your buck” attraction, as you won’t have to plan much else for the day.
  27. Bring your own fishing gear and spend the day in the cool waters of the Smokies.
  28. Buy a multi-attraction ticket, which will offer discounts when you buy tickets to several different shows/attractions at once (like at the Hollywood Wax Museum).
  29. Watch a game at Rocky Top Sports World. They host everything from basketball and volleyball to soccer and baseball tournaments throughout the year.
  30. Try some tasty local treats at the Gatlinburg Farmers Market and get some fresh produce to take back to the cabin.

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