Don’t want to break the bank on your next vacation to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee? No worries! Both cities offer free (or almost free) attractions and activities that will offer entertainment for a variety of visitors – both children and adults.
Patriot Park – This lovely park features a walking trail, a gazebo and pavilion that are available for use from March to October, and events throughout the year. Spend the day throwing the football or kicking a soccer ball, playing Frisbee, or having a nice picnic in the park as you enjoy the Smokies.
Dinner shows (free for kids) – Many of the Pigeon Forge dinner shows (including The Comedy Barn, Country Tonite, Dixie Stampede, and the Smith Family Dinner Show) offer free child admission with the purchase of an adult ticket. Check websites beforehand to see where you can save a few dollars.
The Old Mill – Stroll around the shops at The Old Mill and grab a free sample of fudge or taffy at the candy kitchen. If you want to take a tour of the actual mill, admission is just $3.
Dollywood – If you arrive at Dollywood after 3 p.m. and buy a ticket for the day, you can get your next day free! That will shave a few dollars off your trip!
Wilderness Wildlife Week – An entire week of free classes, seminars, guided hikes, and activities for kids, Wilderness Wildlife Week is one of the most popular events of the year in the Smokies. You can learn about the flora and fauna of the area, find out about green practices, and listen to live performances of mountain music – bluegrass, ballads, hymns, and more.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – You could spend an entire day hiking, biking, picnicking, taking scenic drives, horseback riding, and fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Kids can even become junior rangers!
Sugarlands Visitor Center – Located at the northern entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Sugarlands Visitor Center offers a free 20-minute orientation video about the history and landscape of the Smokies. There are natural history exhibits throughout the center, and ranger talks are held spring, summer, and fall.
Cades Cove Loop – One of my favorite things to do around Gatlinburg, the Cades Cove Loop is an 11-mile roundtrip drive that features stunning scenery and wildlife. Hop out of the car to check out historic churches and homes or to dip your feet in a cool mountain stream.
Downtown Gatlinburg – Drive downtown, park, and spend a day strolling along the busy Parkway! There are dozens of shops to explore, and window shopping doesn’t cost anything. You’ll probably find yourself stopping in front of one of the candy shops to watch fudge and taffy being made! You can also take a seat in the Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler and listen to live music throughout the year, get free tastings at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery, or watch street performers during Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales.
Salt & Pepper Museum</em> – One of only two in the world, the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg features more than 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers from around the world. While admission is $3 per adult (children 12 and under are FREE), the price goes towards any salt and pepper shaker purchase in the gift shop!