Gatlinburg Vacation Advice

Ready to get started making plans for a Great Smoky Mountain getaway? Read on for advice on planning a vacation to Gatlinburg, whether it’s a family getaway, a romantic weekend, a reunion, a retreat, a week with friends, or a honeymoon!

Gatlinburg is a year-round destination, with dozens of attractions, cozy cabins, and events celebrating everything from barbeque and the music of the mountains to quilting and the holidays. There’s no problem finding things to do, but it may be tough decide just what to fit in during your stay! And of course, as with any vacation, there are a lot of details to consider, from how you are going to get around to where you’ll stay.

Before you know it, you’ll be leaning back in a rocking chair on the deck and inhaling deep breaths of crisp mountain air while looking beyond the rails to miles of rolling mountain skyline and beautiful forests. Your cabin’s kitchen is already stocked with all the appliances, dishes, cups, and cookware you will need. The living room and bedrooms are fully stocked with cozy linens and furnishings.

So with all the basics awaiting you at your Cabins for YOU cabin, what do you need to do to prepare for your perfect Smoky Mountain getaway? While all our cozy cabins are stocked with conveniences and comforts, what amenities would you prefer? Views? An indoor pool? Arcade games? Let our handy Options For YOU online search tool help you narrow your search to find the perfect fit! We want your vacation planning to be just as easy (well, almost!) as your actual vacation, so we’ve done the research for you. Below you’ll find some general tips for planning a Gatlinburg (or Pigeon Forge) vacation. Then, keep reading to find helpful info and tips for whatever type of vacation you’re planning – honeymoon, family vacation, and beyond.

We know Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountains inside and out, and we’re always here to answer your questions. Give us a call at 800.684.7865 to talk to one of our knowledgeable Vacation Planners or browse around our site. We’re constantly adding new info to help you get here safely, find the perfect Gatlinburg (or Pigeon Forge) cabin, and have a blast with family and friends! 

Tips for Vacation

  • Decide what kind of cabin location you’d like: in the mountains, among the trees, or near downtown.
  • Consider getting travel insurance that keeps you covered in case of an emergency that changes your plans.
  • Pick a city – Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge – and then start your cabin search.
  • Check out our vacation packages to add a little something special to your stay.
  • Plan some excursions ahead of time, but be flexible!
  • If you’re traveling with kids, let them help plan; more input from them means more enthusiasm about the trip.
  • Watch the calendar. Some weekends are extra busy, particularly holidays and car shows!
  • Book a cabin with plenty of space for everyone to spread out and relax. You don’t want to be cramped while on vacation!
  • Explore! From a FREE national park and thriving arts scene to moonshine distilleries and family fun, the Smokies has so much to offer!
  • Pack in light layers. Smoky Mountain weather changes quickly, so it’s nice to have light layers most of the year.
  • Have reasonable time expectations; there’s a lot to see and you only have a certain amount of time.
  • Take time to learn about the history of Gatlinburg, TN. It’s an important part of the area.
  • Always pack snacks and water for car rides and hikes.
  • Don’t pack the night before. That’s an easy way to rush and forget essentials.
  • Hop aboard the trolley. It takes out the hassle of driving and is a great way to see the city.
  • Don’t forget your camera and extra batteries and cards!
  • Build room in your budget for a nice meal out, some local souvenirs, and a few attractions downtown.


Gatlinburg through the Seasons

No matter what time of year you’re planning to visit Gatlinburg, you’ll find plenty to do. Fun events fill the calendar during all 4 seasons, including visits from Santa Claus during Christmas, dinners of your favorite comfort foods during Thanksgiving, and patriotic celebrations on the 4th of July.

For Spring Break, get away to the mountains instead of the beach. You can check out classes and guided hikes during the spring Wildflower Pilgrimage or enjoy beautiful days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking, and exploring. If you’re here during winter, bundle up for hikes, check out the indoor attractions, or stay cozied up in front of the fire in your cabin. Summer is the perfect time to get outside or splash around in your private indoor pool, and fall is the time to come for the incredible changing of the leaves.

You can always browse our blog to see what’s happening during each time of year, so you can get an idea of when you want to plan your vacation. We also have a great list of Gatlinburg events and Pigeon Forge events, letting you know what events are going on each month.

Honeymoons & Romantic Escapes

The amazing scenery and charming wedding chapels in the Smokies make it the perfect place for that special day. You can get married on top of a mountain, in a little wooden chapel, or even in front of a waterfall! And the best part of having your wedding in the Smokies is that you can have your honeymoon in the same place. You won’t have to hop on a plane – you can get your honeymoon started right away!

Browse our 1-2 bedroom cabins that are perfect for couples, check out the attractions that are great for couples, and add on a couple’s massage you can have in the cabin! We have lots of great tips for honeymooners, and we’re always posting tasty recipes if you love cooking in the cabin. And if you thought Gatlinburg was just for families, be sure to read about Gatlinburg’s nightlife.

Get to Know Your Cabin
At Cabins for YOU, we work with our cabin owners to create unique cabin pages for all our properties. Browse the pages to find out the steepness of your driveway, the size of your indoor pool, what type of views you’ll have, availability of a washer/dryer or internet, and much more!   Want to have secluded honeymoon cabin escape? Be sure to check on how private your cabin’s location is! Looking for extra amenities like loaded rec rooms or indoor pools to keep your kids entertained while vacationing on a budget?

We list each amenity below the cabin descriptions, and cabins with pools have their own listing page! We want the whole family to enjoy a trip to the Smoky Mountains, so we even offer pet-friendly cabins! We want to help you find the perfect canvas for your dream Smoky Mountain vacation, and finding the right cabin is the start.

Getting to Your Cabin
Flying into Knoxville? When considering rental vehicles for your trip to and from your cabin, be sure to note your cabin’s location! Driving your own vehicle to your Smoky Mountain cabin? If your cabin is tucked high in the mountains, just be sure to drive a vehicle with 4-wheel-drive capability. Give us a call ahead of time if you’re not sure. We can help you be prepared and get to your Gatlinburg cabin safely! Don’t like to drive those mountain roads? Pick one of our Gatlinburg cabins that’s walking distance to downtown. You won’t have to head up the mountain, and you’ll be minutes away from the best restaurants, attractions, and shopping in the area!

Planning for Family Fun in the Smokies

It’s no secret that Gatlinburg is a go-to vacation destination for families. You have 800+ miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hands-on attractions like WonderWorks and Ripley’s Guinness World of Records Museum, tons of arcades and go kart tracks, laser tag arenas, the famous Hollywood Wax Museum, the top-rated Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and the list goes on and on.

Go online before your trip to see what you might want to do, and always check our blog to get more ideas. We’re always posting family travel tips, information about area attractions, and ideas on what to do in the cabin with kids. One of our top tips is to get kids involved in the planning. Let them choose a few of the outings so they’ll feel invested in the vacation. Plus, if you do some planning ahead of time, it will give them something to look forward to!

If you want to spend more time at the cabin, book a cabin with a rec room loaded with games (like pool, foosball, shuffleboard, arcade games, darts, and air hockey), get a cabin with a private movie theater or indoor pool, or bring along your favorite board games and movies to play in the cabin. And be sure to bring snacks and drinks you can load up in your fully equipped kitchen.

Want some ideas for what to do? This will get you started…

For the Adventurer – Hiking and Biking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Whitewater rafting down the Pigeon River | Ziplining through the trees | ATV and Llama Trek tours

For the Shopper – Tanger Outlets, Sevierville | Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community | downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

For the Romantic – Rocky Top Wine Trail | Scenic Helicopter Tours | movie nights in the cabin | dinner shows downtown | in-cabin massages with Cabins for YOU | riding the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel | Anakeesta

For the Fun Seekers – The Escape Game Pigeon Forge | Dollywood | Dollywood’s Splash Country | go karts and laser tag | Ober Gatlinburg

Retreats, Reunions & Large Group Getaways

Planning for a church retreat, family reunion, or large group getaway can be challenging enough. Between finding a place to stay, figuring out how to feed 20+ people, and entertaining kids and adults all at the same time, there is a lot to think about. We’re here to make it easier!

At Cabins for YOU, we have large group cabins that can sleep almost 50 guests, boasting amenities like kitchens with double appliances, huge dining rooms, bunk beds, multiple living rooms with big screen TVs, outdoor seating and dining spaces, private indoor pools, impressive rec rooms, and even movie theaters!

Many attractions in Gatlinburg can also cater to groups, offering plenty of space for lots of people. There are tons of great group activities that appeal to kids and adults, and of course the national park is a wonderful place get outside with a group. Plan a horseback riding tour, go on a guided ranger hike, or take a group bike ride through Cades Cove.

Preparing for the Worst

One of the most dismal thoughts you may have while planning your Gatlinburg, Tennessee vacation is: what if something happens and I can’t go? Things like military responsibilities, poor weather, and unexpected deaths often cause vacationers to cancel their Smoky Mountain plans. Unfortunate circumstances happen upon us all, and it is important to have a back-up plan in the event of an illness or emergency. Cabins for YOU offers protection policies that may save you some serious cash and heartache in the event that you are unable to make it to your Gatlinburg cabin. Want more info? Check out our FAQs and what we offer for trip insurance.

Our Cancellation Policy
In our 1- to 3-bedroom cabin rentals, you can’t cancel or move dates within 2 months of your check-in date. In our 4-bedroom and larger cabin rentals, you cannot cancel or move dates within 5 months of your check-in date. If you cancel your reservation within 3 or 4 months, the cabin must rebook in order for you to receive a refund. If the cabin rebooks, we will refund you the amount the new reservation is made for.

If your cabin does not rebook, and you have purchased Red Sky travel insurance, Red Sky will refund your full amount minus your trip insurance fee if you’re canceling for a covered reason. Unfortunately, we are often unable to refund cabin reservations, as it is very difficult to rebook the cabin on short notice. This statement becomes very true and important around the holidays. For this reason, we highly suggest purchasing the Mountain Trip Preserver travel insurance through Red Sky for our Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins. Your vacation is a big investment, and we want you to protect it!

Travel Insurance
The Mountain Trip Preserver travel insurance offered by Red Sky is just 7.2% of your total reservation cost. It offers things like $25,000 (each) in medical emergency coverage for you and your travel companions, $1,000 in emergency dental treatment, emergency roadside assistance, battery services, flat tire assistance, reimbursement for travel expenses due to travel delays, and reimbursement due to sickness or death of you, a family member, or a travel companion. Read more on our Travel Insurance page, and get full details on the policy in their Mountain Trip Preserver policy details. Trip Insurance is non-refundable after 14 days from the policy purchase date.