HELLO THERE, FELLOW BUDGET-CONSCIOUS TRAVELER!
Welcome to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where the magic of the Smoky Mountains meets a charming town brimming with unique attractions. If you're planning a visit and want to avoid breaking the bank, you're in for a treat. Gatlinburg offers a treasure trove of fantastic free activities that will allow you to soak in the natural beauty and local culture without watching your wallet shrivel. In this detailed guide, we're diving deep into the best free things to do in Gatlinburg, TN, ensuring your Smoky Mountain getaway is both memorable and budget-friendly.
Where Nature Reigns Supreme
Let's kick off your budget-friendly adventure with a visit to the ultimate showstopper, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This place is a natural wonderland, boasting awe-inspiring vistas and wildlife galore. There's a network of hiking trails for every skill level, and the best part? It won't cost you a cent to enter! Pro Tip: Here is our guide to the top five hikes in GSM National Park.
A Scenic Drive to Remember
For a scenic drive that'll have your jaw dropping, take a spin on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This winding road not only offers postcard-worthy waterfall views but also opportunities for quick hikes and wildlife encounters. It's like a nature-lover's paradise, and it's completely free! Pro Tip: Pack a picnic and stop for a meal along the way.
Where Nature Meets History
Cades Cove Loop is a must on your adventure list. This picturesque valley features an 11-mile loop road where you can spot wildlife, explore historic cabins, and have a picnic surrounded by jaw-dropping mountain views. It's like stepping back in time, and the best part? It's all on the house. Pro Tip: Keep your phone or camera handy and ready to snap photos; Cades Cove is teeming with a huge variety of wildlife and is home to one of the largest populations of black bears anywhere in the world.
If you have an appreciation for handmade artistry, make a beeline for the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. This charming eight-mile loop is home to galleries, studios, and shops that showcase the talents of local artisans. You can ogle and even buy unique, handmade crafts that won't break the bank. Pro Tip: Make a pit stop for lunch or dinner at Split Rail Eats; your stomach will thank you for it!
GATLINBURG TROLLEY RIDES
Easy on the Eyes and the Wallet
Enjoy Gatlinburg's charm without worrying about parking by jumping on the Gatlinburg Trolley's free Parkway route. This complimentary ride takes you through the main strip, making it a delightful way to explore town without spending a dime. Pro Tip: You can park and hop on a trolley for free at either the Gatlinburg Welcome Center's Park N Ride lot or the Mass Transit Center by Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.
A Feast for the Senses
If your visit falls during the summer months, the Gatlinburg Farmers Market is a must. Here, you can indulge in the flavors of the region by sampling local produce and artisanal goodies while soaking up the lively market atmosphere. And yes, it's totally free to stroll and savor. The farmers market runs Saturday mornings from 8:30am–12:00pm, June–October. Pro Tip: Plan to cook dinner at your Mountain Laurel Chalets vacation rental home the day you visit the farmers market; you'll be able to grab fresh, local produce and meats while you're there, and your dinner will be off-the-charts delicious!
For sweeping views of Gatlinburg and the stunning Smoky Mountains, make a pit stop at the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook. This spot is perfect for photo ops and simply enjoying a moment of serenity. Pro Tip: Consider planning ahead and hiring a local photographer to capture family holiday card photos from the overlook; while this isn't free, the results are truly priceless! If you'd like photographer recommendations, please call our office at (865) 436-5277.
FREE TICKETS TO MOST MAJOR AREA ATTRACTIONS
A Gift From Us—No Strings Attached
Guests of Mountain Laurel Chalets receive access to our complimentary guest concierge service, powered by Xplorie. When you book at stay at any of our properties, you'll receive one free ticket per day to EACH of the eligible attractions, including Dollywood, Dollywood Splash Country, Pirates Voyage, SkyLift Park, white water rafting, and many more. Pro Tip: Call Xplorie to book your free tickets, and they'll also take care of booking any extra paid tickets you'd like to purchase for other members of your party at no additional cost to you!
As you can see, our beautiful city (and Mountain Laurel Chalets) opens its arms wide to budget-conscious explorers with a lineup of free activities that ensure you get the most bang for your buck. From the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains to the artistic flair of the local crafts community, there's something here for everyone to enjoy without reaching into your wallet. So, pack your sense of adventure, your easygoing attitude, and get ready to dive into the very best of Gatlinburg without spending a dime. Start by securing your MLC vacation rental property!