gatlinburg downtown aerial view

5 of the Best Affordable and Free Things to Do in Gatlinburg with Your Family

May 24, 2023

If you’re looking to take a family vacation to Gatlinburg without breaking the bank, we’ve got you covered! There are plenty of exciting and budget-friendly activities to experience in Gatlinburg – from natural wonders to historical landmarks, there is endless family fun awaiting you when you visit! These are some of the best affordable and free things to do in Gatlinburg for a memorable family vacation:

1. Visit Cades Cove

missionary baptist church in cades cove in the great smoky mountains national parkFor a glimpse into the region’s rich history along with views of breathtaking landscapes, make sure to visit Cades Cove! This picturesque valley is home to historic buildings, including churches and cabins dating back to the 19th century. Explore the area by car for free, or pay a small fee to park and discover the area by bike or on foot during their vehicle-free days. Pack a picnic and enjoy a scenic outdoor lunch surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Smoky Mountains!

2. Explore the Arts and Crafts Community

Immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring Gatlinburg’s renowned Arts and Crafts Community. This 8-mile loop features over 100 artists and craftsmen showcasing their talents. From pottery and woodworking to painting and jewelry making, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this thriving artistic hub. Your family will have a great time interacting with the artists, learning about their techniques, and seeing the incredible art on display in this area!

3. Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

roaring fork motor nature trailFor those looking to take in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains from their vehicle, it’s hard to beat driving the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, one of the best free things to do in Gatlinburg! This 5.5-mile loop takes you past beautiful mountain streams, old-growth forests, and historic buildings. Keep your eyes peeled also, as you might spot wildlife such as black bears and white-tailed deer!

4. Go Hiking

The Smoky Mountains are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with an extensive network of hiking trails for adventure-seeking families! Lace up your hiking boots, grab your water bottles, and set off on a memorable trek through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With over 800 miles of trails to choose from, you can opt for a leisurely family-friendly hike or challenge yourselves with a more strenuous climb. Experience the beauty of nature firsthand as you breathe in the fresh mountain air and take in awe-inspiring panoramic views on your hike through the Smoky Mountains!

5. Ride the Trolley

gatlinburg trolleyTake a break from walking and hop aboard the Gatlinburg Trolley, a convenient and cost-free way to explore the town. The trolley system offers multiple routes and provides access to some of the best restaurants and attractions in Gatlinburg! Plus, riding the trolley through the streets can be a fun experience for the whole family. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights as the trolley takes you to various attractions and landmarks! It’s a fun and efficient way to get around Gatlinburg, allowing you to save your money and energy for more adventures.

Gatlinburg offers an abundance of affordable and free activities for families seeking an unforgettable vacation. From visiting historic sites, to admiring the beauty of nature, there are lots of great options for families looking to create memories without breaking the bank. So pack your bags, grab your family, and come experience some of the best affordable and free things to do in Gatlinburg! And if you’re looking for even more to do during your stay, check out these great area attractions!