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Vacationing in the Great Smoky Mountains on a Budget


The opportunity to get out of your hometown doesn’t often arise because, honestly, travel isn’t cheap! Yet, that doesn’t have to hold you back from exploring what else is out there and taking a well-deserved break from daily life. It just depends on where you choose to go. The small towns of the Great Smoky Mountains are an ideal destination for those of us on a shoestring budget. Not only is this region breathtakingly beautiful, offering a delightful change of scene in an otherworldly environment, but it is also filled with low-cost and even free activities. This guide to the best budget-friendly things to do in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville will help you start planning a vacation that doesn’t deplete your bank account.

Lodging For A Modest Budget

Aside from transportation, lodging is usually the second most expensive part of travel. Thankfully, the Smokies are full of top-rated hotels that prioritize affordability without skimping on comfort and quality. For instance, you can enjoy a luxurious riverfront suite right on the Pigeon Forge Parkway at EconoLodge, recipient of multiple Choice Hotel Platinum and Gold Awards. The convenience of staying close to the action and popular attractions like Dollywood and The Island balances the relaxing solitude of their nature-filled property. Take a walk along their 500-foot riverwalk with fire pits, grills, and pavilions, or recluse yourself to the comfortable indoors, where your newly renovated suite awaits with its Serta Perfect Sleeper beds, 32-inch TV with cable and HBO, and free WiFi.

The Hampton Inn is the best bang for your buck if you’d rather stay in Gatlinburg. Located on the Gatlinburg Parkway, this creek-side hotel is only minutes away from Ober Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Convention Center, Ripley’s Aquarium and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take full advantage of their complimentary hot breakfast each morning, plus free WiFi and parking to cut your costs even further. The Hampton Inn feels more like a lavish resort with its outdoor pool and hot tub, private balconies, and in-suite fireplaces. Make sure to ask about their special rates for AAA, AARP, seniors, government workers and more.

Budget-Friendly Shopping

There are more shopping opportunities in the Smokies than you could possibly fit into your itinerary. Commercial centers like The Island and the Mountain Mile Tower Shops are within easy access of Pigeon Forge and contain a diversity of shops. However, if you’re trying to catch some serious discounts, venture a little further out to Sevierville for a visit to Tanger Outlets. You can shop many of your favorite national brands, like Under Armour, The North Face, Pandora, and Banana Republic Factory, while enjoying anywhere from 20% to 70% off. Plus, you can sign up for a TangerClub membership and qualify for exclusive access to their savings coupon booklet.

If you prefer the novelty of shopping at local specialty shops but aren’t sure about boutique prices, the Great Smokies Flea Market is for you. About a 15-minute drive north of Sevierville in Kodak, this flea market blows others out of the water with 1,000 rotating vendors situated under one gigantic roof with heating and air conditioning. Bargain hunters will love sorting through fascinating products of every kind imaginable, like handmade jewelry, fishing knives, sports memorabilia, jackets and boots, handbags, gardening supplies, beauty products — the list goes on! The best part is that everything is on clearance at 70% off. Even if you don’t want to spend money, it’s an electrifying experience to walk around and window shop. Besides, you can still enjoy the free WiFi, parking, admission, and food samples!

Before you go shopping anywhere, you must pick up a copy of Monster Discount Coupons. This booklet contains 100 pages of coupons to all of the most popular shops, attractions, restaurants and activities across Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville. You might as well when it’s 100% free. Download a copy of the booklet or pick up a hard copy at the visitor’s center.

Free Outdoor Activities

Oftentimes, the most exciting and unique aspect of a destination is its outdoor environment. At least, that’s an undeniable truth when it comes to the majestic Smoky Mountains. An adventurous excursion among the gentle blue slopes, bubbling creeks, and diverse wildlife is a must when vacationing in this region. Plus, entry to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free!

The park entrance lies just a short stint from downtown Gatlinburg. From there, you can explore thousands of miles of trails wandering through old-growth deciduous forest, fishing holes along vast creeks and rivers, eleven different waterfalls, and mysterious remnants of historical sites. If roughing it is your style or you want to cut back further on lodging costs, the park is open for backcountry and front-country camping for only $14 to $23 per night. Even if you’re just visiting for an afternoon, there is so much to do in the national park. Bring your lunch with you for a romantic picnic in the fall colors, or take a leisurely drive or bike ride through Cades Cove, an 11-mile loop featuring a smattering of historic buildings. Keep your eyes peeled and camera ready to spot wildlife like black bears, wild turkeys, salamanders, white-tailed deer, elk, woodchucks and many others.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park isn’t the only way to get outside and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Take your romantic walk or picnic to the Sevierville Greenway, which contains 10 miles of trails full of wildlife, spectacular mountain views, trickling creeks, and meadows flushed with wildflowers. Save money on gas and trolley fare as well, and bike the Sevierville Greenway to reach popular local attractions like Dollywood, the Sevierville Golf Club, and the Pigeon River.

In Conclusion

If the only thing preventing you from embarking on your wildest travel dreams is a concern for your wallet, then you’re in luck. The budget-friendly hotels, discounted shopping centers, and free outdoor activities in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg accommodate budgets of all sizes. On a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll undoubtedly miss out on the astronomical price tag associated with most other vacations, but you won’t miss out on the best that this gorgeous region has to offer!

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