Getaway for Cheap: Gatlinburg Family Vacation on a Budget

Getaway for Cheap: Gatlinburg Family Vacation on a Budget

Some destinations justly earn a reputation for being especially family-friendly. One great example is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. If you’re looking to plan a getaway on the cheap — and still keep the kids entertained — Gatlinburg is an excellent choice. Whether your kids are older or younger and love the outdoors or indoor entertainment, this Tennessee destination will have plenty to offer. Here are the basics for planning an affordable family getaway to Gatlinburg.

The Great Outdoors

Gatlinburg is located in a beautiful area of the Smoky Mountains. While there is plenty of indoor entertainment options, don’t miss out on the opportunity to get outdoors too. Kids will love the Junior Rangers program. Designed for kids between the age of 5 and 12, this program provides activities and goals for kids. Once completed, your kids will have the chance to talk to a real ranger and earn their Junior Ranger badge. There are also programs led by the rangers that have an educational element. In the Smoky Mountains, outdoor opportunities are endless, from rafting to horseback riding to hiking to fishing.

The Great Indoors

When traveling with kids, it is essential to plan for a rainy day.  In Gatlinburg, there are many great indoor attractions just for kids. Options to check out include the incredible Ripley’s Aquarium, the Dinosaur Walk Museum, or the MagiQuest Indoor Amusement Park. Do your research in advance about the availability and pricing of family tickets; it often pays to buy online instead of at the door. You might also want to involve your kids in the research process and find out what indoor attractions interest them the most.

Amusement Parks

Kids love amusement parks. All of the activities at Wonderworks are so fun-focused, your kids will hardly know they are learning. Wonderworks is often called the amusement park of the mind, and here, your kids will have the opportunity to explore outer space, climb a rock wall, experience an earthquake, and more. The whole place has a wacky, just-for-kids feel to it. For example, the building looks like it’s upside down. Your kids will be having fun before they even go inside. Before you leave home, check the height and age requirements of each amusement park to avoid disappointment.

Summer Fun

Planning a family trip to Gatlinburg over the summer? There are some seasonal family activities that you will want to work into your itinerary. One that the kids will be talking about for months is Splash Country. This water park opens on Memorial Day Weekend and is open on weekends throughout the summer. While Ober Gatlinburg is known as a place to ski in the summer, it also has some summer activities, including the Blue Cyclone Rapids water slide. Other activities here include mini golf and rides for the little ones.

Quality Family Time

Quality family time can take many forms. For some families, that might be a white water rafting tour. For others, a horseback riding excursion into the Smoky Mountains will do the trick. This part of Tennessee is also known for live entertainment and comedy shows. Stop into the Comedy Barn for a variety show featuring ventriloquists, jugglers, comedians, and even barnyard animals. Family entertainment of this quality is surprisingly affordable in Gatlinburg, especially if you take advantage of buying tickets online in advance.

Make Your Own Fun

One final way to plan an affordable trip to Gatlinburg is to choose vacation rentals. With the extra space of a living room and kitchen, you can make your own fun. Start your days with a big family breakfast and let the kids flip the pancakes. After a day of outdoor adventure, why not plan a family barbecue or a game night in your living room? With the extra space of a Gatlinburg cabin rental, you won’t have to pay as much for entertainment during your trip. Or you can focus your budget on entertainment instead of on accommodations.

Even with a tight budget, an affordable family trip to Gatlinburg is within reach!

About the Author

Laura Hoot has been writing professionally since 2004 and currently manages HomeAway’s Travel Ideas site.  She also manages a household of three dogs, a cat, two chickens and a baby boy with her husband. She’s written for USA Today’s travel site, , Cheapo Air,,,, The Budget Fashionista, and many more sites.

Authored by: Cathy Alessandra

Cathy Alessandra is a wife, a mother of three, the founder of the Today's Innovative Woman, and the creator of What's Up For Kids, LLC. What's Up For Kids was founded in 1995 based on the need of finding information about local events and activities - all in one place. As a parent, Cathy will help you find the resources you need in an easy to use format within What's Up For Kids. As a business woman, Cathy will help you with all your marketing needs. Cathy was awarded the 2011 Top 50 Momprenuer of the Year award by and has been featured on and KFWB - Los Angeles as well as being named a finalist in the 2011 Ali Brown Platinum Excellence Awards. Find out more about Cathy at

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