Low Budget Trip To Gatlinburg Tennessee

June 1, 2017

I just wanted to take time and share how we planned our low-budget trip to Gatlinburg Tennessee We took the trip over the Easter weekend for a family of five while sticking to our budget of less than 500.00. We first decided when we wanted to go, and where we would stay in the Gatlinburg area for little or no cost out-of-pocket, I will explain this tip later.

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My husband did not want to put the extra miles on our vehicles so we used AAA discount and military discounts to get a rental car through Avis rental. The total for the car was $99.00 plus tax which included four days and unlimited mileage. The kids enjoyed the fresh car smell and keep hinting at the fact we should get a new vehicle…got to love the kids desires to spend whats not theirs.




I mentioned earlier how we managed to stay for free 4 days and 3 nights in the pigeon forge area right outside Gatlinburg. My husband aka Mr tight, called a time share through Wyndham Resorts in the area and told them we were interested in a property. Well, this resulted in the time share property giving a four-day and 3-night complimentary stay on the grounds for which my husband and I agreed to sit through a 90 minutes presentation for buying a timeshare. Now once the 90 minutes was over Mr. tight politely told the sales representative no not at this time. And we were offered an extra 4 night 3 day stay at one of their other resorts of our choosing as long as we use it within one year. Ching Ching ching another Win Win!!!


Entertainment on a Low Budget

I did some research online for activities that were family friendly before arrival in the Gatlinburg and surrounding areas. This allowed us to manage the cost of activities and entertainment before arrival in the areas. I also developed a floating itinerary starting each day at 8 am for breakfast until 10 pm to make sure we managed our time wisely to absorb as much of the area as possible.


Day One

Our first activity was horse back riding along the Great Smoky Mountains. The scenery was breath-taking and for $90 for the five of us including a petting zoo. I must say worth every penny. After horse back riding we took the journey (10 mins) to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Again another breath-taking moment. Everything was green and full of new Spring blooms. As we made our way along the Little River Road to Cades Cove we stopped to snap photos of water falls and wild life. That evening we made our way back from Cades Cove and to greet us was a young black bear on the side of the road. We literally held up traffic to get out and see. This might not have been the most advisable thing to do and it was a little dangerous.

Day Two

The second day we had our presentation for the Wyndham Resorts. They feed us free breakfast and had entertainment for our children. We left with another chance to visit for free and tickets to Hatfield and McCoy Show that evening for $25. Once we left the presentation we took a drive to Gatlinburg. We ended up at Ober Gatlinburg were we rode the tram to the top. There we rode a mountain rollercoaster that you controlled the speed. Ober Gatinburg has many activities for families no matter the time of year you go. That evening we ended up at the Hatfields and McCoy Show. Who doesn’t like dinner and a show. This was all you can eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, corn, and bread. With your choice of dessert.

Day Three

The third day we spent again in Gatlinburg shopping and walking around the main drag. Here there are restaurants, gift shops, arcades, and museums. The walking didn’t end there as we ended up at The Island in Pigeon Forge. This is where my kids conquered their fear of heights and zip lines and bungee jumping off a 30 foot ramp.

Last Day

Easter Sunday was our last day in Tennessee and it was so painful to leave such a beautiful place. As we packed our belongings and said farewell to the mountains we finished with a nice Sunday breakfast at FlapJacks. This place is famous for that’s right!!! Flapjacks. They were amazing. The service was excellent and the flapjacks bigger then the plate itself.


Back Home

We finally returned home back to New Orleans, LA and dropped off the rental vehicle. After the kids showered and fell asleep me and the husband reviewed our activities and photos from the trip and calculated the overall cost for the 4 day trip. We stayed in Gatlinburg free, got a discount on a show and dinner one night, and got military discounts on all events in the Gatlinburg area. We had an awesome Easter weekend for only 350.00  out of a $500 budget, which included rental car, meals, souvenirs, lodging and memories.

Need help organizing next trip? Check out How to Get Organized.


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Looks like a wonderful trip! I’ve never been to Gatlinburg, but we might just have to check it out! Thank for all the great tips.

Roketa Dumas

Very nice!! My boyfriend loves Gaitlinburg, but I’ve never been. It’s only a 3 hour drive from us and he’s been talking about how much the kids would like it … I feel more convinced with your post lol

Ankita Arya

You had a nice weekend, Amanda!

I heard Gatlinburg for the first time, will remember to visit it while planning my US tour.

Amy White

I’m super jealous! This sounds like an awesome trip. I’ve never been to Gatlinburg, but am going to have to add it to my list. I’m even more jealous of the pricetag. I’m all about cheap/fun vacations.


I remember the pics you shared from this trip wow under $500.00 excellent!!! I love traveling on a dime…great post 😊


This sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing. I have a bad case of the travel bug with a limited budget so I am always after deal tips.

Alysia anderson

Sounds like a really fun trip!


A lovely post, thank you for sharing! I’m not so familiar with Tennessee, so it was a nice post on budget travel with your family!


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Gatlinburg is beautiful. I’m from right around that neck of the woods and every year that go back to visit family, my mom HAS to take the girls to Pigeon Forge. They love the go-carts. I told them we need to go to Dollywood next time. It never happens. lol


[…] bravery on my kids part. It was their first time on a horse let alone ride one up a mountain in the Smokey Mountains. It allows them to take a leap of faith even if they are terrified. Believe me, tears have been […]


[…] Easter or Spring break is also a great time to travel. Being half way through the school year. Children get a small break. There is never a more perfect time then this to travel. The weather is not as cold and it isn’t extremely hot. This makes for a perfect time to travel. Check out what my family did over the Easter break in Gatlinburg. […]

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