A Guide to Planning a Family Trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee

A Guide to Planning a Family Trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Known as "The Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park," Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is an enlivening escape to the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. It is located in the heart of Sevier County, a short drive from Knoxville, and is home to pristine forests, majestic waterfalls, picturesque trails, rippling streams, and mesmerizing valleys.

Besides its breathtaking vistas, Gatlinburg is a haven for families who wish to relish fun-filled outdoor activities and adventures and enjoy the city's vibrant nightlife. The tempting aromas of the local eateries, handcrafted souvenirs and gift shops, live entertainment venues, and museums add to the charm of this quaint mountain town.

With so much to see and do, planning a family trip to Gatlinburg can be overwhelming. From finding top cheap flights to finding the best family activities, one misstep can leave you with a rushed or disappointing vacation, and you'll miss out on all the unique experiences that Gatlinburg offers. That's one of the reasons why it's essential to plan your family trip and organize your itinerary carefully.

Here are six tips that can help:

1.     Choose your accommodation wisely

Imagine spending your entire vacation in an uncomfortable, dreary vacation rental. Or worse is having a cramped space with few beds and nowhere to store your luggage. Not the most appealing thought, right? And what fun would it be if you booked the same traditional hotel room as everyone else who visits Gatlinburg?

One of the perfect ways to make your family vacation special is by renting a cabin as your accommodation. There are several large cabins in Gatlinburg that you can choose from. These spacious, luxurious, stand-alone homes offer much more than a place to stay. Depending on your group size, you can rent a cabin large enough to comfortably accommodate your group and enjoy various amenities like an exercise facility, an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor pavilion, and much more.

The stunning views of the Smoky Mountains and the peacefulness and privacy of a cabin rental make it an ideal choice for your Gatlinburg vacation.

2.     Make a list of must-see attractions and activities

Gatlinburg is a treasure trove of amazing attractions. From adventure and family fun to shopping, dining, and even some spooky thrills, you'll find something to do for everyone in your family. Make sure to consider each family member's age, interests, and preferences when making your must-see list to ensure everyone is entertained.

Here are some ideas to make your Gatlinburg vacation one to remember!

  • Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies: Home to more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures and over 350 species.
  • Anakeesta: The interactive park and mountain village features zip lines, treehouses, a firepit, and more.
  • Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area: It features an alpine slide, ski lifts, a mountain coaster, and plenty of other fun activities.
  • Gatlinburg Sky Lift: Take in the breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains while riding this scenic gondola ride.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Explore 800 miles of trails, streams, wildlife, and natural beauty.
  • Arts & Crafts Community: Visit the 8-mile loop of historic craft shops for unique gifts and souvenirs.
  • Gatlinburg Space Needle: Explore the city from 407 feet above the ground with panoramic views of the area.

3.     Keep snacks handy and plan your meals ahead

An empty stomach can make any person grumpy and irritated. And when you're traveling with kids and seniors, it's a whole other story. To avoid hunger-induced meltdowns, bring snacks along. Nuts, crackers, and dried fruits are all great options and will keep everyone full and happy. Invest in a cooler or insulated bag and stock it with ready-to-eat foods such as sandwiches, yogurt, or fruit salad.

If you plan to cook meals, have a list of nearby grocery stores. It's also a good idea to plan what meals you'll have each day and ensure you have all the ingredients.

If you'll dine out often, search all the famous, local restaurants in the area and look for deals. Many restaurants offer discounts or family packages that can help you save money.

4.     Research local events and festivals

Gatlinburg hosts a lot of festivals and events throughout the year. From seasonal festivals, comedy hours, live music, craft fairs, light shows, and more, there are plenty of outdoor activities to take part in.

Check out the local websites or newspapers for upcoming events and plan your trip around one of these events. They're usually free of charge or relatively cheap and are a great way to experience the culture and vibe of Gatlinburg. You can meet local vendors, learn about their craft, and even pick up souvenirs. Whether it's a day event or a weekend celebration, you will have a blast in Gatlinburg.

5.     Take advantage of the outdoors

With dozens of beautiful trails, scenic views, and plenty of wildlife, you won't have a hard time finding something fun to do in Gatlinburg.

If you are looking forward to a laidback and calm activity, take your family for a stroll along one of Gatlinburg's picturesque trails. There are also plenty of opportunities for bird-watching, fishing, horseback riding, and camping in the area. You can dip in a refreshing mountain stream or go whitewater rafting on the Little Pigeon River.

If the family members are feeling adventurous, explore one of the many nearby caves, and go skydiving or paragliding for a truly unforgettable experience.

To have a fulfilling experience, ensure you come prepared with the right gear and outdoor clothing to make the most of your time.

6.     Pack an emergency kit

Packing an emergency kit when planning a vacation is essential. Add items like insect repellents, flashlights or headlamps, power banks, and extra batteries. Bring along a map and compass if you're planning to hike or explore the outdoors.

Also, add a first-aid kit with band-aids, pain relievers, a thermometer, antiseptic ointment, and any prescription medications you or other family members may need. These items won't take up much space in your luggage but can be lifesavers.

Final thoughts

Gatlinburg is the perfect vacation spot for families looking for a fun and memorable experience. Make sure to choose your accommodation wisely, research the area and list its must-see attractions and activities, plan some time to spend outdoors, keep snacks handy for the kids, and plan meals to avoid last-minute stress. Besides that, learn about the various local events and festivals in Gatlinburg for an even more enriching experience.

Lastly, always keep an emergency kit with you to avoid any inconveniences. With careful planning and research, your Gatlinburg vacation will be one of the most enjoyable and memorable trips for you and your family!