There are lots of great free activities to enjoy in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area. Adding free stops to your vacation is a great way to make a vacation both budget-friendly and action-packed.
Below are 16 things to do for free in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
1. Patriot Park
This park is free to visit and filled with great sights for you and your family to enjoy. It has picnic tables, trails, and monuments. There’s a large replica of the Liberty Bell and flags from all fifty states in this park. Patriot Park’s gazebo offers year-round community events.
2. The Island
The Island is a park in downtown Pigeon Forge that offers music, games, rides, dancing fountains, restaurants, and shops. Although you can spend money on activities at The Island, there are plenty of attractions you can enjoy for free.
3. Smokey Mountain Knife Works
This attraction has the largest collection of knives in the world, as well as a museum for people of all ages. There is plenty to look at here, so allow at least one or two hours to see everything.
4. Cades Cove
Cades Cove offers a great location for a scenic drive. The 11-mile loop goes around the valley, allowing you and your family to enjoy some great views. Although you may pay to enjoy horseback riding or bike rentals, this area can be enjoyed in your car or by foot.
5. Little Pigeon River
Visitors to Gatlinburg can enjoy a scenic walk along the city’s Riverwalk path. This path lets you see downtown Gatlinburg and the Little Pigeon River. There are plenty of benches and gazebos along the path, offering a nice place for you and your family to rest.
6. Moonshine Distilleries
Free tours are available at Ole Smokey Moonshine, Sugarlands Distillery, and Doc Collier Moonshine. Moonshining is one of the traditional activities of the area, and these distilleries keep up the moonshine tradition. Although the tours are free, moonshine sampling is available for a small fee.
7. Historic Noah “Bud” Ogle Cabin
This historic site has a 19th-century cabin, barn, and mill. Around the cabin is a scenic nature trail that leads to the other buildings. This site was originally a cabin and farm owned by Noah “Bud” Ogle. It was added to the Natural Register of Historic Places in 1977.
8. The Great Smokey Mountains National Park
This is one of the primary free attractions in the Gatlinburg area. This national park offers lots of free activities your whole family will love. Enjoy hiking on the scenic trails. There are over 2,000 miles of streams and rivers running through the park. 238 miles of paved trails will keep you and your family occupied for as long or short as you’d like.
9. Sugarlands Visitor Center
This visitor center allows you to talk to park rangers and tour a small museum. Inside the museum is a 20-minute video with information about the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. A bookstore is available for visitors wanting to shop, but the rest of the visitor center’s attractions are free to the public.
10. Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community
This community offers the largest group of independent artists in the United States. There’s an 8 mile long loop with arts and crafts shop along the roadside. Spend a couple hours or an entire afternoon browsing the amazing artistry available in the Great Smokey Mountains area.
11. Clingmans Dome
A steep ½ mile hike leads visitors to the lookout topping one of the mountains in the Great Smokey Mountains. The observation tower offers amazing views of the area. Although this trail is free to use, it is not wheelchair accessible. It takes most visitors an hour to complete this short but difficult hike.
12. The Old Mill
There are plenty of shops to visit at The Old Mill, including a taffy shop that offers free samples of fudge and taffy. In the fall, the mill offers a free festival for visitors to Gatlinburg. This free festival offers entertainment, food, history, and more.
13. Newfound Gap Road
This paved 33-mile drive allows guests to see all of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The road allows you to enjoy all the sites of nature without needing to hike, making it a great option for families with small kids or for those with mobility issues. Your family will love taking pictures along this scenic route!
14. Douglas Lake
This lake combines 33,000 acres of lake with 513 miles of shoreline. Enjoy fishing, boating, rafting, swimming, camping, and wildlife at this stunning lake. There are plenty of free activities to enjoy in this outdoor sanctuary. There are also cabin and equipment rentals along the shoreline for those wanting to spend much time on the lake.
15. Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook
This scenic overlook offers a spot for you to look down on the mountains and downtown Gatlinburg. The view is particularly stunning during sunrise and sunset, although your family can enjoy its views any time of day.
16. Free Outdoor Concerts & Festivals
Throughout the year, sites in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer outdoor concerts and festivals free to the public. To find out what activities will be available during your visit, view the event calendar at www.gatlinburg.com.