3 Cheap Things To Do in Gatlinburg – Less Than $7 Per Person!

baskins square in downtown gatlinburg

There are a variety of cheap things to do in Gatlinburg, TN (photo by Ritu Manoj Jethani/shutterstock.com)

A full-time Gatlinburg resident shares his secrets and insider tips on cheap things to do in Gatlinburg, TN

Traveling can be quite expensive. With the costs of everyday life adding up, it can be difficult to save money for vacation. But as a local, I can personally attest that when you visit Gatlinburg, there are a few ways to stretch your dollars and spend hours of your day doing enjoyable activities for the whole family. Here are three of my favorite cheap things you can do here in Gatlinburg, TN.

When in Gatlinburg, there are plenty of popular cheap things to do. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free to explore for hiking and sightseeing, but make sure you buy a parking pass if you plan on getting out of your car (just $5 for a day). The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is a one-of-a-kind place to see in Gatlinburg, costing just $3 for an adult and free for kids 12 and under. Also, moonshine, wine, and cider tastings are available for a fun and cheap activity for adults (and usually available for $5-$7 per person).

Morton Overlook with a beautiful colorful sunset
It’s always free to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Pictured: Morton Overlook sunset in Gatlinburg in the GSMNP (photo by Keith Bailey Photography/Shutterstock.com)

1. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Price: Free-$5

I admit, it’s easy to get distracted by the tourist-driven attractions and tasty Southern eateries in Gatlinburg. But don’t ignore the most beautiful aspect of this area – the mountains. Gatlinburg isn’t called the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains for nothing. Drive around the park for free, or, make plans to hike one of our many trails.

If you plan on getting out of your car, be sure to head to Sugarlands Visitors Center where you can buy a parking pass. Passes are needed if you want to stay parked at any marked parking area in the Smoky Mountains for at least 15 minutes. And you will most certainly want to do this at multiple points in the park. Whether it’s Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap or Cades Cove, there’s no better way to spend $5. That’s around the same price as a sugary coffee shop beverage. The reward you receive from a visit to the Smokies also lasts much longer! Prices, at the time of this writing, are as follows:

  • $5 for a daily pass
  • $15 for a weekly pass
  • $40 for a whole year
a large display of corn salt and pepper sharkers on shelves
Adults can visit the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg for only $3. Pictured: A small sampling of the “corn” themed collection at the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg (photo by Amanda Lee/TheSmokies.com)

2. Visit The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

Price: Free-$3

One of the cheapest activities in Gatlinburg involves one of the most unique places you’ll find almost anywhere: The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. And yes, this is a museum of the most astonishing varieties of salt and pepper shakers you will ever see. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you’ll enter another room full of the weirdest, coolest pieces imaginable.

Access to the museum costs just $3 for an adult, and children under 12 are free, at the time of this writing. If you want to purchase something in the gift shop, that $3 will be taken off at the register. What’s even better is the free parking (a rarity in Gatlinburg) as long as you’re shopping at Winery Square. The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is located off 321. Turn left at light #3 on the Parkway in Gatlinburg and look for it on the right a half-mile away.  

jars of sugarlands moonshine
Sugarlands, at the time of this writing, offers $5 moonshine sampling (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

3. Enjoy a moonshine tasting

Price: Free-$7

This is an adults-only cheap thing to do in Gatlinburg. However, it’s fun if you like to have an alcoholic beverage every once in a while. Moonshine is legendary in these parts, but the legal stuff is made for the masses in lots of different flavors and dairy-based liqueurs.

Sugarlands Distilling Company offers tastings for only $5 once a day, at the time of this writing. You’ll get a wristband worth that amount, and you can stack as many as you can collect into one purchase. They also offer a military and first-responder discount of 10% that’ll apply in addition to the $5 voucher wristband. Sugarlands can be found at 805 Parkway in Gatlinburg. Plan to park in downtown Gatlinburg in one of the paid lots of walk from your hotel.

Ole Smoky is another great area Distillery with multiple locations in downtown Gatlinburg. Their tastings now start at $7 per person.

There are also area wineries and cideries with free samples if you only want a taste, but they will tempt you to do more for an additional cost (usually about $5).

Wherever you go, you’re in store for a mini-show alongside your tasting. Many of the bartenders are a hoot. And they are extremely knowledgeable about their products, which will make your tasting an educational and relaxing experience.

And remember, folks, we know you’re on vacation, but as always, please drink responsibly.

What are your favorite cheap things to do in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Disclosure: We have used and experienced all the products and activities recommended on The Smokies. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products and experiences featured.