7 Ways to Plan Your Family Trip to Gatlinburg this Summer

Gatlinburg is an idyllic summer destination that promises a blend of natural beauty, thrilling adventures, and fun attractions for solo travelers and families alike. Whether you’re looking to relax, want to seek an adventure, or need to spend more quality time with your kids, planning your trip to Gatlinburg can make a significant difference in your experience. 

This guide offers practical tips to ensure your summer getaway is memorable, enjoyable, and stress-free.

1. Choose the Best Time to Visit

Selecting the right time to visit Gatlinburg can greatly enhance your trip. Summer is a popular season, with warm weather perfect for outdoor activities and events. However, this also means larger crowds and higher accommodation rates. To avoid the peak tourist rush, consider visiting in early summer, before schools let out, or in late summer, when families are gearing up for the school year. Checking the local event calendar can help you plan your visit around exciting happenings.

2. Finding Accommodations

When planning your trip, choosing the right accommodation is crucial. Gatlinburg offers a wide range of options. If you want to stay close to the top attractions in Gatlinburg, consider booking a condo with Vacation Rentals in Gatlinburg. They offer condos with private balconies showcasing stunning mountain views and fully equipped kitchens. Perfectly located near downtown Gatlinburg, their rentals provide privacy and comfort. Moreover, guests enjoy amenities such as a seasonal heated outdoor pool, guest laundry, and more. 

Early booking is recommended, especially during the peak summer season, to secure the best deals and preferred locations.

3. Transportation and Getting Around

Gatlinburg is easily accessible by car, with major highways leading into the town. If you prefer to fly, the nearest airport is McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, about an hour’s drive away. Once in Gatlinburg, getting around is convenient with the Gatlinburg Trolley system, which offers routes covering most tourist areas and attractions. The trolley offers a scenic way to explore the town without the hassle of driving and parking, and best of all, it’s completely free. Renting a car is also an option, especially if you plan to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or visit nearby towns like Pigeon Forge.

4. Dining and Local Cuisine

Gatlinburg offers a diverse culinary scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. From traditional Southern comfort food to international cuisine, there’s something for everyone. For a taste of local flavor, try one of the many barbecue joints or diners serving up hearty breakfasts and classic Southern dishes like fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy. Pancake houses are also a staple in Gatlinburg, with several popular spots offering delicious stacks of pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast delights.

If you’re looking for a more refined dining experience, Gatlinburg has several upscale restaurants offering gourmet meals and fine dining atmospheres. Many of these establishments feature stunning views of the mountains, providing a perfect backdrop for special occasions. For a family-friendly option, consider visiting one of the town’s casual eateries or pizza places, which offer a relaxed environment and menus that cater to both kids and adults.

5. Budgeting for Your Trip

Proper budgeting is essential for a stress-free vacation. Start by estimating the major expenses such as accommodation, food, and activities. Gatlinburg offers a range of options to fit different budgets. To save on accommodation, consider booking in advance or looking for deals and discounts online. 

Dining out can add up, so plan to mix in some meals prepared at your condo if you have a kitchen. Packing picnic lunches for your outdoor adventures is another way to save money. Many of Gatlinburg’s attractions offer combo tickets or multi-day passes, which can reduce the overall cost of admission. Additionally, look for free activities such as hiking in the national park or attending local events and festivals.

6. Top Attractions in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg boasts several unique attractions that should be on every visitor’s list. 

Ober Mountain is a well-known ski area accessible via the Aerial Tramway. At Ober Mountain, you can enjoy a variety of activities, including snowboarding and skiing in the winter, and the Alpine Slide, Ice Bumper Cars, and the Tennessee Flyer Mountain Coaster. The park also features an indoor ice-skating rink open year-round, providing fun for all ages. The Scenic Chairlift offers stunning views of the Smoky Mountains, making Ober Mountain a must-visit.

Anakeesta is another mountain-top attraction that combines the beauty of nature with exciting activities. To get to this attraction, you can take the Chondola, the world’s only fixed-grip transportation system that offers both gondola and chairlift options. Once at the top, Anakeesta offers a range of attractions, including the AnaVista Tower, which provides 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, and the Treetop Skywalk, where you can walk among the treetops on a series of suspension bridges. The attraction also features gem mining, numerous shopping opportunities, and diverse dining options, making it a perfect spot for a family day out.

Gatlinburg SkyPark is renowned for its breathtaking views of the Smokies. Board the SkyLift, a Gatlinburg landmark that takes you to the top of Crockett Mountain. Once there, you can walk across the SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America, which stretches nearly 700 feet across a deep valley. For those who enjoy hiking, the SkyTrail offers a walkway that connects both ends of the SkyBridge and includes an observation tower, providing spectacular panoramic views.

7. Packing Tips

Packing smart can make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable. For summer visits, lightweight clothing, comfortable walking shoes, and a good hat are essential. Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent, as you’ll likely spend a lot of time outdoors. If you plan on hiking, pack appropriate gear such as sturdy shoes, a backpack, water bottles, and trail snacks.

Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to bring a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings. Rain gear is also important, as summer thunderstorms are common. For those planning to enjoy water activities, bring swimwear and quick-dry clothing. Finally, pack a small first-aid kit and any personal medications you might need.


Planning a trip to Gatlinburg this summer can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By considering the best time to visit, exploring the top attractions, finding suitable accommodations, arranging transportation, and engaging in outdoor adventures, you can ensure a well-rounded and enjoyable vacation. Dining at local eateries, shopping for unique souvenirs, enjoying the entertainment and nightlife, budgeting wisely, and packing appropriately will further enhance your trip. Gatlinburg’s blend of natural beauty, adventure, and local charm makes it a destination that promises lasting memories for all who visit. 

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