Wallet-Friendly Fun in the Great Smoky Mountains

Travel & Leisure

  • Author Jim Watson
  • Published December 26, 2010
  • Word count 510

By Jim Watson

If you're in the mood for a fantastic family trip, you won't be disappointed with Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. There's plenty to do and see in this mountain community, from award-winning theme parks to world-class performance venues. But best of all, budget-minded vacationers will find a variety of entertainment options guaranteed to keep you smiling even after the credit-card bill arrives.

Low-Cost Fun for Animal Lovers

When it comes to fun for the kids – and adults, too – getting a close-up look at some exotic animals tops the list. Everyone loves a zoo, and the Gatlinburg area has some of the finest in the country. Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo features more than 130 species all native to the world's many rainforests. You'll see beautiful parrots, giant spiders, playful lemurs, bright blue frogs, and many other creatures you're not likely to encounter elsewhere.

If you prefer a more hands-on animal adventure, stop by Deer Farm Exotic Petting Zoo where you'll have reindeer and camels eating right out of your hand and you can even pet a kangaroo. Big kids and grown-ups can enjoy a horseback ride, while the littlest members of your family trot about a fenced enclosure on a kid-sized pony. Set on 143 secluded acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Deer Farm offers a relaxing atmosphere, gorgeous scenery, and a chance to visit with furry friends of all sizes.

Only in Tennessee

Some Smoky Mountain attractions are just too unique to miss. In Gatlinburg you'll discover the world's only salt and pepper shaker museum, home to more than 20,000 pairs of shakers. You'll also find Cooter's Place, where lovers of classic TV can stop by for a nostalgic look back at America's original bad boys, The Dukes of Hazzard.

If cars are your thing, make plans to visit Hollywood Star Cars Museum, where you'll find dozens of famous cars from America's favorite movies. Herbie the Love Bug, the time-travelling DeLorean from Back to the Future, and Eleanor (Nicolas Cage's metallic love interest from Gone in 60 Seconds) are just some of the exotic beauties on display in this one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to celebrity cars.

Free Entertainment for all Ages

Aside from the museums, zoos, and family fun parks, there's always a festival or two in town. In autumn, the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival takes center stage with craft shows and decorating contests. Then as the last of the leaves fall, Winterfest arrives to turn this tiny hamlet into an enchanted wonderland of lights and Christmas carols. For the budget-conscious traveler, these and other festivals offer the perfect opportunity for entertainment and sight-seeing without a hefty admission fee.

Fantastic getaways aren't always about spending lots of money. In Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee you'll find lots of family-friendly fun spots where $20 or less will buy a whole day's entertainment for you and the kids. Whether it's talking to the animals, touring a museum, or just hanging out downtown and enjoying the scenery, the Great Smoky Mountains has a lot to offer for the budget-minded family in search of a memorable vacation.

Jim Watson is Owner of Timbercreek Cabins offering cabins near the Smoky Mountains. Vacation rentals are now available. Visit [http://www.timbercreekcabins.com](http://www.timbercreekcabins.com) today for a complete listing of cabin rentals. © 2010, All Rights Reserved

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