The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range along the Tennessee and North Carolina border. Often referred to as the “Smokies” or “Smoky Mountains”, they got their name from the natural fog that hangs over the mountains, particularly at dawn and dusk. The Smokies are a part of the most visited National Park in the United States, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Covering over half a million acres between Tennessee and North Carolina, it’s home to countless hiking trails, waterfalls, and animals. It’s also the perfect destination for family vacations.
As a Floridian family with the beach in our backyard, we would head to the mountains during our summer vacations. More specifically, we loved visiting Gatlinburg, TN. While there are plenty of places to stay in Gatlinburg, renting a cabin is my top “must-do” for a family vacation in Gatlinburg. I first visited when I was just 7 years old and we went back about a dozen different times throughout my childhood. Last year, we visited as a family of nine (with spouses and one baby), and the experience was just as meaningful and memorable.
5 Reasons to Rent a Cabin
1. Natural Beauty
The cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains are full of charm and beauty. The cozy vibes of a log cabin are enough to make anyone feel at home. Whether you book a cabin on the top of a mountain (remember, you may have a long, windy road to get there) or close to downtown, you should feel the energy of the nature around you. If you’re picking Gatlinburg, TN as your vacation destination, chances are, you’re looking for some quiet and relaxation. Cabins offer exactly that.
We usually pick a cabin around a 15-20 minute drive from downtown Gatlinburg, but it’s all about preference! How far are you trying to get from civilization? Do you want a mountain view? Maybe you want to be close to a stream. No matter what, driving up to your own personal cabin in the mountains will have you appreciate your surroundings on vacation.
Of all the places to stay in Gatlinburg, cabins have to be the most budget-friendly, especially for large families or multiple couples. My family always chose to stay in a cabin because as a family of five (now nine), it was the most budget-friendly option! Cabins can range in size from 1 bedroom to 10+ bedrooms!
For our most recent trip to Gatlinburg, we picked a cabin with 5 bedrooms (one for each couple and one bedroom for the 2 year old). Each bedroom had its own en-suite bathroom allowing maximum privacy. Majestic Point Lodge allowed us to all stay together in one big home for much less than an 8-night stay in a hotel with 5 rooms booked.
For comparison, I looked up the pricing for the dates 10/1/18 – 10/8/18:
Jackson Mountain Home’s Majestic Point Lodge (5 bedrooms/5.5 bath – sleeps 16): $5,616.01
Holiday Inn Express Downtown Gatlinburg (5 rooms x 7 nights): $8,022.15
Save $2,406.14 by renting the cabin!
Cook Meals in the Cabin
If you choose to stay in a hotel during your trip, you might be lucky to get a small refrigerator. But if you stay in a cabin in Gatlinburg, you have a full kitchen! Eating out three meals a day can add up so quickly. And even though eating at local restaurants is part of the experience, you don’t need to eat out every meal. Stretch your dollar and have meals at the cabin, too! Think about how much you’ll save just by having coffee and breakfast at the cabin every morning. Do your best to eat in at least one meal a day and make memories together around the dining table.
Meal Prep for Picnics
Stock up the refrigerator your first day on vacation. Make sure to purchase “picnic-friendly” food items like deli meat, veggies, fruit, and chips and dip! You will, without a doubt, want to pack up a cooler for lunch and head to Cade’s Cove for a picnic. At the very least, you’ll need snacks for hiking. Having the storage and space to meal prep in the cabin will help save money and allow you to prepare for the day.
Have Happy Hour at the Cabin
It’s no secret that I love my wine. But I don’t love paying double or triple the price for wine at restaurants. On almost every vacation, we pick up some wine at a local store and sip on a glass before going out to dinner. This saves us anywhere from $8-$50+ because we don’t feel the need to drink much, if any, at dinner! Please, always remember to drink responsibly and never drive under the influence.
3. Entertainment is Included
Speaking of budget-friendly, who doesn’t love a little extra entertainment on vacation?! Whether you’re staying in a cabin for your honeymoon or with a dozen other family members, the cabins usually offer a wonderful variety of entertainment.
I learned how to play billiards as a kid in Gatlinburg. To this day, it’s one of the things I look forward to most when we book a cabin. Our most recent cabin had arcade games, an air-hockey table, billiards table, two fireplaces, wet bar, and hot tub. Most cabins have a hot tub outside on a balcony which is the perfect way to wrap up any evening in the mountains. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of many other places to stay in Gatlinburg that will give you a private hot tub. 😉 Some cabins will provide board games, but you can also bring a deck of cards and have a family game-night next to the fireplace!
4. Proximity to Attractions
Being in the middle of nature, but close to downtown areas and entertainment is another reason that cabins are among the best places to stay in Gatlinburg. If your cabin is further up a mountain, you might be closer to outlooks, hiking trails, or waterfalls. If those things are at the top of your “must-do” list, then that’s the perfect spot for you! The cabins located close to downtown will have you located just a short drive from the National Park Visitor’s Center, shopping, restaurants, and other entertainment, like the sky lift. Either way, you’ll find plenty to do within a short drive of your cabin.
5. Memories That Last a Lifetime
The cabins we’ve stayed in during our vacations in Gatlinburg have been the heart of my memories there. I can remember the very first home we ever stayed in was called “Dream Catcher”. I remember the Monopoly nights, spaghetti dinners, and the sound of rain on the cabin’s roof. My siblings and I were always the best of friends on vacation, and I cherish the moments we had playing pool, sharing a bedroom and baking cookies. A cabin is more than just a bed and bathroom. It holds the key to memorable moments of family time. It’s been over 20 years since we first visited Gatlinburg as a family, and the cabins we’ve stayed in have given me memories that I’ll carry with me forever.
If you’re struggling with deciding between all the places to stay in Gatlinburg, think about what you want most out of the family vacation. If you’re looking to take home memories that will last a lifetime, a cabin is the way to go.
Pin me for later!