Smoky Mountains Vacation-An AMAZING Fun Filled Family Trip

As family vacations go, our Smoky Mountains vacation was easily the most relaxing yet fun filled trip to date. 

We planned this trip to celebrate my wife’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We did all of the planning. This included finding a vacation home large enough for our large group. We put a lot of due diligence in researching rental homes. This trip needed to be perfect. 

smoky mountains vacation

We found the Smoky Mountains towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to both be excellent choices, as they both had plenty of gorgeous homes. Rental homes are available in all budget ranges. Some of the homes are close to the two towns while others are fairly remote. Many have beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains. 

In this guide, we will highlight some of the best rental homes. We will showcase the most fun family friendly things to do. And since we all need to eat, we will recommend some of our favorite places to eat as well. Let’s get ready to plan YOUR Smoky Mountains vacation.

Where To Stay

This post will primarily focus on rental homes. While preparing to write this article, we found that the home we rented is no longer available as a rental, so I will make recommendations using the same diligence that I use when searching for rental homes for our own use. 

I am going to break the homes into two areas, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. My recommended homes will also be assuming four guests with up to 3 bedrooms. I will provide a link to VRBO to allow you to search for travel with more guests. We also created a larger list of highly recommended Smoky Mountain cabin rentals HERE.

Pigeon Forge

  • Big Blue Mist is a beautiful and private 3 bedroom/2 bath log cabin located on 2/3 acre only minutes from Pigeon Forge and Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Enjoy the panoramic mountain views from the hot tub or the swing on the wrap around porch. There is a beautiful view of Mt. LeConte from the great room which has a wood burning fireplace and vaulted ceiling. Located on Bluff Mountain, Big Blue Mist offers serenity, yet is only minutes to all of the attractions of Pigeon Forge. You will love this home!
  • Charming wood cabin nestled in the picturesque hills of Pigeon Forge consisting of 3 spacious king size bedrooms with individual ensuite bathrooms, each located on a separate floor. Enjoy your favorite meal or morning coffee with mountain views on either upper or lower decks, or snuggle in front of the gas fireplace. Soaring cathedral ceilings and open concept floor plan, make up part of the 2,000 square feet fully equipped to enjoy each other’s company. Pool table, outdoor Jacuzzi and flat screen TVs complete a family’s getaway.
  • We LOVE the look of this one, inside and out. Cedar Valley Getaway is nestled on a 1 acre wooded lot which affords privacy for your Smoky Mountain Vacation. Settled within lush green trees, this cabin is easily accessible with no steep roads to climb. Just minutes away from the Parkway in Pigeon Forge and close to Gatlinburg. Some of the many amenities include three decks, game room with pool table/multi arcade/board games, basketball hoop, horseshoe pits, hot tub, and charcoal grill. This is a must see!
  • You will love the privacy of Our Cabin at Eagle’s Ridge Resort – one of Pigeon Forge’s finest cabin communities. The large master suite includes a Jacuzzi and king size bed. A Queen size and a full/twin bunk bed in the other two rooms. A sleeper sofa with Serta mattress in the living room means you can sleep up to nine. A true log cabin inside and out with high vaulted ceiling and large windows. Enjoy the warmth of the gas log fireplace, prepare meals in the spacious kitchen and recline in the open living area while watching the 55″ flat screen TV. High speed internet, streaming TV and WIFI are accessible throughout. Fantastic video arcade and foosball table provide additional family entertainment. Grill on the back porch, swing on the front porch or just relax in the hot tub and listen to your favorite music on Bluetooth.


  • Owl Pine Chalet is situated on the Edge of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and just minutes to downtown Gatlinburg. The views from this home are just breathtaking. From the decks you get unobstructed views of Mt LeConte. This home features two king beds and one queen bed, This home also has access to a clubhouse with full size pool and tennis courts.
  • Good Time Lodge is nestled in the unique and secluded Timberidge Community in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, making it seem like you have the Smokies all to yourself. The cabin is spacious with three levels of living space. There are 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. There is also a game room, living room, and kitchen/dining area. The wrap around porch is perfect for enjoying your morning coffee and taking in the views. This home is full of that mountain charm that is perfect for creating memories.
  • Welcome to the Bearfootin’ Cabin, where you can leave your hiking boots behind and relax in The Smokies! This home is located in the Sky Harbor resort, putting you right between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. There are two queen bedrooms on the main level and a king bedroom upstairs. As an added bonus, all reservations include free tickets to area attractions!
  • Bear’s Eye View is an amazing chalet style home that offers fantastic views of the Gatlinburg area. There are two bedrooms on the lower level. The main level has the living, kitchen, and dining areas. The third bedroom is upstairs in the lofted area that is open to the main level. You will be in awe of the floor to ceiling windows of the main level, offering fantastic mountain views. Imagine waking up to enjoy your morning coffee on one of the several decks. This home also includes a gas grill for your use.

Search for other rentals using the VRBO search box below. 

Things To Do

There is no shortage of things to do in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas. Whether you are an outdoors enthusiast or are looking for thrill rides, you will not be disappointed. Here is a list of some of the things we enjoyed during our stay. 

  • The Island in Pigeon Forge– Whether you are looking to eat, shop or play, The Island will have something for you. Designed to look like an island paradise right in the mountains, we spent several days at The Island. The Ferris wheel, The Island Ropes Course, The Spinning Parrots Coaster, and the Laser Tag were our favorites. 
  • The Smoky Mountain Coaster was a surprise hit! We had never been on one before, so we had no clue what to expect. After our first rides, we were hooked. We all rode two times on our first visit. We came back that evening and each rode it two more times! So much fun at night with all the LED lights!
  • Gatlinburg SkyLift and SkyBridge– This was pretty awesome. We took a ski lift from street level to the top of a mountain. Then when you get to the top, you can cross a bridge that crosses a deep valley. However, it is not just a normal bridge…there is a large section in the middle that is glass, allowing you to look down to the valley below. It was funny seeing so many adults cautiously tip-toe across it while our older boy just strutted across it!!

Places To Eat

We did prepare most of our meals at the house, though we did eat at a couple of places worth mentioning. 

  • Log Cabin Pancake House– Gatlinburg must be the pancake restaurant capital of the world. So if you are going to go out for pancakes, you might as well go to the best! Everything here was so good. The boys got the silver dollar pancakes. They loved the giant stack of them that they got!
  • Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville– Located at The Island, this chain is great for entertaining the kids. There is so much to see here to keep them occupied and the food is good too! 
  • Johnny Rockets– A 50’s style diner with burgers and milkshakes. How can you go wrong? The boys loved the counter seating and the jukebox and cotton candy machine!

Are You Ready to Pack Your Bags Yet? Your Smoky Mountains Vacation Awaits!

Oftentimes we take trips for relaxation. Other times we book trips for fun and adventure. A Smoky Mountains vacation allows you to do both! Our family had so much fun here. We typically don’t like to go to the same destination more than once, but this area is definitely an exception to that rule. Our family will be back soon! We hope this guide inspired you to book that rental and start making your Smoky Mountains vacation.  For those long weekly vacations, don’t forget the importance of holding your mail and packages!

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