My favorite part of visiting Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with my family is that it sits at the entrance of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. If you haven’t gathered it from me yet, I love a National Park. This trip we didn’t do much exploring in the park, as we did admiring it from the main strip in Pigeon Forge or from our balcony of the vacation rental in Sevierville. But, if I had to go back, I would definitely prioritize some nature time in Great Smokey Mountains (like visiting Cade’s Cove and Clingman’s Dome) over some of the amusement rides we did or riding the trolley around.
The highlight of the trip for me was definitely the cabin that we rented through VRBO.com. I have had such great success with vacation rentals from sites like VRBO.com, Homeaway.com, and AirBNB. For the same price as a hotel room a night, you can get a vacation rental property with interesting architecture, a full kitchen, and more amenities than even the nicest resort can provide you. Some people don’t want to cook when they are on vacation, but boy does it save money so that you might extend your stay or do some really cool activities with your family while you are visiting. But, having the ability to make your own coffee in the morning and have a fridge full of snacks for hungry kids is such a lifesaver.
What to Look For in a Vacation Rental for Your Family Trip:
1. Find a rental with great architecture or fun decor.
The cabin we rented was called “Wagon Wheel Trail“. We specifically chose this vacation rental because of all the Black Bear decorations and covered wagon bed. Who doesn’t want to sleep in a covered wagon?
2. A vacation rental with added entertainment.
The cabin we rented in Tennessee came complete with a game room, hot tub, board games, all the cable channels, DVDs, and free wifi. You often have to pay for wifi and buy tokens for the arcade. All this and more were built into the price of the cabin we were renting in Tennessee.
3. Family-friendly amenities.
You don’t have to travel with added things like a crib or a travel high-chair. Often times, vacation rentals come fully equipped with these much-needed items for little ones.
4. A vacation rental with a fully equipped kitchen.
Going out to eat with nine people gets super expensive. It is a great way to cut down on the cost and have some casual family meals at home. Also, shopping at the local grocery store is a great way to get to know a local perspective of the area you are visiting.
5. Enough space for the entire family all under one roof.
We would have easily needed three hotel rooms to accommodate our family on our Tennessee trip. Choosing to rent a HUGE cabin outside of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, not only saved us money, but let us all stay together with enough space that was comfortable for everyone, and room to escape.