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Planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains for your group? Looking to spend more time unplugged, bonding and team building than waiting in long attraction lines?  Thankfully, there’s plenty to do in our area without going into the crowds.

Avoiding public spaces, like busy lobbies & reservation areas, can be easier than you think on your trip to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.  American Patriot Getaways makes checking in to your cabin fast, easy, and keeps your interaction with our staff at a minimum. By getting a text message check in and using the personal lock box at your cabin, you won’t even need to stop by our office.  

Rest easy knowing your cabin has been professionally cleaned before your check-in.  All hot tubs are drained and cleaned before being refilled. Linens in the cabin are brought to our professional commercial laundry facility and washed before being sent out.  You’ll even have a starter pack of soaps and dish detergent if you’d prefer to rewash anything before you stay.  

So, if your group has a big trip to the area planned, check out our itinerary for minimizing contact with public spaces.  

Day 1 – 

Breakfast in your Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg cabin is easy.  Since all our kitchens are fully equipped, make sure you pack your groceries to prep up for the day ahead. 

Don’t have time to shop before your trip, or not enough space in the car for groceries?  Check out one of our local grocery stores. With Instacart and personal shopping options available at many of these locations, you won’t even need to do the shopping – just pick up and go!

After a filling meal, head out for a scenic drive as a group. Our favorite place to visit is historic Cades Cove.  

Make sure to pack a picnic lunch, and take advantage of the first-come, first-serve picnic area at the beginning (or the end!) of the 11-mile nature loop.  During your trip, there’s so much to do at the Cove you can make it a full day event!

With miles of hiking trails, historic buildings, and wildlife galore, there will be something for everyone on this trip.  See our blog post all about Cades Cove and have the group pick their favorite activities.  

After a full day, head back to the cabin and enjoy all the amenities!  If you choose one of our theater room cabins, put on your favorite movies, kick back, and relax!

A theater room in a rental cabin

Day 2 – 

Start day 2 with a relaxing cup of hot cocoa or coffee out on your cabin deck.  Sitting in the rocking chairs and enjoying the mountain view and birdsong is a gentle and calming way to bring on the day.  

Before heading out of your cabin, give Old Dad’s a call.  They prepare “picnic-style” lunches and you can call in your order and pick it up before leaving for another day of adventuring in the National Park.  

Take one of our favorite wildflower walks this morning.  

An easy option, and less crowded one, for many groups is the Cosby Nature Trail.  Located in the Cosby section of the park, this gentle 1.1-mile loop walk leaves the hiker parking lot at the front of Cosby Campground.

Cosby Nature Trail crosses several small streams and old homesteads.  There is more than one forest type on this beautiful trail, which makes for a variety of flowers.  

Vasey’s trillium, brook lettuce, squawroot, and showy orchis are just a few of the flowers you’ll spot here.  

A painted trillium on a carpet of moss.

Be sure to stop and look around for salamanders at the stream crossings!

Afterward, enjoy your picnic lunch in the amphitheater located just up the hill from the parking lot, or at one of the many first-come, first-serve picnic sites in the parking area.  

In the afternoon, head back to your Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge cabin and relax with a soak in the hot tub.  

After preparing supper in your fully equipped kitchen, play a game of Heads Up with your group before retiring for the evening. 

Hot tub on a deck overlooking the Smoky Mountains 

Day 3 – 

Get ready for more Smoky Mountain history today.  Instead of visiting Cades Cove, visit the more remote historic structures of the park – guaranteed to not see nearly as many crowds.  A full day of driving and exploration will await as you visit historic churches, barns, and grist mills sprinkled throughout the park.  

Make your final stop of the day the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the North Carolina side of the park.  The Mountain Farm museum is not only a fascinating glimpse into the life of the European settlers who made this area their home, it’s a nice place to take a walk and see some wildlife too!  The Oconaluftee River Trail is a 3-mile round trip out-and-back hike, but you can make it as long or short as you’d like. Stroll along the river and maybe even see an elk or two. 

On your way back in to town, pick up dinner to go.  Get some pizza from Big Daddy’s, Best Italian, or even Smoky Mountain Brewery.  

After a big supper, challenge your group to a game in your cabin’s game loft.  With pool, air hockey, arcade games, and more, many of our Smoky Mountain Cabins have plenty of entertainment to keep you busy!

A shuffleboard & foosball table in the game room at Elk Ridge Lodge

Day 4 – 

Check out one of the bike rental options in the area.  On the North Carolina side of the Smokies, there are several bike rental shops that can outfit your group for a fun day out on the trails.  

Give Tsali Cycles a call ahead of time to get pricing and reserve some bikes for your group.  On this side of the park, the Deep Creek Trail provides a 4.4 mile out-and-back bike ride friendly for beginners.  If you have more advanced bike riders in your group, head out to the Tsali Recreation area. With more than 30 miles of biking trails, you can go as short as 4 miles or as long as you’d like!

Find out more information about Tsali and their bike trails on this website.  

People riding bikes on a forest road.

Bryson City is a lot less crowded than the Gatlinburg side of the park, and grabbing a tasty late lunch from Mountain Perks is always a crowd pleasing option.  Check out their menu online and call ahead to grab lunch and a few coffee drinks to get you back to Gatlinburg.  

When you get back in to town, head back to the cabin for a relaxing evening.  Maybe your group has booked one of our cabins with private pools to make a splash on your final day.  Didn’t book a pool cabin? No problem! Let the group decide on what they want to do on their final night.  Maybe there is another billiards or foosball competition ready to happen! Or, relax one last time in your steamy hot tub overlooking the mountains.  

Your Trip to the Smokies

With so much to see and do in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area while avoiding public spaces, your group will still have a great time. If you have any questions about your reservation, please give our friendly Reservationists a call at 800-204-5169.  For guests concerned about a future trip, we do offer third party travel insurance through Red Sky Travel Insurance. This insurance can be purchased up to 10 days prior to your scheduled arrival. To purchase a policy or to ask any questions, please give RedSky a call at 1-866-889-7409.  

We hope to see you and your group in the Smokies again!

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