Fun-packed family trip with the kids
1 | Eagle's Ridge Resort: www.eaglesridge.com or 1-866-369-2946
Highlights: Convenient location, inventive package deals, good seasonal specials, solid management company. Sister resorts include Heritage Mountain Rentals, Hideaway Hills Resort, Country Oaks Cabins, and Summit Real Estate.
Resort community: 300 cabins, one to nine bedrooms (largest sleeps 30 people). Fairly closely spaced, all log style.
Location: Main resort sits five minutes off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Newer Eagle's Ridge North development, off Wears Valley Road, offers recently built cabins with more interesting floor plans.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $114-$169, plus $40 processing fee
2 | Hidden Mountain Resort: www.hiddenmountain.com or 1-800-452-5992
Highlights: Many choices, including cabins, cottages, and villas. Exotic community pool and hot tubs by reception hall/conference area. Internet specials available. Family run since 1981.
Resort community: One of the larger resorts in the area, with more than 250 cabins. Some closely spaced. Views vary by location. Nicely furnished units. Cabins have from 1 to 14 bedrooms.
Location: Two locations in Sevierville, close to Pigeon Forge: Hidden Mountain East (1 mile off the Parkway) and Hidden Mountain West (5 miles off the Parkway).
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $75-$150. (An optional "deposit guarantee" (about $25) on units with four or fewer bedrooms allows you to cancel up until 4 p.m. on day before arrival.)
3 | Oak Haven Resort (Editor's Choice―spa): www.oakhavenresort.com or 1-800-652-2611
Highlights: Friendly community with flat, walkable roads and a neighborhood feel. Fantastic day spa―in a cabin―with gift shop, hydrotherapy, massages, facials, and "chocolate ice cream pedicure" that's as delicious as it sounds. Free Wireless Internet access in every cabin. Free daily housekeeping (this is rare!). On-property staff 24-7.
Resort community: Approximately 100 cabins, with more being built. Older units may have navy or forest green carpets, but newer units offer upscale decor. Community pool, arcade game room, and playground near the spa. Cabins have from one to seven bedrooms.
Location: Close to I-40 in Sevierville. Very convenient to Knoxville, but a good 30-40 minute drive from the national park. Close to Bass Pro Shop and factory outlets. One mile off the Parkway.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $110-$195
3 | Cove Mountain Realty & Resorts (Editor's Choice―Budget): www.covemountain.com or 1-800-245-2683
Highlights: Reasonable prices, excellent variety, commitment to service. Great small gems, including a 1-bedroom with sauna and mountain views starting at $125. Online booking with live chat feature.
Cabins: 187 individually owned cabins
Location: most on side roads in quiet Wears Valley
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $110-$165. Reservation fee: $35; no cleaning fee or hot tub fee.
5 | Mountain Rentals of Gatlinburg (Editor's Choice―budget resort): www.mountainchalets.com or 1-800-446-9205
Highlights: Super prices and flat rates―no hidden fees or extra costs. Charming individualized properties with lot of character. Great off-season specials (January-April)―fourth night free, two free nights with seven-day stay.
Individual cabins: 285 individually owned cabins (and some chalets) scattered throughout Gatlinburg. Range from one to eight bedrooms.
Location: Many on Ski Mountain, others in downtown Gatlinburg, Pittman Center, Wiley, Okley, and Arts & Crafts Community
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $95-$135, plus $35 registration fee. No cleaning fee.
6 | Timber Tops: www.yourcabin.com or 1-800-266-1066
Highlights: Huge selection of cabins in various price ranges. Free long distance and local phone calls. Luxury amenities including Xbox, PS2, home theaters, Internet access. Specials for AAA, repeat guests. High level of service, with one staffer for every three cabins. In-room massages by appointment.
Individual cabins: 400-plus units scattered throughout Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley, with a few in Gatlinburg. Some located in resort developments, others more secluded. Some narrow roads. Cabins range from one to eight bedrooms (biggest sleeps 26).
Location: Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Arts & Crafts Community
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $120-$165, plus $35 registration fee
7 | Alpine Mountain Village (Editor's Choice―family resort): www.alpinemountainvillage.com or 1-888-493-2916
Highlights: Well-planned new resort where all cabins look distinctly different. Luxury décor inside, with open floor plans and upscale amenities―leather couches, granite countertops, flat-screen TVs, and community pool. Adorable small wedding chapel.
Resort community: more than 60 cabins (more under construction; expansions planned) featuring two to six bedrooms. Cabins closely spaced, but well designed so you're not peering into your neighbor's window.
Location: Pigeon Forge (less than 5 minutes off the Parkway)
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $140-$240, plus $40 cleaning fee (varies by size), 5% reservation fee, and $25 damage waiver
8 | Gatlinburg Falls Resort (Editor's Choice―family resort): www.gatlinburgfalls.com or 1-800-836-8600
Highlights: Best game rooms around with arcade games, pool tables, extra space, and a few private movie theaters. Attentive service, great perks, top-notch cleanliness. (We spied housekeepers cleaning behind the fridge.) Small community pool with waterfall. Some units are pet friendly.
Resort: 116 cabins, ranging from 1 to 9 bedrooms (sleeps up to 32), built closely. Spacious floor plans, modern décor, ample balcony space. Nice hillside views. Easy roads. On-site maintenance and front desk.
Location: Just off stoplight #1 as you enter Gatlinburg from Pigeon Forge. Only five minutes from town.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $115-$350, plus $25-$75 cleaning fee (varies by cabin size) and $25 hot tub fee; no reservations fee
9 | Jackson Mountain Homes (Editor's Choice―romantic retreat): www.jacksonmountain.com or 1-800-473-3163
Highlights: Wide range of attractive, well-appointed cabins with one to eight bedrooms (sleeps up to 30) that appeals to both couples and big groups. Professional service from a respected company. Emphasis on cleanliness. High decor standards. Some homes with free long distance calling and high-speed internet.
Individual cabins: Around 167 scattered throughout Gatlinburg and outside the city limits. Tip: Ask about cabins in Pinnacle Vista, a secluded area off U.S. 321 with spectacular views and spacious lots. In Gatlinburg, Appalachian Lodge is a stunner.
Location: Gatlinburg, Cobbly Nob, Pittman Center, Pinnacle Vista, Arts & Crafts Community.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $100-$180, plus $55 reservation fee and $150 credit card hold; no cleaning or hot tub fees
10 | Brother's Cove (Editor's Choice): www.brotherscove.com or 1-877-276-2683
Highlights: Best pool in the Smokies―heated, located on a hillside with spectacular views and ample lounging space. (Don't let its nickname "cement pond" turn you off.) Cabin architecture is decidedly different―each floor plan is unique, but common features include giant windows with postcard views, open spaces with natural light, and interesting touches such as rustic wood spiral staircases.
Resort community: Secluded location with 75 cabins on large, private lots. The developer displaced as few trees as possible when building, so the hillside feels natural and wooded, not clear-cut like some other resorts. Amenities include a soccer field, heated pool, pavilion with giant stone fireplace. Cabins have one to five bedrooms.
Location: Off Walden's Creek Road, between Pigeon Forge and Wears Valley.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $99-$215, plus $35 reservation fee, $35-$95 cleaning fee (varies by size), and $50 nonrefundable deposit
11 | Black Bear Ridge Resort: www.blackbearridgeresort.com or 1-888-889-7865
Highlights: Super luxury cabins with leather couches, designer furniture, flat-screen TVs, and well-stocked game rooms. Some units feature indoor pools and/or saunas. Resort features wedding chapel, salon, limo service, community pool, in-room massage, gift baskets upon request. Unobstructed views of Bluff Mountain. Can book groups of up to 200. Great off-season discounts of up to 50%.
Resort community: 140 cabins ranging from one to eight bedrooms (sleeps up to 22), closely situated on clear-cut hillside. Wide roads. Similar floorplans.
Location: Wears Valley, about 10 minutes from Pigeon Forge.Price of one-bedroom cabin: $99-$289, plus $50-$200 cleaning fee (varies by size)