If you’re planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then there’s a good chance you’re staying in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; this is the closest place to the park, has plenty of hotels to suit all budgets, and has some great family friendly places to eat. We just returned from a trip and I thought I’d compile a list of the places we ate for anyone looking for recommendations for where to eat in Gatlinburg with kids.
One of the first things I want to mention is that most hotels and restaurants will be on the main road in Gatlinburg (known as the Parkway) and there is very little parking available. If you choose a hotel on that road, you can walk to all of these restaurants mentioned and you’ll save a fortune on parking. If you’re driving, be prepared to pay up to $20 for parking on that main strip.
I’ve included whether or not free parking is available at the restaurants I’m recommending because for us, that was sometimes the deal breaker in whether or not we ate there. All parking lots have limited space so my suggestion is to try to avoid the busiest times for lunch and dinner in order to grab a free parking space before they fill up.
Cherokee Grill and Steakhouse
Free parking? Yes, but proof of purchase is needed so hang on to your receipt.
Cherokee Grill and Steakhouse was one of our favorite places to eat in Gatlinburg. Not only was the food delicious, but there was a good sized parking lot that was free (as long as you spent at least $10). You need to show proof of purchase on your way out of the parking lot so make sure you take your receipt with you.
The food is typical of a steakhouse, although on the higher end of the scale quality-wise. There were obviously plenty of steaks on the menu as well as pork, chicken, and fish dishes. I don’t eat much red meat so I’m always a little bit wary of eating in a steakhouse, but I tried the grilled salmon and it was absolutely delicious.
There was also a fantastic kids menu that not only had a lot of different options, but was really great at accommodating substitutions. I have one adventurous eater and one who is more picky, so kids menus can sometimes be a challenge. Thankfully, Cherokee Grill was really great about offering different side options for my child who doesn’t like fries (seriously!)
I also saw the dessert pictured above go to a different table and had to try one myself; it’s the seasonal peach shortcake and if it’s on the menu when you visit, you must try it!
We made a reservation (you can make reservations for this restaurant at Open Table) and I’d probably recommend doing the same; the restaurant was pretty full when we were there.
Overall this is definitely a restaurant I’d recommend; the food was great, the service was fantastic, and I thought the prices were very reasonable for the quality of the food and drinks.
Free parking? No
Loco Burro is a Mexican restaurant right in the middle of the Parkway in Gatlinburg. They have a rooftop bar that overlooks the road, and it’s a great place to not only watch the people on the street below, but to look out over the mountains in the National Park.
This place can get crowded and pretty noisy, but we loved the rooftop and the views it offered. The food was also some of the best Mexican-style food I’ve ever had!
We tried a few different things, and honestly everything was delicious. They offer guacamole made tableside, which was not only delicious, but entertained my kids no end! We also tried the Mexican street corn, chicken enchiladas, and shrimp tacos – all were amazing!
They have a great drinks menu, and if you’re a tequila fan you’ll love the options as there are lots of different brands available. There are plenty of margaritas and mojitos as well, and really amazing sangria!
There’s a great kids menu, and if you have a picky eater who – like mine – looked horrified when I mentioned eating in a Mexican restaurant, you’ll be happy to see chicken tenders on the menu!
We arrived at Loco Burro at 5pm and were given a table immediately, but by the time we left it was pretty busy. If you know you want a table at a particular time, I would suggest calling ahead.
Free parking? No
Crawdaddy’s is another restaurant with outdoor seating on a balcony overlooking the street, and nothing provides better entertainment for the kids than watching people on the street below! We loved this restaurant so much that we wanted to go back and try eating there again, but sadly we ran out of time – this was easily one of our favorite places to eat in Gatlinburg with kids!
Crawdaddy’s specializes in seafood, and we loved the options on the menu. Pictured above are the seafood nachos, which were on the appetizer menu but easily served as a main meal for me (actually I couldn’t even finish them!)
The kids menu only had a couple of seafood options (as well as the usual chicken tenders and hot dogs) but my adventurous eater loved the fried shrimp! Portions were big, even for the kids, and smaller kids could probably share a meal.
There were some fun drink options, and our fantastic server was happy to make some recommendations. The outdoor balcony was shaded but because of the placement of the sun at about 5pm in the summer, it was in the full sun so drinks were very welcome!
The entrance to Crawdaddy’s is a bit hard to find, and the restaurant is located on the second floor of a building so you need to walk upstairs. We didn’t make a reservation and were seated outdoors straight away, and I think as long as you’re willing to be a bit patient, you can probably get away with not making a reservation here.
Davey Crockett’s Breakfast Camp
Free parking? Yes
The sole reason we chose Davey Crockett’s for breakfast was that it came with ample free parking. We ate here on our last day and by this point, I was getting really irritated at having to either constantly pay for parking or walk for ages in the heat to get to a restaurant. While we didn’t necessarily choose this restaurant for the right reasons, I’m glad we tried it because it was fantastic!
This is a very popular breakfast spot and lines can get long. If you head to their website, however, you can actually join the online waitlist, which tells you the current wait time and allows you to put your name down for a table without actually having to be there. We did this from our hotel room, and then headed down when our time got a bit closer.
Davey Crockett’s is typical breakfast faire, but it was a step above what I expected and the quality was very good. I tried Aretha’s Pecan Waffles, which were topped with bananas and caramel sauce, and they were amazing! I’d also really recommend getting a side of the sugar ham; my kids devoured it!
The décor of the restaurant is cute, and the whole atmosphere was really fun. Our server was very friendly and really took the time to chat to the kids, which was really sweet of her. I wish we’d eaten at this location earlier in our trip so we could have returned.
The Park Grill
Free parking? Yes
This came highly recommended from a friend as one of the best places to eat in Gatlinburg with kids, and I can attest that her recommendation was bang on!
The Park Grill looks like a mountain lodge from the outside, and felt cozy and homely inside (although I will say, if you’re not a fan of taxidermy then you might need to avert your eyes – we ate our dinner under the watchful eyes of several stuffed animals).
This is a fairly typical steakhouse, the kind of place that comes with complimentary bread and a trip to the salad bar. The value for money here is pretty great since all meals include the above, and the prices on the steaks and other entrees are great.
I got the Moonshine Chicken and it was one of the best pieces of chicken I’ve ever had! The side options were pretty standard for a steakhouse, although I did think the breaded onion rings were some of the best I’d had as well.
The kids menu here is pretty unique, and relies heavily on an honor system. The entrees cost $1 for every year of the child’s age; so if your child is five years old, the meal will cost $5. I was asked the kids ages at the beginning of the meal and we were charged accordingly.
I actually loved this system since typically kids will eat less the younger they are, so it makes sense for them to pay less. I have no idea if portion sizes are adjusted since my kids ordered different items, but both portions looked pretty big. Kids meals also come with a drink, warm bread, and a trip to the salad bar, so it’s actually a lot of food included and great value.
Our server here was really lovely, and the food was fantastic. It’s nothing fancy, but the options was great and sometimes all you want it a good quality, homestyle meal. I’d definitely return here on a future visit.
The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar
Free parking? No
Although The Crazy Mason has a few different locations dotted around the Southeast, they’ve worked hard to maintain the small business feel of their original location in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and that definitely shows. It felt like a small, locally owned business and that’s always somewhere we love to support while we travel.
If you’ve ever seen a crazy, over the top milkshake on social media and wondered where to get one, then this is the spot in Gatlinburg! Not only do they feature milkshakes with so many toppings that they barely fit into a cup, but they have sundaes, waffles, and other desserts so there’s something for everyone (as long as you have a sweet tooth!)
I never really know how to eat those milkshakes that seem to be topped with another entire meal, so we decided to share one and hope we could finish it – well, we couldn’t but we had a great time trying!
The milkshake we chose was called Oh, My Bleeding Heart and it was topped with an entire slice of red velvet cake! We were full before we even got to the milkshake! These are definitely milkshakes you can share, I can’t imagine trying to finish one by myself.
This is a great place to stop by after dinner, and I think if you’ve spent all day hiking in the Smoky Mountains, you can totally justify it!
Clifftop at Anakeesta
Free parking? No, and tickets are needed to Anakeesta to enter.
Let me preface this recommendation by saying that Clifftop is located in Anakeesta, a mountaintop park that requires tickets and a chairlift to the top. I wouldn’t buy tickets to Anakeesta just to eat at Clifftop, but if you’re heading there anyway, this is a great place to eat with fantastic views.
Clifftop is a small restaurant and can fill up quickly, so if you know you want to eat there then I would recommend stopping by to put your name down early. We arrived at the top of the mountain at about 12pm and were told the wait was about an hour. We were then free to explore the rest of the park until I got a text that our table was ready.
The food is quite standard American faire, with lots of burgers, salads, and sandwiches on the menu for lunch. Dinner has a more varied menu with seafood and steaks, as well as some of the more popular lunch items. There is a kids menu as well, as well as a bar menu with some fun drinks.
It was incredibly hot when we were there, so I opted for a wedge salad and it was delicious. The kids loved their meals, especially the fact that they came with cookies!
The prices were really reasonable considering food options are pretty limited at the top of a mountain; they could get away with charging quite a lot with a captive audience, so I appreciate that they don’t. Although it’s technically on top of a mountain instead of in the city itself, I’d still recommend it as a place to eat in Gatlinburg with kids if you’re visiting Anakeesta.
Free parking? No
Chocolate Monkey is a sweet shop selling ice cream, fudge, caramel apples, and other treats. They have locations all over Tennessee and their goodies are amazing!
We stopped in to get ice cream and ended up picking up some fudge as well. We could have bought a lot more! Everything was so good, and the staff working there were so friendly.
They actually have two different locations on the main street in Gatlinburg (and a location in Pigeon Forge if you’re staying next door).
If you’re looking for somewhere to get a sweet treat after dinner (but don’t quite have room for a giant milkshake from The Crazy Mason!) then this is a great option. We returned there night after night, and it’s definitely a top recommendation for where to eat in Gatlinburg with kids.