Updated: Sep 5, 2022
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People from all over the world flock to Pigeon Forge every year to catch a glimpse of the famed Great Smoky Mountains. The national park is the most visited in the United States with more than 14 million tourists each year. Although the park itself rests up the road in Gatlinburg, many people opt for staying in this city, or at least passing through. Luckily, there's plenty to do. And I would know, I grew up here!
Dollywood is known all around the world thanks to its association with country music legend Dolly Parton. It features some amazing rollercoasters: the Wild Eagle, Tennessee Tornado, and the award-winning Thunderhead. It also has a great children’s section for those who are not quite ready to tackle the large coasters. Furthermore, Dollywood digs deep into southern culture by serving some of the most authentic Tennessean food you can get anywhere. One of the most famous places is Aunt Granny’s Restaurant, which serves cornbread, biscuits, and a variety of other foods that taste better down south.
Just outside the theme park is a high-end hotel with a large pool and playground called Dollywood's DreamMore Resort. Besides the extremely close location to Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country, this hotel puts you right at the foot of practically everything in Pigeon Forge.
Dollywood's Splash Country
Just a hop, skip, and jump from Dollywood is Dollywood's Splash Country. This water park features a relaxing lazy river, an exhilarating wave pool, and a large section for children. The rides are everything from family style to twisting tube slides and slides with massive drops. Notably, the park has an exciting 1,175-foot-long water coaster called River Rush with an abundance of turns and tunnels.
Despite the name, the Island isn’t actually located over a body of water. Instead, it portrays a small town, housing numerous shops, restaurants, and even an arcade. The most famous part of the Island is probably the giant Ferris wheel that serves as a focal point to those driving by. It has something for both kids and adults, with escape games, frozen yogurt shops, and a Margaritaville Resort serving top-notch beverages. The area is completely free to enter and walk around, though attractions do cost.
If this area interests you, you should book a room at the Margaritaville Island Hotel or the Margaritaville Island Inn. They both give off vacation vibes and are located in a tremendous part of the city.
The Titanic Museum
This museum recreates the grand staircase and some of the cabins from the White Star ocean liner RMS Titanic. Upon entering, you will receive a boarding pass with the name of an actual passenger. At the end, you will discover the person’s fate, whether they died or lived during their journey. Visitors can touch a real iceberg and feel the water temps from the fateful night. You will also get to try walking up slanted ramps, which demonstrate the ships’ angle while it tilted into the ocean. To authenticate your experience further, it has more than 400 artifacts from the Titanic itself. If you're interested, you can book tickets ahead of time.
Pigeon Forge is home to many mini golf courses. So many that you can't leave without taking a “swing” at one of them. I’m going to list a few of my favorites for you to choose from.
Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf. This location has two different course options with a giant waterfall in the center. A mining train gives you a ride to the first hole to amplify your experience.
Crave Golf Course. This course literally has powdered sugar floating in the air, making you feel a need for sweets. It serves a variety of milkshakes and has an entire candy store in the front. It features both indoor and outdoor courses and a miniature bowling alley.
Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm. This golf course has three unique courses to choose from. It's decorated with cute farm animals and offers differing difficulty levels to cater to both children and adults.
The Track is a superior place for family fun. It has mini-golf, go-karts, an arcade, and bungee jumping. The park actually has two locations - one near Sevierville and one at the end of Pigeon Forge. There are also kid rides so youngsters can enjoy their time just as much.
If you’re a fan of dinner shows, Pigeon Forge has plenty. Among the most popular is Dolly Parton’s Stampede, where the crowd is divided in a competition between the north and the south. The food here is wonderful, but it must be eaten entirely by hand. No silverware allowed! Another well-known dinner show is Hatfield & McCoy, which tells the story of two feuding families. Singing, dancing, and comedy is present throughout the show.
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
This winding rollercoaster offers scenic views on a seven minute ride through the mountains. The sleds reach a maximum speed of 27 miles per hour, which feels pretty fast when going downhill. Two people can ride together at a time, and it operates in rain, snow, and sunshine.
If you're a budget traveler, you should check out Timbers Lodge, a nice hotel with a cabin theme. The Music Road Resort Hotel is perfect for travelers with children with an arcade, pool, and lazy river. For those willing to shell out more money, The Inn on the River has gorgeous views, and it's within walking distance of The Track and The Island.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is the perfect family destination, with attractions that can please any age group. I hope you find one or more things on this list to do on your way into the mountains.