This post is #sponsored by Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
My family has loved visiting the Smokies over the years. My grown kids have even threatened to pack their bags and set up home base in Pigeon Forge. You know, we live in Ohio, I can’t say I blame them. The Smokies is a fantastic getaway destination and if they lived in the area, I’d always have a place to call home. Pigeon Forge is highly drivable and a short road trip from Central Ohio which makes it the perfect family vacation destination for my family.
Allow me to share some of the reasons that my family loves Pigeon Forge and in the process, I hope that you too decide it is worthy of a visit, or two, because I truly believe that if you visit once, you’ll be hooked.
It may be cliché but there is truly something for everyone in Pigeon Forge.
Interests in my family range from history lovers to foodies to adrenaline junkies and despite our differing preferences when it comes to travel, Pigeon Forge is a destination that pleases even the toughest critic.
Here’s a List of our Top Things to do in Pigeon Forge
Dolly Parton’s Stampede
Drive down the Parkway and it will be evident that Pigeon Forge has no shortage of entertainment options. My favorite is this high energy dinner theater that draws crowds and often sells out night after night. My tip? If you have hopes to catch a show during peak seasons like spring break, make reservations early.
The fun starts as soon as you step in the door and in my opinion, the pre-show with Mountain Ruckus is almost as good as the main attraction, fans of Bluegrass and Country may say it’s better.
To many, the highlight is the light-hearted banter between the North and the South as you dine on a four-course meal minus the utensils. Slurp your soup, eat your chicken and lick your fingers after munching the delicious dessert pastry. But if the thought of eating with your fingers grosses you out, I’ll share one more tip. Ask for a set of plasticware.
If this fast-paced comedic show with galloping horses isn’t your thing, perhaps you’d enjoy Paula Dean’s Lumberjack Feud which is equally entertaining.
You may have already heard, but Dolly Parton is well-known in these parts and for good reason. Born in a neighboring community, she has generously given a lot of her talents and money to the general area. If you’re ever lucky enough to be in the same vicinity as her, you’ll understand why she’s so loved. You may consider her a hometown heroine, but her philanthropic character has extended far beyond the Smokies.
Dollywood opened this past season even bigger and better with the completion of Wildwood Grove. Geared towards visitors of all ages and abilities to make memories together, this special addition brings with it more rides, more characters, and more food options.
My absolute favorite thing to do at Dollywood in the spring is to experience the Festival of Nations. The traveler in me loves the possibilities of escaping to lands around the world that I may never see, which is one of the reasons Dolly is so passionate about this amazing festival. She wants the people of the Smokies to experience the cultures represented through traditional music, dance, and food.
Ready for a tip? Pack some pennies and quarters and have fun tracking down the pressed penny machines in Dollywood for some inexpensive souvenirs for the little (and big) kids in the family.
Experience the Museums
The exterior of the Titanic Museum appeals to the roadside attraction enthusiast in me, but it’s inside where the story comes to life. This is not a feel-good museum, but I do believe that it’s important to learn the history of the ship and respect those who lost their lives as well as celebrate those who survived this great tragedy in history.
As you enter the museum, you’ll receive a boarding pass of one of the passengers who boarded the RMS Titanic. You’ll learn about the different classes of people and where the person identified on the boarding pass fit on the ship. At the end, you’ll find out if they survived or perished.
This is a great museum to tour on spring break- especially for homeschool families. Ask my kids. After all, the first time we visited, we were on an un-official “field trip”. Want a money saving tip? The Titanic Museum offers discounts and lesson plans to homeschool families who reserve their visit in advance. But even if you don’t homeschool, if you have a large family, you’ll save money when you purchase the family pack.
Wonderworks is one of my family’s favorite museums anywhere. Even as teenagers, they enjoyed making their way through the different exhibits. Highlights for my kids were getting trapped in a hurricane, laying on a bed of nails, the glow in the dark ropes course and the Far Out Art Gallery. If you want your visit to be especially memorable, add-on a ticket to the Wonders of Magic with Tony Evans. You won’t regret it.
Finally, the Hollywood Wax Museum provides hours of fun for everyone. Tour the museum and have your photo taken with your favorite pop culture icons. You can’t miss it, there’s an oversize King Kong scaling the Empire State Building replica outside.
I don’t know about you, but my kids are only going to spend so much time in museums before they are ready to cut loose. Lucky for them, Pigeon Forge is full of fun adrenaline pumping activities.
The Outdoor Gravity Park introduces visitors to the challenge of ZORBing in an OGO without flying to New Zealand. What could be more exciting then squeezing into a large round ball with 10-gallons of water as you propel yourself down a 1,000-foot hill with or without a partner or three? There are dry options for when the temperature dips. This is the perfect springtime activity because spring showers can’t shut down this attraction. One ride downhill and you’ll be hooked.
Next, suit up at Extreme Racing Center and battle for the #1 position around the track. The twists and turns you’ll experience on the track are go cart racing at its finest.
Visit the Old Mill Square
Quaint and historic, the shops that surround the Old Mill are some of my favorite in the area. I never visit the area without stopping in at The Old Mill Farmhouse Kitchen, The Old Mill General Store, The Old Mill Candy Kitchen for some sweet treats and other goodies to take home. My adult children enjoy tasting the spirits at the Old Forge Distillery.
Tip: The Old Mill is one of the most Instagramable locations in Pigeon Forge. Don’t miss your photo op!
My kids LOVE The Island. The entertainment mecca in the heart of Pigeon Forge offers rides, great food and moonshine- a draw for the mid-20’s crowd and a chance to take a spin on the 200-foot tall Great Smoky Mountain Wheel that lights up Pigeon Forge and offers mountain views because you know that’s what everyone is there for!
I did tell you that my family has a foodie in our midst- I actually have three who love to seek out whatever is popular in the area. When it comes to Pigeon Forge, it may surprise you that the cuisine they are most known for is the humble pancake.
You’ll find pancake houses aplenty. Two of our favorites include Flapjack’s and Reagans House of Pancakes #2.
But man cannot live on pancakes alone and that mantra certainly applies to my children. Their idea of a great vacation is to eat somewhere phenomenal. We found it at The Alamo Steakhouse. The food (steak of course), was wonderful, the server was attentive, and the interior was fun and lively.
The restaurant is popular which means you should expect a wait which leads me to my final tip: Save time and money by attending for a late lunch/early dinner. Your wallet will thank you for ordering off the lunch menu and you can avoid the ugly comments that sometimes surface when one is hangry.
Have I enticed you to plan a trip to Pigeon Forge? I hope so! Visit MyPigeonForge.com and begin planning a trip of your own!
© 2019, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.