The Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited U.S. National Park. Of course you want to also enjoy by finding things to do in Pigeon Forge and nearby Gatlinburg, Tennessee!
Being from the Cincinnati area, it’s only a 4.5 hour drive, so I’ve traveled here many times. For this trip, we stayed at the Yourcation Awaits cabin, and had such a fun family vacation!
Traveling with a toddler, our goal was to find family friendly activities. We usually stay in Gatlinburg, so Pigeon Forge was somewhat new to us. We found so much to do in the area though, and wish we’d had more time to check items off the list!
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Pigeon Forge: Things to Do
♦The Island– This large entertainment and shopping complex really impressed me! It has a Ferris wheel and fountain at its center, and is filled with restaurants, shops, breweries, arcade games, laser tag, escape rooms, and rides. You can park on site, and take their trolley into the pedestrian complex.
It’s so huge, it reminds me a bit of the resorts in Disney World! Highlights for me were the Ole Smoky Moonshine tasting experience, and eating classic southern comfort food at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.
♦WonderWorks– You can’t miss it when you drive by- it’s located inside what looks like an upside down building! I’d driven by it several times but never knew what it was, so it was nice to finally check it out!
Inside it is an interactive science museum, filled with hands-on displays and activities. There are amusement park style rides, arcade games, and a ropes course. Our toddler loved the giant piano, the huge bubble rings, the big Lite Brite board, and the hologram sand table. My personal favorite was the extreme weather area, and multiplayer Pacman game!
♦Indoor Snow Tubing– We decided to try something new at Pigeon Forge Snow! Here anyone 3 and older can snow tube, and dang you go FAST down those hills!! The building is climate controlled too, so you can show up in your shorts and sandals.
For the little ones, they have a “snow play” area where they can play in the artificial snow. There’s also a viewing area if you’re too scared to tube!
♦Apple Barn Village– As a huge fan of apple cider, this complex is perfect for me! This “village” has an apple orchard behind it, and multiple buildings selling things like apple cider, hard cider (of course I did a sample tasting!), apple fritters, caramel apples, apple butter, and the list goes on! There is also a multi-story gift shop and restaurant.
♦Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s theme park!) was actually right behind the cabin we stayed at, and a 5 minute drive away. We didn’t go as our son was a bit too young, but I hear amazing things! Also Dolly Parton herself is a music legend and national treasure, so I’d love to support anything she’s involved in!
♦The Christmas Place– Even in summer, this place is magic. There are countless rooms with various Christmas themes, and it’s so much fun to explore. They have artists do the calligraphy on the custom ornaments right in front of you, which is really neat to see. Even if you don’t want to shop, just look around!
♦Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud– Sometimes these big shows and dinner theaters can come across as cheesy, but this one is truly fun and entertaining. I was amazed by the talent of the performers! It is such a unique experience, I definitely recommend it!
♦The Old Mill Square– This scenic area not only has a peaceful vibe and pretty views- there are SO many places to eat and shop. You HAVE to eat at the Old Mill Restaurant. True southern, home-grown cooking and the friendliest service! I still think about those pancakes! Also don’t skip the Old Mill Creamery for ice cream!
♦Titanic Museum– While I was skeptical about this concept at first, I’ve only heard good things about it. It respectfully tells the story of that fateful night, and allows visitors to understand what the passengers went through in an engaging way.
♦Parrot Mountain & Gardens– A peaceful Bible-inspired garden & parrot preserve offering chances to interact with rare birds in a beautiful setting.
♦Float the River or Go Tubing– Of course this is only in the summer, but there are plenty of places to rent tubes and do some floating and river-tubing. You can go on your own, or through a company.
♦Pigeon Forge Whine, Whiskey & Moonshine Tour– According to their website, “Tennessee is known for its whiskey and moonshine, but sampling at distilleries is hard if you don’t have a designated driver or a car. This tour mixes a bit of Appalachian culture with visits to two popular distilleries”.
♦Goats on the Roof- It’s just like the name says- a place to see goats…on a roof! I know, it sounds strange- but it’s actually so fun! We now go every time we are in the area!
They have a contraption you can operate to get the food up to the goats, they have gem mining, a mini roller coaster, and you can peruse the gift shop. You can also buy little food cups and feed the goats- which our toddler loves!
Where we Stayed: We had the chance to stay at the beautiful Yourcation Awaits cabin in Pigeon Forge. It is very close to Dollywood, and the hundreds of attractions in the city. It is also only a 25 minute drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance. You are right by all the places you’d want to visit, but being on a hilltop still gives it an isolated and private feel– plus great views!
This cozy mountain abode is incredibly spacious, clean, and has an open setup. It sleeps up to 13 guests, so it is perfect for big groups! With just the three of us (my husband, son, and myself) there on our vacation, we had more than enough space! The interior of the cabin is covered in pine wood, and has rustic forest-themed decor. I loved seeing all the small personal touches like the cute black bear coasters, or lamps with pine cones carved in. While it is common to find wooden interior cabins in the Smoky Mountains, this one was easily the best quality cabin I’ve stayed at in the area!
Features: The cabin has four bedrooms; one of which is a master bedroom with en-suite bathroom, walk-in closet, Jacuzzi tub, and futon. Two of the rooms have King-sized beds, and one has Queen-sized bunk beds. The cabin comes equipped with toiletry products, and a convenient keypad entry system to enter. The common areas and bedroom have smart TV’s (including Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+), and the kitchen is fully stocked. There is also a charcoal grill, and grilling tools.
As we visited in the heat of summer, we also deeply appreciated the free access to the community pool. It was only a five minute walk away, and was perfect for my toddler as there is a large shallow area.
The Yourcation Awaits cabin has many features that are perfect for large group getaways. There is a pool table, a retro arcade game (don’t ask me how many times I played PacMan and Frogger), and on the small third floor there is a cozy poker table lounge overlooking the mountains.
My favorite part of the cabin is the hot tub on the first floor balcony though! With great views and rocking chairs set up all around, it is so ideal for relaxing and socializing. I definitely took advantage of the hot tub and had some local drinks I bought in town during my son’s nap time!
Nearby to Pigeon Forge: Most cabins in Pigeon Forge will be about a twenty minute drive from the unique mountain town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There is so much to do and see there, that I have a separate blog post dedicated to it: Read all about Gatlinburg here! Let’s just say it involves lots of eating, moonshine sippin’, wine tasting, fudge, banjo tunes and mini golf!
Finally, it is about a twenty five minute drive from Pigeon Forge to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Sugarland Visitor Center). (Read about my favorite hikes in the Smoky Mountains!) On this trip, we headed in for some scenic drives and stopped at a few overlooks, but didn’t do any actual hiking in the park due to the high summer temps!
Overall, we had a very memorable and extremely fun time on our family vacation in Tennessee. Staying in Pigeon Forge is the perfect home base and place to come back to relax in, and I am already plotting out getting a big group together to head back soon!
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As always, all reviews and opinions are my own. However, I was hosted for 3 nights by Yourcation Awaits cabin in Pigeon Forge in exchange for this review. I also received a VIP attractions pass (valued at around $1,500 total) for free admission to several sites in town by the Pigeon Forge Tourism Board.