Families flock to the Smoky Mountains every year for a respite from everyday life by enjoying the many things to do in Pigeon Forge. Young and old alike absolutely love the wide array of activities and attractions available – and multi-generational family trips offer opportunities to reconnect.
With its close proximity to Smoky Mountain National Park, Pigeon Forge is nestled in some of the most beautiful natural settings in the country. Families can enjoy nature, world famous theme parks, dinner theaters, and other fun family activities such as miniature golf and go-karting.
Iconic Pigeon Forge Fun
Dollywood Amusement Park
The premier attraction in Pigeon Forge is Dolly Parton’s Dollywood. Dolly Parton herself grew up in the Sevierville and Pigeon Forge area, later creating arguably one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Tennessee.
The theme park is home to more than 40 thrill and amusement rides, but Dollywood is more than that. It’s great for the whole family, featuring entertaining shows, theater, shopping, exceptional dining options and a 20-minute steam train excursion through the Smoky Mountains.
Dollywood is highly accessible for scooters and wheelchairs and even has a pet daycare where animal friends can play all day while their owners play in the park. If you are coming in the summertime you may also want to consider a visit to Dollywood Splash Country, a seasonal water park that features a water coaster and many other fun and thrilling water rides.
The Island in Pigeon Forge Amusement Park
The Island is filled with eats, shops and so much more. Here is a small sampling of the Pigeon Forge attractions on The Island.
The Titanic Museum is a step back in time to 1912 where visitors can get a first-hand look at what it would have been like aboard The Titanic during is fateful journey. It’s the largest museum featuring the Titanic in permanent standing.
The museum itself is a half-scale model of the Titanic, two stories tall, and resting in water so that museum goers can visualize the “unsinkable” ship at sea. The museum houses over 400 artifacts from the Titanic and features 20 galleries. The best way for families to enjoy their time here is to take a self-guided tour, which takes about 2 hours. This attraction is a great way to enjoy a rainy day or escape the midday sun.
Alcatraz East Museum
Although Alcatraz is located thousands of miles to the west, visitors can pick up a piece of its history right in Pigeon Forge. Alcatraz East is a museum that showcases information and artifacts from the historic prison located in the San Francisco Bay.
The museum also showcases crime in American history with five distinct galleries all featuring various artifacts and information on how crime has affected individuals, pop culture, society as a whole, as well as investigation processes and crime fighting.
Over 500 artifacts make this a great attraction for families to learn and share a piece of America’s history together in a fun and experiential way. Of special note is the actual White Bronco OJ Simpson drove during the infamous live TV car chase.
The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
For a bird’s eye view of Pigeon Forge, climb aboard the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel and ride to the top in an enclosed gondola. Her you’ll spot many of the attractions in Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains glimmering in the distance.
The Escape Game
Participate in your own real-life adventure with The Escape Game. For one hour you and your friends can be an art thief, make a prison break, save a spaceship or even find gold. Decipher clues and solve problems to get you and your teammates out of some dicey predicaments. It’s a stellar way to start an evening and gives everyone something fun to talk about the rest of the night.
That’s not everything at The Island, though! Don’t stop until you’ve also visited Arcade City, the Island Show Fountains (both the day and night time shows!) and the 7D Dark Ride Adventure.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede and Dinner Show
Dolly Parton’s Stampede is a favorite among tourists and locals. Upon entry you will be led to the Carriage room where guests can snack on popcorn, nachos, and cold drinks while enjoying some world-class Bluegrass music. Then guests are led into the arena where the showdown between the North and the South go down in a longstanding battle and entertaining tricks and activities. Don’t expect to come to this show and use a fork and knife! The utensils are your hands, it’s all part of the back country and mountain experience.
Dinner shows are a popular attraction in Pigeon Forge and this one can’t be beat. Located directly on the Parkway, the show alone will be enough to please the crowd but add in some of Dolly Parton’s favorite foods such as chicken, potatoes, biscuits and a delicious turnover for dessert and you’ll be sure to leave full and entertained.
Smoky Mountain National Park
One of the more natural and majestic family attractions for vacationers near Pigeon Forge is the Smoky Mountain National Park. While the park is not actually located in Pigeon Forge it is just a short drive to the entrance of the park.
Home to beautiful waterfalls, hiking trails, and historic buildings and views, the Smokies draw in millions of visitors every year to its scenic wonders. One of the best ways to visit Smoky Mountain National Park is to go on one of the many driving tours. A map from the park rangers will detail some of the more popular routes.
Hollywood Wax Museum
The Hollywood Wax Museum is a great option For a lighthearted outing with the family in Pigeon Forge. The museum showcases a wide variety of celebrities in lifelike wax figures and is touted as the biggest wax museum in the country.
The museum is two stories and features historic celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne as well as more recent additions like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway and many more. If you are looking something unique on your Pigeon Forge vacation than this attraction might be the right choice! Be sure to bring your camera. Photos are allowed and encouraged, making this a truly memorable experience.
SpeedZone Fun Park
The family will love SpeedZone Fun Park because it offers four kart racing options in one location! The slick track is for the big kids (56” and taller) but kids can ride with you on the Coaster track and the wild wooden Tennessee Twister. The Kids Track let’s 4+ kiddos drive on their own.
Xtreme Racing Center
Buckle Up! SpeedZone doesn’t have the corner on kart tracks…Xtreme Racing Center is owned by the same people and tout the fastest karts in Pigeon Forge. Because of the speed, kids have to be 11+ to drive. If you have the need…the need for speed, this is your place!
Crave Golf Club
Crave Golf Club is the best mini golf spot in Pigeon Forge and was named one of the top courses in the entire country by Travel Channel. Take on 19 holes on the rooftop, which is the place to be in good weather. If the sun is too bright or the rain is falling, head inside for more mini golf, a mini bowling alley, and delicious ice cream. It’s bright, colorful, clean – and the perfect place for pics.
We love Rafting in the Smokies for whitewater rafting in Pigeon Forge. Take your choice of a tour on Upper Pigeon River and see the Smokies from an entirely new perspective, or savor the view on a family float with calmer rapids for kids as young as 3 years to enjoy. Want the ultimate adventure? Pair your rafting trip with a zipline, rock climb or ropes course.
Where to Stay
Pigeon Forge has a wide variety of lodging options catering to the various needs of family vacationers. The most popular choice is to rent out a spacious condo where families and extended families can gather and meet and spend time together in a comfortable setting.
Cabins and cottages are also widely available to rent much for the same purpose. If you are looking for more budget-friendly family accommodation options, there are many great motels and hotels in close proximity to attractions, many offering amenities of both indoor and outdoor pools and a few with splash pad areas ideal for kids. There are also several full-service RV parks and campgrounds in the area.
If you are looking for a little more luxury, checkout the Dollywood DreamMore Resort. This resort is a full service hotel with two casual dining options, a large pool and lazy river, and numerous fire pits. Families will love the ease of traveling to and from Dollywood on a comfortable shuttle bus as well as complimentary time saver passes for Dollywood and Splash Country.
Another popular hotel choice is the Margaritaville Island Hotel, right in the center of the city and cornerstone to the popular Island in Pigeon Forge Amusement Park. The resort decor is very modern and chic featuring an interesting mix of mountain and island themes. Families and couples alike love the fireplaces and balconies found in every room that make for a very cozy atmosphere.
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After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.