Attractions that will make the most of your budget
For most families, there isn’t a lot of extra money from month to month. Between groceries and gas, your mortgage, and other living expenses, budgeting for a vacation can just sound impossible. But that’s just not the case when it comes to Pigeon Forge. This family-friendly destination is loaded with activities that are not only affordable, but some even free! You can have loads of fun without killing your wallet. For a little help planning your Pigeon Forge getaway, check out these local attractions that offer the most bang for your buck. We also have some great budget-friendly cabins – under $100 a night – that will help keep you on track.
Free Activities and Adventures
- Drive the Cades Cove Loop Road. One of the best FREE attractions in Pigeon Forge is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And one of the most popular destinations within this park for out-of-town guests is Cades Cove. With trails, historic sites, scenic picnic spots, and more, Cades Cove is worth a visit during your Pigeon Forge vacation. One of the easiest ways to see the Cove is to drive the 11-mile loop road. You can stop at the Visitor Center and learn about the history of the area, see wildlife, and enjoy the beauty of the Smokies on this completely free adventure. The only money you’ll need is to cover the gas it takes to get around.
- Hike to a waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We already mentioned it, but it’s worth saying again: the most visited national park in the nation—the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—is completely FREE for visitors! And another great activity to enjoy while visiting the park is a leisurely hike to a gorgeous waterfall. The park has 16 different waterfalls you can choose from, including Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. Each has something unique to offer, so do your research and decide which hike will be best for you and your family during your stay.
- Spend the day at Patriot Park. Located just behind the historic Old Mill in Pigeon Forge is Patriot Park. There is no charge to enter the park, and once there, you can enjoy a walk through U.S. history with the big “Liberty Bell,” all 50 state flags, a historic patriot missile, and a veterans’ memorial park. Pack a picnic and enjoy the day at Patriot Park under the picnic pavilion. There’s also a creek with machines for duck food—a perfect place for the kids to wade and play. And if you forgot to bring lunch or are just in the mood for some good Southern cooking, don’t miss homemade pecan pie and corn fritters at The Old Mill Restaurant. Prices are reasonable for lunch, so plan to eat early if you want to save a little dough.
- Listen to live music at The Island. One of the newest attractions in Pigeon Forge, The Island is quickly becoming a fan favorite. With the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, ropes courses, carnival rides, unique shops, and more, The Island can entertain your group for days! But if you’re looking to save a little money, then check out the FREE live music at night on the Ole Smoky Barn stage. They’re mixing it up with local talent every evening from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.—a great alternative to spending big bucks at a concert somewhere else! You can also watch the show fountains light up at night or just walk around the area and explore the shops.
- Play at the Pigeon Forge Community Center. Built in 2000, the Pigeon Forge Community Center is a little known attraction that means big bang for your buck. Daily guest passes are only $6, and you get to enjoy basketball courts, racquetball courts, aerobics rooms, and more! You will even find a bowling alley at this well-equipped recreation center. And for those days when the weather is at its hottest, you’ll love the Pigeon Forge Aquatic Center. For only $3, adults can enjoy the outdoor pool from Memorial Day until August 17.
- Ride the Fun Time Trolley. You might think you’re in San Francisco when you spot the Fun Time Trolley rolling through town! This green trolley makes runs through Pigeon Forge throughout the year, including a run to North Parkway, South Parkway, and Dollywood. Rides are only $0.50 and all children three and under are FREE! Keep in mind, if you’re planning to use the trolley several times throughout the day, the most economical option is an all-day pass, which is only $2.50. Imagine all the money you’ll be saving on gas!
- Go tubing down the Little River. There are dozens of ways to enjoy the rivers in Pigeon Forge. You can go whitewater rafting, fly above them in a helicopter, or save a little cash and float down the Little River with River Rage. For only $10, you can enjoy an all-day tubing adventure, and check their website for other great deals like the Tubers’ Special they are advertising now. You’ll get all-day tubing plus a BBQ dinner for only $15.99. That’s a great way to keep the family entertained—and fed!—without breaking the bank.