So you and your family are taking a vacation to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. You’ve heard of the Great Smoky Mountains and know that the small mountain town has plenty of entertainment and attractions options for you and your family, but how do you choose which ones to visit? The options can seem overwhelming, but with the help of our staff and visitors, we have chosen the Top Five “Must-See” Places in the Smoky Mountains.
1. The first stop of your Pigeon Forge vacation should be the most recognizable landmark – Dollywood! This Pigeon Forge theme park is owned by Mrs. Dolly Parton herself and draws in about 2.5 million visitors every year. Dollywood is Tennessee’s number one ticketed attraction and has received numerous awards over its 27 years in operation, including Best Park by Amusement Today.
Dollywood offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience Smoky Mountain culture while enjoying the typical theme-park attractions. In fact, Dollywood holds many arts and culture festivals monthly, drawing in unique exhibitions and festivals that you and your family will love. Home to an excellent Christmas celebration and the first “winged” roller coaster in the country, Dollywood is a Pigeon Forge attraction you just can’t miss!
2. The second stop on your Pigeon Forge vacation should be Cades Cove, the most visited area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Home to sweeping valleys, rising mountains and ancient pioneer homesteads, Cades Cove offers its visitors a chance to get in touch with the nature of the mountains. Available to tour by vehicle, on foot, and on bike, you and your family can explore Cades Cove any way you’d like!
Cades Cove is an 11-mile, one way loop that offers plenty of “pull-off” spots for vehicle touring in addition to a visitor’s center. The area is a hotspot for wildlife, so make sure you take your camera on this trip! Some of the animals frequently spotted include black bears, elk, white-tailed deer, turkey and elk.
3. You may not have thought that you could pet a penguin, gaze at twelve foot sharks or feed a stingray while on your Pigeon Forge vacation, but at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies you can! This aquarium offers a spacious underwater tunnel, allowing you and your family to watch the animals swim around and above you while staying nice and dry.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is home to more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures, from sea horses to sawfish. This aquarium visit with be a favorite with children and adults alike, providing an educational and hands-on experience with exhibits such as “Touch a Ray” in Sting Ray Bay and the Discovery Center, where visitors can hold horseshoe crabs and other creatures of the sea. Holding more than 2 million gallons of water, you will be delighted by the variety of attractions in this aquarium.
4. For a rousing good time, gather up your family and head to the Dixie Stampede. This combination dinner show and entertainment performance makes the Dixie Stampede the most fun place to eat in the Smokies! This top-of-the-line dinner show is a “must-see” for Pigeon Forge vacationers year after year.
You and your family will enjoy stunning special effect, thrilling horse-back riding stunts and a musical production that will leave your foot a tapping! No dinner show is complete without a delicious southern-style meal, including rotisserie chicken, creamy vegetable soup, a homemade biscuit and corn on the cob. The Dixie Stampede staff will bring the food straight to your table while you enjoy the magical show.
5. The final stop on your Pigeon Forge vacation should be Ober Gatlinburg. This attraction, while operating mainly as ski resort during the winter months, is open year-round and offers lots of attractions for visiting families. With an amusement park, wildlife encounter and several dining and shopping options, Ober Gatlinburg is a one-stop shop for all of your entertainment needs!
Check out the Wildlife Encounter, where you will get a chance to see black bears, river otters and several different birds of prey. Ride the aerial tramway up the mountain for a breathtaking view of downtown and the mountainside, then hit the slopes for some skiing and snow-tubing fun. Ober Gatlinburg has been in operation since 1961 and offers a full day of fun for you and your family.
We polled our employees and took their top three Pigeon Forge attractions to give you a little more information on other fun activities in the area. The Titanic Museum was among their top choices – this large ship-shaped structure is one of the most recognizable Pigeon Forge landmarks. Serving as a permanent memorial to the passengers that lost their lives aboard the Titanic, the Titanic Museum offers guests a chance to explore an exact replica of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase. This educational tour also includes a chance to touch an iceberg, experience the feeling of the ship’s sloping deck as it sunk into the water, and a chance to hear real passenger stories.
Another entertainment avenue that came highly recommended from our employees was the Comedy Barn. One of our employees even stated that she thought it was “the best show in town!” This family-friendly comedy show features magicians, fire-eaters, jugglers and comedians as well as live music! You are guaranteed to laugh until you have tears in your eyes as you and your family enjoy this hilarious comedy show.
Here’s something you probably never thought of – what about a Helicopter Ride in Pigeon Forge? One of the most highly recommended activities by our employees; you will be thrilled when you soar over the Great Smoky Mountains with a birds eye view. The ride is catered to your time and budget and the helicopter ride can take you over rivers, downtown, the National Park or sweeping farmland. You and your family will be awestruck by the incredible views during this once in a lifetime experience.