One of my favorite places in Eastern Tennessee the mountains are just breathtaking. It’s a slower pace of life and everyone is just friendly. That being said it was so hard to choose to 30 of the Best Things to do in Pigeon Forge TN. I have so much fun while I’m there and never feel like I get to do it all! This is part of our Fun Things to do on Vacation in Every State in America page as well!
30 of the Best Things to do in Pigeon Forge TN
So before we get into the list below I want to mention the Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass. This is a discount admissions pass. You pay one price and pick either 3 or 5 attractions you want to visit out of 30 different options!
The attractions are in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area and include everything from museums, dinner shows, tours, and so much more. I’ll make a note below if the item is in the Sightseeing Pass. Depending on the attractions you choose you can save between $20 to $60 per person!
I want to share some answer to the most asked questions people have when visiting the Pigeon Forge Tennessee area.
What’s the difference between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?
These are two different cities but almost run together. Pigeon Forge is just north of Gatlinburg and is known for their several mile “strip” of activities all on the main road.
Then you leave Pigeon Forge and go through a beautiful mountain area next to a stream. You pass the Gatlinburg Visitors Center and the Gatlinburg Bypass turn off (take this if you are going to the National Park, or want an AMAZING view of downtown Gatlinburg). Then you start to head into Gatlinburg.
You come to fork in the road. Go to the left to go to the Arts District and to the right to go towards downtown and the National Park.
How far is Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?
The drive of that mountain strip I mentioned above from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg has never really taken up more than 10 minutes.
Now during some of the holidays, the traffic backs up just a little as you get right into Gatlinburg because of all the traffic lights but even then there is plenty to look at, and the views are amazing we have never really minded being stuck in traffic
What is there to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee?
The biggest attraction by far is The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is just outside Gatlinburg.
As mentioned above these are really 2 separate areas. So if you are looking for things to do in Gatlinburg I suggest these two posts for you.
If you want things to do in Pigeon Forge, keep reading.
What is there to do in Pigeon Forge for free?
While many items listed below will cost money there are over 23 Free Things to do in Pigeon Forge TN area.
The National Park is free, walking The Island and taking in the water show is another fun freebie. When the weather is nice it’s so fun to it on one of the chairs watch the show and listen to the live music that is there most days, and of course, people watch.
If you are there during a holiday drive around and take in the decor, Halloween and Christmas are good ones. Go for a fall drive when the leaves change.
Oh, and did I mention the Bush’s Baked Beans tour is free? Oh yeah!
What is there to do in Pigeon Forge in the winter?
Plenty! Pigeon Forge and even Gatlinburg are known for their Christmas celebrations. They go all out with the lights and festivals.
So much so they are one of the Top 12 Best Christmas Towns in USA!
Keep in mind the main drive over the Smoky Mountains from Gatlinburg to Cherokee NC heading through the National Park will close when it snows. The visitor’s centers will be open and more likely than not so will Cades Cove.
What is there to do in Pigeon Forge at night?
Plenty! In season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) most of the Go-Kart parks are open late, as late as midnight sometimes later. The Island is open from midnight to 1 am.
Most of the dinner shows have night showings. The Alpine Coasters are have lit up night rides as well.
If you are there during the off-season for say Christmas, this is the best time to go take in all the lights!
What can couples do in Pigeon Forge?
There is so much! Take in the dinner shows and comedy barn, go to Dollywood, do the wine trail or moonshine trail.
There is always the Dollywood water park with the bonus of getting to see each other in your swimsuits! Hey, Hey!
Related: 189 Free Things to do in Tennessee
Top Attractions in Pigeon Forge Tennessee
Ok with the questions out of the way lets get on to the fun stuff because I know this is the reason you are here right!
Titanic Museum – (included in the Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass) This is one of my top favorite things to do in the area. Of course, I am fascinated by the Titanic and I love seeing the items from the actual ship, the pictures, and hearing the stories.
Best of all my kids wanted to go back here over visiting the aquarium in Gatlinburg so I guess I am passing my fascination on I guess!
Also more often then not I am able to find discount tickets on Groupon.
Forbidden Caverns – Just outside Pigeon Forge are these amazing caverns that go under the Smokies. There is also a crystal clear pond in the caverns and it’s just beautiful to see!
Alcatraz East Crime Museum – This is another museum up in my top 5 for sure! There is so much history here and not just about Alcatraz. There is info from Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Wyatt Earp and more.
There were even some fun hands-on exhibits for the kids that they really enjoyed. Plus they can get a scavenger hunt and we loved it because it kept them engaged.
Bush’s Baked Bean Tour – Again just outside Pigeon Forge is the Bush’s Baked Bean visitor center and museum. Get a tour and learn the companies history.
Pigeon Forge Island – Many people head here and make a day out of it. They are located behind the Alcatraz museum so you can take in the museum too. Parking is free in their parking lot and they have trams free trams that give you a ride back up to the action.
The Margaritaville Resort is attached to the Island so there is a place to stay and eat. Paula Deen has a restaurant here, there are many shops and even Moonshine tasting.
The big draw is there dancing fountain and goes in time with many sings and even lights up at night. They have live entertainment on most days and well. Then they have rides like the Sky Wheel too.
Tomb Egyptian Adventure – This is an extreme themed escape room. They go all out and it’s really fun. This isn’t your tradition escape room either.
Some others like this are included in the Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass.
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster – This is the one that started it all. It’s an Alpine Coaster built into the mountain. It’s over an hour long and is around a 10 minute right.
This is another attraction I can often find discount tickets on Groupon for.
Some others are included in the Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass.
Elvis Presley Museum – Yep even Elvis has a museum in Pigeon Forge. I loved visiting Graceland so we made this a must for our next trip!
Dollywood – Dollywood is the main reason many visit the area. It’s an amazing theme park that features much of the Smoky Mountains history between on the rides.
The photo above is at the Grist Mill where you can get their famous Cinnamon bread that they just can’t make fast enough and people will willingly wait over an hour in line for.
Dollywood’s Splash Country – This is Dollywood’s water park and full of some fun rides and plenty of ways to grab some sun and relax. I love how this has the Tennessee mountain theme built-in.
Parrot Mountain & Gardens – Everyone comments on how many parrots there are because they just don’t expect the sheer amount of them. They also have some beautiful peacocks and there are plenty of pictures of them all spread out!
Old Mill Square – This historic mill still runs today and they have built an amazing area of shops around it. There is also an amazing restaurant mentioned below.
Outdoor Gravity Park – Have you see the videos of the people rolling down a hill in what look like gigantic bubbles? Yep, this is the place where that happens.
Hollywood Wax Museum – This is the building with Godzilla hanging on top of it. Wax museums are pretty popular and with the level of detail in them today it really is an amazing work of art.
Rocky Top Wine Trail – (included in the Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass) The east Tennessee wine trail is one not to miss. Taste some great local wines, I feel the mountain give the wines a little something-something. Plus everyone agrees on the hospitality from the wineries is amazing.
Moonshine Tasting – Just like the wine trail there is a moonshine trail. There are so many distilleries in the mountains that you have to do a tasting.
Ole Smoky Moonshine here is a $5 tasting of 12 flavors. I was pretty well buzzed!
Ride Go-Karts – (included in the Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass) As you deuce the strip you will see more go-kart places then you can count. Each one tries to outdo each other in some way so pick one or 5 and go have fun.
Mini Golf – (included in the Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass) Just like the go Karts there are soooo many mini-golf spots. Indoor, outdoor, blacklight, themes of all kinds and even on that is built into the mountain (but I think this one is technically in Gatlinburg).
Top Dinner Shows in Pigeon Forge Tennessee
Dolly Partons Dixie Stampede – The show that started it all in the area. Are you on the Northside or the Southside? Have dinner and watch all the horse riding tricks and stunts along with a great dinner.
Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show – The Hatfield and McCoy feud is based on a true story and is America’s version of Romeo and Juliet in more of a country setting which means many more laughs!
This dinner show takes it to a whole new crazy funny level.
Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud – (included in the Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass) While this is mostly a fun and action-packed dinner shop there is also an adventure park attached so this makes a great night out. They call all the activities ‘Loggersports’.
This show is a bit different. You get to watch the show then go have dinner at one of the 3 places on the property.
Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show – This pirate-themed show features legends like Blackbeard and Calico Jack
The Comedy Barn – This is a comedy show and dinner in one. It’s all family-friendly and features everything from magicians to ventriloquists.
Top Places to Eat in Pigeon Forge Tennessee
I don’t know about you but when I visit somewhere going out to eat is part of the experience. SO let me share my top 5 places to eat in Pigeon Forge.
One thing that is very popular in this area is family-style dining.
What is family style dining? Well instead of everyone getting their own meals they serve the meals in a big platter at the table and you fill your plates.
Generally, you get to pick 2-3 main dishes, 3-4 sides, and a dessert. The plus side is usually this is all you can eat.
While they have their all you can eat menu it’s still hard to make up your mind. The last time we were there I ordered the gator tail, my daughter ordered catfish, and my son ordered the fried chicken and we all shared it.
The Pottery House Cafe and Grille – Part of the Old Mill family, this is the places for a bit lighter food all with a southern twist too. Known for their sandwiches, shrimp and grits and of course, steak.
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen – Now it’s no secret how much I love Paula Deen’s cooking. I tried it in Savannah, Georgia and have been a fan ever since.
The food is served family-style and she has a great shop downstairs with everything, including the butter-flavored lipgloss y’all! I’m not kidding. Plus it’ located right on the Island so you can shop or watch the water show after.
Related: 15 Tennessee Fun Food Challenges
Top Places to Stay in Pigeon Forge
I know places to stay don’t count as something to do but I gave you activities and food might as well round off the post with helping you find a place to stay as well!.
Margaritaville – Located right on the Island in Pigeon Forge you can stay in the middle of all the action! Park your car for the weekend and enjoy everything from the Alcatraz Museum to moonshine tastings, to live music, the water show, and even Paula Deen’s cooking.
If you don’t even want to leave the property that’s fine too, they have bars, places to eat and views right on the property. Their rooms are all done up in what I want to call Smoky Mountain Tropical.
We know Margaritaville is all about the tropical vibe. Well, it’s a soothing tropical vibe mixed with the Smoky Mountains stones and it all just works!
Airbnb – You know I love Airbnb when I travel! I get a whole place for me and my kids (all 5 of them) for less than the cost of 2 hotels room per night, because yes we are at the point where they make us buy 2 rooms.
You can rent an amazing log cabin with a view, to a resort, a camping location, or even a treehouse. Sign up for a free account with my link and get a $40 credit for your trip!.
Cabins – The Smoky Mountains are known for their cabins with amazing views. There are plenty of views of the amazing mountains, or the city lights, or both!
Eagles Nest Campground – If you are looking to bring an RV I highly suggest this campground. It’s just far enough off the beaten path to be quiet but close enough and you are there in a blink of an eye.
The campground butts up to a small mountain and has a stream that runs along one edge. Plus it’s pretty cheap for the area!
Resorts – Then you always have the resort and there are a few of them. Dollywood DreamMore Resort and Spa is one perfect if you plan to center your trip around Dollywood.
You get exclusive park privileges like a Time Saver pass, indoor and outdoor pools, and they have food and a spa right on the grounds.
The resort has a luxury Smoky Mountain feel and is design for families.
So there you have it everything you need for your perfect vacation. Now I want to know what are some of your favorite things to do in Pigeon Forge TN? Don’t forget to grab your Smoky Mountains Sightseeing Pass too!