Choose from 7 Fun Things to Do in Pigeon Forge
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Country music legend Dolly Parton is co-owner of Dollywood, a family-centered theme park in the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Amusements include more than 40 rides and attractions, 15 live shows, and several large seasonal festivals inspired by Dolly Parton and the history of the Smoky Mountains.
The 150-acre (61-hectare) Dollywood theme park welcomes around 2.5 million visitors annually, making it Tennessee’s top ticketed attraction. Visitors can choose between 1-, 2-, or 3-day tickets that grant access to all rides, shows, and attractions. Travelers planning to spend more time in the Smoky Mountains region should consider a multi-attraction pass, which includes entrance to Dollywood, as well as Anakeesta, Titanic Museum, Ole Smoky Moonshine distillery, and the Island in Pigeon Forge.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Dollywood is a must-visit for families, and theme park or Dolly Parton enthusiasts.
- Buy a mobile ticket ahead of time to skip the line (and hassle) at the ticket office.
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk; flip-flops are not allowed on some rides.
- Bring along sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, and remember to stay hydrated.
- A majority of the park is wheelchair accessible, as are many rides and attractions.
How to Get There
Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, 35 miles (56 kilometers) southeast of Knoxville. The best way to get there is to drive, but it’s also possible to ride the Fun Time Trolley from Pigeon Forge.
When to Get There
For the best balance of good weather and short lines for attractions, plan to visit on a weekday in spring or autumn. Plan to arrive first thing in the morning if you’re visiting during spring break, summer, or on a weekend. The park closes for much of January, February, and March.
TimeSaver Line Management Pass
Dollywood is one of Tennessee’s most popular attractions, so ride lines can be long. Visitors who want to make the most of their time in the park can purchase a TimeSaver pass, which allows for expedited access to select rides and shows throughout the day.
Address: 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA 37863, USA
From $ 175
On the edge of the Smoky Mountains, the family friendly roadside stop Goats on the Roof draws visitors with a wide range of attractions, including the eponymous goats that graze on the roof of the building, and also a unique Alpine-style roller coaster that twists and turns through the forest. Unlike traditional roller coasters, The Coaster at Goats on the Roof runs single carts that are driver operated. Riders can go alone or with a friend, and once they’re strapped in, they have control of the ride with a hand brake to adjust the speed. At full speed, the coaster reaches almost 30 mph, the track is about a mile long, and the average ride lasts for about 7 minutes.
The Coaster at Goats on the Roof is only about 20 minutes from both Dollywood and Gatlinburg, making for a fun afternoon activity when visiting the Pigeon Forge areas or Smoky Mountains National Park.
Address: 1341 Wears Valley Rd., Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37863, USA
Hours: Open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $15; children ages 7 to 12, $12l; children ages 3 to 6; $5.
From $ 15
Have you ever wondered what it was like aboard the RMS Titanic? Wonder no longer. At the Titanic museum, a two-story museum built half-scale (in a pool, to create the illusion of the big ship at sea), you can take a 2-hour self-guided tour designed to give you the sensation of being an original passenger on the ship's 1912 maiden voyage. As you enter, you'll be given a boarding ticket. Your ticket has the name and travelling class of one of the ill-fated ship's actual passengers, whose story you will learn as you pass through the museum.
At the end of the tour in the Titanic Memorial Room you'll have a chance to check if your boarding pass belonged to a shipwreck survivor, or to one of the less-fortunate passengers. Because more than half of the Titanic's two-thousand-plus survivors perished, the likelihood of "˜your' survival is fairly low. (Young children are issued boarding passes that belonged to survivors, as to not totally bum them out.) The museum, which is the largest permanent Titanic museum in the world, holds 400 pre-discovery artefacts (a.k.a. belongings that were recovered floating in the water) in twenty galleries. The personal natures of the items on display closely tie into the individual stories represented at the museum. In the interactive exhibits you'll get a real feeling for what it might have been like as a passenger on that ship.
Professionally produced audio tours that are geared toward children or adults can be purchased for $6 before entering the museum. The tours feature interviews with actual Titanic survivors, and the interactive nature of the children's audio tour is fun for kids. The museum's opening days and times vary seasonally.
Address: 2134 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA 37863, USA
Hours: Varies seasonally
From $ 29
Amongst a row of theaters in Pigeon Forge, Starlite Theater is one of the smaller musical venues in the area. As such it offers plenty of seating close to the stage. Scenically surrounded by the Great Smokey Mountains, the theater is known by aficionados as one of the “hidden gems” for shows in Tennessee.
The theater features up to four performances and shows, and often several per day. Tributes to musicians with a wide repertoire are common. Classics that taken to the stage include The Ultimate Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, A Tribute to Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Remembering Red - A Tribute to Red Skelton, and Magic Spectacular, which features two of the nation’s top magicians. The shows here feature energetic performers and a lively audience, which always makes for a fun night out on the town.
The Starlite Theater is located on Showplace Boulevard in Pigeon Forge, beside the Country Tonite theater. (Pigeon Forge is known as the home of Dollywood, the theme park of singer Dolly Parton.) Advance ticket purchases are recommended.
Address: 140 Showplace Blvd, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37863, USA
Hours: Hours vary depending on show
Admission: Varies with ticket price
From $ 32
While Pigeon Forge, Tennessee may be best known as the home of the Dollywood amusement park, it got a new top attraction when the Hollywood Wax Museum opened in May 2012. Built as a tribute to the U.S. film and television industry, the museum is the largest Hollywood wax museum in the country and the only one dedicated entirely to celebrities. With a large Hollywood sign, a giant King Kong scaling the New York skyline and a replica of Mount Rushmore featuring the sculpted faces of John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin, it is truly a can’t miss attraction.
Covering 22,000 square feet, the museum offers great photo opportunities for visitors as the wax figures stand out in the open instead of behind glass. Take a selfie with Brad Pitt, dance with Michael Jackson or share a bench with Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. And then head up to the roof to get up close and personal with King Kong.
The Hollywood Wax Museum stands at the corner of Parkway Boulevard and Showplace Boulevard in Pigeon Forge, a town in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. It is a 25-minute drive from Gatlinburg or about 40 minutes from Knoxville. There are a handful of hotels within a mile of the museum for those wanting to stay overnight in Pigeon Forge. Purchase tickets online in advance to skip the lines.
Address: 106 Showplace Blvd, Pigeon Forge, USA
Hours: Open 365 days a year; 9am-10pm, with occasional extended hours to 11pm or midnight
Admission: $20; All Access Pass also available that includes entrance to other nearby attractions
From $ 22
The Hard Rock Café Pigeon Forge sports a country twang in the East Tennessee home of Dolly Parton’s famed theme park, Dollywood. This particular location is fairly new, recently relocated from nearby Gatlinburg to a spacious spot next door to the Smoky Mountain Opry. In addition to the main restaurant, visitors can hang out on the outdoor patio, catch a live show on the stage or virtually explore the Hard Rock’s vast music memorabilia collection at the Rock Wall Solo, a 52-inch interactive touch wall. There’s also plenty of memorabilia to check out in person, as the Hard Rock Cafe Pigeon Forge features three main displays devoted to Dolly Parton, Jimi Hendrix, and Madonna—there’s also a lace dress from Taylor Swift among other country icons.
The Hard Rock Café Pigeon Forge sits at the center of Pigeon Forge, with the Smoky Mountain Opry to one side and Wonderworks – Pigeon Forge to the other. Dollywood is about 15 minutes away.
Address: 2050 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37863, USA
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
From $ 32
Gorgeous blue mountain scenery, abundant wildlife, and a prime location within driving distance of the Eastern Seaboard make Great Smoky Mountains National Park the most visited national park in the United States. Come to camp, hike, and explore for an adventure-filled vacation, or stay and enjoy a mountain retreat away from it all.
From chasing waterfalls to sleeping under the stars, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers plenty of activities that please nature lovers. Take a guided hiking tour to top waterfalls and vista points, get onboard a white-water rafting trip on the Pigeon River, or learn about the area’s early settler culture on a historical Smoky Mountains tour. Or, take it easy and road trip the 400 miles (640 kilometers) of scenic drives through forests, meadows, and mountains. Popular park landmarks include Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, and Laurel Falls.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Hiking trails range from easy to difficult; plan accordingly.
- Multi-day hikes through the Great Smoky Mountains and backcountry camping are also popular.
- This is a kid-friendly location that’s ideal for families.
- Park entrance is free.
How to Get There
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Though there are several entrances, the two most popular are the Sugarlands entrance in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the Oconaluftee entrance in Cherokee, North Carolina. Many visitors also choose to stay in Pigeon Forge, roughly 20 minutes from the park.
When to Get There
There are always parts of the park that are open to visitors 24 hours a day, though some areas are closed during the winter months. Visit during the fall for stunning fall foliage, or spring and summer for the nicest hiking weather.
The Appalachian Trail
The popular Appalachian Trail runs through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Though the total hike covers 2,180 miles (3,500 kilometers) from Georgia to Maine, Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains 71 miles, making for a memorable backcountry camping trip.
Address: Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA
From $ 27