I’ve been visiting Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains for as long as I can remember, especially since it’s an easy drive from where I live in Atlanta. For many years, that meant a family vacation in both summer and winter where all of us could do something different for our interests.
I visited last year, meeting up with friends coming from Knoxville and Chattanooga for a much-needed girlfriend getaway to get away from our chaotic work environments. It was the perfect place to relax and I find something fun and new to do every trip!
Where to Eat and Drink in Pigeon Forge
Every time I visit, I plan my entire trip around meals. Pigeon Forge has classic Southern fare with hearty portions sure to hit the spot. But there’s plenty more to choose from if you want to try something new. Here are a few of my favorites from my years of vacations there.
Sawyer’s Farmhouse Breakfast- Start your day off right before exploring Pigeon Forge with a hearty breakfast of pancakes, omelets, biscuits and gravy, and more. The restaurant also serves lunch.
The Old Mill Restaurant– Located in a historic gristmill, this restaurant serves family-style portions of Southern favorites like country fried steak, country ham, fried catfish, and all the fixings. Dishes are served on the pottery made on site.
Smokies Cuban Cafe- Authentic Cuban fare in Tennessee? That’s right! This restaurant is always a stop for me when I’m in the mood for a strong Cuban coffee, steak sandwiches, and tostones.
Local Goat- It’s easy to forget that within a short drive of downtown Pigeon Forge are rural farming communities. This farm-to-table restaurant showcases the best of these ingredients in dishes like fried green tomatoes, barbecue shrimp, and burgers.
Moonshine distilleries– If you’ve wanted to try “white lightning,” you’re in the right place. These flavored and traditional varieties are found in Pigeon Forge. Visit the Ole Smoky and Old Forge tasting rooms.
Wineries- Sip on locally made wines from Mill Bridge Winery and Mountain Valley Winery, which are both a part of the Rocky Top Winery Trail.
What to Do in Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge has an activity for just about every age range and interest level, especially nature lovers. But give yourself plenty of time to explore both the national park and the downtown attractions.
Hiking- Wander into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited park in the country. Depending on when you visit, you might spot bears, elk, or deer. Stop by the Cades Cove Visitor’s Center to start your day.
Dollywood– Country legend Dolly Parton hails from this region and her theme park pays tribute to it. It’s home to thrilling roller coasters, family-friendly rides, delicious eats, and a seasonal water park. You can even catch live performances and the museum on her career.
The Island– This shopping development has some great restaurants and stores as well as rides like the Smoky Mountain Wheel, a Ferris wheel that soars above Pigeon Forge and surrounds. It even goes at night!
Outdoor Gravity Park– Take part in a tradition from New Zealand that involves rolling down the hill in a plastic ball. You can do it rain or shine and during the warmer months, cool off with some water inside!
Alpine Coaster- Another attraction taken from overseas is this seasonal Alpine coaster that runs down the mountain. The gently gliding car follows a metal track through winding paths and is appropriate for all ages.
Titanic Museum- This massive attraction in the shape of the iconic ship is one of the nation’s foremost collections of artifacts and exhibits related to the disaster. It shares the stories of the people that sailed on the fateful voyage.
Shows- There are so many performances around Pigeon Forge, whether you’re looking for music, comedy, or both. Dolly Parton’s Stampede is one of the longest-running, featuring live animals, while Legends showcases performers singing the songs of Elvis and Cher.
Shopping- Pick up some souvenirs for your family or a treat for yourself at Pigeon Forge’s shops. The Old Mill and its surrounding shops sell the classic Pigeon River pottery, while the Lodge Factory Store has deep discounts on the Tennessee-made cookware.
Spa- Treat yourself with a massage, manicure, or other treatment at one of Pigeon Forge’s resorts. DreamMore and Margaritaville both have top-notch spas.
Where to Stay in Pigeon Forge
Get your friends together for a relaxing few nights at Pigeon Forge’s accommodations. There are lots of options, depending on your desired amenities and group size.
Margaritaville Island Hotel– Located at The Island, Margaritaville has a full-service hotel and casual inn on the same campus. The hotel has in-room margarita machines, a rooftop pool, and beach-themed guest rooms.
Dollywood DreamMore Resort– Dolly Parton’s theme park has its own hotel, a stylish property with a musical theme. There’s a pool, multiple restaurants, and rooms with bunk beds ideal for families or groups.
Cabins- Rentals are another great option, especially for groups, since they typically come with their own kitchens. Some even have hot tubs and views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.