Meandering In: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Tennessee Drone Aerial.

Nestled in the mountains, Pigeon Forge (PF) is a must-see city in the eastern part of Tennessee. Not only for the dozens of attractions and restaurants along Parkway, but also for the Smoky Mountains National Park not even an hour away. Combined with Gatlinburg (G) and Sevierville (S) – Dolly Parton’s hometown – you will never run out of things to do.

Best Time To Visit

Either in the Spring or the Fall, as the temperatures will not be too extreme and there will not be as many other tourists, but Summer is also great because of the warm weather.

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Places to Go and See

The Island (PF)

Tourists and locals alike love this one-stop location where you can eat, shop, and stay all in one place. Plan a day trip or come back several days to explore each unique shop, try all the delicious restaurants, and even plan to stay there next time you visit.

  • Hours: 10-11
  • Best Time: Nicer weather in order to walk around comfortably, but you could go all year
  • Price: Free to get in; restaurants, shops, and rides vary

Dollywood (PF)

Pigeon Forge, TN – March 2022: Dollywood sign near the entrance to the theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Named the #1 theme park in the United States by Tripadvisor in 2022, Dollywood has something for everyone. Ride on 9 different roller coasters, visit numerous themed shops, or find a place to get some savory southern food. If you are an adrenaline seeker, this park is for you.

  • Hours: Theme Park 10-8, Water Park 10-7
  • Best Time: Summer months for comfortable walking and all rides having the highest chance of being open, but could go all year
  • Price: $89 (theme park), $54.95 (water park)

Smoky Mountains National Park (G)

Pigeon Forge
Photo by Kirk Thornton on Unsplash

Known as America’s most visited national park, the Smoky Mountain ridges straddle the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee, covering 522,427 acres. Along with the mountains, the world-renowned diversity of plants and animals makes this the perfect spot to hike into the woods and enter another world.

  • Hours: Open 24 hours everyday
  • Best Time: Every season will highlight a different aspect of the park, but the best times would be either during the summer or fall, so the trails are dried out and the weather is relatively warm. 
  • Price: No entrance fees, but $5 for parking pass if staying for more than 15 minutes in the park

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Alcatraz East Crime Museum (PF)

Come expand your knowledge of crime through history at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge through interactive exhibits and real items from crime scenes, including OJ Simpson’s Ford Bronco. Depending on how interested you are, this can become an all-day event, but most can get through in a couple of hours.

  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 10-9, Fri-Sat 10-10
  • Best Time: Anytime as it is indoors
  • Price: $28.95

WonderWorks (PF)

Fun for all ages, this science-based indoor amusement park has over 100 hands-on exhibits, and a glow-in-the-dark ropes course. Walk through each section of this park and learn about natural phenomena, while also experiencing them in real time. For instance, step into the Hurricane Shack to feel the power of 71 mph winds whipping across your skin, or lay on a bed of nails without getting hurt.

  • Hours: 9-10, but hours may vary depending on the season
  • Best Time: Anytime, as all the activities are located indoors
  • Price: $37.03

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede (PF)

Known as the world’s most visited dinner attraction, Dixie Stampede is full of competition and visual storytelling that keeps you entertained for the whole show. Along with a delicious meal, the Dixie Stampede tells the tale of Native Americans and westward expansion through music, horses, and performers, making this a historical as well as captivating.

  • Hours: Shows at 3:30, 6, or 8:30 depending on the day chosen
  • Best Time: Any time of year, as the entire experience and show is indoors
  • Price: $69.99

The Hatfields and the McCoys Dinner Show (PF)

Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

Showcasing the longest feud in history, the Hatfields and McCoys Dinner Show aims to tickle your funny bone. With two warring families, one cop, and lots of dogs, there is never a dull moment in a show where a swimmin’ hole waits for someone to jump or fall in.

  • Hours: 2, 5, or 8 depending on the day chosen
  • Best Time: Any time of year; indoors
  • Price: $69.99

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Anakeesta (G)

Photo by Dean on Unsplash

Ride a gondola up the side of a mountain in Gatlinburg to reach the peak, and the home of Anakeesta. Take a walk around the quaint shops or eateries scattered around the top, or explore the 14 bridge Treetop Skywalk with over 880 feet of connected bridges placed 50 to 60 feet in the air. Or, explore the AnaVista Tower which gives you a 360 degree view of the Smoky Mountains from the highest point in Gatlinburg, making this a perfect day-trip full of various activities.

  • Hours: 9-10, but may change depending on the season
  • Best Time: Summer months, as well as a day that is clear and sunny since most of Anakeesta is outdoors
  • Price: $33.99 general admission, but there are extra costs for certain activities

Pirate’s Voyage Dinner Show (PF)

Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

A perfect combination of show and dinner, watch as two teams of pirates fly through the air and into the water as they battle against each other. Led by Captain Blackbeard and his quartermaster Calico Jack, you won’t want to take your eyes off the action.

  • Hours: 3, 6, 8:30 depending on the day
  • Best Time: Any time; indoors
  • Price: $69.99

Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud (PF)

Photo by Michele Wyckoff

If watching two teams of lumberjacks battle against each other is something you would enjoy, then this feud is for you. Cheer for either the Dawson or McGraw families as they perform various stunts to finally settle the feud.

  • Hours: 2 or 5 on most days
  • Best Time: Summer months or a sunny day, as the event is outdoors
  • Price: $44.99

Hidden Gems

Parrot Mountain (PF)

Photo by Michele Wyckoff

Nestled on 4 acres of gardens in the mountains, Parrot Mountain in Pigeon Forge boasts not only hundreds of tropical birds but thousands of flora as well. While some exhibits only allow you to watch the birds from the other side of a cage, there is a section of the park that allows you to pet and hold many different types of birds, all with their own unique names.

  • Hours: 10-6; 10-5 winter months
  • Best Time: During the summer months when the birds will be more comfortable outside.
  • Price: $27.95

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Smoky Mountain Knife Works (S)

Known as one of the oldest and largest retailers, SMKW has four floors of all kinds of knives, gear, guns, and various other products. You can either make a quick stop here or take a day to explore each room, talking to experts about the types of knives sold, or finding the right kind of knife for you.

  • Hours: 10-6
  • Best Time: Any time of year; indoor location
  • Price: Free to walk in; varying prices depending on the product

Seven Islands State Birding Park (Kodak, nearest to S)

Photo by Michele Wyckoff

Though it takes 17 minutes to get to the park from Sevierville, this trip is worth it. Seven Islands has lots of walking trails that dive into nature where you can possibly see one of the 190 species of birds sighted in this park across 416 acres.

  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset
  • Best Time: During the warmer months to have a chance to see the birds around the park, or be able to comfortably walk around the trails
  • Price: Free

Gatlinburg SkyPark (G)

Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

Take the yellow chairlift to the top of a mountain in Gatlinburg in order to walk across the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America, and explore the other areas on each mountain peak, including shops and eateries. Named as one of the Top 10 Most Scenic Spots in the US by CBS News in 2022, this location is quickly becoming a must-see.

  • Hours: 9-9
  • Best Time: During the summer or fall months to see the mountains either covered in green or orange, yellow, and red on a clear day. 
  • Price: $34.95

Top Restaurants

Mellow Mushroom (PF & G)

Known for their homemade crust and bold toppings, Mellow Mushroom is a restaurant that tries new and exciting food combinations that are sure to satisfy your taste buds. With one location in Pigeon Forge and the other in Gatlinburg, you can get your Mellow fix wherever you’re exploring.

  • Hours: 11-10
  • Featured Food: House Special Pizza / Mel’s Classic Burger
  • Featured Drink: Lemon Submarine / Deep South

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Margaritaville (PF)

Located in Pigeon Forge, this restaurant is a creation of Jimmy Buffet and his famous song “5 o’clock somewhere.” Hurricane themed items are scattered around the space, and there are plenty of food options to choose from.

  • Hours: 11-10
  • Featured Food: Jimmy’s Jammin’ Jambalaya® / Burger in Paradise®
  • Featured Drink: Who’s To Blame® / 5 O’Clock Somewhere

Alamo Steakhouse (PF)

In remembrance of the Tennessean Davy Crockett and nearly 2,000 volunteers sent to fight in the Mexican-American War, this restaurant takes Texas and places it in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. Their delicious steak is just one item you can order on this expansive menu that attracts large amounts of tourists each year.

  • Hours: Mon-Wed 3-9:30; Thurs 11-9:30; Fri & Sat 11-10; Sun 11-9:30
  • Featured Food: Alamo NY Strip / Horseradish crusted Filet

Ole Smoky Moonshine (PF & G)

If you’re looking for moonshine that experiments with new flavors that knock your socks off, you need to go have a tasting at Ole Smoky Moonshine. This company has been around for over a hundred years, though not always on the right side of the law. Once moonshine was legalized this company flourished and continues to do so to this day.

  • Hours: 10-11
  • Featured Food: Moonshine Mandarins / Moonshine Pickles
  • Featured Drink: Raspberry Moonshine / Blueberry Lavender Moonshine

Holston’s Kitchen (S)

With all their food prepared daily, you’ll always have a fresh and delicious meal at Holston’s Kitchen. A favorite of the locals, this hidden gem has a large menu to choose from so you can keep coming back for more.

  • Hours: Sun-Thu 11-9; Fri-Sat 11-10
  • Featured Food: Hawaiian Ribeye / Whiskey Bent Burger
  • Featured Drink: Bomb Pop / Orange Dreamsicle (Seasonal)

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Top Hotels

Tru by Hilton Pigeon Forge

  • ~$200/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free hot breakfast, Free WiFi, Outdoor Pool, Fitness Center, Indoor Pool, Streaming TV
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Free Parking

Grand Smokies Resort Lodge

  • ~$100/night
  • Featured Amenities: Indoor Pool, Arcade/Game Room, Free WiFi, Refrigerator, Flat-screen TV, Microwave
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Free Parking

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa

  • ~$400/night
  • Featured Amenities: Indoor & Outdoor Pool, Full Service Spa, 6 Dining Locations, Free WiFi, Laundry Facilities, ATM Access
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Free Parking

Home2 Suites by Hilton Pigeon Forge

  • ~$300/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free hot breakfast, Free WiFi, Fitness Center, Indoor Pool, Outdoor Pool, Pet-friendly rooms
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Free Parking

Whether you just want to stay on the main strip of attractions or hike up into the mountains, Pigeon Forge has something for everyone.