What makes Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, such a wonderful place for families? That’s an easy question for me to answer. With eight kids in our family, we came to Tennessee to explore, reconnect with one another, and most importantly, enjoy the bustling strip on the way to the scenic Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Heart-racing alpine coasters, nights out watching the Dolly’s Stampede, and hiking trails galore are just a few examples of the many nearby activities. From my family to yours, here are the top five things to do in Pigeon Forge with kids.
Top Things to Do in Pigeon Forge With Kids
1. Get Active in Great Smoky Mountain National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains draw an average of 14 million visitors a year. Families come from all over the world to experience the serenity and majesty of these mountains. Hiking trails are found throughout the park, and they can range from easy to extremely difficult.
Abrams Falls Trail, my personal favorite, is a 5.5 mile out-and-back trail. While considered moderate, I felt pretty worn out after this trek. What made this hike spectacular was the beautiful lush greenery, log style bridges over trickling creeks, and the stunning reward at the end, Abrams Falls.
Not big into hiking or carrying kids in backpacks for miles? No worries. The Great Smoky Mountains offers multiple scenic drives where you can view wildlife and stunning views right from your vehicle.
2. Experience Dollywood
One of the best things to do in Pigeon Forge is to take a day to discover Dollywood. It’s been said by some of the Gleason kids that they love it EVEN MORE than that “other park” in Florida. You know—the one with the mouse. While theme parks can seem loud and busy, Dollywood in September is the exception. You’ll find the park filled with warm southern hospitality and rustic charm from yesteryear. Ride the authentic steam train through the hills of the Smokys or sit a spell to chow down on some of their cinnamon bread. Eating cinnamon bread here is a family tradition, and I would indeed hop in the car and drive six hours to get me some.
3. Explore the Upside Down House AKA Wonderworks
Since my kids were little, they have loved Wonderworks. Even as adults, they still will talk about that upside-down house in Pigeon Forge. This science-driven destination is packed full of fun, but while your kids are having a blast, they are actually learning too; Wonderworks calls it edu-tainment! That is a win-win for any mom or dad.
4. Eat and Watch a Show at the SAME TIME
After a day of exploring the outdoors, a dinner show out is the perfect place for the family to sit back and have a hearty meal. There are plenty of dinner shows to choose from; pick one with knee-slapping hilarity or breathtaking feats. Dolly’s Stampede, a horse-themed experience, will have you cheering while stuffing your face with deliciousness.
Fuedin’ and feastin’ go hand in hand at the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner dinner feud. This all-you-can-eat hilarity and jaw-dropping stunts will entertain the family and fill their bellies too!
5. Ride One of the Longest Alpine Mountain Coasters in the United States
The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster will have you whizzing down the mountain at 27 miles per hour for a heart-pumping ride. Mountain alpine coasters are speed controlled by manually pulling and releasing the throttle, so you are genuinely in control of your adventure if there’s a member of your family who’s a little nervous. Taking an alpine coaster ride gives your family a different way to see the Smoky Mountains. “Ride the hill and feel the thrill” is the motto, and it suits the experience well.
Where to Stay in Pigeon Forge
If you are looking for a place to make a basecamp near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Sun Outdoors is the place to park your RV. This sweet RV park has location, location, location, and all the amenities that you look for in a mountain destination. The kids will be in heaven floating in the lazy river, jumping on the splash pad, or enjoying the outdoor play areas. If you’re bringing Fido, they have a fenced-in dog park, so the whole family is welcome here. You’ll be surrounded by the beauty of nature and enjoying yourself to the fullest at Sun Outdoors.
Another great place to camp in the Great Smoky Mountains is Smoky Hollow Outdoor Resort. It is a family-owned and operated resort and they have something for everyone. Are you looking for more than a campground? You can choose to stay in cabins, deluxe tipis, treehouses, or even a conestoga-covered wagon for your glamping experience. There are endless options at this resort.
There are so many things to do in Pigeon Forge with kids, but these are certainly fan favorites in our family. Pigeon Forge is more than a place to get away to; it is a destination that will be a springboard to create family memories and bring your family closer together. One trip here is never enough; you’ll be coming back to Tennessee for years to come once you experience the charm of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Brandy Gleason is an avid camper who has been RVing for over 25 years and currently travels in a Heartland Sundance 294BH with her husband, Matt, kids, and sometimes her grandkids too. Brandy loves the outdoors, and one of her greatest passions is speaking to others about “leave no trace” and sustainable tourism. She is a published author and blogger at Gleason Family Adventure.
Photo credit in order of appearance: Kevin Ruck – stock.adobe.com, Nate Hovee – stock.adobe.com, Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge, Smoky Hollow Outdoor Resort