A Family Playground Steps Away from the Great Smoky Mountains: Pigeon Forge

Nestled next to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee lies a city under the disguise as a family playground, Pigeon Forge! At every turn there is something new and exciting for all ages, from mountain coasters and zip lining to river rafting and museums/amusement parks, there is literally something for everyone. Oh and the food, I am still daydreaming about the southern fare and local beer!

Our adventure took place over three nights (four days), though we could have easily stayed a full week (and still not done it all). We road tripped from Raleigh, NC which took about 5 hours. This was a VERY easy ride on I-40 pretty much the entire way, which meant no windy mountain roads. The journey is part of the adventure, and I became a huge advocate of road trips during Covid. Two-thirds of our nation’s population east of the Mississippi River lives within a day’s drive of Pigeon Forge, so pack your bags for a trip to remember!

We have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite!  If you have any questions about Pigeon Forge or our trip please shoot us me an email!

Accomodations

The spirit of Christmas is kept alive every day of the year at The Inn at Christmas Place! As you enter the lobby you are greeted with Christmas music, a roaring fireplace, and decor that will make your jaw drop. I listen to Christmas music every month of the year (yes, I am one of those people), so the magic that lives at The Inn at Christmas Place was unforgettable. Not only is it beautiful inside, but outside has beautiful architecture and landscaping as well. We enjoyed sitting by the pond and lush gardens together, it was very tranquil. There is a desk and mailbox for kids to write letters to Santa which was also a lot of fun, and an added bonus!

Our room had two queen beds, a full bath, refrigerator (always a plus), private balcony, and yes – you guessed it… Christmas decorations! The Christmas tree was our favorite, turning it on every morning and evening upon our return.

Breakfast is included in your stay, and it is an incredible selection. I’m talking biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, donuts, tea, coffee, and more. It was one of the most extensive breakfasts I have had at a hotel stay and made every morning that much better.

The indoor pool and hot tub is also completely decked out, keeping with the theme, and was where you could find us after we returned from our adventures each day. The outdoor pool has a 95 foot water slide, and we spent quite a bit of time there as well!

The Inn at Christmas Place is centrally located to all the attractions in Pigeon Forge, this was very helpful when traveling with children. We were even able to walk to dinner two of the nights there, and nothing was more than a 5-10 minute drive (if not a 2-3 minute drive!).

Adventures

MagiQuest – Bring your imagination to the enchanted realms at MagiQuest, where you use a magic wand to complete quests and adventures in an interactive, role playing game. This was a huge favorite of our kids, because hello! Magic wands! Everyone got really into this game, and thankfully we all completed it! It challenges creative thinking, and was a lot of fun. We also did a mirror maze which had a lot of fun music, I had never done one before and it was a lot of fun (keep your kiddos near you, it can get confusing!). There is also a lot of fun arcade games here and indoor pirate themed mini golf. You could easily spend hours at this one spot.

Rocky Top Mountain Coaster – I highly recommend the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster for the whole family (children must be 3)! The Rocky Top Mountain Coaster is the longest coaster in east Tennessee and the first one in the world with four uplifts, reaching top speeds of 30 mph. This exhilirating ride had both kids and adults screaming and laughing with joy. This mountain coaster is a must do in Pigeon Forge!

Pigeon Forge Snow – This year-round snow tubing adventure was a huge hit for the whole family. We were utterly shocked at how fast you went down the slope. Their snow is made of 100% water with no additives, and it remains between 60-70 degrees inside (though we all wore light jackets). Our three year old was able to ride her own tube, and both girls rode over and over for our hour time. They also have snow play which is super cute – but bring close toed shoes! Pigeon Forge Snow was a blast, and believe me, you will LOVE it!

The Track Family Fun Park – Two words – go-karts (or is that one word?!). Either way, this place is worth the stop for the go-karts alone. Add in the bumper boats, kid rids, mini golf, and more, and you have yourself a great family fun park. The Track uses a point system for their rides, so you buy points and each ride requires a certain amount. They can go quickly, so plan how to use them. We loved the family go-kart options so we could all ride together, and it was a favorite of our kiddos too!

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel – Located at The Island in Pigeon Forge stands the 200-feet tall Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. This is a great option to take in the views and relax. Go early – the line can get long towards the afternoon.

The Island Ropes Course & Quick Jump – Also located at The Island is the Ropes Course & Quick Jump and Sky Tykes. Feeling adventurous? Then this stop is for you! Kids must be 42″ to play. Below 42″? No problem, they have Sky Tykes which our three year old loved!

This three story adventure course has thirty different elements, two zip-lines, and one simulated free fall (called Quick Jump). Our six year old has an adventurous spirit and this one of her favorite elements of our trip. She tightrope walked and zip-lined her way to the Quick Jump and you guys… SHE JUMPED! She had a crowed cheering her on, and the smile on her face is something I will never forget!

Hollywood Wax Museum – We had a great morning rubbing elbows with the rich and famous at the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge. I was not sure how the kids would take it, since they do not know many of the celebrities, but they wanted photos with every. single. one. I was blown away at how much fun they had! There were props for most celebrities, but due to covid we did not use them. It was a fun morning for all!

Dollywood – Dollywood is a theme park located in Pigeon Forge that is dripping with Southern charm. I had done zero planning and preparation for our visit (forgot our stroller and carrier), and still had an amazing afternoon! The whole park is playful and whimsical, and we were pleased to see so many attractions that both our girls were able to ride!

The family vibe is strong at Dollywood, and that is refreshing for a travel family! Family interaction is encouraged and we felt it throughout the whole park. There is also a lot of Dolly history and memorabilia there, which I found to be quite interesting, even as a person who didn’t know all that much about her before visiting.

I highly recommend the Dollywood Express, a coal-powered train that is very nostalgic. I loved the train whistle and the history/facts throughout the ride. We were unable to explore the whole park, but hey – another reason to go back again!

Appetite

The Local Goat – The Local Goat is a scratch kitchen specializing in locally sourced and sustainable foods. Everything is made in house that day, and you can tell. The food was delicious and came out quickly which was amazing considering how busy they were. They have a great beer selection too!

Sunliner Diner – This is such a fun spot in Pigeon Forge! Step back into a 1950s diner and enjoy some delicious burgers and shakes! We loved how committed they are to the authenticity – from the waitstaff clothing to the menu being a newspaper from that era.

Bullfish Grill – Are you a fan of surf and turf? Well this one is for you! One of my favorite meals in Pigeon Forge came from Bullfish Grill – you just can’t beat shrimp and grits! Everything on the menu is fresh, and they hand cut their steaks to order. They had a great atmosphere as well.

The Old Mill Restaurant – A must visit in Pigeon Forge, and on the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Mill Restaurant is hands down the best southern comfort food I have ever had, and the service is top notch. Our waiter went above and beyond, chatting with our kids and making our family feel welcome. Most of all, the food is out of this world! Every meal comes with soup, salad, entree, and desert. Oh and the bread… the bread and corn fritters with sweet butter melt in your mouth. This is a popular spot, so get there early to put your name on the list and shop around their pottery store while you wait!

Until next time…

18 thoughts on “A Family Playground Steps Away from the Great Smoky Mountains: Pigeon Forge

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  1. That is fully awesome! Pigeon Forge is one of my favorite places in the world. It has so much to see and do.

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  2. I’ve been to the Pigeon Forge area more times than I can count! I used to live in Knoxville and it was right next door. We still like to travel there- our most recent visit was March, 2020, right before Covid struck.

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  3. Pigeon Forge looks like a perfect place for a family vacation, and I am sure kids will really enjoy this place.

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  4. Sounds and looks like you had an amazing family adventure.. I have never been there but will add it to the list! Thank you..

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