Where I spent most of my childhood years in Kentucky, practically everyone went to Tennessee to vacation. I went yearly as a child and now I get to enjoy going with my daughters! The towns are very close together and are all close to The Great Smoky Mountains. The Smoky’s are the most visited national park in the United States! So as you may imagine, there are tons of things to do around Pigeon Forge. The area is saturated with attractions, restaurants, and hotels.
There really isn’t a time of the year that this area in The Smoky’s isn’t full of visitors. In the spring & summer of course everyone is vacationing, in the fall everyone comes to see the leaves change color, and in the winter there are tons of Christmas festivities. I have went at all different times in the year and they are all honestly lovely. But, if I have to choose I would tell you to visit around the end of October/ Early November. Summer is wonderful and Christmas in the Smoky’s is delightful, but you just can’t beat the changing colors in late October.
So, after all the time I’ve spent in and around The Smoky Mountains, I’ve compiled a list of 38 incredible things for you to experience while you are visiting the area!
A classic attraction when you are in the area. Dolly is a country idol. I adore Dolly and the work she has done for children. (anyone else singing Jolene, Jolene, Joleeeeeeeeeeneeee…? no? okay lol) Dollywood is an amusement/water park, but they also have a resort, cabin rentals, and dinner shows.
2. Titanic Museum
The Titanic Museum is perfect for history lovers or those just looking to get out of the rain. The museum is shaped like the actual ship and is built to half scale. It holds over 400 Titanic artifacts!
3. The Island
Ranked #6 best amusement park in the US and #9 best amusement park in the world.. The Island is super popular right now. I seriously can’t get on Facebook without seeing someone is visiting The Island. Add this park to your must see list!
4. The Old Mill
My FAVORITE restaurant for dinner in Tennessee. The restaurant is built inside an 1830’s gristmill giving you a view of the river as you eat. Their hushpuppies are delicious, but really so is everything. I’m a country girl at heart so all of their country cuisine makes this southern belle happy!
My daughters seriously ate their weight in hushpuppies while we were there, ha! All parents who are currently in the phases of parenthood where you have a baby or toddler who is convinced that they can feed theirselves.. Do yourself a favor and invest in a couple of these.
5. Hollywood Wax Museum
One of many of the famous Hollywood Wax Museums. This one was originally located in Gatlinburg, but is now in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
6. Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
You must ride one of the mountain coasters while in The Smoky’s. Exhilarating and fun ride!
7. The Smoky Mountain National Park
I think this one goes without saying, buttttt.. You should for sure take a drive through the Smoky’s. Stop and look out the many overlooks, have a picnic, go waterfall hunting.. maybe even hike a few trails while you’re there.
8. Adventure Park Ziplines
The park is located in Sevierville, Tennessee. Besides having a mile and a half of ziplines through the mountains, they also offer horseback riding along rugged mountain trails.
9. Hillbilly Golf
Typical American Vacation isn’t complete with out some mini gold, right? This particular golf course is on top of a mountain and is Appalachia themed. Considering I’m from Appalachia, this course makes me giggle and would be my mini golf course of choice!
10. Gatlinburg Skybridge
This skybridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in The United States. The bridge is located on top of the sky lift in The Gatlinburg Skylift Park.
11. Ole Smoky Moonshine
Get yourself some moonshine at this old style distillery. They also offer tours! (they even have some interesting moonshine pickles…?!?)
12. Hollywood Star Cars Museum
For all you car, film, or history lovers.. the Star Cars Museum is the attraction for you. They have all sorts of stars cars including The General Lee and the 1966 Batmobile!
13. Mountain Mall
I always like to make a stop at the Mountain Mall in Gatlinburg. Shopping while traveling can be one of the most memorable activities. My favorite store in the Mountain Mall is Pepper Palace. They have a few other storefronts in the area as well. They have so many different salsas, hot sauces, and dips. I love going in and trying all the different sauces on chips. It’s a blast to watch people not be able to handle the heat (including me, haha) We always eav with a hot sauce and a salsa or two. Currently, my favorite hot sauce of theirs is Autumn in The Smoky’s!
14. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure
The ultimate haunted house in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Open 365 days a year and you must be 6 years old or older to enter.
15. Kryptology Escape Room
A fun escape room with interesting themed rooms such as; Lost in Roswell and Davinci’s Challenge!
16. The Track
The Track is a small family fun park with bumper cars, arcade games, mini golf, bumper boats, and a race track.
17. Wonder Works
I have been to Wonder Works once and I really enjoyed it. The magic show was amazing and the fact that the building looks like an upside down mansion is so much fun!
18. Cades Cove
Driving through The Smoky Mountains on the 11 mile Cades Cove Scenic Loop is a must when we visit! The scenic loop is a simple one road with some pull off areas for you to enjoy the views. I have seen bears, elk, and deer along the loop. Cades Cove is one of the best places to see bears in the wild in the Smoky’s. There are stops along the loop where you can see old churches, log cabins, barns and more. When someone asks me what to do in the area, I always tell them CADES COVE!
Parents, this isn’t an attraction that you can easily use a stroller while you’re out and about. If you have little ones that you need to keep close to you or who won’t want to walk. I always tell people, you have two options. ONE, use a toddler/baby carrier. TWO, use a backpack with a safety leash/harness.
A super popular option for carrying bigger toddlers is the Lille Baby 3 in 1 Carrier.
For safety harnesses, the Munchkin By My Side Backpack has 4.6 stars on Amazon. It’s great because it isn’t just a harness, it’s an actual backpack that you can keep a sippy cup, snacks, etc. in.
19. Ober Gatlinburg
Ober Gatlinburg is an amusement & ski park. I’ve rode their famous tram up to the top of the mountain, but that was years ago and I would love to do it again. I was a lot younger when I last rode it and very afraid of heights. I imagine go around will be much more enjoyable!
20. Outdoor Gravity Park
An outdoor zorbing amusement park with four different tracks to try out!
21. Apple Barn Winery
The Apple Barn is in a 1910 historic barn. The general store sells delicious home made treats! (The apple butter is AMAZING)
22. Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin
Located in Sevierville, TN. This my (and my girls) favorite place to have breakfast when we are in the area. Yummy, always busy, but delicious. I had wanted to include mainly attractions in the list, but I’m throwing in a few places to eat as well. Only my very favorites!
23. Scenic Helicopter Tour
Take a breathtaking scenic tour over the mountains in Sevierville, Tennessee.
24. Gatlinburg Space Needle
Get a 360 degree view of the Great Smoky Mountains and the city of Gatlinburg at the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle.
25. Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo
Adorable little zoo with over 140 species and a petting zoo area.
26. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
The museum of oddities! See shrunken human skulls, crazy human talents, and animal skeletons.
27. Smoky Mountain Knife Works
THE place to go for knifes, throwing stars, whips, and any other thing of the sort.
28. Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze
Step into the Marvelous Mirror Maze if you dare. Can you find your way through?
29. Wild Bear Falls Water Park
An outdoor/indoor mountain themed water park with a lazy river and heated pools.
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30. Tanger Outlet Mall
Large shopping mall thats perfect for rainy days or when you are just looking for a good deal on things you’ve had your eye on! We always make a pit stop at the Tanger Outlets before leaving Sevierville.
31. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
If you missed out on the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, try the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. OR maybe you loved the Alpine coaster so much you need to ride this one as well!
32. Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini Golf
Fun forest themed mini golf course.
33. Goats on The Roof
A fun gift shop where you can get homemade ice cream and fudge. And there are actual goats walking on the roof! You can even feed them yourself using a special goat cycle machine.
34. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smoky’s
We love this aquarium so much! The last time we were there a woman diving in the shark tank blew kisses and made bubbles for my oldest daughter. She made our experience at the aquarium so special.
35. Alcatraz East Crime Museum
Another one for all you history lovers. This museum takes you through the history of crime in America.
36. Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show
My husband and I always find this dinner show quite amusing, because he is a part of the McCoy family. The way they act and dress is just humorous. The show is very exciting and will keep you entertained!
37. Dolly Parton’s Stampede
The Dolly Stampede is a dinner show where you are served a four course southern feast while you are entertained by pyrotechnics, music, and comedy performances.
38. Village Shoppes
This is an old timey area in Gatlinburg with shops, restaurants, and attractions. Very festive at Christmas time!