I’ve been going to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee since I was a kid. We vacationed there every summer. I have wonderful memories from dancing at Dollywood with my dance team, going to the Apple Barn, dinner shows at Dixie Stampede, river rafting down the Nantahala River and blueberry pancakes at the Log Cabin Pancake House. I am so grateful that I get to take my family now and so happy that they love it so much. I sure hope their memories will be as fond as mine!
We try to get to Gatlinburg 2-3 times a year. We got back last week and the weather was amazing….50 degrees and no humidity! We enjoyed Dollywood, whitewater rafting, hiking, trail running, eating, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful mountain weather. Below you’ll find all of our favorites!
June, July, October and Christmas/New Years are the busiest time of year in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Take patience and expect delays down the Parkway. It could take 20 minutes to drive 3 miles. Arrive early at the trailheads. Parking is limited and by 8am, it’s packed. We arrive around 6:45-7am and have the trail to ourselves and can actually hear and see nature.
Things to do:
- Gatlinburg Sky Lift (purchase tickets on line to save a little time)
- Hiking (use the AllTrails app for excellent reviews, pictures and information. Rainbow Falls is my favorite!)
- Cade’s Cove (a beautiful 11 mile scenic drive….and if you’re lucky, wild animals! Remember…Wednesdays are bikes/walkers/runners only)
- Clingmans Dome (a steep 1/2 mile hike, but worth it if the sky is clear)
- Go Carts in Pigeon Forge
- Drive through the Smoky Mountains and play in the roadside creeks and stop for photo ops. Look for Elk coming into the park on the Cherokee side. They are always there on the right or left
- Dollywood (closed during the winter months)
- Museums in Pigeon Forge
- Comedy shows in Pigeon Forge
- White Water Rafting (NOC is the best)
- Fly Fishing Guide (Smoky Mountain Angler)
- Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster (use Groupon)
- Walk the strip in Gatlinburg (lots of shops, activities)
- Wine Tasting at Sugarland Cellars
- Ober Gatlinburg (better in the winter when you can ski or tube)
- Putt Putt Golf downtown Gatlinburg
- The Island in Pigeon Forge
- Tanger Outlets (they now have a Vineyard Vines!!)
- My favorite hikes are Chimney Tops, Rainbow Falls and Laurel Falls
Where to Stay
- Cabins for You by Chalets Chalet Village 800-684-7865
Where to Eat
- The Park Grill (local trout is amazing when available)
- Peddler (the best steak in town)
- Calhoun’s (pork tacos & pork salad)
- Pancake Pantry (arrive early or you’ll stand in a 2 block long line…the sweet potato pancakes are incredible)
- Apple Barn in Sevierville (the BEST apple fritters and cider….and good wine too)
- The Local Goat in Pigeon Forge is the BEST farm to table restaurant!
- Dixie Stampede Dinner Show
- Pirate Voyage Dinner Show (my fav)
- Big Daddy’s Pizzeria
- Paula Deen’s at The Island in Pigeon Forge (expect a 2 hour wait during prime time hours)
Feel free to email me for additional recommendations or questions about things you don’t see here!