Category Archives: Vacation Tips

Pigeon Forge, TN Vacation Tips

A Summer Vacation in Pigeon Forge

When you talk about summer vacations in the South, places like Myrtle Beach and various locales along the Florida coast are bound to come up. For those who look inland, Pigeon Forge is as popular a destination for summer vacationers as any. Millions of people visit the area every year.

Recent national park numbers have reflected that nearly 10 million people visit the Pigeon Forge area on an annual basis. Of course, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the BIG draw. The views and vistas that are located just a stones throw from Pigeon Forge are unprecedented. A short, 10 minute drive from the parkway will put you right in the middle of the most beautiful country in the South. It’s really no wonder that Pigeon Forge has become one of the hottest summer destinations for U.S. travelers.

As far as things to do while you’re here, Pigeon Forge caters to all ages. From the more natural aspects of the area that appeal to the adults in the group to the rides and attractions found at Dollywood and along the Parkway that make children’s eyes light up, Pigeon Forge has all the bases covered.

If you’re a kid, a summer in Pigeon Forge means “BIG FUN”:

  • Sit back, relax, and float a tube down the Pigeon river
  • Play putt-putt at one of the numerous mini golf/arcade attractions in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville
  • Take a horseback ride in the Smokies
  • Between the roller coasters at Dollywood and the wave pool and water slides at Splash Country, you could make a week of it

For the teenagers and young adults, take a look at these options:

  • Take the thrill ride of a lifetime and bungee jump along the Parkway
  • The Pigeon River is great for a lot of things, including whitewater rafting trips
  • Take a zipline across the French Broad River in Sevierville
  • Zorb, it’s a funny word, but it’s so much fun. Look into it. Great on a hot summer day

For the adults looking for some fun in the Smokies:

  • Ole Smoky Moonshine in Gatlinburg offers a unique taste of the area’s Smoky Mountain heritage
  • There are so many trails in the Smokies you can’t go wrong. And for every skill level
  • Take a trip along the Smoky Mountain Wine Trail. The area has a growing number of local wineries
  • Find some of your favorite name brands at Five Oaks Tanger Outlet Mall in Sevierville

Any of this information come in handy? You might also like marking the 2013 Pigeon Forge calendar of events.

Guys Trip to Pigeon Forge

So you and some of your best friends are planning a guys trip to Pigeon Forge but you’re looking for a few tips on places to stay, new attractions, restaurants, etc. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

First off, if you’re planning a trip to Pigeon Forge, you don’t want to stay in some chain hotel or motel, rent a Smoky Mountain cabin and get some of the best views of the national park while enjoying a number of great amenities like game rooms, theater rooms, HDTVs, a pool. Most pigeon forge cabins are packed to the nines, but we suggest taking a look at such places like Sherwood Forest Resort, which is right off the parkway; Sugar Maple Cabins, which has cabins located throughout town, or Majestic Mountain Vacations.

Once you’ve booked a cabin, made it to town, and dropped off your bags, take in one of Pigeon Forge’s biggest adventures – Flyaway Indoor Skydiving. You’ll enjoy the thrill of skydiving without actually jumping out of a plane thousands of feet in the air. After you’ve gotten your fill of indoor skydiving, head out to the Lumberjack Feud or the Hatfield & McCoy’s dinner show. Both shows feature laughs and great stunts to go along with good southern cooking – fried chicken, potatoes, corn, biscuits, and deserts.

That next day, head on over to Flapjacks Pancake House for a big stack, bacon, biscuits and all the other breakfast trimmings. They serve a great breakfast that is second to none in the Smokies. If you’re looking to shed some of last night’s meal, as well as breakfast, head on out to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a quick hike, or maybe even some fishing on the Little River in Townsend, TN. If you do decide to head out to the park, make sure you plan for a day. Once you’re there, it can be tough to get in and out. So enjoy it, especially if the weather is good.

On your way back, which if you’re going into the national park will probably be the early evening, head out to somewhere like Buffalo Wild Wings in Sevierville or Blue Moose in Pigeon Forge for dinner. Both places offer some of the best chicken wings in the area and both places are lined with flat-screen HDTVs inside. We’re sure there will be a game on you’ll want to watch and these two places don’t miss any of them. They also feature a huge draft beer selection and trivia as well.

These are just a few of the many things that would make for a spectacular guys trip to Pigeon Forge. It really just depends on your group’s likes and dislikes. If nothing else, just cruise down the parkway and find something that does interest you. If Pigeon Forge has one thing to offer, it’s something for everyone.

Plan a Couples Retreat in Pigeon Forge

Planning on getting away with that special someone, but can’t decide on the destination? Well, take a closer look at Pigeon Forge. It’s the perfect locale for a couple’s retreat with its myriad of attractions, dining opportunities, and Smoky Mountain cabins, hotels and bed and breakfasts.

To make the most out of your trip, we suggest checking into one of Pigeon Forge’s many Smoky Mountain cabin rentals. These cabins provide spectacular views of the Smokies while giving you a more intimate feel, more so than a hotel or a bed and breakfast. With your own Pigeon Forge cabin, it’s just you two, the view, and a slew of new memories.

That afternoon or evening, head on over for dinner at Mama’s Farmhouse or the Applewood Farmhouse Grill and enjoy some of the area’s best Southern cooking. If you choose the later, you can even go on a nice walk down by the Little Pigeon River before or after dinner. Maybe you want want some desert? The Apple Valley Creamery is located on the premises and serves some of the best ice cream and baked goods you’re likely to find anywhere in the Smokies.

You can finish off that first day with one of the area’s best shows or attractions. Located within a stone’s throw of each other are the Titanic Museum attraction, WonderWorks, the Lumberjack Feud dinner show and the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud.

That next day, hit up the Log Cabin Pancake House for a great breakfast and do a little shopping at some of Pigeon Forge’s many shopping destinations – The Christmas Place, Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Mall, or Old Mill Square. That afternoon, stop by a local grocery store and get a few things for a picnic in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  There are so many places to choose from, but one of the best places to take a lunch is Cades Cove, just outside Pigeon Forge in Townsend, TN. Eat in the Cades Cove picnic area then walk around and look at all the historical Cades Cove buildings.

That night, before heading back to the cabin take in what you missed the first night. Whether it be a show, an attraction, whatever. Maybe you want to scoot on over to Gatlinburg and peruse some of their downtown shops and attractions. Go for it! Between Ripley’s Aquarium and all the other spots downtown there’s plenty to fill up an evening. Either way, come back to Pigeon Forge and take in the town one more time before leaving the following day and make plans to come again with your someone special for another memorable time in the Smokies.

Take a Girls Trip to Pigeon Forge

For most women, the chance to get away for a weekend with some of their best girlfriends some like a topic that should be discussed sooner rather than later. If you’re one of those women, Pigeon Forge is a great town to get away to for a few days, or even a long weekend. We’ll even help you get started planning it.

With a Friday afternoon departure, that will leave you with a bit of time to shop in the afternoon. Like many, we’re guessing you want to stay in a luxurious Pigeon Forge cabin with beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains. Once you’ve checked in, head on over to Old Mill Square and grab something to eat at the Old Mill Restaurant or the Pottery House Cafe and Grille. Be sure to stop by the general store and browse the Old Mill’s shops before you leave. You’re sure to find some there that you just have to have.

That evening, take in one of Pigeon Forge’s newest shows. We suggest either the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show or the Lumberjack Feud Dinner & Show. Both offer some of the best entertainment in the Smokies as well as some great southern cooking.

The next day, you’ve got a whole morning, afternoon, and night to enjoy the best that Pigeon Forge has to offer. We suggest starting out with a great breakfast at Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin. After a stack of some of the area’s finest pancakes, check out the Christmas Place for some of the most unique Christmas gifts in the Smokies. After you’ve hit up this section of town, we’re sure you’ll head over to Five Oaks Tanger Outlet Mall at some point to shop all their name brand stores. A few of the stores you’ll find there include Coach, Gap, J.Crew, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Nike, Sunglass Hut, and Under Armour. If you do decide to take a break from all the shopping, head to Mel’s Diner. Mel’s is a classic 1950s-inspried diner with their share of sandwiches, salads, and burgers as well as desert sundaes and banana splits.

If you didn’t get enough shows in the first night, take in a performance at the Smoky Mountain Opry the second night. They offer a great mix of country, oldies and some great hits.

On the final day, have everyone meet at the Log Cabin Pancake House. What’s so different about this place? Just that they offer 20 different styles of pancakes. Pigeon Forge is a pancake lovers dreams to say the least.

Now, you can decide on this last tidbit depending on what day is the nicest, but take a trip into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, explore some of its various trails, or an overlook, or just stop by one of the many river pull offs. Visit Cades Cove and walk around to the different cabins and buildings in the loop. Whatever you decide, we’re sure it will make for a wonderful girls weekend.

Taking in the Smoky Mountains from Pigeon Forge

No matter what time of year it is, people coming into Pigeon Forge for the first time, or even the second and third time, ask “Where is the best place to view the Smoky Mountains?” And while answers like a hike, or Cades Cove, are common, some of the best ways to see the Smokies are by way of some of the area’s newest attractions.

Pigeon Forge is full of great attractions and some of them offer spectacular views of the mountains that you just don’t find anywhere else. What better place to start than Pigeon Forge’s largest attraction – Dollywood. There you’ll find the Smoky Mountain amusement park’s newest ride, The Wild Eagle.

The Wild Eagle roller coaster is the first of its kind, design wise, in the United States. Its a winged roller coaster which by design means that the seats stick out off the coaster’s track like eagle’s wings. The ride is constructed so that nothing is over your head or under your feet. It’s a great way to take in the mountain scenery surrounding the park. Te coaster itself rises 21 stories above Dollywood’s tallest ridge, the perfect height for viewing some of the most picturesque peaks surrounding the area.

Another way to take in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge is to float above the WonderWorks attraction on the Parkway on the Wonders of Flight balloon. This blue and green, helium-filled balloon measures 72 feet in diameter and is big enough to where you and 29 friends can fit comfortably in its gondola. Steel cables are attached from the balloon to the building so there’s no chance of floating away into the Smokies, though once you’re up admiring the view you just might wish that were an option.

One other locale you might want to visit is the Hollywood Wax Museum. Located on Showplace Boulevard, the building houses wax figures of such notable Hollywood stars John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe. It also offers an exterior observation level where visitors can take the Smokies highest peak – Mount LeConte, which stands at 6,593 feet in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

These are just a few of the major attractions in town that offer unobstructed views of the Smoky Mountains. If you know of any other, think we’ve missed, or just want to suggest one yourself, drop us a line in the comment box below. We hope you enjoy Pigeon Forge, its attractions and all the natural offerings of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Pigeon Forge to the National Park – Driving Tip

The assumption is that if you want to get to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Pigeon Forge, you are going to drive to Gatlinburg or Townsend and then follow the signs into the park. Most people don’t realize that you can also cut through Wears Valley and get to the Park much quicker by going to Metcalf Bottoms. This gets you into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by a little-traveled road and you don’t have to sit in the traffic of Gatlinburg or drive all the way to Townsend to enjoy a picnic, fish or wade in a mountain stream.

To take advantage of this shortcut, turn onto Wears Valley Road at traffic light #3 and follow Wears Valley Road until you arrive at Lyons Spring Road. Lyons Spring Road is a little more than 9 miles from traffic light No. 3 on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Turn left on Lyons Spring Rd, as you follow the road through the mountain scenery, you will come to a National Park sign before you drive into Metcalf Bottoms. At this point you are in the National Park. Metcalf bottoms has bathroom facilities, streams, picnic tables and hiking trails. It is one of the lesser used picnic areas in the park and is great if you don’t want to fight the traffic or have plans that put you back in Pigeon Forge in the evening. It is great to be able to get to the National Park easily and you can have fun without spending most of your day in the car.

From Metcalf Bottoms you can turn right and go to Cades Cove or turn left to go to Elkmont, Sugarlands Visitor Center or Gatlinburg. Again, this allows you to bypass the traffic in Gatlinburg which, during peak season, can take hours to get through or going through Townsend which can also take a while to get to. This is a great “shortcut”, especially if you are looking for a quick way to the park. Also see Driving Tips for Pigeon Forge.

Family Photos in Pigeon Forge

Where to take family photos in Pigeon Forge

You have brought your family to the mountains and you want to commemorate the trip.  You want to capture a good picture of you and your kids in Pigeon Forge, but where do you take those pictures?  Here are several places that you can go to take some great family pictures in Pigeon Forge.

Patriot Park – Patriot Park is centrally located with plenty of parking and lots of natural beauty.  Sitting right beside the river, Patriot Park has some beautiful locations along the river and in the park itself to take family pictures.  Also, this area of the Smokies is not quite as hilly, so you don’t have to worry about your tripod tipping over.

Family Photos at the Community CenterPigeon Forge Community Center Park – Here is a favorite for local photographers when they are taking family portraits outdoors: the park behind the Pigeon Forge Community Center.  This park has some wonderful grassy areas under the trees and several playgrounds that give plenty of options for great pictures.  Though, if you are looking for that place that the pros use, it is the footbridge over the creek located at the back of the park.  The footbridge is set in a clump of trees and gives you the feeling of being in the wilderness, away from the Parkway and civilization.  A great location!

Dixie Stampede – Dixie Stampede changes the decoration on the lawn in front of their building throughout the year.  In the spring, the summer, the fall, and the winter, they put on a show with the decorations they put out in front of their venue.  People go to Dixie to take pictures of the decorations but they also go to take pictures in and around those decorations as well.

Your Cabin – But be fair, the best place to take pictures in and around Pigeon Forge is in the seclusion of your own cabin in the Smokies.  The cabins in and around Pigeon Forge were built to give you the best view possible from the decks on the cabin.  Line the family up on one of the decks and start snapping away.  Let the backdrop of the Smokies be the backdrop for your pictures.  Get everybody in coordinating outfits and start snapping away.  You are going to get some amazing photos and have a blast while you do it.  The best thing about taking the pictures at the cabin is the fact that you don’t have to drive anywhere to take the pictures to remember your visit to the Smokies.

Fall Colors in the Great Smoky Mountains

Fall Colors in the Great Smoky Mountains

*Photo provided by Visual Forces Christian Photography

It has definitely been an abnormal year as far as weather goes throughout the Great Smoky Mountains, which has left many people questioning the fall colors and when the leaves will start changing colors in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and surrounding areas. The extremely dry & hot conditions throughout the summer are not exactly the right ingredients for a vibrant autumn season. The good news, though, is that the Great Smokey Mountains National Park consists of 100’s of species of deciduous trees in a variety of elevations. What this means is that there will still be an abundant amount of color to see…there is no such thing as a “bad” fall in the Smokies!

When cooler weather begins to prevail, it accelerates the leaves changing color. The higher elevations will see a number of tree species change to start out with. Throughout the middle of October, you’ll see mostly golden yellow colors mixed with some orange. These colors will slide their way down the mountains into the valley as the vibrant reds will slowly follow and mix in. If the cold weather sits in and the weather continues as it is now, the colors will peak in the mountains and valley around the last week of October and into early November.

I’d highly suggest keeping track of the official Great Smoky Mountains National Park website to follow the fall foliage changing color. They even have a page dedicated to fall foliage at: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/fallcolor.htm. Also, take a look at their webcams:

http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/WebCams/parks/grsmcam/grsmcam.cfm

http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/WebCams/parks/grsmpkcam/grsmpkcam.cfm

Finally, be sure to check out the Park’s tips for fall hiking and scenic drives: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/fall-suggestions.htm

Once again, the best time to see the fall colors in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge will be the last week of October and into early November. This is my favorite time of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains…I hope you enjoy it as much as the locals do!

Alternate Route To Dollywood: Veterans Blvd Pigeon Forge

Ever heard of Veteran’s Boulevard? Better yet, ever tried to find a different route to Dollywood so you can avoid the traffic in Pigeon Forge? If so, then Veterans Boulevard is your answer.

Sevier County started the construction of Veterans Blvd Pigeon Forge in 2004 and it is still a very under-used pathway to Dollywood and all things Pigeon Forge. Besides being a direct shot to Dollywood, it is a new six lane road that allows you an alternative to the Parkway. Veterans Boulevard is a perfect way to speed up your travel time and maximize your vacation time.

If you come into the Sevier County area from I-40 and you are headed to Dollywood, take a left on Dolly Parton Parkway and drive until you come to traffic light 17.1. Take a right on Veterans Blvd. You are now on a six lane road that is a straight shot to Dollywood and Pigeon Forge.

Dolly Parton Parkway is not as used by tourists as the Parkway and Veterans is a huge time saver without all the twists and turns of some of the back roads. There is a brand new entrance for Splash Country this year from Veterans and the entrance for Dollywood is there as well. It is six lanes until you get to the Dollywood entrance then it narrows down to four lanes when it merges with what was formerly Middle Creek Road.

If you are headed to Pigeon Forge, follow the same directions but pass Dollywood. You will come out where Teaster Lane and Middle Creek Road meet. You are now only a few blocks from the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. If you turn to the right and take Teaster Lane you can be at the Old Mill in a matter of minutes or you can go straight on Middle creek and end up at traffic light #8 in Pigeon Forge.

In a tourist area that sees millions of people in the course of a year, it is good to know the roads that will save you time and get you out of the car and having a good time as quickly as possible. Veterans Blvd Pigeon Forge is the road to know when you’re looking to save a little time!

Save Money on Your Pigeon Forge Vacation

So you’ve been wanting to take a Pigeon Forge vacation, but are having a difficult time figuring out how to get the most out of your budget. Fortunately for you, Pigeon Forge TN has a lot of ways to save you quite a bit of money during your vacation! We’re going to show you some of the most popular ways to save money! So put away the credit card and don’t beg your family and friends for money just yet! Find out how you can visit Pigeon Forge and save plenty of money with our helpful tips:

  1. Ride the Trolley – Both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN have trolley systems that literally run all over both cities. You can get to just about anywhere by riding the trolley. It only costs 50 cents per person and you could ride it all day long!
  2. Walk – This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you combine this with riding the trolley you can cover a lot of ground, get some great exercise, see things you might have missed otherwise, and most of all…save money! Don’t limit yourself to simply walking the Parkway with the attractions, restaurants and shops in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg either. Hit the mountains and find some trails. Cades Cove is a wonderful place to experience the Great Smoky Mountains for free!
  3. Get a Free Day at Dollywood – When you arrive at Dollywood after 3 p.m. to purchase your tickets, you get to go the entire next day for FREE! This is highly suggested as it is getting increasingly more difficult to do everything that Dollywood has to offer in a single day.
  4. Dollywood Season Pass – If you plan on visiting Dollywood more than one time during the year, then you’ll want a season pass. Why? Because a season pass is cheaper than going just twice! So if you visit Dollywood only two times throughout the year, you’re going to save money!
  5. Pigeon Forge Coupons – There are a ton of coupons for Pigeon Forge online, so how do you know where to find the best ones? We’ve made it easy! Just CLICK HERE.
  6. Save Money on Breakfast – Before you book a room somewhere, consider the fact that many places offer free breakfast. This could save a load of money, especially if you have a large family! Another option is the many cabin rentals in Pigeon Forge that have kitchens you can use to make your own meals. If that’s your thing, then you can make a trip to the store when you get into town, load up on meals, and eat in for your entire vacation to save even more money!
  7. Theater Combo Tickets – Many of the theaters in Pigeon Forge offer combo passes where you can see multiple shows for a discounted rate. So if you’re interested in any shows, be sure to call ahead and ask if they have any combo deals.
  8. Enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – While you’re in Pigeon Forge, you’ll be in the heart of the most visited National Park in the entire United States. Take advantage of the numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, breathtaking scenic views, unique wildlife and more. If you’re visiting in June then be sure to see the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont. This is one of only two places in the world to see this event! Also, Cades Cove in nearby Townsend offers plenty of free entertainment for the entire family. Make sure you take some time to step into the Smokies and experience the “natural” side of things to do. It’s free, fun, and an amazing experience you won’t get back home.

If you have more ways to save money on your vacation to Pigeon Forge, please share them in the comments section below!