My family was invited to visit Pigeon Forge, Tennessee by the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. While they paid for our stay and the cost of our activities, all opinions are 100% my own.
Before I begin extolling the virtues of the wonderful city of Pigeon Forge, I feel the need to tell you that it is 100% open for business. You may remember, just under two years ago that forest fires ravaged the Smoky Mountains and burned many acres and cabins in the process. I don’t want to make light of the devastation the area suffered, but I do want to let you know that it is not shut down, contrary to popular belief. The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee are open for business!
What to Do in Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge is bustling with so many fun family activities, it will be difficult to plan just one weekend to do them all. My family friendly guide to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee will cover where to stay, what to do, and why this unique location is worth your time and money.
Where to Stay
First, before you begin planning your activities, you’ll want to find a place to say. I don’t think it’s a true visit to the Smoky Mountains without a stay in a cozy cabin. No roughing here! The cabins we stayed in at Eagles Ridge Resort were air-conditioned, clean, and Wi-Fi enabled! It felt like we were in the woods, without actually being in the woods, if you know what I mean! We were too busy to take advantage of the resort pool, but it was great to know they had one. I’m sure we could have filled our day with lounging and swimming if we weren’t so eager to check out what was “in town.”
After checking in to our cabin and grabbing a quick bite to eat, we just had to check out MagiQuest! Neil and I had played MagiQuest before, and we were eager to share the experience with our girls. Pigeon Forge’s MagiQuest building consists of a mirror maze, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, and a “laser” maze.
Purchasing a ticket gets you in to all 4 areas, but we spent the majority of our time playing MagiQuest. In short, it’s like Harry Potter meets cosplay meets video games. Guests are given a wand to use to complete interactive missions and earn items to allow you to battle certain characters as you progress through the game.
It can take some time to complete the missions, so don’t worry if not all are completed. Guest progress is saved each time you visit (by connecting to your email address), so next time you can pick back up right where you left off!
Dollywood and Splash Country
Next next on our “must do” list were Dollywood and Splash Country! Dollywood is Dolly Parton’s awesome theme park and Splash Country is the sister water park. They deserve their own posts, but, for now, I have some quick tips on enjoying them. Get to Dollywood when it opens. During the summer, Dollywood has extended hours from 10am-10pm. Their “Summer Celebration” is in full swing with special guests like DRUMLine Live! and iLuminate on select nights.
Additionally, there are more than 50 consecutive nights of fireworks planned to keep you entertained throughout the late night hours.
Splash Country is so much fun, and it’s especially awesome in the heat of the summer! Don’t forget to bring your own towel and sunscreen!
Our final fun place we played at was The Track. Located on the parkway, it’s right next to MagiQuest. Go-Karts, mini-golf, bumper boats, and an arcade are just some of the fun families will find when they visit. “Kiddie Country” is a perfect area for young kids that features smaller rides and a small go-kart track that kids can drive on themselves (provided they’re tall enough). My girls drove their own cars around the kiddie track and had a blast!
We tried the rock climbing wall, ropes course, learned about electricity, played laser tag, and challenged our brains! Wonderworks reminded me a lot of our local McWane Science Center in Birmingham.
The Island is a relatively new part of Pigeon Forge that houses hotels, shopping, dining, and entertainment. My in-laws took the girls to the arcade while my husband and I played “The Escape Game.” I’ve never had so much fun! I’m kind of addicted now, and can’t wait to try another game!
We also sampled some moonshine at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery ($5 to sample all the flavors….trust me, it’s a good time and worth your $5!), rode the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, and tried out their insanely high ropes course. Caroline was braver than I on that last one!
Where to Eat
With all these fun things to do, we had to fuel up properly to have maximum fun!
Outside food and drink is not allowed in Dollywood, but their restaurants and snacks make bringing in food totally unnecessary. We ate lunch at Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse, and I was stuffed! It’s not often you can order delicious, home cooked meals in a theme park! I did save room for Cinnamon Bread, though. I mean, I can’t say no to dessert, right?
Seafood in Tennessee? Yes, we went there. Caroline had been dying for crab legs since we didn’t get any on our last beach trip, so we compromised with this restaurant. I was quite surprised at how good the food was! I ended up ordering sushi and edamame, and I ate every bite! Caroline loved her crab legs, of course, so everyone went back to our cabin that night very happy.
Log Cabin Pancake House
I cheated a bit on this last one. Neil and his family have been eating breakfast at the Log Cabin Pancake House in Gatlinburg (a neighboring town to Pigeon Forge) since he was little, and we have continue to do the same with our family.
It’s a short drive through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to get to Gatlinburg, and the hot chocolate and pancakes are worth the drive. All in all, Pigeon Forge is an incredible town full of so many fun things to do! We were only able to stay for three nights, and we still had a few things left on our list that we didn’t get to do. Thank goodness no one is opposed to planning a trip back!