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19 Cool Things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, located south of Pigeon Forge, is a town that borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These towns, connected by a mere five-mile stretch, boast unique atmospheres and a variety of activities. However, Gatlinburg is known for its charming atmosphere, which stands in contrast to the lively energy of Pigeon Forge. It offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors, making it a perfect destination for those seeking variety. From family-friendly activities to unique mountainside attractions, Gatlinburg has something for everyone to explore. Whether you're seeking outdoor adventures or cultural experiences, these towns promise an unforgettable summer getaway. Let's explore some of the top attractions in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, which offer a wide range of entertainment and adventure activities.


01 Rent a cabin in the Smokies

Whether you're an enthusiast for luxury camping or traditional camping or prefer the comforts of a resort, the Smokies cater to every preference. The region boasts an extensive selection of cabins, ranging from luxurious, fully-equipped family cabins to secluded retreats amidst the mountains. The experience of waking up to stunning views of the Smoky Mountains, with the sunrise creating a beautiful scene, is truly a dream come true in this location. These cabins offer a perfect blend of rustic charm and modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay while you immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature. Consider contacting Cabins of the Smoky Mountains, a leading cabin rental company in the Smoky Mountains, for an exciting adventure.  

cabin great smoky mountain view wbritten / Getty Images

02 Saddle up to Miss Parton at Dollywood

Christmas time at The Island at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge

Dollywood theme park, founded by iconic country music artist Dolly Parton, provides visitors with a distinctive and memorable experience that goes beyond the typical amusement park offerings. Located in Pigeon Forge, this Appalachian-themed park offers a blend of thrilling rides, artisanal crafts, and award-winning festivals. It's a place where the spirit of the Smokies truly comes alive, appealing not just to Dolly Parton fans but to anyone seeking an authentic mountain experience. The park's highlights include the Dollywood Express, a journey through the park's scenic beauty, and the famous cinnamon bread that adds a sweet note to your adventure. Beyond the rides, Dollywood celebrates the cultural heritage of the region with live music and performances, making it a hub of Appalachian culture and entertainment.  


03 Drink some good old-fashioned moonshine

Sampling traditional Smoky Mountain moonshine is a popular activity for those over 21. The area is well known for its numerous distilleries offering a taste of this iconic beverage. The Island at Pigeon Forge is an ideal spot for families, offering a mix of distilleries, Southern cuisine, and entertainment, from live bluegrass music to vibrant local gatherings. These distilleries not only provide a taste of the local spirit but also educate visitors on the rich history of moonshine in the region. From smooth classics to innovative flavors, each distillery offers a unique experience, making it a delightful adventure for spirit enthusiasts.  

bottle of moonshine SergeyChayko / Getty Images

04 Take in the Hatfields and McCoys dinner show

The unique facade of the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show Theater

The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge offers a humorous and entertaining portrayal of one of America's most famous family feuds. While not entirely historically accurate, the show provides an engaging glimpse into life in the Confederate South, complete with traditional country cuisine and a lively atmosphere. This dinner show is more than just entertainment; it's an immersive experience where guests can enjoy a hearty meal while watching a spectacular performance that combines comedy, music, and stunts. It's a perfect blend of fun and food, making it a must-visit for families looking for an evening of laughter and enjoyment.  


05 Experience ultimate relaxation at Smoky Mountain Massage Therapy

For travelers seeking a luxurious and relaxing experience, the Smoky Mountain Massage Therapy in the Pigeon Forge area offers a serene escape. Escape the chaos of daily life and find peace at this serene destination. With tranquil surroundings and skilled therapists, you can relax and rejuvenate in a calming atmosphere. Here, guests can enjoy a variety of massage treatments at this destination while enjoying the stunning Smokies Mountain views. Options range from Swedish massage for overall relaxation to deep tissue massage for muscle tension relief. Specialized treatments like sports massage for athletes and prenatal massage for expectant mothers are also available. Additionally, guests can opt for a hot stone massage to unwind and alleviate muscle tightness. The spa's tranquil environment, coupled with the expertise of its therapists, ensures a restorative experience, making it an oasis of relaxation amidst the mountain landscape.

06 Explore the Wildes Ripleys Attractions in Tennessee

Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium in Tennessee

Tennessee, particularly between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, is home to some of the most unique attractions. Ripley's boasts eight different sites in the area, including the Believe It or Not Odditorium, Aquarium of the Smokies, 5D Moving Theater, Haunted Adventure, Marvelous Mirror Maze, and a collection of bizarre and fascinating artifacts from around the world. It's a place where the unusual and extraordinary come together, offering a one-of-a-kind experience. These attractions are not just about entertainment; they also offer a glimpse into the curious and wonderful world of Ripley's, making it a must-see for those who love the extraordinary.


07 Scenic drive at The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The Roaring Fork Motor Trail in Gatlinburg offers six miles of breathtaking scenery, accessible only by car or bike. This trail invites visitors to explore the natural beauty of the Sapphire Valley, including hikes to Rainbow Falls and historical sites like the Noah Ogle farmstead. It's an ideal way to experience the Appalachian wilderness with family and friends. The trail is a journey through time, showcasing the rich history and stunning landscapes of the region. Along the way, visitors can stop at various points to enjoy the serene beauty of the forest, streams, and historic buildings, making it a perfect blend of adventure and exploration.

08 Hiking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA overlooking the Newfound Pass in autumn.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a vast network of hiking trails that wind through lush forests, meadows, and cascading streams. With over 800 miles of trails and 150 different options to choose from, hikers can explore diverse ecosystems and witness the park's rich biodiversity. Iconic trails like the Appalachian Trail provide challenging routes for seasoned hikers while also offering breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences. Other popular trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park include Clingmans Dome, Alum Cave, and Laurel Falls. These trails provide visitors with diverse perspectives of the park's breathtaking natural scenery. The park's highlight is Clingman's Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies, offering panoramic views that are truly awe-inspiring. The park's diverse ecosystems and rich cultural history make it a vital part of the American natural heritage, attracting millions of visitors each year.


09 Experience the mesmerizing sight of fireflies

Each June, the Great Smoky Mountains host a mesmerizing display of synchronized fireflies, a natural phenomenon that has captivated visitors for generations. Experience a one-of-a-kind event that is best enjoyed in person by taking a trolley from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The firefly event is a magical experience where thousands of fireflies light up the night in a synchronized dance. It's a rare and enchanting spectacle that draws nature lovers and photographers from all over. The park offers guided tours and educational programs during this time, making it an ideal opportunity to learn about these fascinating creatures and their unique behavior.  

fireflies in the woods iStock / Getty Images

10 Visit the WonderWorks Indoor Amusement Park

WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, located near the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, is an indoor amusement park with interactive exhibits and activities for all ages. It's a family-friendly attraction with six zones of interactive exhibits that explore space, art, sound, and more. Each zone in WonderWorks offers a different theme, from natural disasters to space exploration, providing a wide range of educational and entertaining experiences. Here, visitors can experience earthquake simulations, lie on a bed of nails, and enjoy a range of simulations, from fighter jets to roller coasters. The park also features a magic show by illusionist Terry Evanswood. WonderWorks is more than just a typical amusement park; it offers a unique experience focused on education and exploration. WonderWorks designs its exhibits to both educate and entertain, encompassing topics ranging from physics to space exploration. It's a place where science and fun meet, making it an ideal destination for families looking to combine education with entertainment.

11 Embark on a historical journey at the World’s largest Titanic Museum

The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge offers a journey back in time to the ship's maiden voyage. With over 400 artifacts and 20 galleries, the museum provides a poignant tribute to the Titanic's history and the lives lost in its tragic sinking. The museum is more than a collection of artifacts; it's an immersive experience that brings the story of the Titanic to life. Visitors can walk the grand staircase, touch an iceberg, and explore the recreated cabins, offering a glimpse into the world of the Titanic. The museum's interactive exhibits and the personal stories of the passengers and crew make it a deeply moving experience, connecting visitors to this pivotal moment in history.

Exploring Tennessee's Pigeon Forge George Rose / Getty Images

12 Experience the thrill of the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster

The Rocky Top Mountain Coaster, the longest roller coaster in East Tennessee, offers a thrilling ride through the Smoky Mountains. Reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, it's an exhilarating experience that combines natural beauty with adventure. The coaster is not just a ride; it's a journey through the heart of the Smokies. As you twist and turn through the forest, you'll experience the thrill of speed and the beauty of the mountains in a unique way. The coaster is designed to provide a safe and exciting adventure for all ages, making it a popular attraction for families and thrill-seekers alike.

13 Challenge your wits with an escape room adventure

The Escape Game in Pigeon Forge presents a series of escape room challenges, from prison breaks to treasure hunts. It's an immersive and exciting experience perfect for families, friends, and team-building. Each escape room offers a unique story and set of puzzles, challenging players to use their problem-solving skills and teamwork to escape. The rooms are intricately designed, with attention to detail that captivates players and fully immerses them in the scenario. Whether you're a seasoned escape room enthusiast or a first-timer, The Escape Game offers a fun and challenging experience that tests your wits and creativity.


14 Immerse yourself in nature at Five Oaks Adventure Park

Five Oaks Adventure Park is a captivating destination located in the stunning Smoky Mountains. Covering 70 acres of natural beauty, this park provides a variety of exciting activities like ziplining and horseback riding, as well as a peaceful outdoor retreat. It is an ideal spot for those who appreciate nature and seek adventure in a breathtaking setting. The park's zipline course takes you soaring through the treetops, offering breathtaking views of the mountains and forests. The horseback riding trails wind through scenic landscapes, providing a peaceful way to explore the natural beauty of the area. Five Oaks Adventure Park is a place where adventure meets nature, offering a range of activities that cater to all ages and skill levels.

15 Witness the excitement of Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show

Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud Show in Pigeon Forge features log rolling, axe throwing, and tree climbing competitions. Set in an outdoor amphitheater, it's an action-packed show that offers fun for the whole family. The show is a celebration of the lumberjack lifestyle, showcasing the skills and athleticism of professional lumberjacks. The audience is invited to participate in the excitement, cheering for their favorite competitors and enjoying the lively atmosphere. The Lumberjack Feud Show is more than just entertainment; it's an experience that brings the spirit of the Smoky Mountains to life.

16 Discover diverse wildlife at RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo

RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is a popular destination for animal lovers and families seeking an educational and interactive experience. With over 600 animals, this zoo provides a unique experience for wildlife lovers. It offers an opportunity to learn about and engage with wildlife in rainforests around the world. The zoo features a variety of animals, from exotic birds to reptiles and mammals, each with its own unique story. Also, the zoo's educational programs and interactive exhibits provide a deeper understanding of the animals and their habitats, making it a valuable learning experience for visitors of all ages.

17 Soar above the trees on a helicopter tour

A helicopter tour over the Great Smoky Mountains provides a unique perspective on the region's natural beauty. It's an awe-inspiring experience that offers breathtaking views and a memorable adventure. The helicopter tour takes you high above the mountains, giving you a bird's-eye view of the sprawling forests, rolling hills, and winding rivers. It's an opportunity to see the Smokies in a way that few people ever do, capturing the grandeur and majesty of the landscape. The tour is a thrilling adventure that combines the excitement of flight with the beauty of the natural world.

18 Take a jeep tour through the Great Smoky Mountains

An open-air jeep tour through the Great Smoky Mountains offers an up-close look at the area's rugged terrain, wildlife, and hidden gems. It's an adventurous way to explore the less-traveled paths of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The jeep tour takes you off the beaten path and through the heart of the mountains, where you can experience the wild beauty of the Smokies. Along the way, knowledgeable guides share stories and insights about the region's history, flora, and fauna. It's an adventure that combines exploration with education, offering a unique way to experience the Great Smoky Mountains.

19 Enjoy year-round Winter fun at Pigeon Forge Snow

Pigeon Forge Snow provides a winter wonderland experience year-round, with snow tubing hills perfect for family fun. It's a refreshing way to escape the summer heat and enjoy snowy activities. The facility uses state-of-the-art technology to create real snow, offering a unique experience in the heart of the Smokies. The snow tubing hills are designed for all ages, providing a fun and safe way to enjoy the thrill of winter sports. Pigeon Forge Snow is a place where the magic of winter comes alive, offering a cool and exciting escape from the summer sun.


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