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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Pigeon Forge Tourism. All content was authored by me, and all photos unless otherwise specified from MyPigeonForge.com and used with permission.
Here in the Midwestern US (Ohio specifically), it feels like winter will never end. And while winter travel can be fun too, our family has never been big into skiing or other winter travel. Our idea of winter travel is flying somewhere warm and hanging out at the beach! But because of our family size (there are 8 of us), the economics of travel skew very hard towards driving all together in our minivan instead of buying 8 plane tickets! Pigeon Forge is about a 5 hour drive for us, so it’s the perfect distance – far enough way that we feel like we’re going on a real family vacation, but close enough that it’s within a reasonable day drive. If you’re planning your own spring break family vacation, here are 7 things for families to do in Pigeon Forge
I don’t know about you, but when I think of Pigeon Forge, one of my first thoughts is Dolly Parton and the Dollywood amusement park. The theme park that is now Dollywood was founded in 1961 and took the Dollywood name in 1986 when Dolly Parton became a part-owner. Now 30 years later, Dollywood is the largest ticketed attraction in Tennessee hosting nearly 3 million guests in a typical season
Dollywood has something for everyone in the family, including the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster (Lightning Rod), the country’s first wing coaster (Wild Eagle), 11 different themed experiences and Dollywood’s Splash Country, one of the country’s largest water parks.
Dinner at Dolly Parton’s Stampede
Besides the Dollywood amusement park, Dolly Parton has put her name on Dolly Parton’s Stampede, which is a restaurant and show geared specifically towards families. While being served a 4-course meal, be entertained by horse experts showing off trick riding, competitions, all set to stirring music. Come early for performances by Mountain Ruckus, a country and bluegrass band. For a limited time only, you can also get $5 off Dolly Parton’s Stampede with code MYPF18.
If you’re coming to the Pigeon Forge in the wintertime, be sure and check out the Christmas Stampede show, which puts a holiday twist on the traditional Stampede show. Generally the Christmas Stampede runs from the end of October through the beginning of January
Music in the Mountains Spring Parade
Each year (usually in early May), the Pigeon Forge hosts a parade through town. Dolly Parton has often been the grand marshal of this parade. 2019’s Music in the Mountains Spring Parade is Thursday May 3rd at 6p.m. and features school marching bands and choral groups and 4 larger-than-life hot air balloons. Baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. is 2019’s grand marshal and there is also free bluegrass entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Admission to the parade, concert and entertainment is free.
Pigeon Forge has a bustling main street filled with attractions for all sorts of interests. One place that our family has had a lot of fun at is the Wonderworks museum, also known as “the upside-down museum” in our family.
We haven’t had a chance to visit Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge, but we have visited a very similar one in Orlando and the kids had a blast. Wonderworks has a variety of different scientific experiments and places to play and explore. It’s definitely worth a stop on your family adventure to Pigeon Forge!
The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River runs right through Pigeon Forge and there are a variety of companies that offer whitewater rafting nearby Pigeon Forge. Rafting in the Great Smoky Mountains can range from Class 1 rapids (Easy) up through Class 4 rapids (Advanced). So no matter your skill level or comfort level on the water, there is something for everyone in Pigeon Forge!
Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Pigeon Forge is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and there are tons of hikes for all ages and abilities within a short drive of Pigeon Forge. The 2,130 mile Appalachian Trail runs through the Smoky Mountains and there are a variety of day and half-day hikes.
When we were in Pigeon Forge a few years ago, we took a morning hike up into the Smoky Mountains and the views were amazing!
And for someone like me that likes to “collect” places, Clingman’s Dome sits in the Smokies on the Tennessee / North Carolina border, about an hour’s drive south. Clingman’s Dome is the Tennessee state highpoint (but not the North Carolina highpoint!). The drive is uphill (obviously) but the highpoint is a relatively short (1/2 mile) hike from the parking area / visitor’s center, which was definitely doable for our family, even with me pushing a heavy 18 month old in a stroller!
Have you been to the Pigeon Forge area? What are your favorite things to do? Leave a note in the comments
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