Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is a mountain town located in the foothills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s an easy road trip for families, as two-thirds of the US population lives within driving distance of the park. Pigeon Forge offers lodging in all shapes and sizes, from mom and pop bed and breakfasts to vacation rental condos and mountain cabins. Whatever you are looking for in a family vacation to Pigeon Forge, you are sure to find it!
This is a paid partnership on behalf of Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. For more information on Pigeon Forge, visit their official website. As always, opinions are 100% our own.
Pigeon Forge has about 7,000 full-time residents, but there is an endless number of fun attractions. We spent a weekend in Pigeon Forge, and couldn’t believe all of the attractions the city has to offer.
Best Things to do in Pigeon Forge with Kids
The Island in Pigeon Forge
The Island in Pigeon Forge should be your first stop. Parking is free at this entertainment center with shopping, dining, and family fun. Take a ride on The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel for a stunning view of Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains beyond. Play games at Arcade City, ride The Flying Horse Carousel, or try some thrill rides. When everyone has had their fill of attractions, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, like Dick’s Last Resort or Yee-Haw Brewing Company.
Alcatraz East Crime Museum
There are several attractions at The Island, including this crime museum, housing memorabilia from some of the world’s most notorious criminals. The museum features crime through the ages, from torture instruments of the medieval times, to OJ Simpson’s white Ford Bronco. Know that there is a lot of reading, so this activity might be better suited for older kids.. There are a few interactive experiences including The Heist, where kids attempt to make their way through a laser maze. My son enjoyed visiting the museum, but liked the hands-on activities the best.
Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show and Adventure Park
Your kids will love spending time at the Lumberjack Adventure Park! After gearing up, families can try the ropes course, enjoy rolling logs over water, and even try axe throwing. The highlight of the park is The Flying Ox, a zip line roller coaster unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before! Don’t miss the Lumberjack Feud Show, where professional lumberjacks compete in different events as the audience cheers them on. It’s the perfect day out in Pigeon Forge for families.
Ride an Alpine Coaster
If your family loves alpine coasters, you’re in luck, as there are three different ones in Pigeon Forge. There’s the Coaster at Goats on the Roof, Rocky Top Mountain Coaster, and Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Try them all and choose your favorite!
Crave Mini Golf
My kids always request a stop at the local mini golf course on vacation. Crave Mini Golf is right on the Parkway (the main street), and offers indoor and rooftop golf courses, all decked out in a Candyland theme. Each hole has a spinner with different twists to the hole, such as standing on one foot while putting or closing your eyes when you swing. It takes the game to a new level of fun, and adults and kids alike will love it.
Pink Jeep Tour
For a unique tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, head out on a Pink Jeep. There are four different adventure tours to book, including the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and the Newfound Gap. We took an amazing tour of Newfound Gap with Jeanie, who wowed us with her life stories and knowledge of the area.
Next, we headed into the park, where we kept an eye out for bears, hiked a couple of different trails looking for waterfalls, and eventually made our way to Newfound Gap. Located on the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina, this spot sits around 5,000 feet in elevation and is definitely cooler than Pigeon Forge.
To wrap up our Great Smoky Mountains tour, Jeanie took us off-roading just outside the park. After shifting the car to 4 wheel drive, she maneuvered the Jeep like a champ on steep inclines while we flew around the back seat. This is one tour families will be talking about for years to come!
Want to explore the park on foot? Don’t miss these day hikes in the Smoky Mountains!
Beyond the Lens!
One of the biggest surprises in Pigeon Forge is Beyond the Lens! Family Fun. We didn’t know what to expect, but loved all of the exhibits. The entrance is a life-size kaleidoscope followed by a Hollywood red carpet (complete with paparazzi)! There’s a video game room with the evolution of gaming systems, including a giant Pac-Man and a VR game, Beat Saber, where you try to keep the beat to the song of your choice.
Other fun exhibits included the Big Foot experience, the Alien egg pit, and an escape room. There are photo opportunities everywhere, both with exhibits and VR animals. Families visiting Pigeon Forge shouldn’t miss this place!
Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show
There are an endless number of dinner shows to choose from in Pigeon Forge, but you can’t go wrong with the Pirates Voyage Dinner and Adventure Show. Inside is a giant pirate ship, and guests sit on either side, rooting for the Sapphire or Crimson pirate teams. Pirates Calico Jack and Blackbeard play major roles in this fun and mostly friendly competition amongst pirates. Everyone will love the pirates, mermaids, live animals, and amazing acrobatics by the cast. During the show, wait staff will expertly serve a four course meal, so everyone leaves with full bellies. Be sure to add this to your Pigeon Forge itinerary!
Where to Eat in Pigeon Forge with Kids
Old Mill Restaurant is actually built on the site of a former grist mill built in the 1830s. The entire area has restaurants, candy shops, and a general store. Come to the Old Mill with an empty stomach, because meals are ginormous. We tried the fried chicken platter and the turkey dinner. Both were excellent and came with mashed potatoes, green beans, corn fritters, soup, and melt in your mouth biscuits. See, I told you it was a lot of food!
Local Goat features menu items that are sourced from local farms. It bills itself as a “New American restaurant with a scratch-made kitchen”, and it does not disappoint. Try their fried green tomatoes or deep fried deviled eggs with bacon jam to start. We recommend ordering one of their gourmet burgers, Pimiento Cheese Cheeseburger or the TN Whiskey Glazed Burger. Both are mouth watering!
Where to Stay in Pigeon Forge
There are so many accommodations in Pigeon Forge, it can be hard to find the perfect one. We highly recommend RiverStone Resort and Spa. This condo property offers rentals of all sizes. Our condo had 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, with a view over the neighboring golf course. There was also a full-sized kitchen, dining table, living room, and balcony. It was the perfect place to come back to after a long day out. They had excellent WiFi, so my son could complete his virtual schooling at the end of the day.
RiverStone Resort sits away from the Pigeon Forge crowds, but it’s close to all the action. It never took us longer than 10 minutes to get anywhere we needed to go. It occupies an awesome position overlooking the Little Pigeon River.
Some of the resort amenities include a spa (which I really wanted to try, but couldn’t find the time), a lazy river, indoor pool, awesome playground, and a giant kids bounce pillow. We promise your kids will never be bored on this property.
Pigeon Forge combines the scenic beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains with an endless number of fun and unique family-friendly attractions. We can’t wait to return next year with the rest of our family.
*Regarding the Pigeon Forge attractions & businesses mentioned in this blog, please check their respective websites for an update on their COVID-19 operational updates.