Are you looking for family things to do in Smoky Mountains Tennessee? This family vacation guide will help find the best things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg with kids.
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Great Smoky Mountain National park is a perfect place to visit for the entire family. With Pigeon Forge, the Gatlinburg area, Clingman’s Dome, and more family friendly tourist attractions for all ages, this is a great place to visit in the United States.
There are so many great things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for older kids and young children. We found there was more than enough activities for our family to plan an amazing family trip.
You may not be able to see and do everything, but pick the activities that work best for your family. Below I share an overview as well as a detailed Pigeon Forge itinerary from our trip.
What we loved about our visit was that it has the family fun attractions we love, but was also in close proximity to The Great Smoky Mountains. We got to balance our vacation with outdoor activities and family attractions.
Visiting Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg with Kids
Where is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee?
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is situated in the mountains near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is located in Southeast Tennessee. Pigeon Forge is 7.5 miles from Gatlinburg, Tennessee and 8 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
How do you get to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee?
If traveling by air the nearest airport is in Knoxville, Tennessee. This is located about 24 miles away. You may also want to check Asheville (62 miles) or Charlotte (152 miles).
We arrived by car and planned a fun road trip from Rochester, NY to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I love planning road trips and this one had a lot of fun and unique stops along the way.
The easiest way to get around Pigeon Forge is by having a car. If you fly into the area I suggest renting a car for your visit.
Where to Stay in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Area
We stayed in a cabin rental during our visit to Pigeon Forge. We used Cabins USA and were happy with the rental and the service.
There are also house rentals, family friendly resorts, and modern hotels to choose from. Check out prices and options here.
We stayed 4 nights and didn’t have a chance to experience all the Pigeon Forge attractions but the list below covers some of the best things to see in Pigeon Forge.
If you are looking for a detailed itinerary for a Pigeon Forge vacation continue reading for what we did, where we ate, and how to plan your Pigeon Forge family vacation.
Best Things to Do in Smoky Mountain Area with Kids
Pigeon Forge is a tourist town. It has dinner shows, mini-golf, and other family fun activities. Gatlinburg has a great downtown area with attractions too.
- The Island Fountain Show (Pigeon Forge)
- 7D Dark Ride Adventure (Pigeon Forge)
- Hatfield’s and McCoy’s Dinner Feud (Pigeon Forge)
- Dolly Parton’s Stampede (Pigeon Forge)
- Pirate Voyage Dinner Show (Pigeon Forge)
- The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel (Pigeon Forge)
- Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud (Pigeon Forge)
- Outdoor Gravity Park (Pigeon Forge)
- Alcatraz East Crime Museum (Pigeon Forge)
- Clingmans Dome (Take a scenic drive into the Great Smoky Mountains. On a clear day you will have spectacular views from the observation tower. Guests can see into North Carolina on clear days.)
- MagiQuest (Pigeon Forge)
- Mirror Maze (Pigeon Forge)
- Pirate Mini-Golf (Pigeon Forge)
- Lazer Maze (Pigeon Forge)
- Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Café (Pigeon Forge)
- Alpine Mountain Coaster (Pigeon Forge)
- The Track – Go-Kart and Arcade (Pigeon Forge)
- Pigeon Forge Snow (Pigeon Forge)
- Dollywood Theme Park
- Dollywood’s Splash Country (Water Park)
- Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge)
- The Old Mill (Pigeon Forge)
- Crave Mini-Golf (Pigeon Forge)
- WonderWorks (Pigeon Forge)
- Top Jump Trampoline Park (Pigeon Forge)
- Toy Box Mini-Golf (Pigeon Forge)
- Anakeesta (Gatlinburg)
- Ripley’s Aquarium (Gatlinburg)
- Cades Cove Loop Road (Great Smoky Mountain National Park)
- Skybridge (Gatlinburg: longest pedestrian bridge in North America)
- Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway (2.1 mile ride offering panoramic views of Great Smoky Mountains)
- Gatlinburg Space Needle (Observation tower)
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not (Gatlinburg)
- Rafting in the Smokies
- Laurel Falls (2.6 mile walk on a paved trail, one of the most photographed spots in the Smokies.)
Visit the Island for the Water Show
The Island in Pigeon Forge is a entertainment area that has dining, shops, and attractions for all ages. Your family can enjoy a ride on the Great Smoky Wheel or shop at some of the unique stores. My kids loved the Toy Chest Company.
During our Pigeon Forge vacation we visited the Island twice. The first time was late at night to see the Island fountain show. I was so happy we did this.
The fountains have rocking chairs lined up all around and we all relaxed and were mesmerized by the show. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip. To sit and enjoy the show with my family was an awesome memory I will always cherish.
We also visited the Island during the day to ride the 7D Dark Ride Adventure. It is a stationary dark ride where the seats move and you shoot at the screen.
We did the family friendly show and it was themed around robots. Super fun and really well done!
Make Reservations at a Dinner Show
We had reservations at two dinner shows during our Pigeon Forge Vacation. The first was Hatfield and McCoy’s Dinner Feud and the second was Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
The newest show is the Pirates Voyage. We have seen this is other cities and we all really like it.
Dinner shows are a fun way to enjoy the evening. They are usually silly and fast paced, but it’s fun to be part of the show and really go all in and be silly too! The food was good at both attractions as well.
During Hatfield and McCoy’s Dinner Feud all the kids in the audience were invited up on stage to dance and it was so fun to see the kids enjoying the stage.
My daughter also had an opportunity to participate in part of the show during Dolly Parton’s Stampede. The dinner shows are a fun family night out.
Take a Drive Up the Mountains
Pigeon Forge is located among some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. During your stay I highly recommend you take a drive and enjoy the gorgeous views.
We took an short drive, about an hour, up the mountain to Clingman’s Dome and I was so happy we did. It is one of the kid friendly-hikes because it is under a mile but the elevation change is swift. Be prepared to be walking uphill most of the hike.
Enjoy Interactive Fun at MagiQuest
My kids fell in love with MagiQuest a few years ago and have been begging to return. We were so excited to learn that there is a MagiQuest in Pigeon Forge and we would finally have our chance to visit again.
MagiQuest is an interactive wand experience that leads you on magical journeys. It is really fun to do as a family, but can be tricky. I love that we have to work together to solve the riddles and find everything.
I was really surprised to see that there were other activities to do inside the MagiQuest building. We played indoor pirate themed mini-golf, attempted a laser maze, and also did our first mirror maze.
I haven’t been in a mirror maze in years and it was a little disorienting, but the kids really loved the experience and thankfully my husband was really good at it!
Where to Eat in Pigeon Forge for Families
I don’t know about your family, but for us it is all about the food! We love to find family friendly restaurants that offer things unique to the area we are visiting. During our Pigeon Forge visit we ate at so many awesome places!
At Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe you can try some of the best pancakes surrounded by singing chickens. This was so entertaining for the kids and they loved seeing the names of the chickens.
Some of our favorites were Michael JordHEN, J.K. FOWLing, Cluck Kent, HEN Solo, and so many more.
A few more of our favorite restaurants were The Old Mill and Big Daddy’s Pizza. The family friendly atmosphere was great and the food was delicious. It was so nice to find family friendly restaurants that made everyone happy.
Mini-Golf in Pigeon Forge
Mini-Golf themed to candy and sweets sounds like a dream but Crave, the indoor and outdoor mini-golf, is for real. This is a kids dream with the large confectioneries and a fun course.
We love to play min-golf and don’t typically keep score, unless you get a hole in one, then we celebrate.
Crave’s course was family friendly and we each had a chance to celebrate our wins! One thing to know is part of the course is outdoors and with limited shade. Plan to visit early in the day or late in the evening.
Family Activities in Pigeon Forge
On your Pigeon Forge vacation it is time to set aside your adult responsibilities and be a kid again. I was happy to take a break from the everyday life and enjoy playing with my kids. There are so many Pigeon Forge activities for kids and adults!
We took a ride on the Alpine Mountain Coaster. I loved twisting through the mountain! It is so much fun! My daughter saw a baby deer on her way down the mountain.
The Track is an entertainment complex with go-karts, arcade, and small rides for the kids. It is a great place to race and I really liked that they had go-karts for all ages.
My youngest could participate and we could all play together. They also loved the bumper boats and arcade.
One of the newest Pigeon Forge attractions is Pigeon Forge Snow– an indoor snow tubing attraction.
We live in New York so we go sledding every winter, but I loved how original and fun this attraction was. Sledding in 60 degrees is a lot easier than sledding when it is freezing.
You purchase tickets for an hour and sled as much as you want. They even have a lift that takes you to the top. They also have a snow play area.
I can best compare it to a sand box, but with snow! Visiting Pigeon Forge Snow is a great way to take a break from the heat!
WonderWorks is an interactive hands-on children’s museum that offers family fun activities around science and nature. It can get bust so arrive early to start your day. Our favorite part was the Bubbles area. Adults and kids can play and have fun together.
One place we didn’t get to visit but I wish we did was Dollywood. Dollywood is a theme park located in Pigeon Forge and it is great place for families to visit. Dollywood has on-site accommodations, a waterpark, and the theme park.
Now that you have seen everything there is to do in the Smoky Mountains area check out our full itinerary to bring it all together.
4 Day Pigeon Forge Itinerary
Day 1: Experiencing the Titanic Museum + Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show
Once we checked into our cabin and got settled we were ready to start exploring all the fun things we had planned.
Before we made it out of our cabin complex we saw a black bear crossing the road. Be aware that there are black bears in the area and to stay cautious.
We had reservations to spend the morning at Anakeesta. Anakessta is an adventure park located in downtown Gatlinburg. It is a really cool place to visit for the whole family.
We share our visit and tips in this post, Anakeesta Review: Should You Visit Anakeesta on Your Gatlinburg Vacation. It is a great time to visit day or night.
After Anakeesta we headed over to the Titanic Museum. One of the first things we saw as we drove into Pigeon Forge was the huge Titanic replica. The Titanic Museum is a self-guided walk through of the story of the Titanic.
I wasn’t sure if this would be a great fit for my kids but they were really interested. They even had a special tour guide for kids.
As you enter everyone is given their own portable speaker that will guide your through the exhibit. There is an adult and child one.
You are also given a card with a profile of a person that was aboard the Titanic. As you go through the exhibit you see if your person survived or perished on their journey.
The Titanic Museum does not allow video or photos through the museum. They have a collection of artifacts and even pieces that were on the ship.
I didn’t realize how emotional we would all feel as we learned more about what it was like to be on the Titanic. It was powerful and I was happy we visited to learn more.
After the museum we headed next door to the Hatfield & McCoy’s Dinner Feud. I was a bit hesitant heading into this. I didn’t know what to expect and wasn’t sure we would enjoy it.
I have to say we were pleasantly surprised. The show is based on the “historical feud of Hatfield and McCoy”. It is highly entertaining with dancing and all the kids are invited to the stage to do a bit of dancing.
The food was served family style and fast, but we all enjoyed it. It was fried chicken, corn on the cob, coleslaw, rolls, and dessert. The food is served before the start of the show and it moves quickly.
Day 2: Clingman’s Dome, Pancake Breakfast, WonderWorks, Big Daddy Pizza, & Mini-Golf
As I’m writing this I can’t believe how much we packed into this day. We had planned to sleep in but everyone woke up early so we decided to take a drive up the mountains to Clingman’s Dome.
Clingman’s Dome is not in Pigeon Forge. It is located about an hour away and is worth the drive.
As you climb the mountains you see breathtaking views and it is a must do. You will park at the top and make your way up the .5 mile(very steep) hike up the mountains.
Clingman’s Dome is the third highest point east of the Mississippi. It is a bit tough but most people can climb it and I would consider it one of the kid-friendly hikes.
There are benches along the way if you need a break. My kids needed a few breaks but they were so happy and proud they made it to the top. Read all the details of our visit: What to Know When You Visit Clingman’s Dome.
After our morning hike we headed to Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe. Frizzle Chicken’s has a hot breakfast and singing chickens. Every 10 minutes the chickens “cluck” a familiar song and the kids thought it was so funny.
With a full stomach we went to WonderWorks. WonderWorks is an indoor amusement park that has hands on exhibits, a 3D show, and interactive activities.
It is best to arrive first thing in the morning to avoid large crowds-we arrived mid-afternoon and it was really crowded.
Our favorite spot at WonderWorks is the bubble room. The kids made gigantic bubbles and had a lot of fun in this area. Being a Dr. Seuss fan, I really enjoyed the small art area dedicated to Dr. Seuss creations.
After WonderWorks we headed back to the cabin to relax for the afternoon. I loved having space in the cabin to relax after our busy days. The views from the balcony were amazing!
For dinner we headed over to Big Daddy’s Pizzeria. There is something special about ordering a pizza at a restaurant. Typically pizza is for take-out in our house. We ordered the meatball pizza.
After dinner we drove over to Crave for some mini-golf. Crave is an indoor and outdoor mini-golf course themed to sweets. They have gumdrop and chocolate holes, and you can also purchase candy and sweet treats.
We started with the outdoor course. Each of our tickets included a bottle of water.
I really appreciated this because Tennessee in August is hot! Our goal was to do both courses. We did make it through the indoor and outdoor but the kids were tired at the end and one course would have been best.
Day 3: MagiQuest Pigeon Forge & Dolly Parton’s Stampede
From the minute we drove down the main road in Pigeon Forge my youngest has been asking to go to MagiQuest. We had visited MagiQuest during our vacation to Myrtle Beach, but that location has closed, and the kids were so excited to visit.
We arrived about 10 minutes before opening because we knew it was much easier to play the challenges when there are less people. MagiQuest is an interactive wand game. You solve riddles and challenges to unlock new adventures.
The challenges can be a bit complicated for young kids and it is best to work as a team to solve them. Even a few of the clues were difficult for my husband and I, thankfully there are people around to help you if you get stuck.
At MagiQuest you purchase time of play. We played for 60 minutes and that seemed like a good amount of time for the kids. After MagiQuest we headed downstairs to do the other activities in the building.
The building says MagiQuest on the outside but inside there are 4 different family activities you can play. There is a laser maze, Pirate indoor glow mini-golf, a mirror maze, and upstairs is the MagiQuest area.
We attempted to do the laser maze but it was really tough for the bigger kids…my husband and I! The smaller the better! Then we went over to mini-golf and ended our morning with the Mirror Maze.
I haven’t done a mirror maze since I was little and it was definitely a bit disorienting. They give you gloves to keep the mirrors clean and you find your way through it. Honestly I wasn’t sure if the kids would like it but they ended up really enjoying it.
After that we went to the Old Mill area for lunch and to walk around. The lunch is delicious and the sweet bread they give you at the start of your meal is the BEST!!
After lunch we stopped at the Candy Shop for some taffy and sweets to bring back to the cabin.
At this point it was getting really hot out and we went back to the cabin to relax and cool off before our reservations at Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede is a dinner show that has 32 horses and a variety of other animals. As well as trick performers and a lot of audience participation.
The show is very entertaining and we were all so impressed with the talent of the performers. I would have to say the best part is when my daughter got picked to go on stage.
During one of the acts there was a chicken race. Four kids from the audience got to be part of the show. It was really fun and at the end my daughter received a book and a note from Dolly Parton.
The note was so sweet. It said “Congratulations on being so brave and coming on stage.” I thought this was an awesome little detail that really meant a lot to my daughter.
The show ended close to 10:00pm and even though we were all exhausted we headed over to The Island in Pigeon Forge to see The Island Fountain Show. This was on the top of my list and I couldn’t wait to see it.
We arrived and it found a spot on the many available rocking chairs that lined the show. I love being able to relax and enjoy those quiet moments with my family and this was perfect.
The lights and music of the show were so nice and it is a family memory I will never forget.
Day 4: Chasing Adventures at The Track, Alpine Mountain Coaster, Pigeon Forge Snow, and Interactive 7D Adventure
It was our last day in Pigeon Forge and we really wanted to see everything so we packed a lot into our Pigeon Forge day.
Our first stop was at The Track. The Track is a family fun center that has an arcade, small rides, go-kart, bumper boats, and mini-golf. We started at the Go-Karts.
They had a few different levels of Go-Kart tracks, which was really nice for accommodating families. All of the kids had an option to enjoy the go-karts. The best was when all five of us could ride the track together.
After Go-Karts we headed over to the bumper boats. The kids loved this. They floated around and could squirt each other with water. It was so much fun! After we headed to the arcade to play a few games and win a few prizes.
Continuing on our adventurous day we went to Pigeon Forge Snow. Pigeon Forge Snow is one of the newer attractions in Pigeon Forge. It was really incredible to do indoor snow tubing.
We have gone sledding many times but this was a different level. The lift takes you up to the top and you get to experience sledding without the freezing cold temps. Definitely one of our favorite places.
After a filling lunch at Huck Finn’s Catfish we headed over to our last stop of the day. Our final adventure brought us to the Interactive 7D Adventure. This is a shooting simulator ride that offers shows that are fun for everyone. We did the Robot show because it was family friendly. It was a lot of fun!!
After the show we walked around The Island a bit more. The Island has a Giant Wheel that gives you amazing views but we have a few height fears and decided to pass on this visit.
Day 4 was amazing but it was time to head back to the cabin to pack and get ready for our drive tomorrow.
We spent the evening enjoying our cabin hot tub on the balcony with amazing views, having a family movie night, and dinner at the cabin. I love having moments during vacation where we can slow down from the busy and exciting day and enjoy being together.
I couldn’t believe all the things to do in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee! Our Pigeon Forge vacation was a surprising hit! It was different than most vacations we take and I loved exploring a different place.
Thank you to My Pigeon Forge for hosting us on our Pigeon Forge Vacation. As always all opinions are honest and my own.
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