We visited Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg TN in the summer of 2018, and it was one of the first real hiking trips my kids did at ages 7 and 9. I think the biggest shock going back through the photos is just how far phone photos have come since then! We were surprised by just how much there was to do in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area and we would love to go back.
Riveredge RV Park
We stayed at Riveredge RV Park and it was one of the cleanest campgrounds we have stayed at (especially the bathhouses!) We stayed near the big of the campground and since our stay they have put in a bathhouse up top so you don’t have to climb up and down the steep hill to get to one. I would recommend this area as it was further from the main road, offered more privacy and more of a wooded feel then the sites in the front.
Great Smokey Mountain National Park
From Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg it’s just a short drive to the Smokey Mountains. The best part is this National Park is free to enter! There are lots of great hiking opportunities, these are just a few of the ones we choose.
Clingmans Dome is on the far side of the park, and is actually located in North Carolina. Its a short .5 mile hike along a paved road to get to the top, but it is a steep climb. This parking lot can get very busy so I would suggest arriving early.
Andrews Bald is a 3.5 mile round trip hike that starts from the Clingmans Dome parking lot and ends in a big field with a view. Its a pretty hike and was not crowded, although we found it a little buggy at the end. Its a great spot to stop and have lunch.
Laurel Falls was definitely the most popular trail we hiked in the Smokies. Its 2.6 miles round trip, and the way there descends so it is more difficult on the way back. Its also the only trail we spotted a bear.
Grotto Falls was a cool experience because you can actually walk behind the waterfall at the end. The hike is 2.8 miles round trip and we found it to be a little easier then Laurel Falls.
Alum Cave Trail
The Alum Cave Trail is 5 miles round trip, but it was our favorite hike in the Smokies. It was not crowded, and the first part winds through a babbling brook before climbing to the cave. You can also elect to continue on and climb Mt. LeConte, but my little hikers weren’t quite ready for that yet.
There were a few things in the Smokies we wanted to do, but ran out of time. I would consider a trip to Cades Cove next time to visit the historic old houses. Abraham Falls trail starts from Cades Cove and looks like a fun hike.
Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook
This is located outside of the park, but it offers one of the best views without doing any hiking!
Other things to do- Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg is a great small town and definitely worth a visit. You can walk between the different shops and restaurants downtown. A stop at the Ole Smokey distillery is a must do for 13 samples of different moonshine (apple pie is my favorite!) It’s $5 to taste, and you get a $5 off coupon!
There are many mini golf places to choose from in the area, but we loved this one. Its all built into the side of the mountain, and there is a tram that takes you up and down.
One of the things that has me most wanting to go back to the area, is the new attraction Gatlinburg sky bridge. The views from the air and the glass paneled see through parts of the bridge look amazing. Ripleys aquarium is also in the Gatlinburg area and looks worth a stop!
Pigeon Forge Area
Pigeon Forge area located 5 miles North of Gatlinburg and is much bigger, with miles of attractions along either side of the main drag. Pretty much any attraction you can think of, Pigeon Forge has it. Ziplining, indoor snow tubing, Titanic Museum, shows, ect it’s all there! The hard part is deciding what you want to do. Some of the things we enjoyed are below.
This is a cool area with shops and restaurants, as well as a fountain show. It also has Ole Smokey Distillery with moonshine tastings. There is a big Ferris Wheel attraction as well.
Three Bears General Store
This was a great place for all your souvenir needs as the store is huge! Randomly they have bears out back you can feed as well.
Flyaway Indoor Skydiving
We got a groupon for this at a great price so decided to give it a try. Its not as nice as Ifly and a little run down, but it was a great start for the kids as they were scared and the guides held on to them the entire time.
Comedy Barn Theatre- Amazing Animals
We got coupons for this show, and we all end up loving it! It was cool to see the animals perform different tricks.
Probably the biggest attraction in the area is Dollywood and Dollywood Splash Country. We have a lot of amusement parks near where we live, so we weren’t looking for an amusement park experience. We did, however, find cheap tickets for Water Country so we decided to visit the water park. It was a great waterpark and lots of fun!
Wineries and Breweries
We didn’t realize there were so many wineries in the area until we visited one and were given a wine trail guide. It is mostly fruity wine in that area, if you are a sweet wine lover its worth visiting a few.
Smokey Mountain Brewing is a great brewery/restaurant and kid friendly.
There are a few different rivers a short ride away that offer tubing. The company that we went through is no longer operating, so I would suggest River Rat Tubing is you want to go tubing in the area. It’s one of my kids favorite things to do.
We loved the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area because it was such a great mix of nature activities and manufactured entertainment. You can find something for everyone from hiking, to go-carts, to amusement rides and shows. I would highly recommend a visit, it’s one area we are hoping to get back to soon.