Pigeon Forge, TN is a family friendly vacation destination in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains with amazing variety for all ages. If you’re looking for things to do in Pigeon Forge with kids, don’t miss our picks!
We recently visited Pigeon Forge, TN for the first time as a family and I’m so excited to share all about our trip. Pigeon Forge is such a great and surprisingly accessible vacation destination. We love taking long family weekends away whenever we can so I know we’ll be back.
We had a chance to pack in many attractions during our visit and I wanted to share some of our favorites like Dollywood, Pigeon Forge Snow and the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel among others. Stay tuned for more information on each of these attractions. We loved them all!
This post is a paid partnership on behalf of Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. All opinions are my own.
Approximate Drive Times to Pigeon Forge
It wasn’t until I checked the map that I realized just how centrally located Pigeon Forge is. The truth is, flights can be expensive and we love traveling so I’m always looking for drive-able locations from Raleigh to help stretch our travel budget.
In my book, anything less than 8 hours of driving makes a great long weekend and an even better extended vacation. Just how accessible is Pigeon Forge? Well, just take a look at these driving times.
If you live in or near any of these places, Pigeon Forge is an easy drive with lots of fun awaiting you.
- Raleigh, NC to Pigeon Forge, TN: 5.5 hours
- Columbus, OH to Pigeon Forge, TN: 6 hours
- Indianapolis, IN to Pigeon Forge, TN: 6 hours
- Nashville, TN to Pigeon Forge, TN: 3 hours
- Atlanta, GA to Pigeon Forge, TN: 4 hours
- Birmingham, AL to Pigeon Forge, TN: 4.5 hours
- Richmond, VA to Pigeon Forge, TN: 6.5 hours
- Louisville, KY to Pigeon Forge, TN: 4.5 hours
- Columbia, SC to Pigeon Forge, TN: 4 hours
There’s something so special about driving to our vacation destination. Sure flying can be convenient but who can forget those long hours in a car as a kid, wondering what magic is waiting at the end of the trip?
I love making road trips a part of my boys’ childhood because I truly believe the journey is half the fun! Still not convinced? Check out my tips for rocking a road trip with kids.
Planning a Visit to Pigeon Forge with Kids
Now that we know how easy it is to get to Pigeon Forge, it’s time for the fun part! I love planning a vacation and exploring new places. Thankfully, visiting Pigeon Forge with kids is a breeze because there are so many fun things to do for the whole family.
You really could have a different visit each time you go. From attractions to dining to all the shopping, I can see why people keep coming back!
Here are a few of our favorites from this visit.
Enjoy a Day at Dollywood Rain or Shine
I’ll be honest, Dollywood had never really been on my radar before this trip and I don’t know why. We love theme parks and who doesn’t love Dolly Parton?
Still, I’d never taken the time to learn about this beautiful park until now and all I can say is better late than never! We had an absolute blast at Dollywood. And it was raining!
The day we had planned to visit Dollywood had rain in the forecast for the entire day. We went back and forth trying to decide if we should wait, but we decided to go for it with our ponchos in hand.
I’m so glad we did because not only was the park nearly empty, each person in my family really stepped up to the adventure and we made some awesome memories. Plus, the sun even came out after lunch and we enjoyed several dry hours as well.
How’s that for chasing rainbows?
There is something for everyone at Dollywood. The food was delicious. There were mild rides for younger kiddos like Calvin, whose favorite was the Rockin Roadway, and thrill rides like Wild Eagle for Jerry and Oscar to scream on.
And of course there was plenty for us all to enjoy together too. Since we were already wet, we took a spin on the Raging River Rapids and loved it!
One could easily spend a couple days in Dollywood as it is. That said, next month an entirely new land is opening called Wildwood Grove and it looks awesome!
Plus, there is a water park next door called Splash Country that opens for the season in mid-May for even more fun in the sun.
Pigeon Forge Snow for Year Round Play
Another attraction I couldn’t wait to try was Pigeon Forge Snow. I had this one on my list because I knew we would see some rain during our trip and I wanted to be sure we had some indoor options.
Pigeon Forge Snow was awesome! When you arrive and pay for your pass, you’ll be given a wristband with a time limit (ours was one hour).
Then, you scan in at the bottom of the tubing hill, grab a tube and ride the moving sidewalk all the way to the top. When it’s time to hop on the tube, off you go!
The hill is great because you go fast but there is plenty of time at the end to slow down so you won’t crash. And there is usually a photographer there snapping pics so be sure to check them out before you leave. They make great souvenirs!
If there is anyone in your group that isn’t into the thrill of tubing, there is also a fun “snow play” area to enjoy as well as massage chairs. Calvin and I took advantage of both and I’m not sorry. Not one bit.
Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud
We are totally new to the dinner show scene so I had no idea what to expect at the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud (beyond the obvious dinner and show). We had no idea we were in for such a treat!
Not only was the food delicious and all you can eat (think fried chicken, corn and mashed potatoes), the talent was truly awesome.
We laughed, clapped along to the music and were wowed by the stunts throughout the show. It really was a great night and incredibly popular!
Our show sold out so be sure to get your tickets in advance if you plan to go. Also, be aware of your showtime and get there at least 30-40 minutes early.
Seating is reserved but there will be a line to get in and they stop serving food when the show starts so you’ll want to leave plenty of time to eat.
There will be a photo-op before you are seated and a server will bring a printed copy of the photo with some purchasing options during your meal, which you can buy with cash or a credit card.
If you’re interested in alcoholic beverages, just mention it to your server and you can buy those in the same way as they aren’t included in the ticket price.
The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud is just one of many popular shows in Pigeon Forge among others like the Smoky Mountain Opry, Dolly Parton’s Stampede and coming soon, Pirate’s Voyage dinner show. These are definitely a fun splurge for the whole family.
Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
Because Pigeon Forge is in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, you may forget you’re in the mountains at all some of the time. This is why I think the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is a must-do when in Pigeon Forge.
I’m a sucker for a great view and at 200 feet tall, this fully enclosed ferris wheel in the middle of town is the best view there is.
We loved seeing the city and the mountains as we went around and around. In fact, this was one of Calvin’s top 3 activities and he is already asking when we can do it again.
The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is also another great rainy day option (as long as there isn’t lightning) if you’re looking for fun ways to stay dry. And while you’re at The Island, be sure to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat. It’s a win win!
Enjoy Your Pigeon Forge Hotel
If your kids are anything like mine, they love a good hotel. And the better the hotel, the harder it is to get them to leave! This was the case with our stay at Country Cascades Water Park Resort.
Aside from the two towers full of spacious rooms and delicious daily breakfast, the shining star of this hotel is the outdoor water park. There, you’ll find a heated zero-entry pool, two water slides, splash pad with small slides for little ones and an indoor pool with a hot tub.
The day we arrived was sunny and warm so we went straight to the pool and had a blast. In fact, every single day the boys wanted to swim and this is where the indoor pool saved the day because when the rain started we took the party inside.
Who doesn’t love a great pool? I can only imagine how popular this hotel will be in the summertime. Check out my full Country Cascades review here.
There are many hotel options in Pigeon Forge including some new resorts that are still under construction. If you’re looking for walkable access to The Island shops and restaurants, check out Margaritaville. It’s a beautiful spot with not only the hotel but also lots of dining options and of course the famous bar by the same name.
In short, if you’re looking for a great time in Pigeon Forge, you will find it. There truly is something for everyone. Next time, we’re hoping for better weather so we can experience some of the amazing outdoor attractions. There is still so much more to explore.
I can’t wait to share more about our experiences and help you have a great family vacation in Pigeon Forge. Let me know how I can help and I will do my best. In the meantime, happy planning!