Top 10 Activities in the Smoky Mountains

Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Pigeon Forge offers an unparalleled blend of mountain activities, family-friendly attractions, amusements, hikes, coasters, outdoor adventures, and rides. These flashy attractions are alongside historic structures like the Old Mill that still operates today. We partnered with the City of Pigeon Forge to review some great attractions.

Grist Mill at Dollywood

Smoky Mountains National Park

With 11.3 million visitors per year, it is the #1 most visited national park. There’s incredible natural beauty to be found around every corner. You’ll find waterfalls, wildlife, hiking trails, and epic views at every turn. In fact, there are 150 trails covering 800 miles. With multiple entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this area is known as the Gateway to the Smokies.

Gatlinburg Trail

Rafting in the Smokies

This was our very first time whitewater rafting! We are so happy we used this well-established outpost - Rafting in the Smokies. They offer guided white-water rafting and float tours on the Pigeon River about an hour outside of Pigeon Forge. We had a fantastic Certified River Guide join us on the rafting trip that taught us everything we needed to know. We chose to do 5.5 miles in the Upper Section which had Class IV rapids. Kids need to be 8+ for this adventure. We had such a great time on this trip!


Lumberjack Adventure Park

This is hands-down our favorite ropes course in the Pigeon Forge area. It is a 2-hour outdoor course that includes a multi-level obstacle course/aerial ropes course, logger challenges, speed climbing, log rolling, and the world’s first cable-to-rail zipline roller coaster. I would recommend this for ages 8+ as younger kids would have difficulty on some of the obstacles. It is a high-energy, adrenaline-fueling course that anyone who loves very active challenges will enjoy. We will absolutely be back to tackle this one again! You can also view a Lumberjack show in the same location (reviewed below).



Lumberjack Feud Show

In addition to the adventure course, you can come back to watch real Lumberjacks in an evening show. This family-friendly Pigeon Forge show features Lumberjacks from two families showcasing competitive events. It’s 1.5 hours which was a great length for our kids while they snacked on popcorn from the concession. It includes real axe throwing, chopping, sawing, speed climbing, and log rolling. Our kids enjoyed cheering on the winning team.


Dollywood

This theme park is ranked #6 in the Travelers’ Choice Top U.S. Amusement Parks and is Tennessee’s #1 attraction. With 160 acres and even more down-home charm, it is said to be the friendliest park in the world. We enjoyed rides like:


Wild Eagle ➤ America's first wing coaster

Tennessee Tornado ➤ A triple spiral-looping coaster with 128-ft drop

FireChaser Express ➤ The nation's first dual-launch family coaster (forward and backward)

Mystery Mine ➤ Steel coaster that features a 95-degree, 85-foot vertical drop and inversions


Be sure to get cinnamon bread from Grist Mill. It was delicious!


The Island

This is a great addition to Pigeon Forge with attractions, shops, restaurants, and activities all in one place. You can quickly spot the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel which is a 200-foot-tall observation wheel and the centerpiece of The Island. There’s also a kids’ ropes course and jump. You can easily spend a long time here from dining and moonshine to shopping and kids' rides.


Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

This world-class aquarium is recognized as the “Best Aquarium in North America” by USA Today. Located in downtown Gatlinburg, it’s home to more than 10,000 sea creatures spanning 10 themed galleries. We saw all of the most popular inhabitants, including sharks, jellyfish, stingrays, and penguins. There’s a great interactive play area right in the middle. I love the flow of this aquarium—I felt that we saw everything without getting confused as to which way to go next. There’s a conveyor belt along one of the main tanks that provides such a good pace to view all of the marine life. The kids were able to touch a real jellyfish which was amazing!


Pigeon Forge Snow

This is the first indoor snow facility in the U.S. that offers REAL snow all year long. Pigeon Forge Snow did not disappoint! The kids are still talking about this! It was such a treat to be able to go snow tubing in the summer. The parents had a blast too. It was more fun than I even expected. They offer multiple lanes of snow tubing regardless of the time of year and an easy-to-use conveyor belt to bring you and your tube back up to the top after each slide. All ages will have fun here!


WonderWorks

This science-focused “edu-tainment” center combines education and entertainment with 100+ exhibits in its 35,000 square feet in the heart of Pigeon Forge. The building is made to look upside down. There is so much to do inside of this one building! The kids climbed the rock wall, felt 71 mph hurricane-force winds in the Hurricane Shack, made bubbles, and saw the glow-in-the-dark ropes course. They also offer arcade style games.


Titanic Museum Attraction

Titanic Pigeon Forge is a celebration of the ship, passengers, and crew. This two-story museum is shaped like the Titanic and houses 400 artifacts. We each received a “boarding pass” with information on a passenger. The tour is self guided which is great for families. Everyone received an audio guide that you can play on demand for each room. They offer a different audio guide for young children. There were stunning exhibits, but photos aren’t allowed for the majority of the tour.


Lodging

Hotels and cabins are the most popular choice for lodging in the area. We opted to stay right in the action at a downtown Gatlinburg hotel, the Greystone Lodge on the River. The location is top notch and walkable to pretty much everything in Gatlinburg. Check out our review here.


This area is one of the Southeast’s most popular destinations. We had a jam -packed visit and enjoyed every minute! Thanks to the City of Pigeon Forge for providing us with the VIP card which can total up to $2500!




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