Looking for the perfect family vacation destination? Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee fits the bill! There are so many fun things to do in Pigeon Forge with kids, and there is a wide range of attractions and activities that there is plenty that will appeal to each member of the family.
If you’re craving outdoor adventure, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just down the road and offers countless opportunities including hiking, fishing, and wildlife spotting. Amusement can be found at Dollywood, With its blend of excitement and natural beauty, Pigeon Forge is the perfect destination for an unforgettable family vacation.
Explore more of the state! Here are the best things to do in Tennessee with kids.
Over 20 Fun Things to Do in Pigeon Forge with Kids
Head to Dollywood for Theme Park Thrills
Looking to spend the day (or two) going on rides? A visit to Dollywood with the family is a must! Dollywood consistently ranks as one of the top theme parks in the country with more than 50 rides. With so much to do, purchasing a two-day ticket is highly recommended.
Must do rides include the new Big Bear Mountain (longest rollercoaster in the park), Drop Line, and Wild Eagle. If you’d rather hang out and listen to live entertainment or check out a couple shows, Dollywood has that as well. Expect live entertainment ranging from country (of course!) to acapella to Southern gospel music.
Eat up by trying Southern-style food, and don’t even think about forgetting to grab some of their famous cinnamon bread. If the weather is in your favor, cool off at Dollywood’s Splash Country (right next to Dollywood) by riding the water rides, splashing at the splash pads, or hanging out at the wave pool. Who knows? Maybe you may spot Ms. Parton herself!
Watch Lumberjacks in Action
For good ole’ fashioned fun with a little bit of a feud and plenty of laughs, Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud is a great time for all. Pick a seat, cheer on for your designated family, and watch as they compete through a series of challenges including log rolling, axe throwing, pole climbing, and more.
The outdoor show, open all year round, provides cover from the elements. Tip: There is a short intermission which is the perfect time to pick up a few snacks like popcorn and some bottles of Paula Deen’s Butter Cream Soda which are only sold here!
Be a Lumberjack
Test your skills and see if you have what it takes to be a lumberjack at Lumberjack Feud Adventure Park. Climb to the top of the 80-foot pole or balance on the log roll or run across a floating log.
Other fun activities include flying through the air on the zipline roller coaster or conquering the ropes course. For the ultimate lumberjack experience, combine the show with the Lumberjack Adventure Park and you’ve got a fun-filled day.
Imagine being on the Titanic
For an educational and eye opening experience, a visit to the Titanic Museum is a must. Upon arrival, guests are given an audio device as well as a boarding pass of an actual passenger from the ship. As we perused through the 20 galleries, we learned about the different classes of passengers, saw real artifacts from the ship, and climbed steps of The Grand Staircase, a replica of the original.
My kids enjoyed the highly interactive aspects including touching the freezing water (the same temp the passengers experienced), walking up a sloping ship, navigating through the water, learning how to use Morse code, and more. At the end, we found out if our passenger survived. Overall, quite a moving experience.
The Island in Pigeon Forge
The Island in Pigeon Forge is a destination with something for everything in the family – food, shops, activities – they’ve got it all! Conquer the multi-level Island Ropes Course where you can even attempt a simulated free fall. Or enjoy any of the carnival-like rides or play at the arcade.
Our favorite attraction by far was SkyFly: Soar America, a simulated flight through iconic destinations in the nation. Special effects like wind, mist, and scents added to the immersive experience.
Adults can even try moonshine at Ole Smoky Moonshine! If you’d rather relax, sit back on any of the rocking chairs surrounding the fountain and watch the water dance to the music.
Enjoy the best view from Pigeon Forge
Located at The Island in Pigeon Forge, the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel offers amazing views of Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains atop the glass observation wheel 200 feet in the air.
The gondolas are enclosed and temperature controlled so you can relax and enjoy the view no matter the weather. For the ultimate view, time your ride as the sun sets and paints the sky.
Experience Beyond the Lens
Beyond the Lens, dubbed as a techno-tainment experience, is hard to describe. You just have to try it for yourself!
The indoor attraction offers plenty of hands-on experiences including gaming opportunities, mini escape rooms, virtual reality, Big Foot sightings, and more!
Want to wander through America? The immersive Fly Ride takes you along scenic vistas in a suspended, free floating seat. There’s something for everyone at Beyond The Lens.
Tee up for the sweetest mini golf
Candyland meets mini golf at Crave Golf Club. You’ll have a sweet time mini golfing at this candy-themed golf course.
Whether you choose between the outdoor mini golf on the rooftop or indoor golf, prepare to have a great time. The different challenges at each hole- like golf with your eyes closed or take a selfie before you golf- add to the experience. Plus, who can deny the awesome photo ops? If you don’t want the fun to end, there is mini-bowling as well as escape rooms to conquer.
8. Visit a historic district
Travel back to the historical district of The Old Mill that dates back to 1830. Join the educational guided tour of the Historic Old Mill, a 19th Century grist mill that is still operating today.
Don’t forget to shop at the Old Mill General Store for stone ground grain and other goodies for your next baked treat. For amazing homemade ice cream you can’t go wrong with The Old Mill Creamery. For another sweet treat, The Old Mill Candy Kitchen’s has homemade melt-in-your mouth taffy. Don’t miss the signature Bear Paw, pecans and caramel, coated in chocolate.
Pigeon River Pottery has beautiful homemade creations still made using the same clay recipe used in the beginning, and if you time it right, you may catch them making their creations through the window.
The Pottery House Café, an actual potter’s home build in 1949, serves the most delicious Southern food. You can’t go wrong with the fried catfish, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and homemade bread made with milled flour from the grist mill. Round out your visit with a stop at The Old Forge Distillery for moonshine tastings.
9. Take a hike
A trip to Pigeon Forge is not complete without taking in the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or prefer the views from the comfort of your car, enjoying the Smoky’s beauty is easy for all. There’s a reason why it’s the country’s most visited national park!
Take the steep, 0.5-mile trail up Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee at 6,643 feet up! But trust me, it’s not as easy as it looks!
Chasing waterfalls is an easy feat if you head to Cataract Falls behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Other popular waterfalls are Abrams Falls or Grotto Falls.
Prefer the comfort of your car? Take a scenic driving tour through the Cades Cove Loop or Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Here visitors are able to soak in the scenery from their vehicle or get out and visit the restored historical structures that were inhabited by the first European settlers. Black bears are sometimes spotted along these drives!
Read our full guide to the best things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Experience Dinner and A Show, Pigeon Forge Style!
Dinner shows are one of the most popular family friendly activities in the Pigeon Forge. Dolly’s Parton’s Stampede, located at the entrance of Dollywood, offers a four-course dinner in the comfort of your seats while you watch horses and equestrians perform.
Trekaroo Tip: Arrive early to meet some of the horses performing.
At Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, guests can indulge in an all-you-can-eat feast of traditional Southern food while watching the feud grow between the Hatfields and McCoys. The live performance includes lots of laughs, music, and stunts.
At Pirates Voyage Dinner and Show, pirates embark on a journey to fun. Join the crew as they see mermaids, pirates, and tropical birds while enjoying a four-course feast.
Have Some Snow-filled Fun, No Matter the Season
Families will have snow much fun at Pigeon Forge Snow, an indoor snow park It features one of the most beloved snow activities – snow tubing! Featuring real snow, guests can zoom down the slope as many times as they’d like in an hour.
If time allows, kids will love playing in the snow by building their very own snowman or fort. No heavy winter coats are needed here because temperatures hover around 70 degrees.
Cruise down a Mountain Coaster
Mountain coasters are the perfect thrilling family attraction and are quite popular in the area. Go slow and take in the views or zoom on by – either way you are in control of the speed.
Visit the first mountain coaster, the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster which features the longest downhill track in the nation at a mile long. Then, ride on the Rocky Top Coaster, the longest coaster in Tennessee. Zip through tunnels and turns as fast at 30 mph. For a unique experience, ride the coaster at night when it’s all lit up.
Zip through the Treetops
Ziplining is a fantastic way to experience the beauty of the Smokies from above. At Smoky Mountain Ziplines, adventure seekers can zip through over 4,200 feet of cable across seven lines.
You can also zoom through the trees up to 50 mph at Legacy Mountain Ziplines where you’ll encounter seven ziplines and endless mountain views.
Go Horseback Riding
Another way to experience the beauty of the mountains is with horseback riding. Located close to Dollywood, at Goldrush Stables guests are taken through five acres of nature trails through the hills of Pigeon Forge.
At Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa, three and a half miles of trail through the mountain await. Not only can you go horseback riding, but there are plenty of other activities on the ranch to keep the family entertained like a petting zoo, pond fishing, gem mining, or visiting the museum or General Store.
Where to Stay in Pigeon Forge with Kids
The newly renovated rooms at the Inn on the River are a treat for families. Opt for the riverside rooms with a private balcony or patio overlooking the Little Pigeon River. The double queen bedrooms with sleeper sofa were perfect for my family of five.
Not only are the rooms the perfect size, but families will love the extra amenities including a heated indoor pool and whirlpool as well as an outdoor pool. Every day, kids loved grabbing some freshly popped popcorn and drinks.
The complimentary hot breakfast with biscuits and gravy, waffles, eggs, French toast stick and pancakes was the perfect way to fuel up for a fun-filled day out in Pigeon Forge. The location right on the Parkway always guaranteed our family was a quick ride or walk away from all the activities.
Disclosure: The author was hosted for lodging and some attrctions for the purposes of working on an article for Trekaroo. All opinions are her own.