Pigeon Forge is one of the country’s most popular family vacation destinations. Its proximity to a significant portion of the U.S. population along with neighboring Great Smoky Mountains National Park compel more than 10 million people to visit each year.
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History in the Making
Mountain life wasn’t always the easiest life, and early pioneers relied on their own inventions and know-how to survive in the Great Smoky Mountains. In the early 1800’s, a water-powered gristmill on the banks of the Little Pigeon River became one of the main hubs of activity in the small mountain community of Pigeon Forge. In those days, the mill faithfully produced the meals and flours that were crucial for day-to-day existence of the Smokies’ early settlers. The Old Mill even furnished electricity for the town until 1935. Fast forward to present day, and the Old Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The working grist mill is also home to the Old Mill restaurant, which serves authentic Southern cuisine. It also is one of the most photographed mills in the country. Craftspeople, including potters, blacksmiths, millers, and candy makers—provide demonstrations. Pigeon Forge’s rich heritage has nurtured a way of life that is now celebrated in the form of artistic pottery, decorative metal works, delicious cuisine, aged spirits and more.
Tennessee’s Whiskey Trail features more than 30 stops, with 13 distilleries located in East Tennessee. Craft distilling’s popularity continues to expand, and the Tennessee Distillers Guild gains new members, some of whom are located in Pigeon Forge. Located in the Old Mill historic district, the Old Forge Distillery combines the settlers’ old-fashioned methods with the modern-day know-how of Old Forge’s head distiller. At Ole Smoky Moonshine at The Island, visitors can see an onsite still and enjoy a tasting area. Moonshine is jarred, labeled and sold onsite in a range of flavors.
Fun for all Ages
Pigeon Forge prides itself on offering something to do for everyone across all age groups. Multi-generational families enjoy visiting because so many of the city’s 80-plus attractions offer experiences that are perfect for the entire family. Educational museums like Titanic Museum Attraction and Alcatraz East Crime Museum, dessert-themed mini-golf at Crave Golf Club, Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, and fast-paced go-karts at The Track are just the beginning. Let us introduce you to these and more!
Pigeon Forge offers more than 14,500 overnight accommodations, including campgrounds, RV parks, cabins, hotels, motels and condominiums. Various amenities provide for everything from luxurious resorts to rustic back country experiences.
Pulse of the Parkway
Adrenaline junkies will be right at home in Pigeon Forge. From rolling around Outdoor Gravity Park’s water-filled orbs to indoor skydiving, Pigeon Forge offers a variety of get-your-heart-racing adventures. Explore the country’s first indoor snow facility and a three-in-one 200-foot-tall drop tower called the Mountain Monster. Pigeon Forge also is home to Tennessee’s most visited commercial attraction, Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park, where visitors can experience a variety of award-winning roller coasters.
We shine the spotlight on a variety of stellar shows—all guaranteed to leave audiences on the edge of their seats. Music, dancing, comedy, magicians, acrobats and more are just the beginning of the endless entertainment options offered in our city. Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud, the Grand Majestic Theater and Country Tonight are just the beginning.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This 500,000-acre natural paradise rests between North Carolina and Tennessee. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is world renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. GSMNP is also the most visited in America with more than 12.5 million visitors in 2019. Cades Cove is a lesson in Smoky Mountains history where visitors can view cabins, barns, gristmills, stores and other buildings constructed by early settlers.
It is home to the scenic Foothills Parkway, which includes a 1.65-mile section known as the “Missing Link.” Construction on this section of roadway began in 1966. It is now connected by a series of nine bridges. Some 75 years in the making, this long-awaited section of the Foothills Parkway (located between Walland and Wears Valley, Tennessee) officially opened to the public on Nov. 10, 2018. The Foothills Parkway consists of two finished sections at either end of the 72-mile corridor. The western section extends 33 continuous miles from Chilhowee to Wears Valley, offering a new recreational experience for motorists and cyclists. The eastern section, completed in 1968, extends six miles from Cosby to Interstate 40 presenting breathtaking views of Mt. Cammerer. FoothillsParkwayCompletion.
GSMNP feature more than 800 miles of hiking trails. Spectacular views are abundant from Clingmans Dome’s Oconuluftee Overlook. At an elevation of 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest mountain in the park. It is the highest peak in Tennessee and the highest elevation point along the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail. It offers stunning sunrise photos.
Visitors can explore the Elkmont area, a site of ongoing preservation and restoration, including 19 cabins that are at the center of an extensive renovation effort. It is a popular location for visitors to explore the area’s natural beauty, its wildflowers, hiking trails, and fishing.
Pigeon Forge Wins with Competitive Sports
Competitive sports—baseball, gymnastics, cheer leading and more—are big business in Pigeon Forge. The LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge, which spans more than 232,599 square feet, has hosted more than 147 events, many of which are athletic competitions, since opening in 2013. The facility’s ability to accommodate a wide range of sporting events helped drive an additional 429,000 room nights over five years for the city. Nearby, The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge, which opened in March 2016, has hosted more than 2,100 youth baseball teams and 150 high school softball teams in just three years. In total, more than 33,500 players and coaches have traveled to play ball on fields that offer unobstructed views of the Great Smoky Mountains. In 2018, its third year of operation, The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge delivered $33.8 million in visitor spending to the city while hosting 925 teams from 25 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame member Cal Ripken, Jr. is an active participant. Both facilities give Pigeon Forge the winning edge.
Time to Dine
Culinary stories are as abundant as the delicious dishes you’ll find in Pigeon Forge. The Elvis Burger has become a much talked about favorite at the homegrown farm-to-fork Local Goat. Also of note is the Pottery House Café. The restaurant resides in what once was the home of acclaimed American potter Douglas Ferguson. In 1946, Ferguson opened Pigeon Forge Pottery in a 100-year-old tobacco barn. Next door, Ferguson built his home that he shared with his wife Ruth. After Ferguson’s death in 1999, the Old Mill restaurant created Pigeon River Pottery in his studio and workplace. The Ferguson home was later transformed into the Pottery House Café, which opened in 2003. The Old Mill, its sister property next door, grinds the flour used to make breads, while potters at Old Mill Pottery make the plates upon which the restaurant’s meals are served.
In addition to brand name stores, outlets, boutiques and specialty shops, local art, fashion, handmade pottery, and one-of-a-kind crafts are available. Master craftsmen, including distillers, blacksmiths, potters and more, are found onsite and offer up-close demonstrations that provide Pigeon Forge visitors with a glimpse into a simpler way of life. The artisans also help tell the story of Appalachian life.