The best things to do in Pigeon Forge with kids for the ultimate family vacation. Fantastic recommendations for finding the best hotels in Pigeon Forge for families, rainy day ideas and totally free things things to do in Pigeon Forge, and the best places to eat in Pigeon Forge with kids. Plan a trip to Tennessee your family will never forget!
One of our favorite things about living in North Carolina is the great number of awesome family vacation destinations we can hop in the car and just drive to see. As a family of 4 plane tickets can break our vacation budget, so I'm always on the lookout for new places to take the kids that are just a family road trip away.
The awesome folks over at MyPigeonForge.com reached out and asked if we'd be interested in visiting Pigeon Forge this spring so we could share our best vacation tips with you. We jumped at the chance. We were vaguely familiar with Pigeon Forge after our trip to Wilderness at the Smokies and we've always wanted to go back and explore the area more.
We ended up having the best time ever. At one point I looked over and saw Handyman Tim simply glowing with happiness. Our girls are at such a fun age, and this trip was the perfect family getaway for us this spring.
There are more than 35 different things for you to see, do, and eat listed in this post so to help you find exactly what you're looking for, you can jump to what you need right here:
- The best hotels in Pigeon Forge TN for families
- Our favorite Pigeon Forge activities with kids
- The best places to eat in Pigeon Forge with kids
- Things to do in Pigeon Forge on rainy days
- Free things to do in Pigeon Forge for families
Did I miss answering any of your questions about Pigeon Forge? Leave me a note in the comments or send me an email, I'd be happy to help you plan a vacation your kids will never forget!
When you are choosing your hotel in Pigeon Forge, location should definitely be one of your top deciding factors. We had a wonderful experience staying at The Inn at Christmas Place because the location couldn't be more perfect. We were right within walking distance of several of the best Pigeon Forge activities and just a tiny drive away from The Island in Pigeon Forge and convenient distance from Dollywood.
Being able to walk between the attractions, restaurants, and our hotel gave us all a chance to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. We loved not being chained to our car and not having to battle traffic or parking.
Other things we loved about The Inn at Christmas Place include:
- Festive decor: The hotel is gorgeous, even the guest rooms are decorated with holiday trimmings. Even though it was March, I packed our girls' Christmas jammies for the trip and it made them giggle. Such a fun vacation surprise.
- FREE breakfast: It's always so nice to have one meal included with your stay when traveling with kids. The free breakfast at The Inn at Christmas Place is one of the best hotel breakfasts we've ever had. The buffet includes several southern staples: biscuits and gravy, eggs, grits, bacon & sausage, and rotating specials. There are custom omelettes, pastries, fresh fruit, and several desserts included as well. Your family will definitely not go hungry.
- Singing Santa: The greatest Santa ever does performances several times a week and hangs out near the breakfast every morning. Bring your kids in their Christmas jammies for the cutest family photo!
- Free cookies and milk: Every night at 8pm, there are free cookies and milk in the lobby. Such a sweet way to end your day.
- Indoor Pool: The Inn at Christmas Place is one of the hotels in Pigeon Forge TN with indoor pool if that is important to you. We checked it out and it looked nice but we were so busy on our vacation we didn't have time to play in it.
There are way more things to do in Pigeon Forge than you and your family could ever see all in one trip. The choices can be really overwhelming and some are more kid-friendly than others. Here are the best highlights from our visit.
We spent an entire day of our trip to Pigeon Forge at the Dollywood theme park. It was our very first visit ever and I was blown away by how much there was to see. This attraction is deserving of it's own post, but here were our favorite parts about the park:
- The Firechaser: the girls rode their very first real rollercoaster. There are no upside down turns or too-big drops, but it is fast and a little twisty. Plenty of screams were had. You can see some video footage of the ride right here. If your family really enjoys rollercoasters, you can read reviews of several more rides at Dollywood here.
- The Country Fair section: We spent most of our day camped out where tamer rides are all clustered together. The girls rode the swings over and over and over again and had the time of their lives.
- Live Music: We enjoyed watching the Irish Bluegrass band JigJam perform for St. Patrick's Day but there were live performances by several groups all over the park throughout the day.
- Cinnamon Bread: This is the ultimate theme park treat. You can't miss it. Be sure to grab some earlier in the day or be prepared to possibly wait while they bake some more.
- Cool Crafts: We watched an artisan glass blower making custom souvenirs for guests. Such a unique thing to bring home to remember your trip!
The Island in Pigeon Forge was just up the road from our hotel and the perfect evening destination on our first night in town. We took a ride on the enormous ferris wheel and got breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains surrounding Pigeon Forge. There is an amazing ropes course the kids were desperate to go on (but we ran out of time.)
The Island has several great restaurants for dinner and plenty of fun shops to poke around in for souvenir hunting. Our favorite thing was simply rocking in the chairs surrounding the dancing water fountain. At dusk, it lights up and is just a really pleasant place to relax and unwind on your vacation.
The first thing we did in Pigeon Forge was to take the kids over to the Track -- an easy walk from The Inn at Christmas Place. They have classic go-karts, bumper cars, bumper boats, and an arcade.
The girls had never been on go-karts before and I think that might have been everyone's favorite part of the whole trip simply because Tim enjoyed himself just like a kid. He drove while Little Pea sat shotgun and the two of them tore around the track like wildfire. I swear I could hear them laughing over the roar of the engines.
You can't miss Wild Woody, the three-tier wooden go-kart track. At the top, you'll get a gorgeous view of the Smoky Mountains before spiraling back down the ramps. It's absolutely worth the price to ride.
The choices for dining out on your vacation are practically endless but the best places to eat in Pigeon Forge with kids include several convenient options. We were able to walk from our hotel to several of these and the other Pigeon Forge restaurants were an easy drive away.
- Frizzle Chicken Pancake Coop: What's your pleasure, funfetti pancakes or chicken & waffles? Everything we had at this hysterical place was fantastic. There are animatronic chickens surrounding the booths that sing every 15 minutes. It was the perfect place to eat breakfast on our last morning of the trip before heading home.
- Blue Moose Burgers & Wings: Taking Tim on a trip during March madness was a little painful for him, but he was THRILLED to be able to watch the big games during our meal at the Blue Moose. We loved the grill fare and everything was delicious but I highly recommend Jose's Steak Wrap. It was the winning dish from our group. Walking distance from our hotel -- just through the parking lot!
- Johnny Carino's: There is SO MUCH southern cookin' going on in Pigeon Forge but after a while, the biscuits can feel overwhelming. We were giddy with excitement to hit the Italian Johnny Carino's for lunch. Salad and pasta were just what we needed to mix things up. The eggplant parmesan is to die for but the kids' menu had awesome selections for the girls. Also within walking distance from our hotel -- just through the parking lot.
- Paula Deen's Family Kitchen: I really wanted to dine here but got overruled. We always try to eat at new restaurants when we travel and we've already visited Paula in Savannah. I highly recommend the pot pie with puff pastry crust! Located at The Island.
- Timberwood Grill: We ran out of time, but the Timberwood Grill came highly recommended by many folks we talk to. They said it was the best place to eat at The Island in Pigeon Forge. Now that I'm home and looking at their site I really regret not stopping in!
There's nothing worse than planning a fun family getaway and then having it rain the entire time. In the days leading up to our visit, the forecast called for torrential downpours. I came so close to rescheduling, but our friends at MyPigeonForge.com told us how much there is to do indoors if it rains so we pressed ahead.
In the end, we barely saw a sprinkle our entire visit. Weather in the mountains can change at the drop of a hat so don't let a chance of rain spoil your visit.
Whether it is drizzling or not, you'll want to check out these fun Pigeon Forge attractions:
- Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner Show: We were lucky enough to visit the theater on opening night for this season. It was one of my personal favorite things we did during the trip. The kids were completely enthralled with the performance, they barely realized they were being served amazing southern classics while we watched! Delicious fried chicken, sweet potatoes, Mac & cheese, biscuits, soup, and a peach turnover for dessert. YUM
- Wonderworks: We remembered the distinctive building that houses Wonderworks from our first visit to the Smoky Mountains. It was so fun to finally get inside. The glow in the dark rope course and laser tag were our very favorite things, but the kids loved it all. It can get a little crowded, if you feel overwhelmed just head to the second floor where things break up a lot more!
- MagiQuest: Within walking distance of our hotel, this is the perfect rainy day spot. The wizarding section on the top floor is perfect for Harry Potter fans and magic lovers. Everyone is given an interactive wand to solve challenges. My recommendation is to break your family up into small teams of 2 and work on different challenges to avoid having to repeat the same actions over and over. Don't miss the awesome mirror maze on the first floor!!
- Hollywood Wax Museum: Even though the kids weren't familiar with many of the wax figures, this place was SUCH a hoot! Plenty of fun photo opps to be had. There are lots of props and costumes for the kids to play dress-up and then pose with movie and music characters from all genres.
All these fun things to do in Pigeon Forge can really start to add up after a few days. But rest assured, there's plenty of fun to be had that is completely free! When you need to save a little room in the budget, try one of these totally free Pigeon Forge ideas:
- Play a round of cornhole outside Margaritaville at The Island.
- Sit back and relax while watching the dancing fountains at The Island, lounging in their rocking chairs.
- Stroll around The Old Mill and do some window shopping
- This is a great list of 16 more free things to do in Pigeon Forge for families including some of the awesome hiking and nature activities we ran out of time before trying: check out the list right here