Are you ready to read why Pigeon Forge, TN, makes an ideal vacation spot for your family, especially in autumn? From cool museums to dinner shows and, of course, touches of Dolly Parton, here are 12 top things to do in Pigeon Forge with kids!
Disclosure: This is a paid partnership on behalf of Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. All opinions (and photos) are my own!
We just got back from Pigeon Forge, TN, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I mean, I’ve heard (and read) so many good things about the area but, until I had the chance to explore it myself, it really didn’t sink in. The Smoky Mountains are breathtaking, particularly during autumn when the colors pop, and they set the scene for fun.
So this year, my daughter and I hit the road (it’s a day drive from Pittsburgh) to Pigeon Forge to check out all of the fun attractions it has to offer families. We spent three full days exploring the area and just hit the proverbial tip of the iceberg. But, I feel we hit all of the major places you need to see when you visit. Here are my must-see attractions in Pigeon Forge and why there’s something for everyone to enjoy when you go.
1. Things to Do in Pigeon Forge with Kids: Titanic Museum Attraction
If my daughter could spend all day, everyday, in one spot in Pigeon Forge, it would be Titanic Museum Attraction. While it helps that she grew up with Jack and Rose from the movie, it’s the full immersion when we visited that made her adore it.
From the moment you check in, you’re made to be part of the story of the ship’s passengers. We were each handed a card with a real passenger to learn their fate at the end of the tour. And the amount of detail inside the attraction is spectacular.
We were able to put our hands into freezing water (below freezing, actually. It was 28 degrees!) to test how long we could withstand it. I, personally, got 11 seconds under my belt before it became painful. But the highlight was ascending and descending the First Class Grand Staircase. Built to perfect specifications, it’s a moment we’ll never forget.
2. Rocky Top Mountain Coaster
Rocky Top Mountain Coaster is pretty new as attractions go, but it’s one you can’t miss. Roughly a 9-minute ride, the scenery is beautiful and the track smooth.
We were able to go at our own pace, which made it not scary at all. While you can buy single rides (that’s what we had) you can also purchase a full-day ticket and ride as many times as you’d like.
3. Things to Do in Pigeon Forge with Kids: Beyond the Lens
If your kiddos like interactive museums, they’ll really enjoy Beyond the Lens. Literally across the road from Titanic Museum Attraction, it has nothing but interactive exhibits.
We got to pretend to be celebrities by walking the red carpet making hand imprints and having our photos taken, played giant video games, and even went on a Bigfoot adventure. You’re going to want to lock down at least two or three hours for Beyond the Lens.
Since I was young, Dolly Parton has always been one of my favorite stars. She can sing like nobody’s business, is a savvy businesswoman, and she’s downright adorable.
So, Dollywood has been on my theme park bucket list since it opened in the 80’s. Even if you don’t enjoy riding coasters, the ambiance is worth a visit alone. But if you do, there are plenty of thrill rides to keep you entertained.
Dollywood is a full-day park, so if you’re planning on going make sure you have a free day so you’re not rushed. Also, it has a free app that’s worthy of a download for current ride wait times and attractions.
5. Things to Do in Pigeon Forge with Kids: Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show
This is the only dinner show we attended while in Pigeon Forge so I can’t recommend the others, but it is really, really good. Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show has nonstop entertainment (the acrobats were outstanding), good food, and an all over fun ambiance.
As for the seating, there’s not a bad seat in the house. We were in the front row just to the right of the center and it was lovely.
6. Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
After a day of exploring, I started comparing Pigeon Forge to Niagara Falls, Canada, but a super hyped-up version. And just like Clifton Hill, it has a giant, climate-controlled ferris wheel. The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is at the Island at Pigeon Forge and you can’t miss it. We actually made a YouTube video highlighting our fun on the wheel:
When we got our tickets to ride, I asked when is the best time to go, day or night. and the answer was simple: both. In the daytime you’ll see a gorgeous view of the the Smoky Mountains. But at night, you can see all of the attraction lights along the Pigeon Forge Parkway.
7. Things to Do in Pigeon Forge with Kids: WonderWorks
Another fun museum, especially for school-aged children, is WonderWorks. Inside there are plenty of hands-on activities and cool science experiments, including a bathroom that has opaque glass as soon as you lock the door. It was a hoot for my daughter to lay on an actual bed of nails, play with giant bubbles, and check out “The Art of Dr. Seuss”.
I’ve always said that learning is best when you don’t realize you’re doing it and WonderWorks is ideal for that.
8. Hollywood Wax Museum
I’ve been to a few wax museums that were subpar so I wasn’t sure what to expect for the Hollywood Wax Museum. But, it really is a good one. The figures are incredibly lifelike, so much so that I was waiting for one of them to be real and jump scare me.
While my daughter found her musical hero, Frank Sinatra, fascinating, it always surprises me as to the height of some celebrities. I had no idea I’m taller than Melissa McCarthy!
9. Things to Do in Pigeon Forge with Kids: MagiQuest
MagiQuest is an arcade on the bottom floor, and an interactive magical exploration challenge on the top floor. You play by the hour and quests are given that need to be completed before you receive the next challenge.
If you get stuck, you can feel free to ask an employee for a hint. My daughter borrowed a wand to use during our visit and had a ball. I was really surprised at how fast the time went.
10. Alcatraz East Crime Museum
If you have older children, Alcatraz East Crime Museum is a fun choice. At first, I thought it was going to be solely about Alcatraz but it turns out it’s filled with forensic science and hands-on displays that kept me entertained.
Littles might not get the theme of the museum, but older children will have fun, for sure.
11. Things to Do in Pigeon Forge with Kids: Rockin’ Raceway
Two words: go karts! I’ve been on go karts that barely putt their way around a course but Rockin’ Raceway’s karts can really move. We had our choice of single or double rider karts (we chose singles) and had the track to ourselves. While I think we simply got lucky, we went during the early afternoon and had a ball.
Also worth mentioning, it has a giant, indoor arcade as well with ticketed games.
12. Crave Golf Club
With two 18-hole golf courses, Crave Golf Club is fun simply for that aspect. But, if you want up your game, we found it a hoot to spin the wheel of chance at each hole. It’s like Twister with a kick: stand on one foot and putt, turn around and putt under your legs, close your eyes, etc. It made what might be a normal game of mini golf much more interesting.
We visited Crave first thing in the morning to beat the heat and it was ideal. There were only a couple of other parties and we didn’t feel rushed at all.
Where We Stayed
Most of the hotels in Pigeon Forge are budget friendly, and rightfully so. I mean, if you’re spending your time outdoors, you don’t need to be upscale necessarily, right?
But if you like a little bit of swank, The Ramsey Hotel is a great choice. We had such a great visit compliments of comfy beds, large rooms, and an indoor pool with a waterfall.
Add in the fact that it has free parking, WiFi, and breakfast — it’s not only affordable, it just makes sense.
Know Before You Go
Regarding the Pigeon Forge attractions & businesses mentioned in this blog, please check their respective websites for an update on their COVID-19 operational updates.