Dollywood and Other Things to Do in Pigeon Forge With Kids

by Nikki M. Mascali
Originally Published: 
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If you’re looking for a fantastic family vacation destination, put Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, high on your list. Its motto is “the center of fun in the Smokies,” and this resort city in the Smoky Mountains delivers. Pigeon Forge has endless attractions for kids and everyone else in the family, too. Its crowning rhinestone may be country legend Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, but that’s only scratching the surface. Read on for the best things to do in Pigeon Forge with kids, and get ready for a lot of family fun.

Kids Attractions in Pigeon Forge

Obviously, start with Dollywood, co-owned by local native Dolly Parton, who still lives nearby. There are more than 40 rides to thrill everyone from littler kids to adults. Plus, there are tons of food options and lots of entertainment and music. But would you expect anything less from such an effervescent entertainer?

But, wait, there’s more! Soak up family fun and sun at adjacent Dollywood Splash Country. It boasts plenty of water attractions for kids, including a special area for small ones and the Cascades, a lagoon with interactive water elements. Food here is plentiful, too. And you can beat the heat even more by renting a retreat or canopy.

There are many other things to do in Pigeon Forge with kids after Dollywood. For an indoor family attraction, head to WonderWorks. This “amusement park for the mind” has dozens of interactive exhibits that will teach, wow and inspire. In addition, there’s a ropes course, laser tag and magic show.

Grab a virtual magic wand at MagiQuest and set off on a family adventure. There are three other family attractions here, too: Pirate Golf, a black-light lit pirate-themed course; the Vault laser challenge; and huge Odyssey mirror maze.

The interactive Titanic Museum Attraction is a ship-shaped must-see with hundreds of genuine artifacts. Every kid gets a boarding pass profiling a child who sailed on the ill-fated crossing. There’s a special audio tour for kids, too.

See all of Pigeon Forge from the 200-foot tall Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. The family will get an unparalleled view of nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, too.

Best Restaurants in Pigeon Forge for Kids

Some of the best restaurants in Pigeon Forge for kids are dinner theaters. They’ll be so entranced by the show, there won’t be any bickering. Have a four-course family feast amid bluegrass, country and comedy at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. There are vegetarian and gluten-free feasts, too.

Trade the Smoky Mountains for the high seas and join Blackbeard and his crew at Pirates Voyage. The kids will love getting a mermaid or pirate makeover, so will your Instagram feed—especially if you join in. Dinner has vegetarian and gluten-free options.

At the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, you can get in the thick of their long-running feud. Its home-style cooking is all-you-can-eat for any dietary preference, including dairy-free and vegan.

Head to Sawyer’s Farmhouse Restaurant for a down-home breakfast or lunch. There is a lot to choose from, and the great kids menu even includes a crust-off PB&J sandwich.

One note about restaurants in Pigeon Forge: alcohol in Pigeon Forge is hard to come by as it’s in a technically dry county, so some restaurants don’t serve it.

Best Hotels in Pigeon Forge for Kids

One of the best hotels in Pigeon Forge for kids is Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. In fact, it was voted Best Amusement Park Hotel by USA Today readers in 2018. Family-friendly hotel amenities include Camp DW activities, a playground, game room, nightly fireside storytelling and a zero-entry outdoor pool with a waterfall and splash pad. The on-site spa isn’t the only bonus: DreamMore is not dry, so you can have a well-deserved cocktail. In addition, staying here nabs the family a guests-only entrance at Dollywood.

Dolly offers other authentic family-friendly accommodations in Pigeon Forge, too. Stay in a rustic retreat via Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins with views of its parks and surrounding range. Amenities can include full kitchens, home theaters, on-site pools and fireplaces.

Country Cascades Waterpark Resort has two slides and a water play area. Room options will fit families of all sizes. Plus, breakfast at Grandma’s Kitchen is included.

Covered Bridge Resort is just 20 minutes from Dollywood and 10 from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Choose from several sizable luxury cabins. The resort has a heated outdoor pool and many other amenities.

Outdoor Activities in Pigeon Forge For Kids

One of the best outdoor activities in Pigeon Forge for kids anytime of year is visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There’s hiking, fishing, picnicking, waterfalls, camping, critters and more. Plus, kids 5-12 can complete activities to earn a Junior Ranger badge.

Outdoor Gravity Park is a wild family attraction in Pigeon Forge. Here you can go zorbing, which is rolling downhill in a plastic orb. You can roll wet or dry, but kids must be 5 and up to have a, ahem, ball.

The whole family can pretend to be an explorer at Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf. There are waterfalls, caves, a volcano and a mining car that takes you to the first holes of both 18-hole courses.

More than a mile long, the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is the longest downhill ride in the U.S. Since it runs in rain and snow, it’s a great family attraction in Pigeon Forge no matter what time of year you visit. Note: kids must be at least 38 inches tall to be a passenger.

Take an off-road trip through 6,000 acres of Smoky Mountain trails with Bluff Mountain Adventures. These family-friendly ATV tours are one or two hours and great for all ages, but kids must be at least 57 inches tall.

Other Things to Do in Pigeon Forge With Kids

The kids will love Rainforest Adventure Discovery Zoo in nearby Sevierville. It has hundreds of animals from all over the world.

The Island in Pigeon Forge is a one-stop shop for family fun. It has stores, restaurants, amusement rides, show fountains and the Margaritaville Island Hotel and Margaritaville Island Inn.

There are gems, fossils and stones up in them there hills. And you can find them at Pigeon Forge Gem Mine. The kids can mine for treasures and have them made into keepsake jewelry. Hopefully for you!

One of the best ways to get around Pigeon Forge with family is take the vintage-looking Fun Time Trolley. It stops at more than 100 places in Pigeon Forge and nearby Gatlinburg and Sevierville. An all-day pass is just $3.

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