Family Fun in Pigeon Forge
Everything you need to know for an incredible family friendly vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains.
If you’re looking for a family friendly mountain getaway, look no further than Pigeon Forge. This will not be the type of trip where you have to search for things the kids want to do amongst your adult wish list. Everything in Pigeon Forge is family friendly.
Pigeon Forge is an easy win for families, like going to Disney or taking a cruise, but with the added bonus of being nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. A visit here is easily balanced between family friendly amusements, dinner shows, playgrounds and nature hikes. Every dining option in town welcomes children.
We spent a week in the area with our Big (7), Middle (5) and Little (2) Littles for the Middle Little’s birthday trip and honestly ran out of time to give everything a try.
Where to Stay in Pigeon Forge
A cabin of course! Pigeon Forge has lodging options to suit every person and budget, but a cabin is the perfect way to embrace your time in the Great Smoky Mountains.
We stayed at Eagle’s Ridge Resort, which is both centrally located and also set back a bit into the mountains. The property has a variety of cabins, all with different layouts and amenities. The property itself has a pool and central club house that is perfect for down time.
We were in a three bedroom cabin with a ton of space! (I was completely obsessed with the beautiful quilts on each bed!) While Pigeon Forge offers so many great food options, we loved being able to make meals at the cabin, particularly using the grill in the evenings. The kitchen was fully stocked.
A giant bathtub in the master was great for some mom downtime, but also for bathing all three boys. The fireplace was perfect, as even in April the evenings were chilly and the fire felt so indulgent to sit in front of after the Littles were in bed!
We also got plenty of use out of the hot tub. We set the temperature low and the boys played in it most evenings while we were making dinner. They were back in it in the morning before other attractions opened.
The cabin just gave us so much freedom. A home base, with plenty of space, can’t beat that! The cabin alone would have been enough for a vacation, then you remember you are in Pigeon Forge.
Eating Out in Pigeon Forge
There is no shortage of places to eat out in Pigeon Forge. Whatever your mood you will find a good option on the main drag.
Our first night in Pigeon Forge we rolled in around dinnertime and picked up a family bbq pack from Calhouns. You can order online for a 10% discount and just pick up your box of food. This was the perfect first evening’s meal with meat and sides to share back at the cabin while we got settled.
There are so many great breakfast spots in Pigeon Forge, many of which open early, perfect for our early rising Littles. The Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe opens at 7am. It is filled with animatronic chickens that are sure to amuse.
Breakfast at The Old Mill is incredibly kid friendly, with coloring and a wait staff that dotes on the little ones. OJ and muffins come with every meal, so you are likely to leave stuffed to the brim.
The Shows of Pigeon Forge
One of the best reasons to stay in Pigeon Forge is its family friendly shows. Everything we found was perfectly appropriate for the kids while still being entertaining for the adults.
No matter what you are into, Pigeon Forge has something for you. Here are our top picks.
Sure to Please The Whole Family: Paula Dean’s Lumberjack Feud
Paula Dean’s Lumberjack Feud was hands down our favorite experience. Every single one of us enjoyed it. How can you resist watching a bunch of lumberjacks do their thing? The show has a ton of corny jokes that the Big Little found hilarious, plenty of action to keep the Little Little entranced and a competition that kept the Middle Little on the edge of his seat.
The Littles loved it when the lumberjacks raced to the top of the poles and then came sliding back down.
Jeff and I had been to a lumberjack show in Alaska and have seen most of this before, but that in no way took away from the excitement. It is truly entertaining to watch people throw axes and discover all the different ways you can cut wood.
Throughout the show they select audience members to receive “lumberjack cookies” in order to help keep the score between the lumberjack teams. Our Little Little was so into the whole thing he was jumping off his chair to cheer for our team (or really any team.) He got a cookie just before intermission and dutifully held it up every time they checked the score. He was so happy to get to take his “cookie” home with him and proudly shows it off to anyone who will listen.
Best Show for Music Lovers: Smoky Mountain Opry
If you love music then don’t miss the Smoky Mountain Opry. The show delights with large scale musical numbers and acrobatics. Younger kids may grow restless during the evening show’s slower moments. We used the evening shows as a way to get some one-on-one time with one of the kids.
Popular songs will have you dancing in your seats but you are also sure to be amazed by a few of the acts. The quick change artists wowed as they completely changed costumes behind a bag of confetti…I’m still wondering how they did it.
The Smoky Mountain Opry has a full concessions stand that has the same offerings as a movie theater. It’s perfect if you like to enjoy your shows with some sweets.
Best Show for your Budding Magician: Magic Beyond Belief
Our Big Little is obsessed with doing magic tricks, so the opportunity to take him to a real magic show was one we couldn’t pass up. Daren Romeo’s magic show plays at the Smoky Mountain Opry. We got tickets to the more intimate 10:30am morning show and brought the whole group. The theater even has booster seats for kids.
The show is part musical and part magic. It alternates between high tempo action and slower soulful bits where Romeo talks about studying under Siegfried and Roy. The slower bits were not enough to hold my Little Little’s (2) attention but the Big Little hung on each and every moment of the show. The Middle Little fell asleep during one of the slow moments, so I recommend this show for young elementary and above.
Romeo is a master, even if you know how the tricks work, you will marvel at his mastery of slight of hand and distraction. Early in the show he turns a bubble into a marble and hands it to someone in the audience. My children were the lucky recipients of that marble. The Little Little spent the latter half of the show blowing on it, attempting to get it to return to its bubble form and dropping it on the floor repeatedly.
During the intermission head to the lobby to watch one of Romeo’s assistants demonstrate the tricks included in his magic kit, which they sell. The boys enjoyed watching these simple tricks almost as much as the show itself.
Best Show for Laughs: The Comedy Barn
The Comedy Barn delivers clean family friendly comedy. I took just the Middle Little to this 8pm show, but should have brought the whole group. The show is packed with music and humor that had the Middle Little laughing until much too late into the night.
Every moment up on stage is high action which is good for kids. The comedy stays clean and is honestly incredibly funny. I was laughing so hard I cried during a performance of a man with ping pong balls in his mouth. I am not even sure what was so funny about it but I was in stitches at the ridiculousness of it all.
The juggler for the night, Niels Duinker, studied Mechanical Engineering at TU Delft! (Small world!) During the intermission he offers a juggling lesson to the Littles in the audience. We went down to give it a try and chat about our time in the Netherlands.
There are plenty of opportunities for kids to come up on stage during the show. If your kid is interested arrive early as they hand out cards for a few of the opportunities. The Middle Little was not at all interested in going up on stage but got a good chuckle from watching those who did go up.
Assorted Amusements of Pigeon Forge
What makes Pigeon Forge such an easy trip to plan is the plethora of amusements available. Whatever it is your family likes to do or wants to try, it is available in Pigeon Forge.
We tried some new things like climbing, zorbing and indoor skydiving and also threw in some known favorites like miniature golf and the world’s largest mirror maze.
Zorbing at Outdoor Gravity Park was a new experience for us. I had seen the giant balls before, but had no idea there was an activity that involved climbing inside of them and rolling down a hill. Turns out it is a ton of fun! The Pigeon Forge Outdoor Gravity Park is the only one in the United States.
You will need your bathing suit to go Zorbing. The ball is filled with a bit of water, you hop inside and go rolling down the hill. The water splashed everywhere and you slosh around in it at the bottom. It’s immensely fun and feels a lot like a water slide.
There are three courses you can choose to roll down – one is curvy, one is half curvy and one is straight. We tried two of them. The curvy one has the ball bouncing off of walls and changing directions, whereas you pick up more speed heading down the straight one.
Don’t be scared away by the older looking facade of the Indoor Skydiving place in Pigeon Forge. It happens to be one of the first indoor skydiving places in the country and they just haven’t given the outside a facelift. Inside though everything is up-to-date and ready for you to fly!
Jeff and I have been skydiving before, so this time he took our Big Little to give it a try. It was a huge win. The Big Little loved flying! The guides helped him go up high and master a few tricks inside the wind tunnel.
The Ropes Course at The Island is a ton of high flying fun. This course has three levels of obstacles to cross, including two zip lines. We went up in pairs. The Big Little and Jeff took off flying through every obstacle, they even attempted the rolling log! The Middle Little was a bit more hesitant but summoned all his bravery to complete an entire level of challenges.
We loved the ropes course at The Island because it also offers Sky Tykes, for those under 48″. This low ropes course put the Little Little in the same type of harness we had, but on a low course where you can walk along beside them.
The Little Little quickly mastered the course and insisted on not needing any help. I think he will be up on the big one before we know it!
The Big Little had such a great time that he practically ran to the glow in the dark ropes course at Wonderworks later in the week. This one has no zip lines but features 4 stories of glow in the dark fun.
The 200 foot tall Ferris wheel provides sweeping views of all of Pigeon Forge’s attractions and of the Great Smoky Mountains. The wheels were one of our favorite attractions in cities throughout Europe, so it was natural to try out this one too!
You get a nice long ride in an air conditioned cab. The long ride does mean a bit of a wait, but it also makes the ride worth it. You have time to check out the view in all directions.
While you are at The Island you won’t want to miss the dancing fountains. The fountains perform every 30min on the hour and half hour. For a real treat, grab one of the rocking chairs that surround the basin and enjoy the show.
Tubing at Pigeon Forge Snow
Anything is possible in Pigeon Forge, including some snow play in the middle of summer. Hop out of the hotel pool and head over to Pigeon Forge Snow to play in the snow and sled down the enormous hill.
The sledding hill has some serious speed to it. Our Middle Little got super scared but the Big Little couldn’t get enough. There is a magic carpet that takes you and your tube to the top of the hill, so you don’t have to worry about walking. We had one hour of tubing, which with no crowds was more than enough.
The Little Little was too small to tube but enjoyed playing in the snow play area. This area could be perked up a bit with an igloo or some toys, but the Littles didn’t seem to mind. They loved smashing the real snow with their shoes – kids can be so weird!
When you come in go ahead and measure up against the wall to make sure everyone is tall enough to participate. Then get your wristbands. These bands keep track of your sledding time so you don’t have to. It’s quite warm inside – no need to wear a coat.
MagiQuest – Scavenger Hunt, Mirror Maze, Laser Maze & Glow Golf
MagiQuest was a huge win for us. The four activities together all with one ticket was a great way to spend an afternoon. The boys’ favorite part was the Magic Scavenger hunt. Each person gets a magic wand and roams around the magical realms collecting items to complete spells. The kids were way into this! I got pretty into it as well. You get an hour of play with the combo ticket. Although we could have played this game all day an hour was completely satisfying. The Big Little even managed to get into one of the secret rooms. All your progress is saved should you want to return and play again.
MagiQuest is also home to the world’s largest mirror maze. We loved mirror mazes when we lived in Europe, so we had to give this one a try. You put on gloves and head into the maze. Jeff, who was wearing the Little Little, got completely turned around in here. The Big, Middle and I all held hands and stayed together. We emerged a full 10 minutes before Jeff did. One of the employees actually asked if he should go in and try to find Jeff.
The Laser Maze called ‘The Vault” is fun, but I wouldn’t visit MagiQuest just to do it. It is a dark room with laser beams you have to try to crawl under and over to reach the other side (Mission Impossible style). The Big and Middle were seriously into it. It’s timed so you can race against your friends.
The final activity is Pirate Glow Golf. We are at such a good age for mini-golf. The big boys are both terrible but able to control the ball. The little one likes to just guide his ball with the club. No one is very competitive, so we just leave the score card and go have fun.
All the holes on the course are pretty cut and dry, but the glow in the dark paint makes them fun and a bit more difficult. It was the perfect course with little kids and can easily be played in under an hour.
Wonderworks Indoor Amusement Park
I’ve seen the Wonderworks upside down building before and always wondered what sort of things were inside. Turns out they have everything. Every ride and amusement you have ever wanted to try lies inside this upside down house.
I almost didn’t even make it into the museum though! In order to enter you walk through an optical illusion tunnel that instantly gives you vertigo. The Littles thought it was hilarious, I thought I was going to fall over.
In our travels we have seen quite a few of the exhibits before in children’s museums, but they were still amusing! The Big Little took on the huge ropes course, leaving the Middle and Little to explore the likes of Dance, Dance, Revolution and oversized bubbles. They had a projection sand table (one of our favorites) and this one danced between beach and dinosaurs. The boys even played their first game of Laser Tag here!
Wonderworks opens at 9am making it one of the earliest attractions to open in Pigeon Forge.
A Bit of Education at the Titanic Museum
I was hesitant to head to the Titanic museum because although the boys are interested in the Titanic we have been to the museum in Belfast, sailed out of Southampton and even sailed over the wreck on the Queen Mary II. I shouldn’t have worried though. The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge offers a host of new artifacts and experiences.
Pictures are not allowed to be taken inside the museum, since they depict real people and real tragedy. Everyone gets an audio guide, there is a special children’s tour that we all opted to take. You can easily switch between tours, or just read all the sign boards. The boys also got a kids scavenger hunt to complete to earn a sticker.
The stand out items from the Pigeon Forge Titanic museum are the photo collection from a priest who disembarked in Ireland. His photo series shows what life on board was like. The section about the crash features an iceberg you can touch and water the same temperature as the ocean, that you can stick your arm into. They also have the world’s largest Lego Titanic, which was built by a 10 year old.
The museum pays a lot of attention to the stories of those who traveled onboard the ship. We enjoyed learning more about some of the passengers, from each class of service, who were headed to America.
Go-Kart Racing at The Track
Jeff and the Big Little snuck out during nap time to enjoy one of their favorite things – Go-Kart Racing. The Track has a variety of car driving options for kids of all ages. They also have other small rides, bumper boats and miniature golf. They work on a point and card system like an arcade. You buy a bunch of points and use them all around the property.
These two had a ton of fun on the miniature golf course which featured animals and silly surprises at every turn.
There is no shortage of amusements at The Track. We liked it for its flexibility. Jeff and the Big Little were able to stay and play until they had done enough or rest time was over.
I would be remiss to not mention that Pigeon Forge is home to the world famous amusement park Dollywood!
I couldn’t wrap my head around how big Dollywood is. We spent a full day there and didn’t see everything. There are big ticket rollercoasters for the adventurous, Dolly Parton everything for music enthusiasts, little rides for the kids, an incredible aviary and even a real steam train that runs into the Smoky Mountains.
And so much more…
This is just a handful of the attractions available in Pigeon Forge. Everything is arranged off of one main road, so things are easy to find. There’s even a clever system where the major intersections are numbered so you know exactly where you are in town. We loved the ability to bounce between a morning hike in the mountains to an afternoon of glow golf followed by dinner at the cabin and an evening show. The options are endless. You can take it as slow or as high speed as your family likes to travel.
If you’re looking for an easy, family friendly getaway, look no further than Pigeon Forge in the Great Smoky Mountains.
I was a guest of Visit Pigeon Forge for the purpose of this review. As always, all opinions are my own. I always recommend things we actually did and think you might enjoy as well.