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20 Tips shared by our visitors to help you plan the perfect Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge vacation in the Smoky Mountains. 

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1. Pay Attention to the Traffic Lights

Pay attention to the traffic lights throughout Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, they’re numbered, making finding your destination easy.

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2. Get Off the Parkway

Many backroads and side roads along the Parkway offer beautiful views and are less commercialized. 

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3. Stay More than 2 Nights

It’s really difficult to take in all of the beauty and fun that Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are known for, so plan a longer stay. This will give you more time to truly experience the area. 

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4. Catch a Sunrise or a Sunset

Make plans to get up early and catch a beautiful sunrise at Clingmans Dome or kick back and watch the sunset over Pigeon Forge. Both are breathtaking in their own special way and should be something to add to your bucket list. 

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5. Keep an Eye Out for Wildlife

Keep your eyes open for wildlife, all the time. The Smoky Mountain area offers one of the most diverse classifications of wildlife in the United States. If you’re not careful, you may miss seeing black bear, deer, elk, fox, coyote and more. 

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6. Explore at Your Own Pace

Do not go with an itinerary, explore at your own pace. No one likes a schedule, especially when you’re on vacation. We recommend taking time to slow down, take it all in and try something you’ve never done before. 

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7. Visit the National Park

Be sure to visit the national park. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but we’re always amazed to learn that not everyone takes time to visit. In the park, there’s hiking trails, fishing, sight-seeing, waterfalls and majestic views. Don’t miss it and be sure to get your picture made at the GSMNP welcome sign. 

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8. Go on a Picnic

Picnic in Cades Cove or at the Chimney Tops picnic area. As simple as it may seem, a picnic lunch in the park is one of our favorite things to do. Grab a blanket, a cooler and some snacks, and find a nice quiet spot to relax and enjoy lunch outdoors. 

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9. Dip Your Toes in the River

Dip your toes in a beautiful, crystal clear river. The rivers flowing in and around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge originate in the national park. Find a spot along the river and be sure to soak your toes for just a minute, or better yet, go for a swim. The water is always cool and refreshing, and it is better than any swimming pool that we’ve ever been to. 

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10. Eat Like a Local

Forego the chains and eat like a local. Sure, there’s some pretty amazing chain restaurants all along the Parkway, but for a unique dining experience, head out to one of the locally owned restaurants for an amazing meal. 

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11. Try the Pancakes

Don’t skip a pancake house! We’ve traveled to a lot of areas and Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge has to have the most concentrated number of pancake restaurants in America. There’s plenty to choose from and each one has their own take on the best pancake, and literally, you can’t go wrong at any of them. 

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12. Please Don't Litter

While this seems to trivial, it is a huge problem that we constantly deal with. With over 12 million visitors to the area each and every year, there’s a lot of trash. Volunteers and local road crews do their best, but as a friendly reminder, keep everything clean and tidy for everyone to enjoy the beauty of the Smokies. 

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13. Ride a Go Cart

Go for a ride on a go cart, even if you’re old. There’s something about racing around a track on a go cart that will immediately put a smile on your face, no matter what age you are. Try it, we promise you won’t regret it. 

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14. Try Some Moonshine

Try the shine, moonshine that is. Gatlinburg may be the moonshine capital of the world with a handful of quality destinations and spirits to choose from. There’s also breweries, distilleries and wineries, each offering their take on the best adult beverages. 

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15. Ride a Mountain Coaster

Cruise through the mountains on a coaster. Travel up and down the mountain canopies on an exhilarating mountain coaster where you can control the pace and speed up to 35 MPH. There’s several to choose from in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, each with unique tracks and features. 

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16. Stay in a Cabin

Stay in the woods in a breathtaking log cabin. Let’s face it, hotels and motels are cramped spaces, spread out and treat yourself to an unforgettable vacation in a luxurious cabin rental. Hot tubs, swimming pools, movie theaters, game rooms and so much more can be find in a Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge cabin rental. 

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17. Go for a Walk Downtown Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the perfect walking town. In fact, you can literally walk from one end of it to another. Long the way, you'll find shops, attractions and restaurants. 

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18. See a Show

The Smoky Mountain area is well-known for its entertainment. If you are looking for a good time, then you'll want to visit one of the area's most popular shows. Comedy, music and more are certain to provide you with a wonderful experience. 

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19. See the Water Fountains

A truly vibrant and relaxing experience can be found at The Island in Pigeon Forge. Watch a streams of water dance over the horizon to the sounds of music. 

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20. Visit Dollywood

From thrilling rides to entertaining live shows, Dollywood has something for everyone. Made famouse by Dolly Parton herself, this magical amusement park perfectly blends the charm of the Smoky Mountains with the enchantment of a theme park.