20 Tips Shared by Our Visitors

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

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

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

3. Plan to 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. 

4. Catch a sunrise or a sunset over the Smokies. 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. 

5. 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. 

6. 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. 

7. 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. 

8. 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. 

9. 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. 

10. 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. 

11. 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. 

12. 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. 

13. 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. 

14. 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. 

15. 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. 

16. 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. 

17. Relax next to the water fountains. Located at The Island in Pigeon Forge are the show fountains with hundreds of relaxing rocking chairs for you and your family to relax in while taking in the water show. It’s a great way to unwind after a day exploring town and the Smoky Mountains. 

18. Go for a walk in downtown Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg is one of the few cities that we’ve been to where you can actually walk end-to-end. There’s sidewalks, benches, shops, restaurants and attractions all up and down the entire Gatlinburg Parkway.

19. See a show. Pigeon Forge is the place for entertainment with shows owned and operated by Dolly Parton and Paula Deen. There’s also countless music theaters and dinner shows featuring a wide variety of live entertainment and music. 

20. Visit Dollywood. Dollywood is Tennessee’s only theme park and has been named one of the most family friendly parks in America. There’s thrilling roller coaster rides, a craftsman area, wonderful shows, restaurants and a bunch of activities that children love.