Pigeon Forge Area Information
Pigeon Forge is a mecca of family fun, entertainment, and adventures for all. Located in the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains, this vacation destination is ideally situated within a day’s drive of nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population, east of the Mississippi River.
Options for family fun and entertainment abound. From dinner theatres and theme parks to endless dining options, Pigeon Forge truly has something for everyone. The only problem will be deciding what to during a limited vacation time.
Home to one of country music’s most legendary stars, Dolly Parton, Pigeon Forge embodies the jovial and bright spirit of this famous native. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful landscape, innumerable attractions, and delight in the warm welcome of locals as they live out the legacy of Dolly herself.
Present day Pigeon Forge was once a part of North Carolina. The first settlers that came to this area were likely traders that traveled along the “Great Indian Path” to the center of Cherokee Nation. One of the first pioneers to settle the Pigeon Forge area was Colonel Samuel Wear. an American Revolution soldier from Virginia. He held residence at Wears Fort near the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. This fort served as a refuge during Indian raids. Mordecai Lewis was one of the next residents of note to the area. He received 151-acre land grant. He built the historic Old Mill around 1790.
Isaac Love built an iron forge near the Old Mill around 1817. This forge contributed to Pigeon Forge’s name. The other part of Pigeon Forge’s name comes from the Little Pigeon River which runs through town. This river is named for the passenger pigeon which were once an abundant bird in the area, though now it extinct. This name also pays homage to the legacy of Tennessee wilderness that once completely engulfed this now vibrant and busy town.
Mostly farmlands and homesteads, the Pigeon Forge area was still sparsely populated and rural. For this reason, it was an area divided when it came to succession from the United States and support of the Confederacy. Many area folks leaned toward pro-Union sentiments as they did not own slaves and identify with the wealthier states of the antebellum south and their agendas. Nevertheless, Tennessee became the final state to succeed from the Union in June of 1961. Split support was common in the area before and during the war with some settlers who supported the Confederacy and others who stood behind the Union. While other homesteaders wanted to be left alone and have little or nothing to do with it all.
Pigeon Forge remained sparsely populated through the early 1900s. As of 1907 records show there were only 154 official residents of Pigeon Forge. By this time a row of houses had been built along the Little Pigeon River across from the Old Mill. This became known as “String Town.”
Between 1900-1930 Pigeon Forge grew slowly and saw the addition of several buildings: a blacksmith shop, a steam-powered planning mill, a Baptist and Methodist church, an elementary school, a cannery, and a power plant. However, it wasn’t until the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940 that the town started to see more significant growth. Pigeon Forge didn’t see its first paved road until the early 1950s when the East and West Parkway was paved.
By the 1960s Pigeon Forge saw the addition of an Esso and Texaco station as well as other shops stores, and even a motel. It was taking advantage of the tourist traffic from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and growing and developing as a tourist town. Rebel Railroad attraction in 1961 becoming one of the first and biggest tourist attractions in Pigeon forge with a train robbery show and cancan girls.
The 1970s saw the addition of two other big tourist theme parks with Goldrush Junction and Silver Dollar City. But it was the opening of Dollywood theme park in 1986 that cemented status Pigeon Forge as a top tourist destination. Dolly Parton’s name and brand as well as a superb marketing plan soon made this theme park the top tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee. The thriving Dollywood theme park invited more development and attractions all along the parkway. Many family style restaurants, shops, modern motels and more attractions sprang up.
Today Pigeon Forge remains one of the top vacation destinations in the country and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country.
Things to Do in Pigeon Forge
Outdoor Gravity Park
For adventure seekers looking to be flipped upside down and all around, the Outdoor Gravity Park is an adrenaline rush that must be experienced. Visitors jump inside this clear plastic zorb (ball), 12 feet wide by 12 feet tall, and experience the Smoky Mountains in a way like no other. As they bounce and roll down various tracks.
This adventure sport was invented in New Zealand 19 years ago, and ZORB Smoky Mountains (now Outdoor Gravity Park) was the first site opened in the USA in 2007. The Zorb located in Pigeon Forge is one of three locations worldwide, including their original site in New Zealand.
Formerly the Zorb Smoky Mountain location. Outdoor Gravity Park has extended the length of the original Zorb track and offers four tracks for guess with three different types of experiences, the FUNnel, Speed Demon, or Extreme Zig Zag.
For more information visit: http://www.outdoorgravitypark.com/
Opened in June 2006, WonderWorks Pigeon Forge is interactive, exploratory adventure for the whole family. This interactive family fun experience taps into the wonder of the whole family. Visitors will crank up their imaginations to embrace the Wonderworks story and begin their adventure.
WonderWorks sets itself apart from other area attractions by encouraging learning and play at the same time. It features six wonder zones for endless family fun including: Natural Disasters, Physical Challenge Zone, Light & Sound Zone, Space Discovery, Imagination Lab and Far Out Art Gallery.
In addition, WonderWorks now features an indoor, glow-in-the-dark ropes course and Laser Tag in a black-lit maze.
For more information visit: https://www.wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/
The Tomb Egyptian Adventure
The Tomb Egyptian Adventure is an interactive, problem-solving adventure that will lead your family on an exciting expedition into the mysteries of ancient pharaohs.
Guests to this attraction take on the guise of scholarly archaeologists who find themselves trapped by the spirit of an ancient Pharaoh and must overcome a series of challenges to move on. Throughout this interactive tour, group must work together to solve puzzles, follow clues, and use their wits to find their way out of the tomb.
This adventure is sure to be a hit with any friend group or family, looking to get closer and have fun while problem solving together!
For more information visit: http://www.tombadventure.com/
The Titanic Museum Attraction
This mammoth ship-shaped museum is hard to miss driving down the parkway in Pigeon Forge. It is one of only two permanent interactive Titanic Museum Attractions in the country.
The truly unique museum experience is not to be missed. It allows visitors to take on the role of passengers and relive the experience it as the passengers themselves experienced this colossal ship and its short journey before sinking. Guests to the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge walk replicas of the ships hallways, parlors, cabins, and famous grand staircase. In addition, they will experience this “simulated” tour surrounded by 400 artifacts from real passengers that were aboard the ship.
Upon entering the museum guests receive a boarding pass of an actual passenger or crew member from the Titanic, take on this role, remembering and reliving their experience until they discover the actual fate of their person at the end of the tour in the Titanic Memorial Room where 2,208 names line this historic wall. Other virtual experiences include the chance to sit on an actual lifeboat and hear true passenger stories. Beyond just the ship itself, visitors will relive that horrific night by touching a real iceberg, putting their hand in 28-degree water, and trying to stand on slanted decks, just as passengers did that tragic night as they sought to save themselves. An educational and entertaining experience sure to make a memorable impression on all visitors, the Titanic Museum Attractions is truly a sight to behold.
For more information visit: www.titanicpigeonforge.com/
A trip to the Pigeon Forge area wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Dolly Parton’s flagship theme park, Dollywood. This theme park carries on the vast fame and legacy of Dolly’s country music status as one of the greatest singer-songwriters alive.
Dollywood has fun and thrills for the whole family with a large selection of exhilarating rides, from adrenaline pumping roller coasters to exhilarating water excursions and a wide variety of kiddie rides for the little ones.
Dolly stays true to her roots setting her amusement park above and beyond others by offering a wealth of high quality musical entertainment all throughout the park. With over 30 performances daily, from gospel and bluegrass acts to Andean flute music during the “Festival of Nations” visitors get the opportunity to experience music from all over the region and world. In addition, dance, comedy and children shows are scheduled throughout the park and yearly festivals, such as the previously mentioned “Festival of Nations,” highlight different music and bring an impressive array of touring entertainment groups.
This theme park also does a great job of highlighting the fine Appalachian craftsmanship and heritage of the Smoky Mountain Region. Visitors to Dollywood can visit a variety of artisan workshops from the Blacksmith and Foundry to the Rainbow Glassworks, where they can watch area craftsmen create their art right in front of their eyes. Artisans include: Master Blacksmith, Master Candlemaker, Master Glass Blower, Master Painter and a Master Woodcarver. With more craftsmen shops to boot these make the perfect place to purchase some mountain souvenir and memorabilia.
For more information visit: http://www.dollywood.com
Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede & Dinner Attraction
Another wildly popular attraction that pays homage to Pigeon Forge’s most famous resident, Dolly Parton, is the Dixie Stampede. This incredible dinner show is features the best of Dolly’s showmanship, music, and entertainment. While guests dine on a hearty four-course meal complete with dessert (vegetarian options are available), they will enjoy an exuberant showcase of incredible horse-riding stunts, dance and singing performances, musical numbers. This spectacular dinner showcase includes adrenaline pumping horse races through a ring-of-fire, dramatic lighting effects, incredible sounds and exciting pyrotechnics.
The real stars of the Dixie Stampede are its 32 extraordinary horses. These horses are pampered and looked out for with the utmost care. In fact, he Dixie Stampede horses use approximately 1,152 shoes each year, that’s 36 shoes per horse each year. Guest to the Dixie Stampede can applaud these stars up close by visiting in the open-air horse market before the performance or meet them and their raiders after the performance at the edge of the arena stage.
For more information visit: http://www.dixiestampede.com/pigeon-forge
Smoky Mountain Opry
The largest music variety show in the area, The Smoky Mountain Opry is truly a spectacular showcase of music and entertainment not to be missed. This wonder show features an incredible lineup of talented vocalists, dancers, comedians, magicians, jugglers and even “High Flying Musicians!”
Every performance is choreographed and designed to offer phenomenal entertainment and special effects to keep audience members engaged, attuned and on the edge of their seat. The Smoky Mountain Opry special effects include lasers, pyrotechnics, performers that fly overhead, giant video screens, concert quality lighting and more.
Guests to this show will enjoy music that spans all decades and genres from Big Band Swing, to Movie Favorites. The audience will enjoy and recognize many classic songs from legends like Frank Sinatra, Kenny Loggins, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Janis Joplin, The Beatles, Etta James, George Jones, and many more.
For more information visit: https://smokymtnopry.com/
Food & Drink
Big Daddy’s Pizzeria
A favorite among locals, Big Daddy’s Pizzeria is a must for visitors to Pigeon Forge. This local pizzeria is so popular they even have locations in Gatlinburg and Sevierville. Owned by the Johnson family this pizzeria is known for their freshness with no freezers on premises, everything is fresh, everything is homemade! Even the dough is handcrafted and pizzas are cooked in a real wood burning oven to add extra flavor.
Families with children and teens will love the Pigeon Forge Big Daddy’s location because it features an attached building with an incredible arcade. While their pizza is being created kids can enjoy fun and games in this incredible arcade attached to the restaurant. This arcade is accessible only via the restaurant.
For more information visit: http://www.bigdaddyspizzeria.net/
For a true southern food experience, Mama’s Farmhouse is a dining must. Boasting the best “Country Cookin’” in the Smoky Mountain Region, this restaurant dishes up all best comfort foods of the area.
The bountiful Southern cooking is served family style, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with large bowls and platters that are delivered to the table to share. These divine dishes are all derived from owner’s the Johnson family’s great-grandmother (known as Mama to the family) and prepared fresh daily from scratch.
Mama’s Farmhouse also features an all-you-can- eat breakfast feast. It includes Pinwheels, Fresh Fruit, Bacon, Sausage Patties, Chicken Tenders, Cheese Grits, Hash Brown Casserole, Biscuits and Gravy, Sweet Potato Pancakes, Buttermilk Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs and Baked Cinnamon Apples. Peach or Strawberry Butter.
Don’t miss their famous biscuits that placed and won a prize at the 2015 International Biscuit Festival!
For more information visit: http://www.mamasfarmhouse.com/
Smokies Cuban Cafe
A well-kept secret by locals, Smokies Cuban Cafe has been serving up delicious and authentic Cuban Food since 2011. The tasty Cuban Cuisine served here has been compared to Cuban cafes in Miami, a place well known for fantastic Cuban cuisine.
All food at the Smokies Cuban Café is made to order. The menu features a variety of traditional dishes as well as the signature sandwiches. In addition, they offer take out, catering, and delivery to many parts of Sevier County. Owners, the Borges Family, proudly prepare their food with love and devotion. They believe their food represent our family traditions from generation to generation!
For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/SmokiesCubanCafepf/
A Tennessee original, Gigi’s cupcakes began in Nashville, Tennessee. What started as a home order business blossomed into booming Cupcake Franchise with over twelve locations across the state of Tennessee and beyond.
Gigi’s Cupcakes Pigeon Forge location features a rotating variety of over 30 different types of cupcakes weekly. Scratch made from a time test family recipe favorites include Scarlett’s Red Velvet, White Midnight Magic, Banana Cream Pie and many more. Gigi’s also features mini cupcakes and delicious cheesecakes. In addition, they now offer 3 gluten-free cupcake choices daily.
For more information visit: https://gigiscupcakesusa.com/location/pigeon-forge-tennessee-tn/
Old Forge Distillery
Like the many distilleries popping up across the state of Tennessee, since the legal sale and distribution of moonshine, Old Forge Distillery carries on the legacy of moonshiners once plentiful in the Great Smoky Mountain region. This distillery makes their moonshine by using fresh stone ground quality grains in their distillation process. This combined with modern distiller knowledge and tried and true recipes, passed down for generations, helps create their quality product not to be missed.
Opened in 2014 Old Forge Distillery located is just near the original “Old Mill” in Pigeon Forge (now on the National Register of Historic Places) and begins creating distilled spirits using grains ground fresh from the Historic Old Mill. The distillery is housed in a historic barn, that used to be a farm supply store. Guests will find copper column stills inside and watch as head distiller Keener Shanton creates his craft moonshine using pure mountain spring water and fresh-ground grains from the mill located nearby.
Guests to the distillery can visit the Old Forge Tasting Bar, open daily, to taste some of this craft moonshine with unique flavored kinds such as: Chocolate, French Toast, and Coffee, inspired by recipes from The Old Mill Kitchens. Their signature spirits include 1830 ORIGINAL, 1830 ORIGINAL Distiller’s Blend and 1830 ORIGINAL Miller’s Blend. However, Old Forge also features their creative flavored moonshine with choices like Blackberry, Apple Pie and much more.
For more information visit: https://oldforgedistillery.com
Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
The first federally licensed first distillery in the history of East Tennessee, Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery has set the standard for modern moonshine making in the area. This distillery has experienced rapid growth and its products are now available in 49 states and Canada.
Although Ole Smoky began in Gatlinburg, at their location known as the “Holler” downtown, their newest location is in Pigeon Forge. Opened since October 2014, “The Ole Smoky Barn” is Ole Smoky Distillery new outpost at the Island of Pigeon Forge.
The Pigeon Forge location spans an impressive 6,000 square feet and features a distillery, tasting room, merchandise and more. In fact, the Pigeon Forge location, built on a corner lot, features a significant glass windows that allow 180 degrees of natural light to highlight the barn wood and similar finishes inside. Moonshine made at the Barn is jarred, labeled and sold onsite. Like the Gatlinburg location the Pigeon Forge venue has a stage featuring live bluegrass music.
Guests at this location can expect to see moonshine stills working away as well as talk with master distillers and sample some of the famous Ole Smoky Moonshine. In addition, this location features live music and events. Don’t miss their signature spirit, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Original and Moonshine Cherries as well as many more varieties of spirits.
For more information visit: http://www.olesmoky.com