We’re continually on the hunt for opportunities to add richness to our lives. In the time of the road trip revival, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston that make for a great getaway. We feel that our worldly and devoted readers will find these places interesting.
PIGEON FORGE, TN
Driving a little less than five hours southwest of Charleston brings you to the fun-filled, family-friendly town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This gorgeous mountain town is sandwiched between Sevierville, the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and Gatlinburg, the home to the beloved National Park. No matter what time of year you plan to visit, there are always dozens of things to see and do—you won’t be bored. That is for sure.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN PIGEON FORGE
The heavy hitter in Pigeon Forge is, of course, Dollywood Theme Park. Dollywood is every bit as much a music fest, Dolly Parton museum, foodie finds, and show venue as it is a place to enjoy thrill and kiddie rides, shop, and watch artisans show off their talents on crafts you can purchase at the park. It is spotless, family-friendly, and fun. There is a lot of walking involved at this park, so plan accordingly.
A few do-not-miss things include listening to the Wild Roots Band, riding the Wild Eagle Coaster, strolling through Craftsman’s Valley, and eating the raved-about cinnamon bread.
The Island in Pigeon Forge, a vast outdoor complex that is part hotel, part attractions, shopping, restaurants, and a few amusement-style rides, is the place to go for your one-stop-shop activities. Shop at the Sneaky Squirrel, walk down Memory Lane at Emery’s 5 & 10, ride the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel (200-foot-high observation wheel), have a tasting at Ole Smoky Moonshine, eat a sweet treat from The Bakesale, and watch the Island Show Fountain’s spectacular musical and light display. And let’s not forget seeing SkyFly: Soar Over America.
Another area for multiple shops and offerings is the Old Mill Square, bordering the Little Pigeon River. It is home to one of the beloved restaurants in Pigeon Forge and a wine shop, pottery store, general store with gourmet foods, and a handful of other boutiques.
Pigeon Forge has so many fun attractions, but you won’t have time for them all. Start planning now and deciding whether Alcatraz East Crime Museum, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, The Comedy Barn, Titanic Museum, or WonderWorks best suits your entertainment style or something totally different.
For those with a seasonal affinity, you can very well see the holiday spirit in full force at Christmas Place, a multi-building year-round premier Christmas shop filled with treasures. From trees to collectible ornaments, stockings and lights to custom-made wreaths, this is a place you’ll want to browse in for hours.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Oh, you are in for a treat with the bounty of restaurants in Pigeon Forge, TN. A few of my favorites include Brick and Spoon, Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin, Sunliner Diner, Local Goat, and Bullfish Grill. Flapjacks has two tops dishes: Walker’s Cabin Skillet and Reese’s Peanut Butter Pancakes. You choose whether you are feeling savory or sweet. Another tasty breakfast eatery is the retro Sunliner Diner, great for omelets, waffles (check out the Dream Boat), and Benedicts.
Brick and Spoon is a solid local-chain restaurant for breakfast and lunch, serving breakfast and brunch until 2 PM. Bananas in Pajamas is a unigue appetizer (banana egg rolls with foster sauce), and the Bayou Benedict or Shrimp & Tasso Mac and Cheese are both main dishes to squeal about.
At dinner, Bullfish Grill is the place to order a table full of yummy appetizers to share. Choices include Loaded Potato Cracklins, Ahi Tuna Wonton Stack, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Chargrilled Oysters. Local Goat has been one of the top-rated restaurants for five years due to crowd-pleasing items like the cheese fondue with bread and apples, deep-fried deviled eggs, and gourmet burgers.
WHERE TO STAY IN PIGEON FORGE
For a splurge, I can’t imagine anything better than staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa, what they call an “on-site oasis.” This massive luxury resort offers a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, Smoky Mountain-inspired decor, and beautiful grounds. If you stay at the resort and have valid Dollywood tickets, you are privy to priority access to the park.
What’s not to love about a hotel room with margarita makers and fireplaces? Picture this all set in a Caribbean-inspired setting and you’re all of a sudden at the Margaritaville Island Hotel, with free Wifi and parking.
Another good accommodation choice is the Riverstone Resort and Spa, condos and cabins with impeccable views and amenities. I’m fond of the gorgeous lazy river, and families will love having two pools.
Ramada Pigeon Forge and Holiday Inn & Suites are both chain hotels with high-rated user reviews and an affordable price tag.