Ultimate Guide to a Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge Vacation

May 8, 2023

Why Visit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?

Gather your friends or family to go on an adventure of a lifetime through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The two cities offer many family-friendly activities you’ll enjoy experiencing. Whether you are visiting for a quick or extended vacation, take advantage of exciting adventures, from amusement parks to camping near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Best Time to Visit

Enjoy the warm weather and sunshine in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge by planning your trip around the peak summer season. June through August is an excellent time to explore the area.

If you prefer cooler weather, October is another beautiful time to visit. The Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas have gorgeous fall foliage, making it a sight you don’t want to miss.

Fun Activities and Places to Visit

Tennessee is a state full of diverse landscapes and exciting attractions that appeal to families worldwide. You could make your vacation to the state unforgettable by including some of the following Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge attractions on your list of places to visit.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Under the sea is a vast ecosystem — you can witness parts of it at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium has various exhibits to showcase fish and aquatic animals worldwide. Watch live dive shows, encounter penguins and sting rays and walk around other exhibits to learn about sea life.


Have the best of both worlds when you want thrilling activities and a serene, relaxing place by visiting Anakeesta, an outdoor, mountaintop park. Anakeesta has everything you could imagine, from ziplining and a 14-bridge Treetop Skywalk to gorgeous Vista Gardens full of lush flora, waterfalls and walking trails.

You’ll have a grand adventure while satisfying your thrill-seeking side. Then, recover from your adrenaline rush with delicious food and gorgeous mountain views.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

If you fear heights, you might want to skip Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, but this attraction is a must if they don’t bother you. The park gives visitors the best views of Gatlinburg through skylift rides, a cable bridge and an elevated walking trail. The SkyBridge is the longest pedestrian cable bridge in the United States, suspended 500 feet above the city and almost 700 feet long.

Gatlinburg Space Needle

While the West Coast has the Seattle Space Needle, the South has the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Ride to the observation deck of the Space Needle to get an incredible panoramic view of downtown Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Sunset at the Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Get outdoors and become one with nature when you spend the day or a few hours at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You have plenty of birding, hiking and biking options with the varied trails around the park.

If you’re in town during the fall, the views will be amazing with the bright and bold colors of the changing leaves.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not

It will be up to you to see if you believe in the legitimacy of interactive exhibits and unique artifacts at Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Gatlinburg. The museum has three floors of galleries full of interesting and mind-boggling items.

Sugarlands Distilling Company

Adults will enjoy sampling spirits and taking a tour to learn how they’re made during a visit to the Sugarlands Distilling Company, a locally owned distillery in Gatlinburg. During your visit, you can find your new favorite spirit or cocktail.


One place you cannot forget to visit while in the Smokies is the famous theme park, Dollywood. Delight in lively entertainment, over 50 rides and tasty dining options while spending the day at the park.

Chasing Rainbows® Museum

Learn more about the legendary country star Dolly Parton by taking a break from the rides at Dollywood to walk through the Chasing Rainbows® Museum, which showcases her life story in innovative ways.

Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud™ Show

Sit back and experience epic entertainment while you eat at Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud™. The Pigeon Forge dinner show has singing, dancing, stunts and comedy. As the two families, Hatfield and McCoy, try to settle their differences, you’ll indulge in a delicious Southern dinner with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, coleslaw, rolls and a special dessert.

Dolly Parton’s Stampede

Keep your dinners exciting by attending one of Dolly Parton’s Stampede shows. The dinner attraction is full of adventure, thrilling horse stunts, friendly competition and musical productions. You’ll have a four-course meal while enjoying the show. Feast on creamy soup, savory chicken and pork loin, buttery corn, a baked potato and an apple turnover for dessert. There are also vegetarian and gluten-free courses available.

The Island in Pigeon Forge

A must-visit attraction is The Island in Pigeon Forge, where you can experience amusement park rides, a ropes course, museums and games. You’ll also have plenty of food and shopping options for a half or full day at The Island.

Alcatraz East Crime Museum

If true crime fascinates you, the Alcatraz East Crime Museum is a perfect stop to add to your itinerary. Learn about notorious criminals and killers, the people who fought crime and see some getaway cars in person.

A group of friends enjoy dinner from the grill on the patio of a KOA Deluxe Cabin.

Where to Camp in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN

You have your pick of comfortable campgrounds while staying near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Kampgrounds of America has several locations in the Southeast to help you experience cabin, tent and RV camping near the two hubs.

KOA’s campgrounds near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have everything you need for a cozy and comfortable visit. Camp with your RV at RV Sites with full hookups or stay in a Camping or Deluxe Cabin. You could also set up a tent if you prefer tent camping. Stay at Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg KOA Holiday if you need an RV park right in Pigeon Forge.

For a quieter stay, Gatlinburg East / Smoky Mountain KOA Holiday and Townsend / Great Smokies KOA Holiday are RV campgrounds around Pigeon Forge, about 30 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city. Whether you stay in your RV or choose cabins, you’ll have fun camping in Gatlinburg.

Reserve Your Campsite Today

KOA is here to help you find a comfortable place to rest during trips to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. After visiting the two cities, continue traveling to other parts of Tennessee to continue your adventures. KOA has many campgrounds in the state where you can stay and receive the same hospitality.

Get started with your trip by reserving a campsite today!

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting

Enjoy a Greater Slice of the Great Outdoors

Discover even more room to enjoy outdoor living with a KOA Patio Site®. These spacious sites offer your very own patio equipped with outdoor furniture and the perfect place for a fire. Wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee with the sunrise and spend an evening relaxing with family and friends.

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