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Posts Tagged ‘Pigeon Forge TN’

41+ Things to Do in Gatlinburg, TN: Our Ultimate Travel Guide

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Is your family planning a vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee? There are so many fun things to do in Gatlinburg, TN and the Pigeon Forge area that we have put together a full Gatlinburg Travel Guide for you. Our guide is full of places to visit in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. We share attractions, places to eat, suggestions on where to stay, and more for this East Tennessee region vacation destination.

A few tips:

  • Starting March 1, 2023, you must have a parking pass on your car if you park for more than 15 minutes inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. A daily pass is $5, a weekly pass is $15, and a yearly pass is $40.
  • Almost all shows in Pigeon Forge offer combo tickets, which are significantly discounted when bought together. So do the math and figure out what works for your family. Pigeon Forge has a wonderful guide with coupons that is available online and via hard copy at the Welcome Center. It can also be mailed to you.
  • There are a bunch of coupon books in almost every restaurant and shop in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge. They all offer a least a couple of dollars off attractions, which can save money in the long run if you do a lot of activities. 
  • Sign up for the email list of your favorite attractions and hotels since they often send out discount codes throughout the year. 
  • If you come to East Tennessee more than a couple times a year, consider a season pass to some of the attractions like Dollywood and Anakeesta, which can pay off in just a couple of visits. 

What is There to Do in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge?

Check out these Gatlinburg attractions and things to do near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN.

This mountaintop village theme park hosts a Rail Runner alpine coaster, ziplining, stunning gardens, a beer garden, a village with restaurants and shopping, an outdoor movie space, a treehouse play area, seasonal-themed events, and an awesome Chondola ride up and down the mountain. Admission ticket prices range from $20 – $29. The alpine coaster, Astra Lumina light display, gem mining, and ziplining are extra costs. You’ll want to read our Anakeesta review of tips and tricks on how to make the most of your visit to Anakeesta.

576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta

Anakeesta view through the heart sculpture.

Read our KA review of Anakeesta to see how amazing this place is!

PINK Jeep Smoky Mountain Tours
Ride around in a bright pink Jeep and see all the very best sights in the Great Smoky Mountains and get the adrenaline going with their 4×4 off-roading course, built especially for PINK Jeeps. Tickets depend on the tour you choose but kids ages 18 months+ are able to do the tours and costs range from $57-$74 per person. Our PINK Jeep review gives you the lowdown on what to expect with the tour.

3152 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

Pink Jeep tours in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
PINK Jeep Smoky Mountain Tour

A truly fun experience for the whole family, Wonderworks is an indoor entertainment facility with a glow-in-the-dark ropes course, a 3-D roller coaster, a bubble room, laser tag, a climbing wall, an earthquake simulator, and tons more. You can easily spend all day here but allow at least two hours at Wonderworks to really do everything, more if you see the magic show (extra charge). Read our review of Wonderworks to get all the details.

100 Music Road, Pigeon Forge

Wonderworks could easily fill up a day of adventure while in Pigeon Forge. Learn more in our KA review of Wonderworks!

Outside view of Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

The iconic theme park is fun to visit any time of the year but they do have special events for summer, fall (a big pumpkinfest), and winter (a huge festival with a nightly parade and lights). The new Wildwood Grove encourages guests to explore their imaginations with an indoor black-lit playground, splash pad, rides for the whole family, and the new DragonFly coaster. Our KA Dollywood review will tell you all the best places to visit while at Dollywood. Adult tickets are $89 and kids are $79/each ages 4-9.

2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN

Dollywood’s Splash Country
A wet and wild theme park that opens right next to the Dollywood theme park over the summer, Splash Country has a wave pool, multiple water slides, a lazy river, concessions, and a tube coaster. We love this theme park and it’s on our must-do list every summer! For the 2021 season tickets were $49.95/ages 10-61, $39.95/ages 4-9, and $39.95/senior citizens 62+. Parking is $15/day.

2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN

Dollywood’s Splash Country

Dollywood Splash Country: Review and tips

Read our Dollywood Splash Country review, written by a local mom with lots of tips. Learn about the best things to do at the park. 

Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show
If you don’t know, the Hatfield and McCoy families were two groups who really hated each other in rural West Virginia in the 1800s. The show is a dinner theater experience so you get all-you-can-eat soup, rolls, pulled pork, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slow, and corn plus a dessert. This was the best meal I had while in Pigeon Forge and my kids loved it as well. At the end of this show, you’ll leave feeling full and happy. The total time you’re in the theater is a little over two-and-a-half hours. Tickets are $59.99/adults and $34.99/kids ages 3-11 and under 2 are free.

119 Music Road, Pigeon Forge

Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show

Titanic Museum
Experience the history of the Titanic, and the stories of those aboard, at the Titanic Museum. You’ll find hands on exhibits, an audio tour, and even the largest Titanic replica ever built out of lego bricks! Want to know more? Check out our KA review of the Titanic Museum.

2134 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

Learn why the Titanic Museum is a must-see when visiting Pigeon Forge, Tennessee!

Grand Staircase at the Titanic Museum

Wild Bear Falls Water Park
This is an enormous indoor waterpark at the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa in Gatlinburg. It’s open year-round and you can go even if you’re not a guest at the resort.

915 Westgate Resorts Road, Gatlinburg, TN

Dolly Parton’s Stampede
This is one of the more popular shows in Pigeon Forge and features horse stunts, lots of special effects, and a four-course meal plus dessert. Families love this show especially.

3849 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

Pirates Voyage
Lots of energy and fun at this dinner show in Pigeon Forge, the newest show to come to town. Kids will love the mermaids and pirate fights plus the water features of the show are always fun.

2713 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (and other Ripley’s attractions)
This aquarium was voted best in the nation with sharks, sea turtles, penguins, and a glass-bottomed boat and it sits right in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. You can read our review of the aquarium plus other reviews of Ripley’s attractions in Gatlinburg such as the Mirror Maze, 5D moving theater, and Guinness World Records Museum

88 River Road, Gatlinburg, TN

Soaky Mountain Waterpark
Located just 15-20 minutes north of Gatlinburg is an enormous 50-acre waterpark with tons of slides, a lazy river, watercoasters, and a 35,000 wave pool. You will learn everything you need to know before going in our KA review of Soaky Mountain Waterpark.

175 Gists Creek Road, Sevierville, TN

Soaky Mountain Waterpark near Gatlinburg, TN

Ole Smoky Moonshine
The distillery is the oldest in the state and you can taste several moonshine varieties for $5 – they are really good! Be sure to try the Buckeye if you like peanut butter. You can also see how moonshine is made through the glass walls of the distillery at the Holler in Gatlinburg, which totally counts for homeschooling your kids.

Locations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge Snow

This snow tubing place is open all year round because it’s indoors! This place has real snow for the tubing lanes plus a snow area where kids can build forts and snowmen. Plus, it’s always around 60-70 degrees inside so you aren’t freezing. Kids must be 38″ tall to tube. If not, you can buy them a ticket just to play in the snow. Tickets start at $29.99 for an hour of snow tubing and at $36.99 for tubing plus 30 minutes of snow play. No reservations are needed. See our full review here.

2533 Teaster Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN

You can snow tube indoors at Pigeon Forge Snow

Learn why Pigeon Forge Snow is such an epic place to play while visiting Pigeon Forge!

Gatlinburg SkyBridge

Just opened in 2019, the SkyBridge is a mile high and has a glass bottom in the center. It is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America and overlooks this mountain town and the surrounding Smoky Mountains. You have to take a chair lift up to the mountain to access the SkyBridge. Buy tickets in advance online to save a couple of dollars off each ticket. Read more in our KA review of the Gatlinburg SkyBridge here.

765 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 

Kids walking down the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Boot Factory Outlet

I’m not big into shopping but the Boot Factory Outlet was awesome. They have amazing customer service – people who help you until you find what you want and make suggestions. They seem to genuinely care about service. I was blown away. The outlet offers a continuous deal of buy one pair of boots and get two free. I had to see it for myself because that didn’t seem real. It was! I walked out with three fantastic pairs of boots for my family, all well-made and of excellent quality. Highly recommend.

1842 Winfield Dunn Pkwy, Sevierville, TN

The Lost Sea Adventure

This is such a cool experience that we recommend for anyone looking for a super unique adventure underground. The Lost Sea tour explores the expansive Craighead Caverns with its rare rock formations. But the coolest part is the boat ride in the underground lake! You can read our KA review of The Lost Sea Adventure to learn more. It’s about an hour and 20 minutes from the Gatlinburg area. Visit Sweetwater Valley Farm nearby for awesome grilled cheese and milkshakes.

140 Lost Sea Road, Sweetwater, TN 423.337.6616

Free/Cheap Things to do in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The park is the most visited in the whole country, with over 11 million people visiting every year. And there is no admission cost whatsoever. The park boasts over 850 miles of hiking trails plus two long stretches where you can drive to see wildlife and take in the natural beauty of the area.

Get up to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the park, or Newfound Gap for stunning views of the smokies. Cruise through Cades Cove or Roaring Fork Motor Trail to see if you can spot black bears. Read more in our KA review of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all there is to do and see in the Smokies.

Please note that since March 1, 2023, the National Park has instituted parking fees to be able to handle the millions of visitors each year. Parking tags must be displayed anywhere in the Park, except for cars spending 15 minutes or less there. Fees are $5/single day, $15/up to 7 days, and $40/annual parking pass. You can buy them at the Visitor Centers or online.

Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

See Elk in Cherokee or Cataloochee Valley
Elk were originally native to the area and have been reintroduced. They are thriving thanks to the protection of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Guests can see the majestic animals at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, NC, right outside the park, or in the Cataloochee Valley. In the fall, the bulls loudly bugle and it’s quite the animal sound to hear!

Elk in the Smokies

Go Swimming
The Smoky Mountains have some desirable swimming holes during the hot summer months. One is the Townsend Wye right near the entrance to the park in Townsend, TN. It’s a huge swimming hole with small rapids for tubing and deeper waters for swimming. The National Park’s official stance on swimming is that it discourages it. 

Townsend Wye swimming hole
Townsend Wye

Go Fishing
Trout are stocked in the miles of rivers and streams that cut through the Smokies and visitors are allowed to fish from those waterways. In Tennessee, both residents and non-residents ages 13 or older must have a fishing license. In North Carolina, ages 16 and older need a license. Fishing is permitted all throughout the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

See the Synchronous Fireflies

Every year around June, the synchronous fireflies appear in the Smoky Mountains to do their annual mating dance. And it is a sight to see! Millions of these fireflies light up all around you then go quiet for about eight seconds and then light up again.

It is completely fascinating to see and we highly recommend trying to get a lottery ticket or booking a campsite at Elkmont during that time of year to see them. To enter the lottery, you pay $1 and if you win, your parking pass is $25. A campsite at Elkmont is around $30.

Synchronous fireflies at Elkmont Ghost Town in Tennessee.
Synchronous Fireflies at Elkmont

Things to Do During the Holidays in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
The experience at Dollywood at Christmastime deserves its own review because it is so beautiful and enchanting. You and your kids can step into a life-size snow globe, watch a nativity show, and enjoy the rides. They have beautiful light displays as well. It’s an amazing time to visit the amusement park. Read what we loved about the Smoky Mountain Christmas in our review.

2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN

Winterfest at Dollywood in Tennessee
Smoky Mountain Christmas in Dollywood

Winterfest in Pigeon Forge
From the end of November until early February, Pigeon Forge is decked out in Christmas lights and guests can ride the trolley all around town (small fee) to check out the beautiful decorations. Shows and events correspond with the Christmas theme and the whole town becomes a winter wonderland. It’s totally free to drive around and see all the lights. Learn more with our KA review of Winterfest and be sure to pick up the guide that the City of Pigeon Forge offers, which includes coupons.

Where to Stay in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

There are hundreds of places to stay in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area. All of these places we list below are places we have personally stayed at and where we’ve had excellent experiences. Reviews are all linked below. If you are not staying in a Gatlinburg cabin, then these campgrounds and hotels are the best there is for a family-friendly vacation Gatlinburg vacation. So, start planning your lodging today!

You can also use the map below from Stay 22 to find other options! When you book through the map and links, we may earn through an affiliate relationship with Stay22.


Margaritaville Island Hotel
A stay at this beautiful and trendy hotel will be a relaxing experience. Margarita makers are in every room and balconies overlook either the river or the Island at Pigeon Forge. You can explore the Island, take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, grab a margarita at the bar (or in your room), and just chill. Read our KA review of Margaritaville Island Hotel to learn why it is such a great option.

131 The Island Dr, Pigeon Forge, TN

View of the pool at the Margaritaville Hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Margaritaville Island Hotel in Pigeon Forge

Greystone Lodge By the River
One of the very last family-owned hotels in Gatlinburg, the Greystone dates back originally to the early 1960s and has become the go-to hotel for generations of families. The location cannot be beaten as it is steps from the aquarium and across the street from Anakeesta, within walking distance to shops and restaurants.

They also have a great pool and free breakfast. It’s perfect for families looking to have a restful and accommodating place to call home during their trip. We stayed there and absolutely loved it

559 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

Greystone Lodge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
The Greystone Lodge By The River

Camp Margaritaville RV Resort & Lodge
A water slide, pool, beautiful rooms, on-site restaurant, arcade, and amazing staff make this spot an incredible place to stay. Relaxation and fun are perfectly balanced here. Read our review of Camp Margaritaville RV Resort & Lodge to plan your own trip.

149 Cates Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN


Pool at Camp Margaritaville

Camp LeConte
Kicking up the glamping a notch further is Camp LeConte, which offers a treehouse, safari tents, and a retro camper. You can even catch the trolley into Gatlinburg from the campground. Depending on the time of year, the two-person safari tent starts at around $136/night. Read our KA review of Camp LeConte and learn why we love it so much.

1739 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN

Luxury camping tent at Camp LeConte near Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park

The Westgate Smokies is a beautiful resort overlooking Gatlinburg that has lots of different room types to choose from, a huge indoor water park, spa, zip line, mini-golf, two outdoor heated pools, and a fabulous restaurant. Read our review KA review of the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort to learn more.

915 Westgate Resorts Road, Gatlinburg, TN

View of Gatlinburg from the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort

Go Lodge

Be blown away by the 17-room game mansion in Gatlinburg! It has more than 300 indoor and outdoor games and sleeps up to 20 people. This is perfect for a multi-family or big friends vacation and is about 15 minutes from the main strip in Gatlinburg.

Go Lodge near Gatlinburg, Tennessee with epic kitchen

Smoky Hollow Outdoor Resort
Stay in a covered wagon or tipi at this resort in Sevierville, TN for the ultimate pioneer adventure. The resort is close to Soaky Mountain and minutes from Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Smokies. Read our review of the Smoky Hollow Outdoor Resort to get a good idea of why it’s so cool!

660 Gists Creek Road, Sevierville, TN

Smoky Hollow Wagon camping near Sevierville, Tennessee

Foothills RV Park & Cabins
If you are not into tent camping but are still looking for a cheaper option than a hotel, Foothills has bare-bones cabins to rent where you bring your own linens/sleeping bags and pillows. This is a good option if you’re really trying to stay within a budget but want someplace clean and comfortable.

The location is right on the cusp of Pigeon Forge and maybe ten minutes from Gatlinburg. Camping cabins are rented from April through October and start at $58/night.

4235 Huskey St, Pigeon Forge, TN

Inn on the River
The Inn on the River has pretty awesome amenities like both indoor and outdoor pools, free breakfast, free popcorn, hot chocolate, coffee, and tea, a free gift bag for kids, and really nice staff. Plus, they are located right on the main strip in Pigeon Forge and within walking distance to several restaurants and attractions. Read our KA review of the Inn on the River to help you decide where to lodge.

2492 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

Pool at Inn on the River
Inn on the River

Wilderness at the Smokies
This family-friendly hotel has three waterparks on-site, including Tennessee’s largest indoor waterpark. You won’t even need to leave the resort for entertainment and dining once you get there! Rooms are spacious and some suites offer bunk beds for kids. And it’s directly across the street from Soaky Mountain Waterpark. Learn why we love Wilderness at the Smokies for families in our KA review!

1424 Old Knoxville Hwy, Sevierville, TN

Indoor waterpark at Wilderness at the Smokies

Where to eat in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

If you’re not headed to a lunch or dinner show, there are plenty of options to enjoy a good meal. Gatlinburg is known as the Pancake Capital of the World so be sure to hit up a good pancake house while you’re there. 

Pancake Pantry
Gatlinburg’s first pancake house, which opened in 1960, is hugely popular. Get there when they open and bring cash since they don’t take credit cards. 

628 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

Log Cabin Pancake House
Opening in 1976, the Log Cabin Pancake House serves up breakfast all day long and also has delicious pancakes (of course). 

327 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg, TN

Apple Barn & Cider Mill
The fried apple pies and apple cider donuts are what people usually come to the Apple Barn for. It’s worth it. Both are delicious and well-worth the calories. 

230 Apple Valley Rd, Sevierville, TN

The Old Mill Restaurant
This is the place that people who have been to Pigeon Forge will recommend. They have generous portions and authentic, local Southern cuisine. Country fried steak, cornbread, and chowder are staples of a great meal here. They served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

164 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge, TN

Cliff Tops Bar & Grill at Anakeesta
If you are spending a day up on the mountain at Anakeesta, the Cliff Tops Grill & Bar is a great place to grab lunch or dinner. The Brisket Philly Cheesesteak is especially tasty and the kids meal of mac & cheese is also quite delicious. 

576 Parkway Suite A, Gatlinburg, TN

Cliff Top Bar and Grill at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Cliff Top Bar & Grill at Anakeesta

Big Daddy’s Pizza
With a handful of locations in both towns, Big Daddy’s is a decent option for families who want something simple, easy, and pleasing to everyone. 

Various locations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN

Southern Comfort
The flagstone restaurant at the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort in Gatlinburg, Southern Comfort serves up Lowcountry cuisine with a Cajun twist. It’s delicious and you’ll want to keep coming back for more. The hospitality is just as sweet as the s’mores dessert.

915 Westgate Resorts Road, Gatlinburg, TN

Places to travel in the United States

Looking for more travel ideas? Check out our Travel Guide, with ideas for travel throughout the Southeast and beyond!

Dollywood Splash Country: One of the Best Waterparks in the Country

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Ready for a perfect day trip or summer vacation? Dollywood is a popular place to visit for Greenville families as it’s tons of fun and only three hours away. While you’re there, you can beat the heat by spending some time at Dollywood’s Splash Country. Kidding Around’s Kristina visited this water park with her kids and gathered up all the insider information plus tips and tricks so our readers will know exactly what to expect when they plan their own trip!

Media tickets were provided for this review.

Splash Country sign

Find a place to stay near Dollywood. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

I had never been to a giant water park before packing up the kids and heading to Dollywood’s Splash Country, a mere three hours from Greenville. I had no idea what to expect. Water slides? Pools? Some splash pads? Upon entering Splash Country though, I was more than surprised that the waterpark had all of those plus tons more. I shouldn’t have been surprised though – the water park and Dollywood is ranked by USA Today as one of the very best in the country.

So if you haven’t been to Splash Country, I’ve got all you need to know here. And if you have been but need a little more incentive to go back, I’ll tell you all about what we did and tell you about some of their new rides. The 2022 season opens Saturday, May 14, 2022. See their calendar for operating hours when you want to go.

About Splash Country

The waterpark opened in 2001 on 25 acres next to the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge. It’s under the same brand as Dollywood, of course, which means it’s held to high standards of hospitality, cleanliness, and family fun. It didn’t disappoint on any of these factors. 

When it opened, it had a 25,000-square-foot wave pool, a lazy river, a children’s interactive area, tube rides, and two extreme body slide rides, plus a restaurant. Since 2001, the park has added a whitewater rafting tube ride, the Bear Mountain Fire Tower™ attraction with smaller water slides and a huge climbing structure, a 70-foot high water slide, a huge area with a grotto, waterfalls, slides, a leisure pool, and splash pad for kids, a multi-lane mat slide ride, a water coaster (the first one in Tennessee), and lastly, the TailSpin Racer was added in 2017.  The park has added food stands, water retreat cabanas, and shaded areas as well. 

Clean & Safe

Two things immediately stood out to me about the waterpark: the cleanliness of the entire park and the staff’s attentiveness. No trash was lying around, the pools were all clean, and the rides were spotless.

And the staff were incredibly attentive and kind and helpful. The lifeguards had their eyes glued to the pools at all times, and the larger attractions like the wave pool were well-staffed, where I counted at least 10 lifeguards stationed around the huge pool. The staff and lifeguards at all the rides were well-trained on safety protocol and gave riders precise instructions on safely enjoying the water activities.

Life jackets are available for free all over the park, from little kids to adults. Just pick one up. The park discourages guests from bringing their own life jackets or puddle jumpers, but I saw plenty of them while there. And don’t bring pool toys as they are not allowed.

Tips & Tricks for Dollywood Splash Country

  • Splash Country allows guests to bring a backpack – it will be inspected upon entrance – and offers lockers all around the park. Prices range from $10-$20 depending upon size. I got the medium one for $15 and it easily held my small backpack, change of clothes, towels, and water bottles. You can rent the lockers for the entire day. I’d suggest getting one right near the wave pool since it’s in the middle of the park and close to everything.
  • You can bring your own towels or buy them at the park. We brought ours and laid them out on lawn chairs near the wave pool to save our seats when we wanted to take a break – which was never. But you can put them in your lockers if you like. 
  • While outside food and beverages are prohibited at the park, you are allowed to bring in an unopened water bottle per person. Additionally, ice water is available for free at all concession stands. Please take advantage of this because it’s hot, even when you’re in the water.
  • Family restrooms are available throughout the park, and there is a nursing area for moms near the wave pool. 
  • Dollywood is family-friendly, and its clothing guidelines reflect that policy. They ask that guests don’t wear thongs or cheeky bathing suits. I’d suggest wearing bathing suits that won’t accidentally slip off either during one of the rides.
  • Most of the rides have some height restrictions, so get your kids measured when you get into the park. The child will then get a wristband to indicate which rides they are allowed to go on and saves time from standing in line for a ride they can’t go on. There are several rides open for kids if an adult is with them. 
  • It’s brutally hot in the summer, so wear your shoes everywhere. My kids and I wore water shoes, which we had to take off for some of the rides but worked very well for our day there. The pavement is scorching, and you don’t want to burn your feet, so keep those shoes on while walking around.
  • Get there right when they open. If you are in line about 30 minutes before the park opens, you’ll get a great parking spot (parking is $20 – book online for a couple dollars off) and you’ll have very little wait time for the more popular rides and shorter lines to get into the park.
  • Splash Country offers canopies and retreats of all sizes to rent for the day. See the desk to the right when you walk into the park. They looked pretty awesome, with lounge chairs and plenty of shade. They are priced from $45-$300 per day.
Splash Country slides

Feed Me! Where to eat at Splash Country

Splash Country has several food options inside the park, nachos, tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs, and plenty of desserts like Dippin’ Dots and ice cream. Expect to pay at least $10-15/person for whatever you choose to eat.

Dollywood thankfully understands that families may want to save money on dining and bring their own food. Even though they don’t allow food or drink inside the park, you can leave the park and come back in to get your hand stamped. We packed a cooler for lunch, left the park, ate our cheap lunch, and headed back inside for more fun. There are picnic benches with umbrellas for shade at the park entrance if you’d like to eat your lunch there.

Timesaver H2O pass

Passes to reserve your spot in line and cut down on wait time are available, which could come in useful on busy days. The TimeSaver H2O costs between $55-$70 per person and allows guests to enjoy other attractions while virtually waiting in line for popular rides.

We went during the beginning of the week of July 4th and it was crowded. While we didn’t have to wait too long for any ride, maybe 25 minutes tops, I was certainly a little envious of the people who had the TimeSaver pass since they zipped past us in their own lane. Even shorter wait times can be trying on a tired kid so getting the TimeSaver H2O pass may be worth it. 

Snapshots of Dollywood Splash Country

Water Rides & Play Areas

My favorite areas of the park were the giant wave pool Mountain Waves, the roller coaster raft ride, the Big Bear tube ride, and the Bear Mountain Fire Tower™ with all its water slides. Oh, and the multi-lane mat slides – my oldest daughter and I raced down a couple of times. It was a blast. We spent all day there and my kids were not happy to leave.

Other popular attractions at Dollywood Splash Country are:

  • Slick Rock Racer
  • Fire Tower Falls
  • Raging River Rapids

You can see a list of all the rides and height requirements for Splash Country Online.

Little Creek Falls is an attraction that has no standing water. It’s the perfect place for babies, toddlers and little ones to play and stay cool.

What to Bring

Here’s a list of things you’ll want to bring to Dollywood’s Splash Country:

  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Towels
  • Water shoes (some rides you can’t wear flip flops and others you just have to hold whatever shoes you’re wearing) – but it’s hot and the pavement can be uncomfortable on bare feet so wear shoes
  • A water bottle
  • A waterproof case for your phone. You can buy one at the park or just bring your own.
Dollywood Splash Country lazy river


If you plan on going to Dollywood more than twice a year, a season pass is a good investment for both the theme park and Splash Country. If you stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, which you can literally see from the park, there is a free shuttle also that will take you to the park from the resort.

For the occasional promotion of tickets and sales, follow Dollywood on Facebook or sign up for their email newsletter. If making fun memories with your family is on your list this summer, make a trip over the mountains to Dollywood’s Splash Country!

Have you been to Dollywood’s Splash Country before?

Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Family Guide

Plan the best trip with our Family Guide to Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg

Mountain range view at Smoky Mountain National Park

While you’re here, don’t miss the Great Smoky Mountains.
Smoky Mountain National Park

Fly Over National Parks and Incredible Scenery at SkyFly in Pigeon Forge, TN

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SkyFly is a newer attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN that has already won awards for its unique and amazing experience. We’ve got all the details on how to see it. 

I really had no idea what SkyFly: Soar America was going to be like when we walked into the building, which is right near the big Great Smoky Mountain Sky Wheel on the Island at Pigeon Forge. 

The decor looked like what I’d expect the workshop of some old scientist who was studying time travel may look like with gadgets and goggles. I was intrigued for sure and definitely wanted to try out whatever the ride entailed. 

Skyfly America

About SkyFly: Soar America 

SkyFly: Soar America won the “Best New Attraction” award in 2021 by USA Today Readers’ Choice. They only opened in July 2021 so the award was quite the accomplishment. SkyFly was manufactured and designed by Dynamic Attractions, which also designed and made the super popular Disney Soarin’ attractions all over the world. 

Once you purchase your tickets, you enter into a room where you’ll learn about explorer Peter Wilder and his daughter Hannah as they try to get ready their steampunk airship for takeoff. We were the only ones in line for about ten minutes and watched the video of the two characters for a bit to try to imagine what in the world was about to happen. A few other guests joined the line and soon we were taken into the Tram room. 

Our guide instructed us where to stand and off we went. Actually, we didn’t go anywhere but the screens on the top of the tram certainly looked like we were moving as we virtually sped through the countryside and came to a stop where the airship supposedly resides. 

We exited and got in line to enter the next room, which held the massive, 50-foot spherical screen. I didn’t know that yet though. While waiting, we got some safety instructions from Mr. Wilder and his daughter, which were quite the characters. They seemed a little unprepared for this journey, which was all part of the fun. 

Then we were off and entered the ride. And that’s where it got exciting. 

Soaring Over America 

Once we got situated into our seats, buckles buckled and checked, and bags underneath our seats, it was time to get flying. 

As soon as the show started, our seats moved straight up and our feet were dangling in the air, ready to fly. The screen looks like we are going through some big tube and then we’re off high in the sky above Chimney Rock (I was so excited to see such a familiar spot) soaring like the peregrine falcons. It was such a cool sensation. 

Next, we took flight along the Blue Ridge Parkway, over the geyser in Yellowstone, glaciers in Alaska, and above the massive Grand Canyon. 

Skyfly Soar America

SkyFly: Soar America

We flew over Niagara Falls and even got sprayed with real water and felt the wind. Then it was on to the Grand Tetons, over the beauty of Hawaii, through the Sequoia National Forest, and of course, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We flew low over the flat waters of the Everglades and up high to get a glimpse of the presidents carved into Mt. Rushmore. 

It was so cool and you really do feel like you’re flying. The seats move around as you fly so the experience is totally immersive. 

The movie is six minutes long but I could have done it at least a couple more times, which you can actually do for a greatly reduced price once you’re done with the first ride. 

How in the world did this movie get made? That’s what I kept thinking. SkyFly says that they used drones and helicopters to film it and that there is nothing else like it in the world. 

Experiencing SkyFly for Yourself 

SkyFly: Soar America is located on the Island at Pigeon Forge and is open Sunday – Thursday from 10 am – 9 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10 am – 10 pm.

Our total time at SkyFly was around 30 minutes but if you have to wait in line, it could be longer. SkyFly says to allow 30-60 minutes once you enter the queue. 

Guests must be 40″ to ride and guests between 40” and 55” must be accompanied by an adult. Guests taller than 76″ are not permitted on the ride. If you have a child shorter than 40”, you can watch the movie in an alternative viewing room while your partner rides the ride and then you can switch out. They do tell you that if you have a fear of heights, you may not like the ride and you can watch the movie in an alternative viewing room. I’m not a big fan of heights or flying but had no issues with the ride. I thought it was awesome. 

Also, if you’re a pregnant mom, SkyFly does not allow you to ride. SkyFly is fully ADA-accessible and can accommodate. If you have other questions, there is a great SkyFly FAQ section on their website.

Tickets to SkyFLy can be purchased online or in person. During peak hours and seasons, which is pretty much all year except January and early February, they advise you to purchase tickets ahead of time. Adult tickets are $22.99 and kids ages 11 and under are $17.99. 

SkyFly: Soar America
131 The Island Drive, Suite 1000, Pigeon Forge, TN 


The Largest Replica of the Titanic Created with LEGO Bricks is at this Museum

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Planning a trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee? We sent KAG Contributor Kristina Hernandez to take a peak inside the Titanic Museum. In this review she’s telling us all about what you can expect to see at the Titanic Museum so you can add it to your list of things to do when you visit Pigeon Forge. Complimentary tickets were provided for this review.


Winterfest Wonders of Light Walking Trail in Pigeon Forge, TN Lights Up Winterfest

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The new Winterfest Wonders of Light Walking Trail in Pigeon Forge, TN, less than three hours from Greenville, SC, is part of the three-month-long Winterfest that happens every year in East Tennessee. The Riverwalk debuted in the 2022-23 season and is set to be installed every year!

For those not familiar with Winterfest in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, it is a months-long festival in the area that has more than six million lights to delight visitors. The festival starts in November and runs through February and encompasses not only free holiday lights around town but also holiday-themed shows, attractions, and other entertainment for the whole family.

The newest installment of Winterfest is the Winterfest Wonders of Light Walking Trail, a free walk-through light display that has several access points along the river in Pigeon Forge. I visited towards the tail end of Winterfest in late January 2023 and it was perfection because the Christmas crowds had come and gone and the town was in one of its rare down times. It was awesome. And it’s back for the 2023-2024 season!

Winterfest will run November 9, 2023 – February 18, 2024.

Riverwalk at Winterfest in Pigeon Forge

The New Winterfest Wonders of Light Walking Trail

The trail runs from Pigeon Forge Municipal Parking Lot, which is at 2936 Teaster Lane between the LeConte Center and The Island in Pigeon Forge along the Riverwalk Greenway to Patriot Park, which is about a mile-and-a-half one way. There are more than 40 light displays along the paved path, including light tunnels (my favorite). It’s really neat and such a lovely display of lights.

We parked at the Island of Pigeon Forge to start at the beginning and before long, my kids and I were surrounded by blue and white sparkling lights that made a tunnel. Then we saw a huge display that looked like a fountain of lights with snowmen, stars, and snow mounds followed by blue and white stars hung high along the path and then a giant 52-foot long caterpillar – it was quite sparkly.

There are butterflies, shooting stars, deer, bears, squirrels, and all kinds of imaginative and fun characters along the way. My kids, ages 12 and 8, and I really enjoyed it.

Accessing the Walking Trail

So there are several access points along the route if you only want to do a part of it. A handy map can be found here that is very helpful.

Winterfest Riverwalk Pigeon Forge Caterpillar

Access points include where we started at the Island at Pigeon Forge, the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge, Patriot Park, the city’s Municipal Parking Lot, and the Old Mill. The entire path is paved so it is handicap and stroller-accessible. It’s also pet-friendly as long as pets are kept on a leash.

Visiting the Winterfest Wonders of Light Walking Trail

There is no charge to visit the Winterfest Wonders of Light Walking Trail in Pigeon Forge, which is awesome. Thank you to the City of Pigeon Forge!

You can walk the trail from November 9, 2023 – February 18, 2024.

After you walk the trail, you can visit the Island at Pigeon Forge, where you can ride the Great Smoky Mountain Sky Wheel, fly over the country at SkyFly America, enjoy shopping and dining, and watch the water light show. There are free trolleys available from the parking lot to the Island.

Island at Pigeon Forge at Night

For other things to do during Winterfest, we have a big story on it. Just note that once Christmas is over, most of the shows take a short break through January. There are plenty of other things to do in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area. For places to stay, see our reviews on several awesome spots in the area for families.

Amenities and Family Fun Abound at the Inn on the River in Pigeon Forge, TN

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The Inn on the River in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee has lots of great amenities for families as they enjoy time together and exploring the fun town of Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A complimentary stay was given to us so we could review the hotel. All opinions are those of the author.

If you’re looking for a central place to stay when you visit the Smoky Mountains that has a lot of great amenities that help your dollar stretch pretty far, then look no further than the Inn on the River in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The hotel is centrally located amidst all the great attractions in Pigeon Forge, has several family-friendly amenities, and has staff that truly go the extra mile to make you feel at home.

The Inn on the River

The Inn on the River is exactly like it says, right on the Little Pigeon River. We had a riverfront view from our room, complete with chairs outside so we could sit and watch the calming river run by. We even saw a Blue Heron fishing for dinner on our first night there. Plus, we could see the Great Smoky Mountain Sky Wheel and were within walking distance to several attractions and restaurants.

In fact, our first night there, we walked across the street to try out Magiquest and then walked over to Five Guys for burgers and fries for dinner. It was really nice not to have to drive since we had just come from Greenville. There are several restaurants that you can walk to as well as shows and other entertainment. The Inn lists lots of those places on their website. Pigeon Forge is only a three-hour drive but I’m not a big fan of sitting in the car for long so this was perfect for us.

We explored several attractions during our visit and nothing was more than a six-minute drive. It was truly an ideal location. The 128 rooms have all been recently renovated and were clean and comfortable. Each room also has a customized Alexa device, which my kids endlessly used to request Dolly Parton songs and ask what cats sounded like, a coffee maker, a mini-fridge, and a microwave.

So Many Amenities at Inn on the River

The Pools

Let’s start with what kids care about: the pool. The Inn on the River has both an indoor heated pool with jacuzzi and an outdoor pool. We traveled there in January so we didn’t use the outdoor pool but I did need to tear my kids away from the indoor pool because they loved it. The water is heated and there are pool toys and goggles available. The room is so nice and warm, too, which felt amazing after being outside in the chilly air most of the days we were in Pigeon Forge. The hot tub is so relaxing as well. Each night we spent at the Inn included a pre-bedtime swim, which was just a great way to wind down the busy days.

Free Breakfast

The Inn on the River also provides free breakfast each morning and has an assortment of both hot and cold offerings like eggs, sausage, biscuits, fruit, waffles, and oatmeal. There is a beautiful sunroom that you can choose to eat your breakfast in that overlooks the river. It’s really nice and calming and we loved eating out there. Fill up on that breakfast so you can tackle all your fun plans while in the Smokies.

Free Hot Drinks and Popcorn

Additionally, the Inn offers free hot chocolate, coffee, and tea all day long. I cannot even count how many times we had hot chocolate during our visit. It was a lot. They also offer free popcorn from 7 am – 10 pm every night. My kids were in heaven.

One thing that we didn’t make use of that I completely forgot about was the outdoor fire pit. It’s right on the river but I forgot because the kids wanted to use the pool at night. Next time!

Gifts for Kids

When we checked in, the hotel staff let each of my kids pick a little gift, which included a small toy. So cute and personable. Check-in was fast and the staff was very kind and helpful, letting us know when breakfast was, how late the pool was open, and also that they had free books and games available for guests to make use of while they enjoyed their stay. The lobby is very inviting as well, with comfortable couches to relax on in front of the fireplace.

Honest Mom Review of the Inn on the River

There are tons of choices of places to stay in Pigeon Forge and it’s hard to know which one is right for your family. I was impressed with the Inn on the River because firstly, their staff was very kind, helpful, and welcoming. Everyone from the front desk clerk and manager to the employees cleaning the tables and replenishing food during breakfast to those sweeping the floors of the hallways was so nice.

Secondly, the location was perfect. I didn’t need to travel much at all once we arrived to the hotel and it was easy to get around Pigeon Forge both by car and foot. And lastly, I don’t think it gets much better for kids on vacation to have a pool all year round. I’m a lot more lenient with my kids when it comes to their bedtimes when we are traveling and was happy to have them enjoy swimming for a couple later-than-usual nights. The hot chocolate was awesome, too, and a free breakfast is so helpful when traveling to save on meal costs.

I also really loved the location right next to the river. It was chilly when we went but I could open the curtains and watch the river, which I really enjoyed. Anything close to nature like that is a win for me.

Making Your Reservation

Be sure to sign up for their email newsletters and check their Specials page before you book as they offer some packages that may be of interest. All active duty military get 10% off their stays.

Like any hotel, costs vary depending on the season and room type. During the slower winter season, you can get a riverside room with two queen beds for around $159/night. That same room in the busiest months of July and October is around $285/night and in December, is about $259/night. If you have AAA or AARP, that will knock the price down about 10%.

You can book a room online on the Inn on the River website.

For more things to do in Pigeon Forge, see our Guide to Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg.

Inn on the River
2492 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 

Soar to New Heights at The Island at Pigeon Forge, TN

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The Island at Pigeon Forge in Pigeon Forge, TN, about three hours from Greenville, SC is full of fun things to do for the whole family, whether you like exciting rides, good food, or prime shopping. We visited the Island and have all the details you’ll need to plan a great trip. Some of the experiences listed below were provided as complimentary tickets or stays for Kidding Around.

If you have ever seen photos of the iconic Ferris wheel in Pigeon Forge, this is where it is, on the Island at Pigeon Forge. While the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is absolutely a must-do and oftentimes the photo you will see everywhere when reading about Pigeon Forge, the Island where it’s located is filled with tons of things to stay busy and have fun for the whole family.

My kids and I have visited the Island a couple times and never run out of things to do and see! While many of the attractions require admission tickets, there are plenty of things to do there that are free. Additionally, Pigeon Forge has a wonderful guide with coupons that is available online and via hard copy at the Welcome Center. It can also be mailed to you.



Playing at The Island

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at the Island was our favorite thing to do. We went on once during the day and too another spin at night. We could see so far and the views of the mountains were stunning. We visited in the winter and we could see snow on the tops of the mountains and we loved it. We felt very safe (I have a slight fear of heights!) and really enjoyed the views. At night was also amazing as we could see all the lights around Pigeon Forge – so cool. You go 200 feet up so you get a great bird’s eye view. Tickets are $13/adult, $8/kids 3 – 11. You can buy a day/night pass for $20.

Smoky Mountain Sky Wheel

Island Ropes Course

The Island Ropes Course consists of three levels of obstacles plus gives participants the option of doing a free fall controlled jump on the highest level to complete the course. You can as much time as you want on the course, which includes two zip lines. The course is all outdoors so definitely dress for the weather. There is also a little ropes course, the Sky Tykes Course, for smaller kids under 48″ tall. The bigger ropes course is open to anyone 42″ or taller. Those under 48″ need an adult on the ropes course with them. Tickets are $15/person for the Island Ropes Course and $5/kid for the Sky Tykes Course.


Island Ropes Course

SkyFly: Soar America

This is a relatively new attraction to the Island, only having opened in 2021, but SkyFly has already received the “Best New Attraction” award by USA Today in 2021. I had no idea what to expect with this ride but it was so, so cool. You are suspended in a seat in front of a 50-foot dome screen and taken on a six-minute ride across 20 iconic locations in the United States from Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon to Alaska. I absolutely loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat. Tickets are $22.99/adult and $17.99/ages 11 and under. Kids must be 40″ tall to ride.

SkyFly: Soar America

Other Attractions on the Island

Other attractions on the Island include an arcade, an Escape Room, a mirror maze, bumper cars, a carousel, a 7D theater, racing track, a little kids-size roller coaster, and lots of other games. You can pay for these individually or get an unlimited rides two-day pass for $35-45/person, which covers a great many rides on the Island.

You can also visit the parrot shop and see live parrots or even some baby parrots. They are adorable. There’s also a Build-A-Bear Workshop and lots of shops to explore that carry unique gifts.

And if you’re lucky enough to be in Pigeon Forge for New Years, you can see fireworks at the Island for New Years Eve!

Eating at The Island

The Island was designed to look like a small village with cozy streets lined with cute little shops where you can buy toys or clothes, take one of those Old Time Photos in sepia with your family, and The Fudgery (get the chocolate fudge). It’s fun just to stroll around and check all these places out. Take a break and relax in one of the many inviting chairs surrounding the small lake where the dancing fountains spray the water in coordination with the outdoor music.

When you’re hungry, the on-site restaurants include a Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, Mellow Mushroom, Yee-Haw Brewing Company, and Timberwood Grill. You can grab an authentic, and quite delicious, margarita at the Changes in Latitude bar at the Margaritaville hotel, as well as enjoy a quick bite (get the pretzels with cheese dip…mmmm).

Lodging at The Island

The Island at Pigeon Forge is central to pretty much all of the attractions in town. It’s 10 minutes from the Smoky Mountain Opry and Titanic Museum and 15 minutes from Dollywood. You can walk across the street to a couple different pancake houses and other attractions if you like.

Choosing to stay on the Island is a great decision for all of these reasons! The Margaritaville Island Hotel on the Island is incredible and guests can enjoy the rooftop pool and hot tub all year long. There’s also the Margaritaville Island Inn on the Island, which is under the same brand but is a little less expensive and includes a continental breakfast.

Parking at The Island

Parking at the Island is free – take a right past the Margaritaville Island Hotel and over the bridge, where there is a huge lot. Park for free there and take a trolley into the main part of the Island if you don’t want to walk.


Don’t forget to grab the coupon books around town or check online since many of them have coupons to attractions and restaurants on the Island. The Island’s website offers many coupons as well that you can use.

You can plan to spend a few hours or a couple of days here, especially if you stay at one of the properties on the Island.

If you visit The Island during Winterfest in Pigeon Forge, the Wonders of Lights Walking Trail starts at the Island and is free to walk through.

The Island at Pigeon Forge
131 Island Drive, Pigeon Forge, TN


Relaxation and Family Fun Combine at Camp Margaritaville RV Resort & Lodge in Pigeon Forge, TN

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Camp Margaritaville RV Resort & Lodge in Pigeon Forge, TN is a fantastic spot to spend a few days or a whole week for a family trip. And it’s easy on the gas tank at three hours from Greenville, SC. Thank you to Camp Margaritaville Resort for inviting us to the resort for a complimentary stay so we could write this review. 

If you love relaxation while being in the middle of all the best activities near the Great Smoky Mountains and having a beautiful space to chill out with your family, Camp Margaritaville RV Resort & Lodge in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is the spot. 


Dollywood’s Newest Attraction is Whimsical & Fun for the Whole Family

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Are you planning a visit to Dollywood soon? The 2021 season starts on March 13th. Dollywood, the premier theme park attraction located in Eastern Tennessee, added a new attraction to the park in 2019 called Wildwood Grove; we got to check it out firsthand and be immersed in all the magic and wonder inherent in any Dollywood experience.

When you go to Dollywood, head right for Wildwood Grove because there is so much to see and do for your whole family!


This Huge Winter Festival in Pigeon Forge is a Must-Do for Families

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Thinking about planning a getaway this winter? Pigeon Forge, Tennessee offers Winterfest  celebrating the Christmas season and wintertime. You’ll find winter themed shows, holiday lights and amusement rides and so much more! KAG Contributor Kristina Hernandez traveled to Pigeon Forge with her daughters during Winterfest. In this review she’s sharing the many activities they enjoyed and also many more that are available for Pigeon Forge visitors during Winterfest.