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island in pigeon forge

Top 10 Things to Do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg TN for First-Time Visitors

Once you visit the Smoky Mountains, you’re going to want to keep coming back. It will be love at first sight when you arrive! If it’s your first time visiting the area, there are some incredible attractions you have to go to before you leave. To make sure you don’t miss out on anything during your first experience in the Smoky Mountains, we’ve come up with 10 things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg TN for first-time visitors.

1. Dollywood

Dollywood is one of the top theme parks in the country, and you have to see why! From thrilling rides, to delicious food, to unique shops, Dollywood is a one-of-a-kind experience, and it’s no secret why it’s considered one of the best things to do in Pigeon Forge TN. The whole family will love exploring this world-class attraction. Whether it’s seeing a show, riding a roller coaster or enjoying Southern-style dining, you’ll have a great time at the theme park. If you visit during the summer, make sure to stop by Dollywood’s Splash Country and beat the heat by riding water rides or swimming in the wave pool!

2. The Old Mill Square

Scenic photo of The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge.

The Old Mill Square is known for its dining, shopping and hospitality. Make sure to bring your appetite when you visit! The Old Mill Restaurant serves family-style Southern meals for you to enjoy, and The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe & Grill serves everything from steak to fried chicken. And don’t forget to save room for dessert! The Old Mill Creamery and The Old Mill Candy Kitchen are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. There is also a number of shops for you to explore, like The Old Mill General Store, where you can pick up cornmeal, grits and more, and The Old Mill Pigeon River Pottery, where you can shop for one-of-a-kind pieces! There is so much for you to see in The Old Mill Square. This is definitely one of the can’t-miss things to do in Pigeon Forge TN for first-time visitors!

3. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was named the top aquarium in the country! You’ll want to see why for yourself. The Gatlinburg aquarium is full of amazing experiences you won’t get anywhere else, like the chance to waddle with penguins, splash with stingrays and sleep with the sharks! You’ll be able to see a sea turtle, 12-foot sharks, jellyfish and more!

4. Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud

Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud in Pigeon ForgeWhat could be better than a great meal to go along with a great show? When you visit the Smoky Mountains, you won’t want to miss going to see the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud! The show features singing, dancing, stunts and comedy that will have you laughing all night long. When you come to the show, you’ll be able to enjoy a full homestyle feast of fried chicken, corn on the cob, homemade bread and more! It’s one of the top things to do in Pigeon Forge TN that you have to experience at least once in your lives.

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an obvious must-see when you visit the area. There is no better place to explore the gorgeous mountain scenery! The park has hundreds of hiking trails, opportunities for fishing and campsites so you can spend the night underneath the stars. You can have a picnic in the park, see wildlife and even go horseback riding!

6. The Island in Pigeon Forge

SkyFly at The IslandThe Island in Pigeon Forge is one of the most fun things to do in Pigeon Forge TN for people of all ages! You’ll have tons of affordable fun when you visit The Island! There are plenty of shops, dining options, games and rides. One experience you won’t want to miss is the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, in which you’ll ride in a glass gondola as high as 200 feet in the air and see spectacular views of Pigeon Forge with the Smoky Mountains in the background. While you’re here, be sure to sample moonshine at Ole Smoky! Moonshine sampling is an activity you don’t want to pass up. If you’re interested in seeing some of the top destinations across the country, be sure to go for a ride on SkyFly: Soar America! This multi-million-dollar flying attraction allows visitors to experience the sights and sounds of popular places in the United States while making them feel as if they’re flying over them. There is plenty of fun to be had at The Island.

7. Titanic Museum

The Titanic Museum is a great way to spend an afternoon in Pigeon Forge. You’ll feel like you’re boarding the real ship when you step inside and are given a boarding pass of an actual passenger or crew member. As you explore the museum, you’ll get to touch a real iceberg, walk the Grand Staircase and try to stand on the sloping decks. When you reach the Memorial Room, you’ll be able to find out the fate of the name on your boarding pass. It’s one of the most popular museums in Pigeon Forge!

8. Gatlinburg SkyPark

Gatlinburg SkyBridgeOne of the most popular things to do in Gatlinburg is visit the Gatlinburg SkyPark. It’s home to the longest-running attraction in Gatlinburg, the SkyLift, which is a must-do activity on any vacation. Hope on the SkyLift and enjoy the views as you ride 1,800 feet above sea level to the top of Crockett Mountain. Once you’re at the top, you can relax and take in the views from the SkyLift, walk across the record-breaking Gatlinburg SkyBridge, or explore the SkyTrail. You can also enjoy some refreshments in the SkyCenter before riding the chairlift back down to downtown Gatlinburg. If you’re visiting Gatlinburg for the first time, this attraction has to be on your list!

9. Gatlinburg Space Needle

For some of the best views of the area, you’ll want to visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle. The Gatlinburg Space Needle is a 407-foot observation tower that offers panoramic views of Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. Just ride the glass elevator to the top and enjoy the breathtaking scenery! Below the Space Needle is Arcadia, Gatlinburg’s largest family fun arcade. Play more than 100 games in the two-story amusement center after taking in the beautiful views!

10. Stay in a Cabin

find a cabin bannerAn experience that is a must for everyone wanting to see the true beauty of the Smoky Mountains is staying in a cabin. There are so many gorgeous Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabin rentals that have mountain views, wireless internet, outdoor hot tubs, wood-burning fireplaces and more incredible amenities. You’ll feel right at home when you stay in a cabin. It’s the best way to enjoy all the Smoky Mountains have to offer and be close to all the best attractions in the area.

More Things to Do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg TN

We’ve told you about some of our favorite things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg TN when you visit the area for the first time, but there are so many other great activities you can try as well! While you probably can’t fit all the fun into one trip, you’ll have to come back more than once to enjoy all the action in the Smokies! Sample moonshine at a local distillery, dine at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant or one of the incredible restaurants in Pigeon Forge, ride a mountain coaster, explore Anakeesta, walk across the Gatlinburg SkyBridge — the list goes on.

Check out all the amazing things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to help you decide what to do during your trip. We hope you enjoy your first time in the Smoky Mountains!