What to Do at Dollywood Besides Rides: Top 10 Activities
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Dollywood is famous for its world-class thrill rides and roller coasters. However, not everyone is in search of an adrenaline rush when they visit the theme park. In fact, Dolly Parton herself has never experienced any of the rides at Dollywood, telling USA Today, “I’ve got too much to lose – like my hair! Lord knows what else could fall out of me.”
If you also plan on skipping the rides at Dollywood, you don’t have to worry about being bored! The theme park is overflowing with wonderful activities that will keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Read on for a handy guide to what to do at Dollywood besides rides.
1. Watch the Incredible Shows
You could easily spend the whole day at Dollywood just enjoying the park’s wonderful entertainment! While the lineup changes throughout the year, some of the most popular shows at Dollywood include the Smoky Mountain String Band, Dreamland Drive-In, Little Engine Playhouse, Kingdom Heirs Gospel Quartet, and the My People Show (which stars Dolly’s family members). The theme park also hosts a number of seasonal music festivals that bring hundreds of international entertainers, classic bands, bluegrass performers, and gospel singers to Dollywood.
2. Get Crafty at Craftsman’s Valley
Craftsman’s Valley is a great place to see craft demonstrations, shop for handmade souvenirs, and try one of these traditional trades for yourself. If you’re looking for a hands-on experience for your family, we recommend dipping your own candles at Old Flames Candles or making a unique glass blown ornament at Mountain Blown Glass (which is actually located in nearby Rivertown Junction).
3. Play Games at the Country Fair
The Country Fair section of Dollywood is filled with classic carnival games that are always a hit with kids. Your little ones will love going home with stuffed animals that they won themselves! Visitors to the Country Fair will also find a treasure trove of fried foods to enjoy.
4. Turn Your Kids Loose at a Playground
If your kids just want to run around and play, Dollywood has got you covered! Take your children over to the Lil’ Pilots Playground at Owens Farm or the Firehouse Fun Yard at Wilderness Pass and let your little ones explore. Be warned that your kids might get wet if they take advantage of the Firehouse’s pop-jet water features.
5. See the Majestic Birds at Eagle Mountain Sanctuary
Dollywood is home to the nation’s largest presentation of non-releasable bald eagles. Guests will love getting an up-close look at the beautiful birds on display at the 30,000-square-foot aviary house known as Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. To see the eagles (and other birds of prey) in action, be sure to attend the Wings of America Show in Craftsman’s Valley.
6. Learn About Dolly at the Chasing Rainbows Museum
No trip to Dollywood is complete without a visit to the Chasing Rainbows Museum. Dedicated to the life and career of Dolly Parton, this wonderful museum showcases the Queen of Country’s Grammy awards, handwritten lyrics to her hit songs, and numerous dresses from Dolly’s TV and movie appearances. Guests are even greeted by a hologram of Dolly!
7. Ride the Dollywood Express
Although it may technically be considered a ride, the Dollywood Express is no scarier than any normal train. This coal-fired steam engine takes guests on a beautiful 5-mile tour through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Riding the Dollywood Express is a can’t-miss activity for families with children.
8. Visit the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame
Music lovers will definitely want to stop by the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame. Located in the Showstreet section of the theme park, this great museum profiles the pioneers of Southern gospel, from The Rambos to Bill Gaither. Highlights of the museum include a replica of the Blackwood Brothers first tour bus and an animatronic gospel quartet.
9. Eat to Your Heart’s Content
Dollywood currently holds the Golden Ticket Award for having the best food of any theme in the world! From Granny Ogle’s to the Front Porch Cafe, Dollywood’s mouthwatering Southern-style cuisine does not disappoint. If you only try one thing at the theme park, make it Dollywood’s legendary cinnamon bread. The park’s grist mill sells about 350 loaves of this irresistible bread an hour!
10. Enjoy Seasonal Fun
Throughout the year, Dollywood hosts a number of popular festivals that bring special entertainment and decorations to the park. During the Harvest Festival, Dollywood is adorned with thousands of whimsical jack-o-lanterns, and during the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival, the park hosts nightly holiday parades. Be sure to check the park’s festival schedule so you’ll know what to expect during your next vacation!
Now that you’re well versed in what to do at Dollywood besides rides, it’s time to start planning your visit to the theme park! To get the best deal on Dollywood tickets (and free cancellation up to a certain date), click the green box below: