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Here at 'Great Smoky Vacations', we have tried to compile a list of attractions and things to do in the area. It would truly be impossible to list all of the attractions and activities in the area. Here are a few attractions.

MonarchTaggingByWarrenBielenberg-e1509738109435-300x210Monarch butterflies migrate south each summer and spend their winter hibernating in parts of Southern California and Mexico where the climate is warm year-round. Monarchs living east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to Mexico overwintering in Oyamel Fir trees. Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountains overwinter in Pacific Grove, California in eucalyptus trees. The butterflies return to the same trees each year which is unusual because the same butterfly never makes the trip twice and yet, somehow, the fourth generation of Monarchs find the right tree!  Amazingly this fourth generation migrates over 2,500 miles each year for the perfect hibernation climate and tree.

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont monarch butterfly tagging program is an effort to monitor the health of the Monarch population and to track the butterflies progress along their migration route. Each year in late summer and early fall volunteers flock to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains Tagging program. Part of the fun is discovering, months after the event, that the butterfly you tagged was located thousands of miles away.

Monarch Tagging and Butterfly/Moth Identification

When you come to Pigeon Forge, you want to know where the best places are to eat with your family. We want to share some of these top eateries with you! Here are the top 5 family friendly restaurants in Pigeon Forge:

 

  1. Blue Moose Burgers

 

Blue Moose Burgers is a casual restaurant in Pigeon Forge that's perfect for everyone in the family. This eatery is best known for its mouth-watering burgers and wings in a variety of flavors. You can get a classic burger with all your favorite toppings, or try a burger with unique toppings you never even thought would sound good on a burger. Choose between your own wings or sharing with the whole family. You have so many flavors to choose from, such as mild buffalo, honey BBQ, or Carribean jerk. Blue Moose also has hot dogs, other kinds of sandwiches, and salads.

 

  1. Paula Deen's Family Kitchen

 

When you visit Paula Deen's Family Kitchen, you'll feel like you're right at home. The food you can get at this restaurant in Pigeon Forge is just like your grandmother used to make. Plus, you'll feel like you never left home since the food is served family style. As a table, you choose between two meats and four sides to share with everyone. You can eat at Paula Deen's for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Some favorites on the menu include beef pot roast, meatloaf, fried chicken, green beans, candied yams, and baked mac and cheese.

 

  1. Big Daddy's Pizzeria

 

Does your family want pizza? Then you should head to Big Daddy's Pizzeria. This restaurant in Pigeon Forge has an arcade, which will keep you and the kids entertained before and after dinner! You can choose from specialty pizzas, such as a traditional pepperoni or something different like a Hawaiian. Don't see a pizza with all your favorite toppings? You can always build your own! Big Daddy's also serves wings, salads, and sandwiches.

 

  1. Bennett's Pit Bar-B-Que

 

If you've never had southern barbeque, you have to try some at Bennett's Pit Bar-B-Que. They have pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, baby back ribs, and all your other favorites. All of the meat is slow roasted over wood to get that smoky flavor and basted in homemade barbeque sauce. Sides to go with your meat include potato salad, french fries, baked beans, spicy mac and cheese, and more. Want to do something really fun? Grab a family meal pack and take it to a picnic area in the national park!

 

  1. No Way Jose's Mexican Cantina

 

In the mood for chips and salsa? No Way Jose's Mexican Cantina has all your favorite dishes. Grab a bowl of queso to share with the table. You can get any of the dishes you love: fajitas, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, chimichangas, and combo dishes when you can't decide what you want. They even have traditional Mexican dishes you might want to try. No Way Jose's also has a great bar selection, so you can get a margarita with your meal or any other cocktail you enjoy.
There are so many restaurants in Pigeon Forge to choose from. No matter what you're in the mood for, you'll find it! Look at these other places to eat in Pigeon Forge for some more ideas!

 

Looking for activities in Pigeon Forge TN you can enjoy with your kids? You'll find all kinds of fun things to do! Whether they love theme parks, museums, or games, there are activities for every interest in Pigeon Forge. Check out 5 of the best activities in Pigeon Forge TN for kids:

 

  1. WonderWorks

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Do you want to find something fun and educational for your kids to do? Take them to WonderWorks! This attraction is an interactive museum your whole family will love. The building is commonly called the upside down house, so you definitely can't miss it! Once inside, you can find fun in all of the Wonder Zones. You can feel how cold the water was the night the Titanic sank. Feel what hurricane winds and an earthquake are like. Lay on a bed of nails and get in a roller coaster simulator. Test your skills at virtual sports. Jump on the giant piano and on the Alien Stomper. There's so much to do at WonderWorks!

 

  1. Arcade City

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Located at The Island in Pigeon Forge, Arcade City is a great place to take the kids if they love games. You'll find all kinds of fun claw games where you can grab prizes. Win points by playing basketball and skeeball. Try to stop the light to win the jackpot, and try to get a ball to drop in the jackpot slot in other games. Once you've gained all the points you can, you can trade the points for prizes, such as stuffed animals, plastic figures, and so much more!

 

  1. Dollywood

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Dollywood is one of the most popular activities in Pigeon Forge TN. Kids and adults will both find things to entertain them at Dollywood. There are shows everyone will enjoy watching, from comedy to singing and dancing. Small children will love riding Busy Bees, while older kids will enjoy The Scrambler and the Dizzy Disk. Have a kid who loves thrills? Take them on The Barnstormer or the Tennessee Tornado. You'll find plenty of snacks your kids will love around the park, from frozen lemonade to giant cookies from the Spotlight Bakery. Everyone will love their day at Dollywood!

 

  1. The Track

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If you're looking for maximum entertainment, you need to take your kids to The Track in Pigeon Forge. You'll find go karts for kids of all ages. The most popular is the Wild Woody, where the track winds up to 3 stories tall! After you ride go karts, get on some of the kiddie rides or splash each other on the bumper boats. Play a round of mini golf where you'll spot animals you might see on a safari. Once you're done outside, you can play games in the arcade!

 

  1. TopJump

 

What child doesn't love to jump on trampolines? Your kids will love spending time at TopJump, an indoor trampoline park. There are open areas where you can just jump around. There's also a climbing center where you can test your skills. Kids also love seeing how far they can get in the Fire & Ice Ninja Course. For small kids, the Kid Zone is the perfect place to play! Your whole family will find something that will entertain them at TopJump!
You'll love the wide variety of activities in Pigeon Forge TN. Check out these other attractions you'll want to try while you're in town.

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When it comes to travel, almost everyone likes the idea of stepping out of their comfort zones. The mere act of leaving our normal routines, friends, homes and entering new environments has a beautiful way of shaking up our perspectives on ourselves, our lives, and the world.

Many of the best, most transformative travel experiences are direct products of the unfamiliar and unexpected: doing things we wouldn't normally do, meeting people we wouldn't ordinarily meet, and learning new perspectives that make us better versions of ourselves.

However, for most travelers, the actual process of stepping out of our comfort zones can be uncomfortable, or daunting or downright scary — step too far and we risk remembering a vacation for all the wrong reasons. As a result, we tend to revert back to the safest, most predictable plans, taking solace in knowing exactly what we'll get.

This is why I'm an advocate of single decisions that make the process of stepping a little bit outside your comfort zone on your next vacation easy, automatic, and even fun! From years working with the most innovative vacation rental hosts in the world on the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, my favorite single decision lies in the kind of accommodations in which you stay: instead of booking a traditional hotel, choosing the right vacation rental property opens many doors and facilitates all kinds of meaningful experiences.

Embedding one's self in a residential neighborhood away from groups of tourists means meeting local culture in an entirely new way. And in this environment, we're more likely to encounter delightful surprises and explore more of the unknown. No matter where you're heading for your next vacation, choosing the right vacation rental can be that single choice that makes all the difference.

Here are four ways in which choosing the right vacation rental can make your next trip almost by default more adventuresome, interesting, and memorable.

1. Automatic Local Friends

Since most vacation rental operators live in the area and love it, they make for the ideal destination ambassadors and therefore the perfect local: friends. The best vacation rental hosts are able to recommend their favorite haunts, introduce guests to the right guides or contacts, and even let visitors in on insider secrets. One of my favorite anti-comfort zone moves is to invite your vacation rental host out for lunch to their favorite restaurant.: Use this chance to pick their brains, to help you organize your itinerary, or merely to get a lay of the land. Very few hotel concierges are able to offer this level of personal attention due to the size of the business — a vacation rental host is that all-too-valuable connector you can't do without.

2. The Excuse to Be Curious

Staying in a vacation rental as opposed to a traditional hotel means everything is less formulaic and that is the best way to digest local culture. Instead of relying on room service or overpriced hotel taxis, I like to encourage travelers to wander out and use the excuse of being a new neighbor to ask questions! Where's a great place for a lazy afternoon lunch? What's the best way to get downtown? What's it like to live here? Preface any of these questions with the fact that you're only playing neighbor for the week and you're bound to get a warm reception and sense of place.

3. The Fun of Dining In

Eating out on vacation every day can get expensive, if not downright exhausting. A vacation rental's kitchen is the ideal alternative and amenity that breaks down comfort zone barriers because it encourages local grocery shopping excursions and the improvisation of putting together a meal of your own. If you're looking for inspiration, try to replicate a popular local dish or seasonal specialty… experiment with something you've never made before. If you're feeling fancy, ask your host about a private chef. And if you're feeling lazy, order delivery and enjoy lounging around the ultimate comfort zone — the living room.

4. The Permission to Get Lost

At home when we're in our typical routines, getting lost is frowned upon: it makes us late for work, embarrassed before friends, and disappointed in ourselves. But when traveling, getting lost is a virtue — a plus that leads to some of the best vacation memories. By choosing a professional vacation rental instead of a traditional hotel, we remove the compass and maps of structured tourism and embrace the idea of not knowing exactly where we are or where we are going. This is not an endorsement to put anyone's life in danger — it is permission to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. It is a good reminder to relish the beauty of travel at its core, which is the consent to relinquish a bit of control and find your own way.

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Visit Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Rain or shine, snow or sun, there's never a bad time to visit Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies! This immersive facility is regularly recognized as one of the top aquariums in the United States.  In 2016, it was named by USA Today as the best place in the US to see penguins! There are so many exhibits to explore and animals to see, that you could spend the entire day at Ripley's and still have more to do.  Once you're done checking out the fish, the kids can enjoy the aquarium's new gigantic indoor playground! If you're looking to escape the cold and still have an adventure, Ripley's is the place to go.

Speedway Fun

Drive at the Blake Jones Racing Center. If it's too cold outside for go karts, head over to Blake Jones Racing Center.   One of the few covered Figure 8 Slick Tracks in the area and the only indoor Electric Go-Karts and Spin Zone Bumper Cars.

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Escape Game Rooms

The Escape Game in Pigeon Forge  Located at The Island, this real-life escape game requires guests to work together to try to escape a locked room. Find clues, solve puzzles, and get out in under 60 minutes!

Kryptology Escape Rooms is a fun, challenging way to spend time with your family during the winter. When you take on the challenge at Kryptology, it's like stepping into a real-life video game. You're given 60 minutes to find clues, answer riddles, and solve puzzles while trying to discover how to escape the room your placed in. Each room has a different immersive theme, like "The Orphanage" or "Vanished in Roswell". Even though the rooms and challenges are very exciting, every room is family friendly and safe for younger children. You should plan on spending a total of about 90 minutes with Kryptology from start to finish.

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Scenic Drives

A wonderful way to experience the beauty of the Smokies is with a scenic drive. There are some great options in the area (including the Foothills Parkway), all with beautiful overlooks along the way. Pack some snacks, drinks, and a jacket and camera for when you want to hop out for a bit.

Anyone who has driven through Cades Cove knows that is one of the most beautiful parts of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Cades Cove is situated on an 11-mile one-way loop road that gives you the chance to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Along the way, there are plenty of pull-offs if you want to stop and take in the scenery. You'll definitely want to take your time.  Some of the animals you could potentially see include black bears, white-tail deer, coyotes, turkeys, and more!

Community Centers

The Pigeon Forge Community Center offers basketball courts, pools, exercise equipment, and much more.

Shopping

What better way to pass a busy day than shopping? Head over to the Tanger Outlets in Sevierville to get great deals on clothes, accessories, electronics, home goods, specialty foods, toys, tools, and more! The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is the largest collection of crafters and traditional artists in the United States.

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Visit an Amazing Museum Attraction

Visiting one of the many amazing museums in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is a great way to spend a rainy day. All of the museums in the Smokies pride themselves on offering one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibits. With so many different options to choose from, there's something for everyone. Be sure to check out our blog, 7 Best Museums in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, for a full list of the best museums in the Smokies.

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The Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge – You can touch an iceberg, feel how cold the water would have been on that fateful night, try to stand on a sinking deck, walk the Grand Staircase, and explore the ship as a passenger or crew member before learning your fate.

Gatlinburg Activities

Click on the link above to see a video of some of the many things to do in Gatlinburg.  Gatlinburg is a quaint town on the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

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Pirate battles, live animals, custom-designed costumes, and more.  Arrive 50 minutes before the show for the chance to explore Pirates Village, where your kids (and you too!) can dress up like pirates and mermaids and enjoy pirate-themed beverages and snacks.  adjacent to The Island in Pigeon Forge and includes a 30,000 square-foot arena that seats nearly 700 guests. During the show, guests will get to see the Crimson and Sapphire pirates battle on deck, in the water, and in the sky above their full-sized pirate ships in a 15-foot-deep indoor lagoon.  Enjoy a four-course pirate feast at the show! The menu will include the Walk the Plank Peach Turnover, creamy vegetable soup and fried chicken.

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Recently, my son and his family were visiting Gatlinburg, Tennessee from their home in Indiana. In order to satisfy the varied interests of our group, who ranged in age from 3- to 59- years old, we loaded up the cars and headed to Anakeesta, Gatlinburg's recent addition to their top-tier attractions. While there, we found […]

via Anakeesta: Getting High on Life in Gatlinburg, Tennessee — Travels with Bibi

Want to get your adrenaline pumping on your vacation? What better way to get excitement in than to go ziplining in Gatlinburg TN! You'll love racing through the trees at top speeds, feeling the wind on your face in the summer. Check out 4 of the best places to go ziplining in Gatlinburg TN on your vacation:

 

  1. CLIMB Works

 

Do you want to zipline with someone else to help you be brave? At CLIMB Works, they have a dual zipline where you can ride side by side with your friend or significant other down the mountain. If you'd rather ride alone, you can go on the treetops ziplines that include 9 ropes, 3 sky bridges and an ending that will surprise you! To get up to the beginning of the courses, you'll ride an ATV up the mountain. You'll love seeing the stunning view of the Great Smoky Mountains while you ride down! If you're still craving adventure after you go ziplining, be sure to check out their mountain bike trail on a rental bike!

 

  1. Zipping in the Smokies

 

Zipping in the Smokies has a total of 2,400 feet of ziplines you'll get to ride! You'll come across 2 sky bridges where you can see awesome views of the Great Smoky Mountains terrain. The ziplines self-brake, ensuring your safety. You'll be in a full body harness and helmet, attached to the cables with a carabiner. Once you're done ziplining, you should go white water rafting or hang out in the picnic area to eat some snacks or a meal — you've earned it! This outpost is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so get your summer fun in while you can!

 

  1. Anakeesta

 

Not only is Anakeesta a great place to see amazing mountain views, shop til you drop, and eat some delicious food, it is also great since it has ziplining! You can ride down the mountain with a friend or family member on the dual ziplines. You'll be able to zip over 150 feet of zipline ropes  over the forest floor 50 feet in the air. Once you finish your ziplining adventure, you take a short trip back to the chondola station to ride back to the top where you can ride the Rail Runner, a mountain coaster, or check out the tree canopy walk and watch other people zipline!

 

  1. Zip Gatlinburg

 

Looking for a place that will accommodate anyone from 5 to 85 years old? Head over to Zip Gatlinburg, where you will ride 9 lines through the treetop canopy. You will also find 14 elements in the self-guided TreeTrek, which is sure to be fun! Guides help you at every step along the way, from walking to the next line to braking when you're close to a sky bridge. They also offer ziplining in Gatlinburg TN off the dome at Pigeon Forge light #10 for a fantastic view of the Pigeon Forge Parkway. You definitely don't want to miss it!
If adventure is in you, you'll definitely want to go ziplining while you're in town! Not sure what else you want to do in Gatlinburg or the surrounding cities? Take a look at all the other things to do in the Smoky Mountains!

The Gatlinburg History Museum highlights a century of the arts and crafts community in Gatlinburg.  The exhibit features a collection of handcrafted items by generations of Gatlinburg families including furniture, fabric and other functional items.  Community organizations and businesses also made significant contributions that add to the story.

The Gatlinburg History Museum is located at traffic light #5 in Downtown Gatlinburg. Visitors can find the museum in an area to the right of the ticket counter at Ripley’s Aquarium. For hours of operation, please call (800) 588-1817 and ask about the museum exhibit.

458 Parkway, Carousel Gardens, Gatlinburg, TN 37738-3018