Smoky Mountain Magic: The Perfect 4-Day Family Itinerary Unveiling the Best of Nature, Thrills, and Southern Charm!

Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg offer a blend of family-friendly activities and local experiences. The Smoky Mountains has so much to offer, and spending a long 4-day weekend, you’ll only scratch the surface. There are countless things to do in Pigeon forge and Gatlinburg and to narrow things down, we’ve curated our top list for the fam! If this is your first trip, expect to get drawn into the Southern charm, the beauty of the mountains, and the unique attractions in the area. Here’s a boiled down, 4-day itinerary for the best things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg with your family:

Day 1: Welcome to Pigeon Forge

  • Morning: Arrive in Pigeon Forge and check into the cabin.
  • Afternoon: Head to The Island in Pigeon Forge for lunch and explore kid-friendly attractions like the Arcade and the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.
  • Afternoon (alternative): Enjoy Ober Gatlinburg for activities like the aerial tramway and ice skating (seasonal).
  • Evening: Dinner at The Old Mill Pottery House Café & Grille, known for its Southern cuisine.

Day 2: Outdoor Adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Morning: Breakfast at Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin for a hearty start to the day. Or make a hearty breakfast inside the cabin.
  • Late Morning: Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Opt for a family-friendly hike, such as Laurel Falls Trail (see best hikes) or take a scenic drive along Cades Cove Loop. Make sure to pickup a $5 parking pass for the day.
  • Afternoon: Picnic lunch in the park or pack a lunch from one of the local delis.
  • Late Afternoon: Visit the Alum Cave Trailhead or the Sugarlands Visitor Center for more family-friendly outdoor activities.
  • Evening: Dinner and a show at Pirates Voyage or Hatfields and McCoys Fued (booking in advance is recommended).

Day 3: Dollywood thrills, shows, and crafts

  • Morning: Breakfast at Frizzle Chicken Cafe and watch the animated chickens dance while you eat.
  • Late morning: Spend the day at Dollywood, enjoying family-friendly rides, rollercoasters, and shows. The park officially opens at 10am, but often can enter by 9 or 9:30am.
  • Afternoon: Lunch inside the park at one of the many fantastic eateries.
  • Late Afternoon: Be sure to catch one of the many music or theatre shows at Dollywood.
  • Evening: Watch the 3D drone show at night as a nice cap to the day.

Still looking for the perfect family cabin in the Smoky Mountains?

Look no further, and book your stay with us!

Mountain views from the deck
Mountain views from the deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Fire pit at dusk
Fire pit at dusk
7-seater hot tub
7-seater hot tub
Game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, and pool
Spacious Game room and movie space
Open living room
Open living room
Dedicated movie space + Popcorn machine!
Battle on the arcade games
Battle on the arcade games
Dining room + Kitchen island
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Second upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
2nd upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
2 twin bunk beds in the open game room
Jacuzzi off the 2nd king bedroom
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Driveway at dawn
Driveway at dawn
Access to the community pool
Access to the community pool

Day 4: Gatlinburg Exploration and Farewell (until next time!)

  • Morning: Breakfast at Log Cabin Pancake House for a cozy start.
  • Late morning: Explore Gatlinburg’s Space Needle and SkyLift Park for panoramic views.
  • Lunch: Delight in a meal at Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina with a vibrant rooftop seating area.
  • Afternoon in Pigeon Forge: Visit WonderWorks and get lost in the world of science, experiments and overall fun with the fam!
  • Afternoon in Gatlinburg (alternative): Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies for an underwater adventure you won’t forget!
  • Evening in Pigeon Forge: Don’t miss the Local Goat for some of the best hamburgers in town. Call ahead and expect it to be busy.
  • Evening in Gatlinburg (alternative): Farewell dinner at The Peddler Steakhouse, known for its rustic charm and delicious steaks.

This itinerary combines the best of kid-friendly activities and things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, with delicious dining options in the area. Adjustments can be made based on your family’s preferences and the season of your visit. Enjoy your trip!

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What would you add to this 4-day itinerary as a MUST-SEE? Comment below!

Ring in the New Year: Your Ultimate Guide to New Year’s Eve in Pigeon Forge!

Spending New Year’s Eve in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee can be an extraordinary experience. Each year, tens of thousands of people flock to both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to experience Winterfest, the Holiday lights, and the Dollywood Christmas Festival, and New Years. New Year’s Eve in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg is a blast with all the lights, music, people, and excitement of the countdown!

Things To Know

To make the most of your experience, be sure to arrive early and take the Pigeon Forge Trolley or rideshare if possible. You can park at Patriot park and hop on the trolley. Traffic and crowds can get really congested a few hours before midnight so be sure to plan ahead. Your 2 main options for counting down ’till midnight is the Space Needle in Gatlinburg or The Island in Pigeon Forge. It can be hectic by 12:30 or 1am when everyone is getting back to their cars and heading back to their cabins, so please exercise caution.

As far as temperatures, be prepared for an average of 50º for the high and 32º for the low. You may even get some snow. However, some New Year’s Eve in Pigeon Forge is 70º and nice. If you plan to go out, just be prepared and dress accordingly.

You may want to eat ahead of time or grab something to-go. Restaurants near the Space needle in Gatlinburg or around the Island in Pigeon Forge will likely have really long wait times.

Main Events

Gatlinburg Space Needle Ball Drop:
Attend the annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show at the Gatlinburg Space Needle. The iconic ball drop is accompanied by a fantastic fireworks display, and the atmosphere is lively with music and celebrations. Nearly 50,000 people gather around Gatlinburg to enjoy the ball drop, and has been an annual tradition since 1987. Live music kicks off between 9 and 10pm followed by the ball drop at midnight, accompanied with bursts of fireworks to ring in the New Year.

Gatlinburg Sky Park
Ride the chairlift up to the Sky Park for an incredible view of the Space Needle and fireworks show. You’ll want to book your VIP “NYE Lights of Wonder” tickets in advance for an exclusive fireworks viewing on top of the SkyPark’s mountain and SkyBridge. They’ll have a huge dance floor set up and a DJ to bring in the New Year in style.

The Island in Pigeon Forge:
Head to The Island in Pigeon Forge, a popular entertainment complex. They host an annual New Year’s Eve event, including a free concert and a midnight fireworks show. The Ferris wheel and other attractions can add to the festive spirit. See more info on Facebook for the 2023 event.


Still looking for the perfect family cabin in the Smoky Mountains?

Look no further, and book your stay with us!

Mountain views from the deck
Mountain views from the deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Fire pit at dusk
Fire pit at dusk
7-seater hot tub
7-seater hot tub
Game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, and pool
Spacious Game room and movie space
Open living room
Open living room
Dedicated movie space + Popcorn machine!
Battle on the arcade games
Battle on the arcade games
Dining room + Kitchen island
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Second upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
2nd upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
2 twin bunk beds in the open game room
Jacuzzi off the 2nd king bedroom
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Driveway at dawn
Driveway at dawn
Access to the community pool
Access to the community pool

Alternate Events

Alternatively, if you don’t want to stay up until midnight, you can also catch a dinner show or other entertainment around town as some venues may also offer live shows or entertainment during the evening.

  • Ober Mountain’s New Years Eve pre-party from 6-9pm packed with live music and family-friendly fun. Check ahead for reservations and event details.
  • Downtown Flavortown and celebrate NYE with Guy Fieri’s restaurant from 8pm to midnight. Eat, drink, and enjoy the arcade games. Book in advance ($150/person).
  • Hard Rock Cafe in Pigeon Forge will be hosting NYE celebrations with music and food, featuring Whiskey Business starting at 9:30p. Be sure to get your reservations in advance. See 2023 Facebook event for more details

You can also enjoy a night in, avoid the crowds and congestion and watch the ball drop streaming live in Times Square from the comfort of our Smoky Mountains Lodge cabin and big screen! Whatever your vibe, there are plenty of options for you to go out with a bang.

What is your favorite way to ring New Year’s Eve in Pigeon Forge? Comment below!

Unveil Mother Nature’s Masterpiece: The Top Secret Spots for Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, is a popular destination for experiencing the vibrant fall colors of the Appalachian Mountains. The best locations to see the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains include:

End of September

The leaves are starting to turn, but can be a little spotty. Get to elevations above 6,000 feet for best results

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway: While not within the national park itself, the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects the Smoky Mountains to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, is renowned for its fall foliage. You can access the Blue Ridge Parkway from the park and enjoy the vibrant colors along the way.
  2. Graveyard Fields – Near Asheville, NC this hiking trail is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway
  3. Rough Ridge – This is a 1.2 mile hike just off the Blue Ridge Parkway
Great Smoky Mountains

Beginning of October

Get to elevations above 5,000 feet for best results

  1. Clingmans Dome: This is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offers stunning panoramic views of the fall foliage. The observation tower at the summit provides a fantastic vantage point.
  2. Beach Mountain
  3. Mount Mitchell
  4. Grandfather Mountain

Early October

This is usually the prime time in higher elevations for the fall change of colors on the leaves, especially for elevations around 4,000-5,000 feet. You’ll see amazing colors around most of Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway
  2. Nearly all of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  3. Newfound Gap Road: This scenic drive through the park offers breathtaking views and many opportunities to see the changing colors. There are pull-offs and overlooks along the way where you can stop and enjoy the scenery.
  4. Linn Cove Viaduct: This is a concrete bridge and roadway that cuts through part of Grandfather Mountain, making for an incredibly scenic drive during this time.

Mid/Late October

You’ll start to see areas in 3,000-4000 feet elevation come in with fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains during this time.

  1. Skyline drive – This runs North and South along the Blue Ridge Mountains, near the Shenandoah National Park. You’ll find fall foliage in the higher elevations along this drive.
  2. Pisgah National Forest
  3. Boone, NC
  4. Banner Elk, NC
  5. Maggie Valley/Waynesville

Still looking for the perfect family cabin in the Smoky Mountains?

Look no further, and book your stay with us!

Mountain views from the deck
Mountain views from the deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Fire pit at dusk
Fire pit at dusk
7-seater hot tub
7-seater hot tub
Game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, and pool
Spacious Game room and movie space
Open living room
Open living room
Dedicated movie space + Popcorn machine!
Battle on the arcade games
Battle on the arcade games
Dining room + Kitchen island
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Second upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
2nd upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
2 twin bunk beds in the open game room
Jacuzzi off the 2nd king bedroom
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Driveway at dawn
Driveway at dawn
Access to the community pool
Access to the community pool

End of October

This is typically the prime time when the fall foliage really starts to explode around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas, around 2,000 – 3,000 feet elevation.

  1. Cades Cove – This valley is one of the most popular spots in the park, offering a mix of open fields and wooded areas. It’s a great place to see wildlife and fall colors together.
  2. Chimney Rock/Lake Lure – This is a State park on the North Carolina side.
  3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: This one-way loop road is known for its dense forest and beautiful fall colors. It’s a great place for a leisurely drive or a short hike to see the leaves up close.

As for the best dates to see the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains, they typically peak in mid-October at higher elevations and in late October at lower elevations. Keep in mind that fall foliage can be somewhat unpredictable and can vary from year to year due to factors like temperature and rainfall. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information, you can check with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website or local visitor centers for fall foliage reports and updates closer to your planned visit. Planning your trip for mid to late October will increase your chances of experiencing the vibrant autumn colors in the Smoky Mountains.

Book Now: This goes to our secure portal to review your info and confirm booking.

Send Inquiry: If you’re not quite ready to book, you can send an inquiry with any questions.

When have you visited to see the fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains? What viewing spots or scenic drives do you like most? Comment below!

Eat Like a Local in the Smoky Mountains

Everywhere you look on the Parkway, you’ll find restaurants trying to lure you in with their buffets, dinner shows, diners, etc. But these places aren’t where the locals go. Here’s your go-to guide to eat like a local in the Smoky Mountains. We’ve separated it out by town and included a brief description for each restaurant so that you can find the best place to eat.

Eat Like a Local in Pigeon Forge:

1. The Old Mill Restaurant ($$): Known for its traditional Southern cuisine and historic setting, featuring dishes like fried chicken and homemade desserts.

2. The Pottery House Café and Grille ($$): Located at Old Mill Square, this restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere and serves American cuisine, including sandwiches, soups, and salads.

3. Frizzle Chicken Cafe ($$): Start your morning off right with a fun-filled meal at Frizzle Chicken Café! Perfect spot to take the kids for breakfast or lunch. Their family-friendly restaurant in Pigeon Forge serves up delicious, Southern-style breakfast and lunch with a side of fun. There won’t be a minute of boredom during your meal as you watch their animatronic singing chickens!

4. The Local Goat ($$): This is probably the most popular restaurant in the area. It’s a gastropub offering a farm-to-table experience with a wide range of dishes, including burgers, salads, and locally sourced ingredients. They make everything from scratch, from the buns to the ketchup. Reservations are highly recommended as this place gets packed.

5. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que ($$): This barbecue joint is popular among locals and visitors alike. They serve up delicious smoked meats like pulled pork, ribs, and brisket, along with classic sides like mac and cheese and baked beans.

6. The Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store ($$): A Pigeon Forge institution, the Apple Barn is a favorite among locals. They serve hearty Southern fare, including apple fritters, fried chicken, and country-fried steak. Don’t forget to try their famous apple cider and apple butter!

7. Mama’s Farmhouse ($$): If you’re looking for a family-style dining experience, locals often recommend Mama’s Farmhouse. They offer an all-you-can-eat feast of Southern comfort food, including fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and cornbread.

8. The Local Goat Distillery ($$): For those interested in craft spirits, the Local Goat Distillery is a popular spot. They offer tastings of their locally distilled whiskey, moonshine, and other spirits, along with a small food menu featuring snacks and appetizers.

9. Blue Moose Burgers & Wings ($$): This family-friendly restaurant is known for its juicy burgers, flavorful wings, and a wide variety of sauces. They also have vegetarian options and a selection of craft beers.

10. Little Tokyo ($$): If you’re craving Japanese cuisine, Little Tokyo is a popular choice. They offer a range of sushi rolls, sashimi, teriyaki dishes, and other Japanese specialties in a cozy setting.

Eat Like a Local in Gatlinburg:

1. The Peddler Steakhouse ($$$): A long-standing local favorite specializing in hand-cut steaks, grilled to perfection, and served with delicious sides.

2. Cherokee Grill ($$): Known for its upscale mountain lodge ambiance, this restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring steaks, seafood, and regional favorites.

3. Best Italian Café & Pizzeria ($$): A family-owned Italian restaurant serving pizza, pasta, and classic Italian dishes in a relaxed atmosphere.

4. No Way Jose’s Mexican Cantina ($$): Are you looking for authentic Mexican food in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge? They combine the delicious and fresh flavors of Mexican dishes and mix it with a fun and family-friendly atmosphere. They have both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg restaurant locations.

5. Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar ($): Indulge yourself in a crazy, and we mean crazy milkshake stacked high with all sorts of delectible treats. Your kids will go wild at the sight of these and their sugar high will last for hours.

5. The Park Grill ($$): Another popular steakhouse in Gatlinburg, The Park Grill is known for its wood-fired steaks, fresh seafood, and extensive salad bar. It has a cozy mountain lodge atmosphere and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

6. The Donut Friar ($): For a delightful breakfast or snack, locals often visit The Donut Friar. Located in The Village Shops, this charming bakery offers freshly baked pastries, including their famous cinnamon bread and donuts. Pair it with a cup of coffee for a perfect start to the day.

7. Delauder’s Smoky Mountain BBQ ($): If you’re craving barbecue, locals recommend Delauder’s Smoky Mountain BBQ. They serve mouthwatering smoked meats like pulled pork, ribs, and chicken, along with delicious sides like baked beans and coleslaw. It’s a casual and authentic barbecue joint loved by locals.

8. The Greenbrier Restaurant ($$$): Tucked away in the Smoky Mountains, The Greenbrier Restaurant is known for its scenic views and excellent food. They offer a menu featuring Southern cuisine, including dishes like trout almondine, shrimp and grits, and prime rib.

9. The Alamo Steakhouse ($$): It’s been ranked the best steak of Pigeon Forge, so you won’t regret a visit to Alamo Steakhouse. With it’s aged steaks, burgers, soups, sides, and sauces, you can’t go wrong!

10. The Wild Plum Tea Room ($$): Located in Gatlinburg, this tea room is known for its charming atmosphere and delicious teas, sandwiches, and desserts.


Still looking for the perfect family cabin in the Smoky Mountains?

Look no further, and book your stay with us!

Mountain views from the deck
Mountain views from the deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Fire pit at dusk
Fire pit at dusk
7-seater hot tub
7-seater hot tub
Game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, and pool
Spacious Game room and movie space
Open living room
Open living room
Dedicated movie space + Popcorn machine!
Battle on the arcade games
Battle on the arcade games
Dining room + Kitchen island
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Second upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
2nd upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
2 twin bunk beds in the open game room
Jacuzzi off the 2nd king bedroom
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Driveway at dawn
Driveway at dawn
Access to the community pool
Access to the community pool

Eat Like a Local in Sevierville:

1. Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant ($$): The oldest restaurant in Sevierville, this is a local favorite featuring hearty southern food and orchard fruits. It’s owned by the same local company as LeConte Lodge.

2. The Chop House ($$): Known for its delicious steaks and seafood, The Chop House offers a warm and inviting atmosphere. They also have a great selection of wines to complement your meal.

3. Trotter’s Whole Hog BBQ ($$): New for 2023, this is a artisan BBQ restaurant located in the Historic District of downtown Sevierville. It’s owned by the same folks of The Appalachian and the BBQ served sets a high bar of excellence. They also have a pour-it-yourself beer wall.

4. Thai Basil ($$): If you’re in the mood for Thai cuisine, Thai Basil is a popular choice. They serve authentic Thai dishes made with fresh ingredients, including curries, stir-fries, and noodle dishes.

5. Tony Gore’s Smoky Mountain BBQ & Grill ($$): This barbecue joint is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. They serve mouthwatering ribs, pulled pork, and other barbecue classics, along with delicious sides.

6. Five Oaks Farm Kitchen ($$): This is a wonderful southern cooking at its finest. Enjoy their ring baked griddle cakes, hearty soups, or fried chicken. Set in a beautiful vaulted ceiling cabin-like interior, this is a favorite among locals and located on the North end of Sevierville.

7. Graze Burgers ($$): For burger enthusiasts, Graze Burgers is a must-visit. They offer gourmet burgers made with high-quality ingredients and unique flavor combinations. They also have vegetarian and gluten-free options.

8. The Appalachian ($$$$): Located in The Lodge at Five Oaks, The Appalachian is known for its farm-to-table concept. They serve dishes inspired by Appalachian cuisine, using locally sourced ingredients to create delicious and seasonal meals.

9. El Paso Mexican Restaurant ($$): If you’re in the mood for Mexican cuisine, El Paso is a popular choice. They offer a range of traditional Mexican dishes, including tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and margaritas.

10. Holston’s Kitchen ($$): This restaurant serves Southern comfort food with a modern twist. From fried green tomatoes to shrimp and grits, Holston’s Kitchen offers a diverse menu in a casual setting.

Eat Like a Local in Wears Valley

Wears Valley has a smaller selection of food options, and you’ll find it’s a lot less crowded than Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, and it’s only a 5-10min drive from Smoky Mountains Lodge.

1. Elvira’s Cafe ($$): This place offers a mix of American and Mexican cuisine. They are known for their breakfast and brunch options, including delicious omelets and Mexican-inspired dishes. Named as one of the “Top 100 Places to Eat Across America” in 2022, this is one place not to miss.

2. Wears Valley Social Food Truck Park ($): Open most of year, they offer a rotating list of local food trucks and a nice open eating area. They’ve had trucks such as the Chicken Coop, Coles Southern BBQ, Fat Bear, Gringos Tacos, and others come by. They also have a playground for the kids and feature live events throughout the year.

3. Sloppy Hog Burger Joint ($): Enjoy their smash burgers and make sure to order the onion rings, (but skip the pizza). It’s located right in the valley amongst the beautiful views.

4. Hillbilly’s Restaurant ($): This is a casual restaurant serving southern comfort food and burgers.

5. PawPaw’s Kajun Kitchen ($$): This restaurant specializes in Southern and Cajun cuisine. You can expect dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and po’boys.

Eat Like a Local in Townsend

1. The Abbey ($): Originally a church, this is now converted into a dining and beverage hall. It’s a great way to spend a sunny afternoon, eating lunch by the river and drinking your favorite brew, whether it be Craft Beer, Cider, Sweet Iced Tea or a Soft Drink. In the summer you can watch the rafters float by on the river. They also offer flatbreads and bites, as well as corn hole and Connect-4 for some fun family yard games.

2. Dancing Bear lodge ($$): Located at the Dancing Bear Lodge, this upscale restaurant offers a refined dining experience with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and Appalachian-inspired cuisine. The menu features dishes like trout, duck breast, and venison. Grab yourself a date and reserve a table for 2 for a romantic night out. This is one of “The South’s 38 Essential Restaurants” according to Eater.

3. The Peaceful Side Social Brewery & Craft Kitchen ($$): Experience culinary bliss at Peaceful Side Social and Craft Kitchen in Townsend, TN, where locally sourced ingredients are masterfully crafted into delectable dishes, offering a harmonious blend of flavors that reflects the essence of the Smoky Mountains in every bite, all within a warm and inviting atmosphere. Indulge in a gastronomic journey that celebrates community, quality, and the artistry of Southern cuisine.

4. The Trailhead Steak & Trout ($$): This rustic steakhouse specializes in high-quality steaks and other grilled meats. They also offer seafood options and vegetarian dishes. The Trailhead Steakhouse provides a relaxed atmosphere and friendly service.

5. Little River Bar-B-Q: If you’re craving barbecue, Little River Bar-B-Q is the place to go. This casual joint serves up delicious smoked meats, including ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. The sides, such as mac and cheese, coleslaw, and baked beans, are also worth trying.

6. The Apple Valley Mountain Village & Café ($$): Situated in a charming log cabin, The Apple Valley Café offers homestyle Southern cooking. They are particularly famous for their breakfast menu, which includes pancakes, omelets, and biscuits with gravy. They also serve lunch and dinner, featuring comfort food classics.

7. Riverstone Restaurant ($$): Overlooking the Little River, Riverstone Restaurant offers a picturesque setting to enjoy a meal. They serve a variety of dishes, including seafood, steaks, sandwiches, and pasta. The patio seating is especially delightful during warm weather.

Book Now: This goes to our secure portal to review your info and confirm booking.

Send Inquiry: If you’re not quite ready to book, you can send an inquiry with any questions.

Where have you been that’s not your usual tourist traps? We want to know about it! Comment below.

Best Things to do with Your Family in the Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountains offer a multitude of family-friendly activities and attractions. After a short drive through Pigeon Forge Parkway and Gatlinburg, you’ll be faced countless options of things to do with your family during your stay at Smoky Mountains Lodge. Here are the 10 best things to do with your family in the Smoky Mountains (and driving times from our cabin:

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (10min drive): Explore the most visited national park in the United States, known for its stunning natural beauty, hiking trails, wildlife, and scenic drives. Don’t miss Cades Cove, Clingman’s Dome, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

2. Dollywood (30min drive): Visit Dolly Parton’s popular theme park in Pigeon Forge, featuring thrilling rides, live entertainment, shows, and family-friendly attractions suitable for all ages. It’s the #1 ranked theme park by Tripadvisor.

3. Outdoor Gravity Park (29min drive): Roll down a hill inside a giant inflatable ball! This unique and memorable attraction is sure to garner some laughs and memories with the family. This is a great summer activity and bring your swimsuit because you’ll likely get wet.

4. Ober Gatlinburg (40min drive): Enjoy year-round family fun at Ober Gatlinburg. Ride the aerial tramway to the mountaintop, do some snow tubing, skiing or snowboarding in winter, try ice skating, ride the alpine slide, and experience other attractions and activities.

5. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (30min drive): Voted best aquarium of North America by USA Today, this is a must see indoor attraction. You’ll discover a fascinating underwater world with over 350 species at this acclaimed aquarium in Gatlinburg. Explore interactive exhibits, walk through their unbelievable Shark Lagoon underwater tunnel, and marvel at a wide variety of marine life. In addition of exploring the aquarium, some of their most popular add-on experiences are the Penguin Encounter and Turtle Time. We recommend booking these in advance as they can sell out! Kids under 2 are free.

6. Anakeesta (35min drive): Take a scenic chairlift ride to Anakeesta Mountain in Gatlinburg. Once there, enjoy treetop canopy walks, ziplining, a mountain coaster, gem mining, and picturesque views from the observation tower. Also check out their incredible Astra Lumina night walk!


Still looking for the perfect family cabin in the Smoky Mountains?

Look no further, and book your stay with us!

Mountain views from the deck
Mountain views from the deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Fire pit at dusk
Fire pit at dusk
7-seater hot tub
7-seater hot tub
Game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, and pool
Spacious Game room and movie space
Open living room
Open living room
Dedicated movie space + Popcorn machine!
Battle on the arcade games
Battle on the arcade games
Dining room + Kitchen island
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Second upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
2nd upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
2 twin bunk beds in the open game room
Jacuzzi off the 2nd king bedroom
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Driveway at dawn
Driveway at dawn
Access to the community pool
Access to the community pool

7. Foxfire Adventure Park (46min drive): Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the Smoky Mountains, Fox Fire Adventure Park offers an exhilarating escape for families seeking outdoor fun. This immersive park caters to adventurers of all ages, making it an ideal destination for families with kids. From thrilling zip lines, to challenging obstacle courses and swinging bridges, to rock climbing walls, there’s no shortage of excitement here. The park’s emphasis on safety ensures a worry-free experience for parents, allowing them to join in the excitement or relax and enjoy the scenic beauty. Located a bit out East past the Parkway, Fox Fire Adventure Park promises unforgettable memories and endless opportunities for family bonding amidst nature’s wonders.

8. Dinner Shows: There are several dinner shows in the area and most are expensive, but fantastic! It’s probably best for kids who are 8 and up (younger kids might not make it through). Some of the top recommended are Dolly Parton’s Stampede (high production value), Hatfield & McCoy (great food & comedy), Pirates Voyage (best for kids), the Comedy Barn, and the newest show in 2023, Array.

Pirates Dinner Show
Pirates Dinner Show
Hatfield and McCoys dinner
Hatfield and McCoys dinner

9. Goats on the Roof (17min drive) is a unique attraction where you could easily spend a half-day. They have goats running around their roof and have a great mountain coaster. As of May 2023, they’re in the process of installing some large-scale dinosaurs along the track, so watch out for the T-rex! Another great mountain coaster alternative for the family is Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Experience an exhilarating ride on the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, an individual coaster cart that zooms through the mountains, providing thrills for the whole family.

10. WonderWorks (26 min drive): Explore this interactive indoor amusement park in Pigeon Forge, featuring over 100 hands-on exhibits and activities that blend education and entertainment.

11. Smoky Mountain Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo (41min drive): Visit this petting zoo in Sevierville, where you can interact with a variety of animals, including deer, kangaroos, camels, zebras, and more.

12. Knife Forging: Go forge a one-of-a-kind knife at Circle Bar T Forge (29min drive), Iron Mountain Metal Craft (26min drive), or Viking Blade Forge (47min drive): This is an awesome and unique experience for your family to be a blacksmith and forge your own knife. Not only will you learn about the process of forging and making a knife, but you’ll actually be able to MAKE it and bring it home with you.

13. Soaky Mountain Water Park (38min drive): The summer months can be hot, so why not take the family to a huge water park!? This has several massive water slides, pools, and rides for all ages. Located in Sevierville.

14. Wilderness at the Smokies (36min drive): Right across the street from Soaky Mountain Water Park is this hotel and water park. You don’t have to have to stay at the resort to enjoy their water park. They offer a limited amount of day passes available between $40-$80/day per person, depending on the time of year. Be sure to check out their new and expanded for 2024 Kaleidoscope Kavern Lazy River.

15. Wild Bear Falls Water Park (33min drive): This is an exhilarating and safe aquatic adventure, and you don’t need to stay at Westgate Resorts to visit their water park. With thrilling water slides, a lazy river, and splash zones, it offers endless entertainment for all ages regardless of the weather outside. Parents can relax in the hot tubs while kids enjoy the interactive play areas, creating unforgettable memories in a vibrant and family-friendly environment. Plus, its convenient location near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park makes it a perfect addition to any family vacation itinerary. Day fees: Adults $35, Kids $18, and kids under 3 are free

16. Activate Gatlinburg (37min drive): Activate Gatlinburg offers an exciting adventure experience for both kids and adults, featuring a variety of interactive games and challenges. From thrilling obstacle courses, light games, light-up basketball, lazer tag, blacklight rock climbing, to virtual reality experiences, the attractions cater to groups of kids ages 10+ up to adults. With its immersive activities and state-of-the-art facilities, Activate Gatlinburg promises a memorable and engaging entertainment destination.

17. The Brown Buffalo Farm (45min drive): This hidden gem is worthy of a visit…plus it’s free! When you need a break from the crowds, hop in the car and drive the 15 scenic minutes through the Arts & Crafts Loop to have some time watching several of these magnificent, wild animals. Click here for directions.

18. Parrot Mountain (36min drive): Enjoy a wildlife sanctuary of many varieties of parrots and the surrounding gardens. A visit here would get you up close and personal with these beautiful birds and the lush gardens that the live in. Note that they typically close down during the slow months of January and February.

19. Skyland Ranch (27min drive): SkyLand Ranch combines all your favorite things about the Smoky Mountains into one exciting Sevierville attraction. Gorgeous views, exciting rides, shops and eateries, live entertainment, miniature animals, and more are waiting for you at SkyLand Ranch.

20. Jayell Ranch (30min): This is a premier outdoor adventure destination nestled in the scenic Smoky Mountains. Known for its thrilling ziplining experiences, visitors can soar through the treetops while enjoying breathtaking views. The ranch also offers horseback riding adventures, ATV tours for those seeking an adrenaline rush, and a family-friendly petting zoo where guests can interact with farm animals. With gem mining activities, pony rides for children, and the backdrop of the stunning Smokies, Jayell Ranch provides a diverse range of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

21. Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing & Rafting (14min drive): Embark on a thrilling family rafting adventure along the Pigeon River. Choose from calm float trips or more exciting whitewater rafting experiences suitable for different age groups.

22. Visit Mountain Mile (24min drive): As one of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee’s most unique shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations, there is something for everyone. They have a few thrill rides for the older kids and thrill seekers, but also have fun lawn games like checkers and corn hole. It is also a fantastic place to shop, get dinner, or relax on the lawn.

23. Lorelei’s Candles (42min drive): This handmade candle shop is a great hidden gem in Gatlinburg. They have tons of unique candles and you can also create your own hand-dipped candles. Let your imagination go wild!

24. Forbidden Caverns (48min drive): Take a guided tour of these mysterious underground caves near Sevierville. Learn about stalagmites, stalactites, and the intriguing history of the caverns.

Remember to check the operating hours, availability, and any specific requirements for each activity before visiting. The Smoky Mountains offer a wide range of attractions that cater to various interests and age groups, ensuring a memorable family vacation. Have fun and make memories with the family!

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What are your must-see things to do with your family in the area? We’d love to hear and add to our list! Comment below.

Best Nature Hikes in the Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a wide range of beautiful nature hikes with stunning scenery and diverse wildlife.

Parking pass for the Park

There is no entrance fee for the Smoky Mountains National Park, however, as of March 2023, you will need to purchase a parking pass if you plan to park anywhere inside the park. You can get a daily ($5), weekly ($15), or annual ($40) parking pass. They can either be purchased online and printed or purchased in-person:

Best Nature Hikes in Smoky Mountains

Here are some of the best nature hikes you can explore in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Abrams Falls Trail (medium): This 5-mile round trip hike takes you to Abrams Falls, a picturesque 20-foot waterfall. The trail offers scenic views of the forest and crosses over Abrams Creek. It’s conveniently located right off the Cades Cove scenic loop.

2. Cataract Falls (easy): Hiking Cataract Falls in the Smoky Mountains offers a scenic adventure through lush forests and alongside cascading waterfalls. The trailhead starts just behind the Sugarlands Visitors Center, a couple miles inside the park from Gatlinburg. The trail spans approximately 2.6 miles round trip with a moderate elevation gain of 400 feet, making it accessible for hikers of various skill levels. Along the way, hikers are treated to stunning views of the falls as they tumble gracefully over rocky ledges, providing a refreshing and rejuvenating experience amidst the tranquil beauty of the mountains.

3. Clingmans Dome (easy): This isn’t much of a hike, in fact you just drive up the road and walk up 0.5 miles up the paved, but steep walkway to the observation deck. At 6,643 feet, this is the highest point in Tennessee, and on clear days you can expect to see 100 miles in any.

Clingmans dome by Kirk Thornton

4. Cave Trail (medium): This 4.4-mile round trip hike is one of the most popular in the park. It takes you through an arch rock formation, past Alum Cave Bluffs, and offers stunning vistas along the way.

5. Rainbow Falls Trail (medium): This 5.4-mile round trip hike leads to Rainbow Falls, a majestic 80-foot waterfall. The trail has about 2,000 feet of elevation gain and is known for its colorful wildflowers and the possibility of seeing a rainbow in the mist of the falls.

6. Mount LeConte via the Alum Cave Trail (hard): This challenging 10-mile round trip and 3,000 ft elevation gain hike takes you to the summit of Mount LeConte, the third-highest peak in the park. This is one of the most popular trails in the park, so start early. Check out LeConte Lodge cabins while you’re there. Along the way, you’ll encounter unique geological features and enjoy sweeping views from the mountaintop.

7. Spruce Flats Falls (easy): This 1.6-mile out and back is one of the most underrated falls hikes in the Smokys. The journey to Spruce Flats Falls takes you through lush, dense forests filled with towering trees and diverse flora. The well-maintained trail follows the course of the Middle Prong of the Little River, creating a serene atmosphere as the sound of flowing water accompanies you throughout the hike. Along the way, hikers may encounter vibrant wildflowers, moss-covered rocks, and the occasional wildlife, adding to the natural charm of the surroundings.

Upon reaching Spruce Flats Falls, visitors are greeted by the sight and sound of a mesmerizing 30-foot waterfall cascading over layered rocks into a tranquil pool below. The falls are surrounded by a scenic amphitheater of moss-covered boulders, creating an ideal spot for a restful break or a peaceful picnic.

8. Laurel Falls Trail (easy): This 2.6-mile round trip and 500 ft elevation gain of paved trail leads to Laurel Falls, a beautiful 80-foot waterfall. It’s a relatively easy hike and is suitable for all skill levels.


Still looking for the perfect family cabin in the Smoky Mountains?

Look no further, and book your stay with us!

Mountain views from the deck
Mountain views from the deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Fire pit at dusk
Fire pit at dusk
7-seater hot tub
7-seater hot tub
Game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, and pool
Spacious Game room and movie space
Open living room
Open living room
Dedicated movie space + Popcorn machine!
Battle on the arcade games
Battle on the arcade games
Dining room + Kitchen island
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Second upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
2nd upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
2 twin bunk beds in the open game room
Jacuzzi off the 2nd king bedroom
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Driveway at dawn
Driveway at dawn
Access to the community pool
Access to the community pool

9. Cades Cove Nature Trail (very easy): This 0.8-mile loop trail offers a leisurely stroll through the historic Cades Cove valley. It provides opportunities for wildlife spotting and features beautiful meadows and mountain views.

10. Little River Trail (easy): This 4.9 mile (up to 7.6 miles) hike is popular amongst families and kids. This trail offers a leisurely stroll along an old logging road, providing a tranquil escape into nature suitable for hikers of all abilities. Beginning at the trailhead near Elkmont Campground, the path winds alongside the picturesque Little River, revealing remnants of the area’s logging history, such as railroad rails and steel cables from the early 1900s. While there isn’t a specific endpoint like a waterfall or viewpoint, hikers have the flexibility to tailor the hike’s length according to their preferences. Springtime brings vibrant wildflowers, while autumn showcases the fiery foliage, making it an ideal destination year-round. Furthermore, the trail’s connection to the Elkmont area offers a unique opportunity to witness the mesmerizing display of synchronous fireflies during early summer nights.

11. Grotto Falls Trail (easy): This 2.6-mile round trip hike and 550 ft elevation gain takes you to Grotto Falls, the only waterfall in the park that you can walk behind. This trail is extremely popular so START EARLY, otherwise parking might be difficult. The trail is known for its lush vegetation and is particularly beautiful in the spring.

12. Ramsey Cascades Trail (hard): This strenuous (2,200 ft elevation gain) 8-mile round-trip hike leads to Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the park, with a 100-foot drop. This is one of the most popular and best nature hikes in the Smoky Mountains. The trail passes through old-growth forests and offers a challenging but rewarding experience.

13. Mingo Falls (medium): This stunning waterfall located in on the North Carolina side near Cherokee, North Carolina. The hike is 0.4 miles in and is well-maintained, offering a relatively easy trek for those who wish to enjoy the beauty of the waterfall and its picturesque surroundings. The waterfall itself stands at approximately 120 feet (37 meters) tall, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in the southern Appalachians. The falls are surrounded by lush greenery and are accessible via a relatively short hike, providing visitors with a rewarding natural spectacle.

14. Andrews Bald (medium): This 3.6-mile round trip hike takes you to a grassy bald atop the Great Smoky Mountains. It offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and is especially popular during the peak wildflower season.

15. Charlies Bunion (hard): This 8-mile round trip hike follows the Appalachian Trail to a rocky outcrop known as Charlies Bunion. From there, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

16. Deep Creek (hard): This trail is known for its scenic beauty and diverse features. It’s a popular trail in the park, showcasing waterfalls, lush forests, and the soothing sounds of Deep Creek. The hike is moderate in difficulty and covers about 5.4 miles one-way to reach the popular Juney Whank Falls. Hikers can enjoy the serenity of the forest, cross footbridges, and experience the cascading waterfalls along the way, such as Tom Branch and Indian Creek waterfalls.

Remember to check with the park authorities or visitor center for trail conditions and any specific guidelines or restrictions before embarking on your hike. Enjoy exploring the beauty of the Smoky Mountains!

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What are the best nature hikes according to you in Smoky Mountains? Which of the above hikes would you do again and again? Add your comments below!