Great Smoky Mountains National Park is consistently the most visited national park in the country. In 2021, it was visited more than 14 million times, an increase from 12.5 million in 2019, its previous record-breaking year.
If you’re looking for a break from the cascading waterfalls and hiking trails of the Smokies, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville know exactly how to keep your family entertained. Start your planning here with a list of the best places to visit, stay and eat/drink during your East Tennessee getaway.
Information provided by Tennessee Vacation.
2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Heart-pounding thrills on rides and water slides can be experienced at Dollywood, Tennessee’s No. 1 ticketed attraction. With extended summer hours, you and your family can explore all there is to see and do at Dollywood. The award-winning dining, entertainment and 40+ rides are what will keep you coming back again and again. Voted a Top 10 Outdoor Waterpark by USA Today Readers, Dollywood’s Splash Country is the perfect place to cool off. Tucked into the mountainside with beautiful mountain views, there are slides and splashes for every age.
Titanic Museum and Attraction
2134 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Photo: Vacations Made Easy
Step aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction to learn more about the world’s most famous luxury liner. You’ll receive a boarding pass of an actual Titanic passenger or crew member. Experience what it was like to walk the hallways, parlors, cabins and Grand Staircase of the Titanic while surrounded by more than 400 artifacts directly from the ship and its passengers.
Guests can also reach their hands into 28-degree water and try to stand on the sloping decks. By the end you’ll discover your passenger or crew member’s fate in the Titanic Memorial Room where 2,208 names line this historic wall. You won’t regret this experience fit for the entire family.
576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
You can’t visit the Smokies without stopping at Anakeesta. This award-winning theme park is situated on a 70-acre mountain 600’ above the city of Gatlinburg. They recently finished their largest expansion ever, so there is plenty to keep you busy during your visit. See the Smoky Mountains from new heights by climbing the AnaVista Tower where you can see as far as Kentucky. The Treeventure Challenge Course is now open with fanciful treehouses connected by a net challenge course, swings and slide. It’s a great challenge for children and adults. Enjoy the many shops offering sweet treats, memorable gifts and trendy fashion pieces. Lastly, breathe in fresh air along the 800-foot-long Treetop Skywalk, the longest tree-based bridge in North America.
Eagles Ridge Resort
2740 Florence Dr, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Photo: Eagles Ridge Resort
There’s nothing more magical than staying in a cabin tucked away in the mountains of Tennessee. Book a cabin surrounded by nature, spacious enough for the whole family, at Eagles Ridge Resort. Their many cabin options have 1-9 bedrooms with the largest property sleeping up to 30 individuals. Many have a game room, shuffleboard, wrap around porches, complimentary WiFi and a pool table. Some cabins have their own theater rooms and swimming pool access.
Wilderness at the Smokies Hotel & Waterpark Resort
1424 Old Knoxville Hwy, Sevierville, TN 37876
Photo: Wilderness at the Smokies
Book a stay at Wilderness at the Smokies to wow your kids with a hotel that includes Wild WaterDome, Tennessee’s largest year-round waterpark. Your family will be entertained for hours with the indoor tube slides, surf rider, 10-foot wave pool and a multi-level water play feature. Along with the indoor waterpark fun, you will find two outdoor waterparks right outside your guest room door! And remember to check out the Adventure Forest, a family-friendly adventure center with laser tag, a three-story ropes course, miniature golf and more. Your family will have plenty of space to relax after days filled with fun.
EAT & DRINK
Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant & Farmhouse Grill
240 Apple Valley Rd, Sevierville, TN 37862
Let the smell of apple fritters guide you to the Apple Barn & Cider Mill’s Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant or the Applewood Farmhouse Grill. The Farmhouse Restaurant proudly holds the rank of Sevierville’s oldest restaurant and serves down-home southern favorites to more than a million guests per year. Enjoy every morsel of southern fried chicken, old-fashioned chicken and dumplings, sugar-cured ham or slow-roasted pot roast. Kids can order corn dogs, grilled cheese or chicken legs. After your meal, explore the general store, candy factor, creamery, winery and cider bar. Are you drooling yet?
Old Mill Restaurant
164 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
The Old Mill has been a staple in the community since the 1800s when local farmers with sacks of grain traveled to the newly built gristmill along the Little Pigeon River. Today, the restaurant is a gathering place for families and friends over wholesome ingredients and meals like fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, ribs, pecan pie and other Southern classics. Dine in the restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
For more information on East Tennessee road trips, click here.