There is no shortage of things to do in phenomenal Pigeon Forge, Tennessee! We realize that planning your dream vacation means keeping an eye on your budget, however. Still, it’s entirely possible to plan a busy, memorable trip without breaking the bank.
The trick to cost-effective planning is balancing your big-ticket events with a few free local attractions. You’ll keep costs low and spirits high as you explore some of the best entertainment the region has to offer.
Below, we’ll share five of our best-kept secrets for totally free, budget-friendly family fun in Pigeon Forge. Continue reading to pack your itinerary with these can’t-miss activities that visitors love.
1. Tour the Historic Old Mill
One of our favorite things to do in Pigeon Forge for free is a visit to the Historic Old Mill. The fully operational mill has been in operation since 1830. It’s a family-friendly location with plenty to see and explore. You can pop in on demonstrations throughout the day in the pottery studio or old-fashioned candy store.
You are welcome to stroll the mill’s award-winning grounds, take photos, and experience the old-fashioned ambiance. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to experience live, outdoor musical performances. Guests who are 21 or older can even cool down with a free beer tasting at the Old Mill Distillery.
There are shops and restaurants on-site for those willing to spend a little money during their visit. If not, the friendly staff don’t mind if you spend the day browsing and window shopping! It’s entirely possible to spend the day without spending a dime!
2. Spend a Day in Smoky Mountain National Park
The beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park does not charge an entry fee. Be aware that you may need to pay for parking or other transportation. With that said, a daily parking pass is only $5, no matter how many guests are in the vehicle. Once you leave the car, the park and hiking trails are your playground!
Some of the most popular events and activities at the park include:
- Touring historic buildings
- Horseback riding
- Wildlife spotting
- Wildflower picking
- Waterfall exploration
You might also be able to experience ranger-led events, classes, and workshops. Many of these programs are tons of fun for visiting families.
We recommend visiting in the Autumn in time to catch peak foliage in the park. It’s a beautiful and unforgettable experience!
3. The Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts Trail
One of the most unique free things to do near Pigeon Forge is drive the Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts trail. This scenic drive takes you through the Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg. It’s the largest independent organization of artisans in the United States!
The 8-mile loop takes you past the studios, homes, and workshops of over 100 local artists. Many of the professionals put on demonstrations. They’re happy to chat with visitors and discuss the history of their work or the community.
Consider planning your trip around a hands-on workshop experience and craft your own souvenir to bring home. There are also popular craft shows around Thanksgiving and Christmas Time. While it’s fun to shop at the market, you can browse and chat without opening your wallet.
4. Take a Trolley Tour
If you’re visiting Pigeon Forge, why not take a free ride on the trolley? The trolleys operate 365 days a year, and there are never fares or fees. It’s a fun way to tour downtown Gatlinburg. You’ll get a lay of the land before setting off on your next adventure!
Hop off or on the trolley as you please, no ticket necessary. Kids love the novelty of taking a unique trolley ride, and adults appreciate the cost-effective ease of exploring the city. Feel free to jump off at the pub, enjoy a pint, and continue to people-watch!
5. Visit the Bush Beans Visitor Center
If you crave quirky free stuff to do in Pigeon Forge, why not browse the beans? The Bush Baked Beans Visitor Center is in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee, easily accessible from Pigeon Forge.
The original general store has been a staple since 1987. It includes a full museum, theater, and turn-of-the-century general store. If you’re lucky, you might even meet the famous Duke. Rumor has it that he stops by the Visitor Center on occasion!
Many families also enjoy grabbing lunch at the Family Cafe, which is the only expense to consider before your visit. Once there, you will receive a complimentary sample of “the bean of the day.”
Claim Your Free Attraction Tickets from Bear Camp
When you stay in a Bear Camp cabin, you’ll get $400 worth of attraction tickets for each day you stay! You’ll gain 100% free access to some of the most popular things to do in Pigeon Forge, including:
- Hatfield & Mcoy Dinner Feud
- The Comedy Barn Theater
- Crave Golf Club
- TopJump Trampoline & Extreme Area
- The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
You won’t have to worry about “wasting” a rainy day or blowing your budget on a single attraction! Plus, when you stay with us, we’ll cover dinner and dessert. Our free ticket package includes a complimentary meal at Mama’s Farmhouse and ice cream from Mad Dog’s Creamery.
Don’t let your budget prevent you from enjoying all that our region has to offer. Instead, join the Bear Camp Family. Our staff of locals will recommend more fun, fulfilling, and free things to do around Pigeon Forge.
Book your dream Pigeon Forge cabin today!