For anyone who’s ever even gotten a glimpse of Sevier County - Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Wears Valley and the communities beyond - you know that finding and listing just FIVE things you simply must visit is a daunting challenge of limitation. The point is to give both brand new visitors five things that “sum up” the Smoky Mountain experience or to give visitors who probably haven’t been here in a few years some possibilities as to what’s new and/or improved since last they were our guest. Both are next to impossible for different reasons - the former because the Smoky Mountain areas of tourism are so big, varied and constantly changing that trying to give a small rundown that covers all the bases simply won’t cover it! And the latter is difficult because the areas of tourism here are so big, varied and constantly… oh wow, I guess it’s the same reason after all!
The point here is that the Smoky Mountains in their truest sense are simply too incredible, offer way too many awesome quality attractions, excitements and deeply fulfilling experiences for just five spots on a Must-Do list, so let’s interpret a different question out of it. IF you could only do five things in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, et all, either due to a compacted schedule or some other limitation, what would be the best things we could recommend for your upcoming trip?
That we would be more than happy to answer for you. Take a look:
Yep, you knew this would be the top of the list, same as it’s always the top of every other list of attractions in the Tennessee Smokies (unless that list includes the Smokies themselves). But it’s far from a cliche or favoritism that Dollywood is always #1; because the simple truth is that they really are the best. Dollywood is an amusement park that is constantly, yearly and daily, works to maintain its position as the best theme park in the state of Tennessee - maybe even the Southern region itself! Every year Dollywood reinvents itself with a new ride or two, a new event in its schedule, new acts, new stores, new decorations and small changes all around that only keep the experience fresh, not diminish the core of what makes it so good.
Today, there is so much to do at Dollywood that even if you were the only person in line to the rides, shows, and eateries, you’d still need more than a single day, more than TWO days maybe, to experience all there is to do there. Dollywood is one of the rare theme parks where it’s harder to go on a day when there isn’t a festival going on that when there is - that’s how hard the park works to deliver a Must-Visit experience for you!
Something of a cheat because The Island is more of an area of town than a single attraction entity - and yet, you definitely should not leave the Smokies until you give this Pigeon Forge city square hotspot an afternoon of your time! If any of you remember the old Belle Island project that began last decade, The Island is what that project came to be and it was well worth the wait. This one area of town boasts an extremely wide selection of Must-Visit material that you can’t find easily elsewhere in Sevier County.
You know that huge multicolored Ferris wheel you’ve seen along the skyline? That’s The Island - specifically it’s the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel that’s in the Island and it is not alone. Look at what else you could be enjoying while you’re there:
Twist ‘N’ Shout Ride
Flying Horse Carousel
ThunderDome Trampoline Park
Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
A multitude of restaurants, including Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen and Bag Lady.
Music performances as scheduled.
A fountain that is hooked up to lights and performs shows synchronized to music throughout the days.
Convenience to LeConte Conference Center and more areas of Pigeon Forge.
Whether you’re more into the quiet side of the Smokies or not, no trip to the area is complete without one of the cornerstones of the community that helped make it famous in the first place. What was not yet known as Gatlinburg was exactly the sort of “hillbilly” community that folks tend to think of when they think of the Appalachia of yesteryear - pioneers and the descendants of pioneers who built their own houses, shacks, farms, shops, and tools and then taught themselves the skills needed to keep their community going to modern day. Their bloodlines are still going strong today and those skills are handed down to them!
The Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg starts at Glades Road on Highway 321 and WOW does it cover some serious mileage. This isn’t a shopping complex, this is a series of shopping complexes ranging from modern to rustic and so filled with old-school Smoky Mountain atmosphere and essence you start thinking about wanting to move there yourself. The list of stores is huge and they offer all kinds of arts and crafts ranging from paintings, pottery, jewelry and clothing to authentic handmade brooms, Native American items, custom-made leather, homemade jams and jellies and more than you could see in a single day.
On the subject of shopping complexes, we have quite a lot of them here in the Tennessee Smokies, but the biggest and most modern shopping complex we have is the Tanger Outlet Mall in Sevierville. You’ll know it when you see it - it’s practically a shopping village in and of itself.
What does Tanger Outlet Mall have? More stores than we could fully list, several restaurants, it’s own tram system, NASCAR Speedpark, and a mini-golf course, just to start with. A sample of the shops they have include:
And last on our list is a newer addition to Pigeon Forge, but one virtually no one can resist. Yes, it’s a trampoline and children’s/adult’s indoor exercise and obstacle fun station like those videos you’ve seen on Youtube. As their website states: “TopJump is not just your traditional trampoline park. While we do have the standard trampoline park activities like open jump, dodgeball, and a ninja course, we also have other attractions you have never experienced before like Clip ’n Climb, a climbing adventure. At TopJump, there is a 5,000 square foot arcade, and if you need a burst of energy, we have Sugar Rush Candy Store and a concession stand.
When we designed TopJump, we didn’t forget the parents. We have a comfortable area for viewers to relax. We have free WiFi, televisions, and comfy chairs throughout the facility. Parents can keep an eye on their children from both our viewing area and lobby because of our open layout.”
And it’s probably the most explosive fun you can have running and jumping in the Smokies under one roof! You’re never too old to enjoy some good old-fashioned trampoline fun expanded with new-fangled trampoline ideas and designs, so get more information on TopJump Trampoline