Where Do We Stay?

Where do we stay? When planning our family vacations, this question always pops up after we decide where we are going and how we are getting there. Luckily, Pigeon Forge has many great options to choose from and we have never been disappointed in our choices!!

Lodging options in Pigeon Forge:

  1. Hotels and Motels- This is a great option if you want to be close to all of the action on the Parkway. Most offer a free breakfast and of course, there is maid service. After all, who really wants to clean up after themselves when they are on vacation? The kids can enjoy the indoor and outdoor pools that many hotels/motels have on-site, or take a trip down the lazy river. For those looking to relax, check out the hotels that have spas on-property. With so many hotels and motels located along the Little Pigeon River, beautiful scenery and a river view is as close as a step onto your balcony. Whether you are looking for budget-friendly, or a family-sized suite like at Dollywood’s new DreamMore Resort, you are sure to find something in your comfort zone and price range!
  2. Condos- This is a great option if you want all the luxuries of home while you are away. They offer many different floor plans which are great for larger families. Condos have fully equipped kitchens which make meal times a little cheaper. Some even have in room Jacuzzi’s for some relaxing time at the end of the day and gas fireplaces for those chilly nights. They offer activities like community pools, game rooms, and exercise facilities. Some condos even have a spa on site!!
  3. Camping and RV Parks- This is a great option for those true outdoorsy families. You can experience the mountains while sitting by a campfire, enjoying the stars, and breathing in the fresh mountain air. Campsites in Pigeon Forge can house anything from a small tent to a 35 foot RV with hook-ups. Reserve a site on the river for the best seat in the house! The kids will stay entertained going from playground to pool all right there in the campground/RV park. If you’re not up for the task of towing your camper with you, check out camping cabins in town. This option offers adventures galore and one of the biggest perks is cheaper cost!
  4. Cabins and Chalets- This option is a great way to experience the true “mountain” feel. Most of them are tucked away in the quieter parts of town and offer a spectacular view of the area scenery. Cabins/chalets are spacious, and like condos, you also get fully equipped kitchens for less meal time stress. Also, many of them are split levels. This makes it a great option if you are traveling with multiple families and wish to stay together. For us, an added perk is the kids can get outdoors and explore.

Which option will your family choose on your next visit to the Land of More?

Dollywood Hosts 6th Annual Water Safety Day!

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 10, 2015) – With summer vacations underway, families throughout East Tennessee are spending much more time in the water. Dollywood’s Splash Country, which celebrates its 15th anniversary season in 2015, hosts Water Safety Day on Thursday, June 18 from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Event partners LeConte Medical Center, The Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation, WATE-TV and Star 102.1 join Dollywood’s Splash Country to present this exciting event where guests cannot only learn about water and sun safety from multiple informational and interactive vendor booths, but they also can help set a new world record during the sixth annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson (WLSL) beginning at 10 a.m.

This worldwide swim lesson happens at water parks around the world at 10 a.m. local time. Dollywood’s Splash Country invites swimmers of any age or ability level to take part in the lesson to become part of the Guinness World Record™ attempt. In 2014, water parks from around the world again broke the record for the largest simultaneous swim lesson, standing at 36,564 participants from 22 different countries.

“Last year’s Water Safety Day proved to be a very effective way for LeConte Medical Center and the Dr. Thomas Foundation to provide important health education to the families in our community,” said LeConte Medical Center President/CAO Jenny Hanson.  “We are continuing to partner with Dollywood’s Splash County in an effort to keep the children of Sevier County healthy and safe this summer and beyond.”

Dollywood’s Splash Country will open its gates at 9:30 a.m. to allow Water Safety Day participants to begin visiting the information booths. Each participant will receive a Splash Pass upon check-in, allowing them to receive a prize at each booth throughout the water park. Once the participants have completed their Splash Pass it can be turned in for the chance to win two season passes to Dollywood’s Splash Country.

“Dollywood’s Splash Country is so proud to be a host location for the WLSL again this year during Water Safety Day,” said Dollywood’s Splash Country General Manager Mike Brown. “Safety, in and out of the water, is our number one concern, and our goal with this event is to educate children and parents alike on how to have a safe but also fun summer!”

Water Safety Day and all of its partners join forces worldwide with participating aquatic facilities and water parks to take part in the sixth annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson at 10 a.m. in 2014 Team WLSL again broke the record for the largest simultaneous swim lesson, standing at 36,564 participants from 22 different countries. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death of children ages one to 14. Research shows that if a child doesn’t learn to swim before the third grade, he or she likely never will. Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages one to four. The WLSL partners with Dollywood’s Splash Country and other water parks and aquatic facilities around the world to bring this issue to light and to spread the message that swimming lessons save lives.

Water Safety Day and WLSL registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, June 18 at Dollywood’s Splash Country, front gate opens to guests at 9:30 a.m. Guests should arrive early to register before the WLSL begins at 10 a.m. Dollywood’s Splash Country admission is required to participate in Water Safety Day and may be purchased on-site or online at Dollywood.com.

Summer Travels to Pigeon Forge

Packing and getting prepared for summer vacations is usually mom’s job around here and I don’t mind one bit!! I love loading up our suitcases, planning fun activities, and seeing the excitement and joy on the faces of my family as we embark on those activities. Planning for a trip to Pigeon Forge is not hard. Here are some helpful tips to get you ready for your visit to the Land of More!

What to pack:

  • Comfortable clothes and shoes for the remainder of your trip so you can enjoy your visits to places like The Island, The Track, and Dollywood.

How to prepare ahead:

  • Plan to ride the Fun Time Trolley to and from your destinations. It is very inexpensive and it will save you time and money……..more time at your attraction and no parking fees!
  • Don’t be in a hurry…..you are on vacation!!

Get ready for the summer fun that awaits you in Pigeon Forge!!

National Trails Day & Appalachian Trail Work Day

It’s time to hit the trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Saturday, June 6th marks National Trails Day, and it is a great opportunity for the public to show their support by participating in Appalachian Trail Work Day. This event is a result of the national park teaming up with the Friends of the Smokies, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Regional Office, and the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. Participants will get hands-on experience of the work that is performed by the A.T. Maintainers Committee of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in order to maintain the trails. They will also learn about trail maintenance volunteer opportunities.

This is the 22nd year that the American Hiking Society has held this event. Locally, participants have come together for 19 years to keep the Smokies portion of the Appalachian Trail well maintained and safe for hikers. Some of the work performed includes cleaning and replacing water bars, rehabilitating steps and turnpikes, and improving trail tread. These projects are hard work and require participants that are physically fit, but the impact made on this day is remarkable!

All of the registration fees for this event support a cause close to home and hearts in this area – trail projects in the Smokies. And workers are not sent home hungry! After a hard day’s work at Appalachian Trail Work Day, registrants receive a picnic lunch at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and a commemorative t-shirt.

For more information on how to get involved and what is required of participants, visit the Friends of the Smokies website at:  http://friendsofthesmokies.org/event/national-trails-day/ or contact Phyllis Henry at 865-577-2604.

We understand that the Appalachian Trail may be a little far to travel to show your love for the mountains, but we still want to hear from you! With around 900 different hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, we want to know which one is your favorite. Tell us about your favorite hiking trail on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MyPigeonForgeTN.

Happy Trails!

Synchronous Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

It’s that time of year, when nature brings us an amazing light show from the synchronous fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The viewing of these rare synchronized fireflies (Photinus carolinus) is something that every nature lover needs to experience at least once. These wonderful insects leave spectators in awe when they come together and flash in a synchronous manner during their mating display. One little firefly will start to flash, and before you know it, the woods in front of you light up with thousands of them flashing. Then it all comes to a halt leaving the woods dark until another firefly flashes and starts the process all over.

Tickets to view the fireflies from Tuesday, June 2 through Tuesday, June 9 went live on Thursday, April 30 and sold out within minutes! These tickets reserve a spot for visitors to park at the Sugarlands Visitor Center where they can then purchase a pass to ride the shuttle to Elkmont to view the fireflies.

But don’t worry if you weren’t one of the lucky few to quickly snatch up your tickets. An additional 85 tickets will be on sale each day before at 10:00 A.M. thru 3:30 P.M. from June 2 through June 9.  Although the fireflies only live 21 days as adults, their mating period lasts for approximately two weeks and can be seen at other locations throughout the National Park if you’re unable to get a pass altogether.

For more information about the synchronized fireflies, additional passes to view them and viewing etiquette, visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm.

New Things To Do This Summer in Pigeon Forge

As always, the fun is growing in Pigeon Forge. This summer will be no exception. The city is continuously stepping up to the plate to keep family fun and entertainment up-to-date and alive. With every visit, we always have new things to check out along with making some of our old, familiar stops.

These are a few of the things on our list to check out this summer:

New places to stay:

Dollywood has opened the Dollywood  DreamMore Resort and Margaritaville Island Hotel is now open on The Island. Both of these are first class hotels that are sure to make a stay in Pigeon Forge enjoyable and relaxing.

New places to eat:

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is now open!! This is so exciting and Paula Deen herself has been making some appearances there as well.  A new breakfast stop for us will be Sawyer’s Farmhouse Breakfast. Breakfast really is our favorite meal of the day, so we can’t wait to check this place out!

Harpoon Harry’s Crab House is located along the Little Pigeon River and has a great outdoor patio. Looks like a great way to end the day!

New attractions to visit:

The Island Ropes course at The Island recently opened. It is 4 stories tall and looks like a great way to play while hanging out at the Island. There is a new Forensic Science exhibit at Wonderworks. This is one of our girls’ favorite stops and we are looking forward to checking this exhibit out. Summer and water just go together so riding down the hill in an OGO (outdoor gravity orb) filled with water at the Outdoor Gravity Park sounds like a good activity for a hot summer day!

New shows to see:

Dixie Stampede has a new state of the art show for 2015. The Magic Beyond Belief show at the Smoky Mountain Opry and Imagination on Sand at the Sable Theater are also new this year. Our family is ready to sit back and enjoy these shows!

Great summer events:

The Patriot Festival on 4th of July is a great time. There is lots of food, activities, and musical entertainment for the whole family. Don’t want to miss the Great American Summer at Dollywood either. Extended hours and 6 new shows should make for a great summer day of fun!

So much to see and do…….time to get packing for that Pigeon Forge vacation!!

Pigeon Forge Honeymoon Ideas

The summer wedding season is upon is. It is the perfect time of year for weddings as nature is coming out of hibernation and the grass, trees, and flowers are bursting with beauty. The wedding day is a very special time but enjoying each other and making memories together during the honeymoon is also special. Pigeon Forge is the perfect stop for making those special memories.

First off, you can soak up the true mountain feel of relaxation by staying in one of the many area cabins. It is the perfect way to enjoy each other’s company and do a little relaxing after all the stress from wedding planning. Whether you are enjoying the mountain views from the rockers on the front porch or chilling in the hot tub, you are sure to make some special memories. If you would rather have a mix of the mountains and the islands, a stay in one of the first class rooms at Pigeon Forge’s newest hotel, the Margaritaville Island Hotel, would be a great choice. It is located deep in the heart of the Island. You can hang out on your own private balcony or walk down and sit by the Island fountains. The chill atmosphere is a great beginning to your new life together.

During the day, head over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Make memories while hiking up to the waterfalls, strolling down the nature trails, or exploring Cade’s Cove. You will never forget those first days together as husband and wife. Dollywood is another great option. From the thrill rides to the first class shows and craftsman in the park, you are sure to share some fun times together.

At night, you can catch a show and some laughs at the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show or sit back and be entertained at Dolly Parton’s famous Dixie Stampede.  Afterwards, take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel and enjoy the breathtaking views of the area.

Don’t forget to do a little shopping and take back some special souvenirs so that you will always have a little piece of your honeymoon with you. Pigeon River Pottery is a perfect stop. Their hand made pottery is a unique and special way to cherish those memories. Or, you may want some beautiful cowboy couture and Stages West has you covered for that. With over 10,000 pairs of boots in stock and the latest and most up-to-date fashion, you want have to look far for something special.

Wedded bliss, honeymoon, Pigeon Forge…it is the perfect combination!!

What’s Fun for Those Challenging Teens?

Let’s be honest, teenagers are a challenge. They can bring lots of joy to our lives but also lots of headaches.  Sometimes, they go with the flow and agree with the family and other times, not so much.  So, planning a vacation that makes everyone happy is not always easy. Pigeon Forge has those teenagers in mind and will make sure they have fun too!!

Some tried and true stops for those teens:

  1. Dollywood- This place makes for a happy family all around. We have 2 adventurous divas, one of them being a teenager. They are all about the thrill rides. From the Barnstormer to the Wild Eagle to the Thunderhead and the FireChaser Express, they love them all! However, there are also some great rides for those that are less daring and don’t like the flips and crazy heights (like this momma), the Blazing Fury and the Scrambler or even the Mountain Slidewinder will get the job done. Our teen gives us a “Parents of the Day” award after a visit to Dollywood!!
  2. Splash Country- Summer, water, vacation, does it get any better? Here, they can have some fun running around and splashing the rest of the family as well as riding the Mountain Waves in the wave pool and plunge down the Fire Tower Falls. A day in the sun and water should boost their happiness level right up to the top!!
  3. Hollywood Wax Museum- Teens love selfies!! This is the perfect stop for them to get their selfies on with the stars. Wax models of current as well as past stars and even a gigantic King Kong are the perfect backdrops for them to share photos with their friends and let them know just how much fun they are having!!
  4. The Track- This a great place for a little gaming, a little go-kart fun, and a few thrill rides. They can test their luck in the arcade with some great video games, race the family around the go-kart tracks, or go for the thrill of bungee jumping or skyflying all in one stop. This is a thumbs up kinda place!!
  5. The Forge Cinemas- Sometimes we all need a little down time and a movie on the big screen is the perfect choice. This state of the art cinema has stadium seating and 5 theaters. Grab a snack, kick back, and enjoy the show with your teen!!

Thankfully those quirky teen years don’t last very long, but while they do…vacations in Pigeon Forge can still be fun for the whole family!!

2015 National Travel and Tourism Week

National Travel and Tourism Week kicked off on May 2nd and runs through May 10, 2015. This nationwide celebration was established in 1983, and gives markets across the country the chance to promote this industry and their contribution to it. This year’s theme is “Travel is______.” This theme encourages the travel and tourism community to reflect on all of the different ways that this industry contributes to “the fabric of America” by filling in the blank.

The Smoky Mountain Tourism and Development Council kicked off National Travel and Tourism Week at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Headquarters on Monday, May 4th. This was the 31st anniversary that celebrated the partnership between the park and surrounding counties, as well as the park employees.

The Park’s 2014 “Employee of the Year” was named at this celebration. Dana Soehn, Management Assistant at GSMNP, was the well-deserved recipient of this award. Dana began working at the park in 1989 as an intern, and has held many positions since then that have contributed greatly to the park’s success. To add to the celebration, the Simpson family from Ohio was chosen as the “tourist family of the day.” They were recognized at the celebration, and awarded a basket filled with local favorites.

All week long, expect to see representatives from all over Tennessee in the state’s Visitor’s Centers promoting their area. Each city and town has their own appeal that draws in an array of travelers and tourists to this great state. Look for what is unique about each and help fill in the blank of what travel truly means to America!

Extreme Adventures in Pigeon Forge

As we begin to plan our summer vacations, it is always fun to sit down as a family and make a list of what activities everyone would like to do. It is like a game for us…..each one of us thinks hard and comes up with our top 2 choices. Sometimes, one or two of our choices are the same, but we usually come up with several different activities for our trip. As the little divas have gotten older, they have also gotten more adventurous. The nice thing is Pigeon Forge still has us covered in that department too!!

There are some great options for extreme adventures. Indoor skydiving has been at the top of both girls’ list since they have been old enough to do it. Flyaway Indoor Skydiving is located midway down the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Not a time goes by that we pass it and the girls don’t beg to stop! They usually win and in we go for them to practice their flying. As a mom, I am always very nervous for them but dad joins in on the fun. I love that the Flyaway instructors are all about safety. The first stop in the process is a safety class. Here, you learn about the hand signals the instructor will use and the proper ways to fall. Next, they gear you up in your flight suit, helmet, and goggles. Then, it is off to the wind tunnel with your instructor. I usually anticipate at least one of the little divas backing out before they get to the wind tunnel, but it hasn’t happened yet!! They have always done extremely well. They quickly learned to relax and have soared to the top of the wind tunnel with the instructors. On a couple of occasions, the instructor has even let go and they get to fly by themselves for a few seconds. Flyaway Indoor Skydiving gets an A+ from our family in all aspects!!

Some other extreme adventures that we have tried on our visits have been Wonders of Flight, the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, and the Xtreme Racing Center. Wonders of Flight is a hot air balloon ride that is located at WonderWorks. The whole family partook in this adventure. Our 400 ft. soar into the air offered a magnificent view of the city and the surrounding mountains. Riding down the side of a mountain on the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster was also a lot of fun. The girls loved it, especially since they had complete control over their speed. It is an adventure that you can’t just do one time! The Xtreme Racing Center was the most fun for dad. We all like to drive go karts, but he is the one who took it to the xtreme speeds!!

There are still a few other extreme adventures that we want to try such as, whitewater rafting, rolling down the hill in a sphere of water at the Outdoor Gravity Park, and horseback riding in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Let the summer vacations and adventures begin!!!