How to Plan a Trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
The summer months are quickly approaching and for many families a vacation is not on the priority list based on economic struggles faced by many Americans. There is hope. With as little as a few hundred dollars, you and your family could plan a weekend get away to Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountain National Park. For the least expensive trip you could plan on camping in the park, but for many that would incur additional expenses such as buying a tent and sleeping bags. So if you are not prepared for a camping trip, plan ahead and stay in one of the many hotels in the local area.
Step One: How To Pick The Right Weekend
Picking the right weekend to go is essential to making the trip worth wild. If you are not into car shows or motorcycle rallies, then you need to take great care picking the weekend. The following is a list of events coming up in the rest of May through August. You can find a more comprehensive list in the Pigeon Forge visitors guide.
32nd Annual F-100 Supernationals and All Ford Show
Relay for Life
Celebrity Concert Series
AdventureCon, Pop Culture & Collectible Expo
Pontiacs in Pigeon Forge–Classic Car Show
19th Annual Smoky Mountains Storytelling Festival
All Chevy Supernationals
Music City Gospel Showcase
Great Smoky F-100 Run
Music On the Square
20th Annual Patriot Festival
SEAA Girls Slow Pitch World Series
SEAA Girls Fast Pitch World Series
KIDABRAS! The Association of Family & Kidshow Performers
StringTime in teh Smokies, Presented by The Old Mill
Smoky Mountain Bull Dog Club
14th Annual World Premiere Gospel Concert
Step Two: How to Pick the Right Hotel
After you’ve researched your time to go (pick a few dates to ensure hotel availability) it is time to find a place to stay. Rates and quality vary with each hotel. Some rates are as low as $30 a night and offer adequate lodging other rates are over $150 a night, but provide more such as a kitchenette, family suites, scenic views, heated swimming pools and more. Depending on your budget and your preferences, you can find the right accommodations. Don’t forget to ask about discount rates such as AAA, AARP, Military/Government, etc. Many of the hotels offer these discounts, but only when requested. Picking a room without a view is usually cheaper than one overlooking the mountains or the Pigeon Forge River. Search online to find the right place and then call the hotel direct to find out what types of rates can be offered. A very helpful sites is MyPigeonForge. From here you can find where to stay, what to do, and where to eat along with coupons and other ways to save.
Step 3: How to Know What To Do
Once you have a place to stay, you will need determine what you want to do while there. Shopping is a large attraction for Pigeon Forge with two outlet malls (Belz Outlets and Tanger Outlets), one on each end of town. There are also plenty of tourist shops selling souvenirs, swim suits, Fiesta, Christmas decorations, boots–you name it and there most likely is a store selling it! If shopping is not what you are there for, then I recommend catching at least one show and a few activities. Many of the shows are dinner theater events so buying tickets in advance is a must. The shows often sell out early on, so you may want to purchase tickets prior to your arrival. A few of the non-dinner shows we enjoyed include Magic Beyond Belief and the Cirque de Chine. Make sure to eat before attending the Cirque de Chine as the refreshment area is quite small and does not serve anything more substantial than popcorn and ice cream novelty items. You can purchase tickets at a discount by visiting the web sites of the shows or ordering a discount book before you arrive. Combination packages and free kids tickets help to make the trip more affordable for family outings.
Other activities you may enjoy include mining for gold and gemstones at the Three Bears Gem Mine, taking a guided tour of the Forbidden Caverns, or playing the “world’s largest live video game”, Pirate mini golf, a great mirror maze, Dixie Stampede, and a lazer challenge at MagiQuest. Make sure to pick up the discount coupon books (located nearly everywhere from gas stations to restaurants and in the hotel lobbies) before going to any events or shops. Free gifts, money saving coupons, and even 15% off the total bill at many restaurants are available in the coupon books.
If your family is on a tight budget or you simply don’t enjoy all of the touristy events, there is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Just driving into the park helps the weary traveler to relax. The quiet seclusion of the mountains, the flow of the water, and the natural sounds envelop you as you twist and turn on the winding road leading into the park.
The area offers many relaxing quite walks, secluded picnic groves, hiking trails–both day and back country trails, and scenic overlooks. Pack a lunch or snack and venture into the park. Stop by the Welcome Station to pick up a trail map and then the adventure can begin. Make sure to pack a jacket and some water for your hike. The weather can change quickly and rain is quite common throughout the year.
Step 4 : How to Know Where To Eat
Knowing the best places to eat can also help to please your crowd. Although I have not experienced a bad meal in town, the chances are still there! We approached many of the locals to find out what is recommend (where do they eat) and often it is not the “flashy” places you expect.
A few of the restaurants we recommend include The Old Mill Restaurant, Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que, and the Alamo Steakhouse (look for discount coupons). Each of these places offer enough to share, so to reduce cost, plan on splitting a main dish with your partner. The kids meals are quite large as well, so if you have little ones that don’t eat much, plan on splitting a meal between your two youngsters. The Old Mill serves the sides family style and you can get more as needed. So, if children really like mashed potatoes, this is the place to dine. Bennett’s offers a great salad bar and the coleslaw is out of this world. The ribs were suggested and lived up to their reputation. I would also recommend the pulled pork sandwich or the loaded nachos. Alamo Steakhouse is the place for steaks in Pigeon Forge, although THE Steak offered a little more fat than I like. I would recommend the t-bone.
As far as breakfast goes, many of the hotels offer free continental breakfast helping you save a little on the food cost for your trip. This offers a good start to the day and many offer selections to include biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and bacon along with the typical continental breakfast fare. If you need a more substantial breakfast, you can always try one of the local restaurants specializing in flapjacks, pancakes, and waffles, or the normal fast food chains such as McDonald’s or Arby’s are available. There are also chain restaurants such as IHOP where you can get a good breakfast. Make sure to ask your hotel staff if they have any discounts available for nearby restaurants or check the free coupon books.
Step 5: How to Enjoy Your Trip
Go! Once you set the date, make your reservations, and purchase any show tickets on line, you’re ready to go! Enjoy your trip, drive safely, and watch for bears!
- Otel.com is a leading online travel distributor specializing in discounted hotel bookings for both business and leisure travelers.
- Hotels.com offers more than 85,000 properties worldwide in over 400 destinations - from hotels and B&B's to condos and all inclusive resorts.
- Hotwire is a leading discount travel site that delivers hotel, rental car and airfare deals that can't be found on other travel sites.
- Expedia is a leading online travel agency that offers airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages, and travel activities.
- Priceline offers travel discounts on hotels, airline tickets, car rentals, vacation packages, and more with regular promotional discounts.