Home to Dollywood, dinner theaters, and the best shopping in the Smokies, Pigeon Forge is a vacationer’s dream come true. This charming town combines the most exciting activities with picture-perfect scenery. Still, like any destination, it holds a few quirks worth considering.
Most of these are not a big deal if you stay in the right location and take advantage of local amenities. If you’re caught unaware, however, you could be in for a nasty surprise.
As you plan your dream vacation to Pigeon Forge, be sure to avoid these key mistakes:
Getting Stuck in Traffic
Pigeon Forge boasts plenty of small-town charm, but it doesn’t feel particularly folksy or peaceful when you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic. Peak tourist season makes the Pigeon Forge Strip feel less like Main Street USA and more like a stressful work commute — or worse if you have grumpy kids in the backseat.
If you’re willing to risk it and travel by car, make a point of heading out early when you’ll enjoy not only less traffic but also, great sunrise views. Better yet: ditch the car and get around with help from the town’s beloved trolley system. Rides are affordable and convenient, with the trolley stopping at or near many of the region’s top attractions. Dollywood, in particular, is more fun when you take the trolley.
Expecting that a Smoky Mountains Expedition Will Help You Escape Traffic
If you think that you’ll get away from the hustle and bustle of Pigeon Forge by heading to the mountains, think again. While the vast park offers many hidden gems where you can enjoy some alone time, you’ll need to choose strategically to ensure that you avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic accompanying the most scenic drives.
As mentioned previously, an early morning departure can do wonders, as can visiting during the week or outside of peak tourist season. Otherwise, opt for lesser-known drives or hikes in forgotten corners of the park. If nothing else, avoid midday Cades Cove visits during fall colors — this is the surest way to get stuck in traffic.
Attempting to Hit Every Dollywood Coaster in a Single Day
Dollywood is chock full of roller coasters, but there’s so much more to the theme park. If you stick exclusively to rides and neglect the shows, food, or crafts, you’ll spend hours in line while missing out on all that makes Dollywood special.
If you set aside just one day for Dollywood adventures, do yourself a favor and choose just a few rides to hit up before spending the rest of the day taking in the park’s more unique features. If you can’t stand the thought of missing out on rides, plan to spend multiple days at the park so you can enjoy it all at a relaxed pace.
Hiking Without Quality Footwear
Even ‘easy’ hikes in and around Pigeon Forge can be physically taxing. It should go without saying that supportive footwear is essential, and yet, many people try to tackle local trails in flip-flops. Whether you hit up major trails in the national park or spend the day wandering around Dollywood, opt for a pair of sturdy, well-fitting shoes or boots that will make it easy to stay on your feet for hours at a time.
Trying to Stick to Your Diet
There’s no better way to feel deprived than to follow a strict diet while visiting Pigeon Forge. This will significantly limit your dining options in vacation town that specializes in delightfully greasy, artery-clogging dishes. The good news? With so much hiking and other intense recreational activities available, you can burn off most of the extra calories you consume.
Visiting Restaurants Without Reservations During Holiday Weekends
During tourist season, any visit without a reservation can prompt a significant wait. This problem becomes far more bothersome during holiday festivities, however. If you arrive at a local hot spot without a reservation, you could be forced to wait the better part of an hour before you have the opportunity to sit down. Thankfully, most restaurants make it easy to reserve tables online.
Failing to Stock Up on Snacks or Booze
While it’s easy to eat and drink your fill at Pigeon Forge’s finest restaurants, grabbing affordable snacks or drinks to enjoy in your cabin or hotel room can be trickier. Between the traffic and the long waits in line, ‘quick’ visits to the grocery or liquor store could end up taking ages. Do yourself a favor and stock up on your way over — or stick exclusively to restaurant fare and complimentary breakfasts.
Forgetting Bug Spray for Low-Altitude Expeditions
Insects are a common source of concern among avid hikers, but they’re typically easy to avoid for high-elevation hikes. If, however, you stick closer to Pigeon Forge and find yourself meandering near bodies of water, watch out: you could be in for some nasty bites. When in doubt, douse yourself in bug spray before heading out to the woods. If you’re planning a brief hike, you’ll quickly find that it’s better to add the modest weight of insect repellent than be trapped in a buggy area with no option for relief.
Worrying About Cell Service
If you’re dependent on your cell phone, it’s time to take a break. The poor reception in Pigeon Forge may feel frustrating, but it actually offers a great opportunity to unplug and unwind. That being said, phone issues can make it difficult to keep in touch if you and others from your group choose to split up for the day.
Take advantage of the phone at your hotel if one is provided. Otherwise, you can find free WiFi at a variety of locations and stay in touch with help from Facebook Messenger, Gchat, or other internet-based solutions. Be sure to invest in an old-fashioned map, as you might not have a lot of luck with smartphone navigation.
Don’t let the concerns highlighted above keep you from planning your dream vacation to Pigeon Forge. A little research can make a world of difference, so start preparing for the trip of a lifetime.