Pigeon Forge: Bright Lights, Small City

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is the Las Vegas of the South—minus the showgirls and gambling. 


Pigeon Forge: Bright Lights, Small City

Drive down Parkway, the town’s “strip,” and you’ll see bright lights on each block daring you to dive into memorable experiences. There are multiple dinner-and-show options, daily musical revues and restaurants (yes, there are more than pancake houses here) at every turn. Naturally, there is a Ferris wheel in the middle of it all. 

And if you’re in the Smoky Mountains over a popular weekend, there will be some traffic to slow your commute down to appreciate the spectacle that is Pigeon Forge.

It is a town built to host out-of-towners, of which 10 million arrive annually. Yet the town still has authentic Southern hospitality, exuding charm that maintains its popularity among groups. Youth sports, religious events, associations and corporate groups come here to find a mix of built-in natural beauty and built-up entertainment. 

Celebrity chef Paula Deen and Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. are two stars whose businesses have placed stakes here. Homegrown Dolly Parton remains the biggest name in town.

LeConte Center—save for Ripken’s baseball facility—hosts many of the big events. While the venues are ideal for events, it’s likely going to be Pigeon Forge’s attractions that will bring attendees in, often with their families.

Along for the Ride

Tennessee is fortunate enough to be home of the King (Elvis Presley). In the Smokys, Parton is undoubtedly the queen. Though originally from nearby Sevierville, where a statue stands in her honor, Parton built her amusement park in Pigeon Forge. 

Roller coasters mix with a country fair atmosphere for an all-day attraction. A Halloween Lights Festival, a natural pair with the region’s popular fall foliage, kicks off the holiday season. 

Planners can build a pre- or post-event excursion to the park, use it for an off-site evening reception or consider Dollywood for an incentive program.

Show Time

When in Rome … take in a show! Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show and Adventure Park and Dolly Parton’s Stampede are among the most popular. There’s also Bible-inspired and pirate-theme dinners-and-show combos. The Smoky Mountain Opry is a genuine crowd-pleaser with multiple performances per day. Groups can rent out the spaces or buy tickets en masse for a night on the town.

Mill Time 

The Old Mill is among the best, true Southern dining experiences below the Mason-Dixon line. In truth, it’s more than a restaurant. The establishment is the center of its own district that includes retail, a creamery and related restaurants. A trolley that gets visitors around town emanates from the Mill, too.

You won’t be alone here, but the shopping and people-watching will pass the time when waiting (and you’ll likely encounter a wait) at the Old Mill.

Snow Business

There’s no better way to bring a team together than sledding in the snow. The Smoky Mountains gets its fair share of the powdery stuff, but Pigeon Forge Snow provides a year-round experience. The only indoor facility of its kind, Pigeon Forge Snow is just as enjoyable for kids as it is for adults looking to unwind. 

History Lessons

Gain a new perspective by entering WonderWorks, which looks like an upside-down mansion from the outside, but inside, offers more than 100 exhibits ideal for youth groups in town for a retreat or sporting event. The children’s museum also hosts cocktail receptions, meetings and private events for corporate groups. Up to 275 fit into the private event space and a building buyout allows for 1,000 attendees.

Next door is the Titanic Pigeon Forge, a museum displaying artifacts from the “Ship of Dreams.” Again, the exterior is something to behold—the building is a dead-ringer for the sunken ship. The museum has some fun with its origins, promising first-class entertainment for 350 attendees for a private event. Faith-based groups will find special sections dedicated to religious heroes and lessons related to the Titanic.