For the longest time, Pigeon Forge consisted of a few small attractions and shops surrounded by farmland framed by the Smoky Mountains. In 1986, Dolly Parton located her popular theme park Dollywood in this small town southeast of Knoxville and everything changed. Shops and outlet malls now cluster three deep along the congested main road and popular-themed museums and sdinner theatres compete for attention.
Over 2 million visitors come to Dollywood each year, making it the number one tourist attraction in Tennessee. With more than 40 live music performances each day, over 30 amusement park rides and special events such as crafts fairs, the theme park's popularity has not waned over the years. The newest attraction at the park is Thunderhead wooden roller coaster.
Open from early April through late December, the park features a train on a five mile track, the Dolly Parton museum presenting the country singer's life and Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, a shelter for eagles that can't be released into the wild. Next door to the park is Dollywood Splash Country, a 35-acre water park. Dixie Stampede, also owned by Dollywood, offers a dinner show of trick riding and roping for visitors seated in a five tier dirt arena.
Uniquely-themed museums are popular at Pigeon Forge and include Carbo's Smoky Mountain Police Museum, the Elvis Museum and the Smoky Mountain Car Museum. The Veteran's Memorial Museum presents a huge collection of military items.
For night life, Pigeon Forge has a range of dinner theatres owned by entertainers and country music singers like Louise Mandrell. Or try the Comedy Barn which offers "clean but corny" entertainment for the entire family.
In addition to outlet shopping for everything from power tools to gourmet candy, other Pigeon Forge stores range from antique malls to handmade instrument shops. Dining ranges from fast food to country-style fare at the Old Mill Restaurant open every day.
Pigeon Forge is located on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on Hwy. 321/441, about 45 minutes southeast of Knoxville.