|Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
|Tennessee: Pigeon Forge, Family Vacations with Dinosaurs, Go Carts, and Shopping for Bargains.
Need a break? Looking for fun with no hassles? Pigeon Forge has a spunky charm, a friendly mountain spirit and plenty of ways to enjoy time away with the kids. Imagine sunshine and fresh mountain air; think sweatshirts and sneakers; have fun and make memories. The order of the day is easy-paced and fun with no long lines, and oodles of bargains to be discovered. From trout fishing and miniature golf to wildflower walks and entertainment geared to families, the choices are plentiful.
Walk amongst dinosaurs. Unlike other dinosaur museums, the Dinosaur Walk Museum in Pigeon Forge allows families to walkthrough one of the world’s largest collections of life-size dinosaur sculptures, from a two-story high Tyrannosaurus Rex to a 12-inch tall Microraptor. Giant sea lizards, flying reptiles, bones, skulls and ancient skeletons complete this one of a kind collection. Carefully designed and created by "paleoartists" there is a sense of Jurassic Park within the complex. This is not a thrill-based attraction with loud surprises and eerie sound effects to traumatize the unsuspecting. There are sound effects and the wall murals of forests, volcanoes and canyons. It's truly an easy paced entertaining place that is ideal for young children going through the dinosaur stage of learning. At the end of the “walk” is a movie theatre showing high definition education films which will bring dinosaurs to life on the screen. Children of all ages will enjoy the dinosaur fossil dig and dinosaur movies. Bonus points: Directly in back of the actual museum is an antique store with awesome yet affordable fossils, rocks and petrified wood.
Take a wild ride. Beginning in March Smoky Mountain Speed Park Intermediate track offers kids of all ages plenty of curves and dips and action as well as a trampoline ride, gyro ride and rides for tiny tykes. Race with the wind at Pigeon Forge's only sprint car track, Speed Zone Speed Track or go wild at Wild Wheels Speedway with CAN-AM racing, figure-eight course bumper boats, bungee jumping, arcade games and a kiddie park. For go-cart thrills, Smoky Mountain Slick Track has swerves and curves that make for thrills on a go-cart "slick" track.
Shop ‘til you drop. A paradise for bargain hunters, the area has more than 200 stores as well as Belz Factory Outlet World, Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall, Tangier Factory Outlet Center, Z-Buda Outlet Mall, River Vista Factory Stores, and River View Factory Outlets with bargain prices well below retail. Find designer clothes, athletic wear, luggage, home furnishings, crystal, china, tools, toys, books, music, shoes, leather goods and more. Bell Tower Square (the South's largest year-round Christmas village) offers thousands of unique items including exceptional toys, collectible dolls and distinctive Christmas items. Visit the Old Mill Village for a piece of Appalachian history. Find shops with hand-thrown pottery, original oil paintings, woodcarvings and one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Bonus points: For book lovers, the Book Warehouse on the parkway hosts a massive collection of books, of every genre, at smokin’ prices on two separate levels.
Hoot n’ holler in another dimension.
The energetic dinner show, Hoot n’ Holler makes its home in an upside-down building on the main drag of Pigeon Forge. Just taking pictures in front of the building is worth the stop but staying for the show is not a bad idea. Hoot n’ Holler serves up large portions of tasty Italian food with variety-style show sure to summon laughs from the most stoic of family members. The evening is interactive and entertaining with plenty of songs, jokes and a little magic just for fun. Bonus points:
Within the crazy building is WonderWorks - an amusement park for the mind – a place to be shared by multiple generations; definitely not–to-be-missed if you are vacationing with kids. More than 150 interactive exhibits including gravity machines, photo shadows, optical illusions and memory tasks fill the 55,000 square feet of mind-bending, reality-altering fun. No one will be bored. It is a place to lose track of time.
Laugh and be happy. From music and dancing to laughter and magic, the city's theaters present all styles of entertainment. The best part is that they are dedicated to presenting wholesome family programs. Audiences are treated to amazing costumes, heart pounding music, thrilling horsemanship, racing ostriches, mind-reading pigs, fire-eaters, jugglers and perhaps the best Elvis impersonator outside of Graceland. Tickle your funny bone at Elwood Smooch’s Ole Smoky Hoedown where the art of laughing has been has mastered. Audiences enjoy one liners, banjos playing, and gospel singing. Elwood welcomes families and provides an Internet discount on tickets.
Enjoy wildflowers. While flowers are a natural benefit from spring until autumn, the wildflower season begins in April. The annual Pilgrimage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park launches the season with variety of ranger led walks and talks, new indoor and outdoor programs and springtime activities.
See the world. Each spring Dollywood opens its season with the Festival of Nations and provides visitors with an array of international entertainment. The five-week celebration includes music, dance, food and art from around the world. The festival offers attendees a window on the world with costumes, music, food and art to be enjoyed by all ages.
Go for the fish. Spring is a great time for fishing in the Smokies. Fish for largemouth, smallmouth bass, crappie and bluegill; learn new skills to use for trout. From stream fishing along East Tennessee's 3,000 miles of pristine, scenic waterways to trying out one of the area’s 11 lakes, it’s all about fish and fun. Rocky Top Outfitters offers a variety of ways for anglers of all ages to enjoy fishing together. For veteran anglers they offer the ultimate experience. For those in the novice category, they have the patience and skills to teach. They’ll even clean the fish.
Pan for gems. The Pigeon Forge Gem Mine allows families to live a prospector’s dream by panning for real uncut gemstones – rubies, emeralds, garnets and more. Using old-fashioned panning techniques visitors sift through buckets of sand and stone, unearthing precious stones. Once the sand sifting is complete the gemstones are examined by a gemologist to determine worth. Any of the findings may be made into one-of-a-kind jewelry a keepsake from Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains. Need to know: The buckets are arranged by type of gemstones so it is possible to select by stone preference.
Make it happen. Pigeon Forge has even more discounts for activities and dining available online. To make vacation planning easy. Pigeon Forge family vacation packages at www.mypigeonforge.com
Planning Details and Things to Do with Kids
Rocky Top Outfitters. 2721 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, 37863. (865)429-3474 (FISH) or www.rockytopoutfitter.com
Belz Factory Outlet World. Parkway 2655 Teaster Lane, Pigeon Forge, 37863. (865) 453-3503.
Smoky Mountain Speed Park. Parkway. (865) 429-INDY.
Speed Zone Speed Track. Parkway. (865) 908-7255.
Wild Wheels Speedway. Parkway. (865) 453-7942.
Smoky Mountain Slick Track. (865) 428-4955.
Dollywood Theme Park. Parkway. 1020 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, 37863. Toll-free 1-800-Dollywood, (865) 428-9488 or www.dollywood.com
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 107 Park Headquarters Road Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Visitor Information Recorded Message (865) 436-1200 or www.nps.gov/grsm
Content researched and updated. Images provided by FTF. Copyright 2012.