Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Family Vacation Destinations: Pigeon Forge #TravelTuesday

With school recently starting back up, family vacations may be over for most people until Christmas break. If you're like our family, however, then you may prefer to actually plan your vacation during the school year. Yes, your kids will end up missing a few days of school, but many destinations are much quieter, less traffic, and if you're going to an attraction such as an amusement park, you will have much shorter lines at the rides! That's one reason why we always preferred vacationing while school was "in session". One area that has become our family's top vacation pick is Pigeon Forge, TN. We first visited three years ago, and have been back once a year since. In fact, we'll be headed back there the end of next month and the family can't wait!

The beautiful LeConte Center where NQC is held
We plan our trip around the National Quartet Convention, which is held annually in Pigeon Forge during the fall. This is the perfect time to visit the area! While we do have a lot going on at the convention, we make sure to stay a few extra days for some sightseeing. Pigeon Forge is home to many family friendly attractions. We have visited Dollywood (in my opinion one of the best amusement parks I've been to), Dixie Stampede, the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, both Ripley's mini golf parks, the Hollywood Wax Museum, Wonderworks, the SGMA Hall of Fame, and the Island, to name a few.

While the parks and museums are a huge draw for visitors, one of my favorite things about the area is the natural beauty. Every year we take at least one day to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which you can access through Gatlinburg, just a few miles south of Pigeon Forge. There are numerous driving trails, lookout points, and countless photo opportunities! This year we are planning a sunrise trip for the first time, and I am looking forward to seeing this gorgeous scenery at dawn.

If you're concerned about finding lodging on a budget, don't be. There are hotels, resorts, cabins, campgrounds, and other lodging options for any budget and preference. We have rented a house, rented a cabin, and stayed at various hotels in the area. You can opt for lodging right in town (many of which offer trolley pickup right outside so you don't even have to drive anywhere) or stay somewhere in the mountains for the best views.

Another aspect we love of Pigeon Forge is all the dining options. You won't find a better selection of good old southern cooking than in this area of Tennessee! From Paula Deen's Family Kitchen and Mama's Farmhouse, which offer family style all you can eat dining, to the Pottery House Cafe's fabulous selection of sandwiches and baked goods, to Bennett's BBQ, to the huge selection of pancake restaurants with the best breakfast's you've ever tasted, you will not go hungry while in Pigeon Forge! One of our family's favorites is actually a few miles north in Seveierville, and it's called the Z-Mex Grille and Bellacino's. These restaurants share a building and you will not find better subs and grinders than Bellacino's. It's the Z-Mex Grille that we most love, though. Burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and more that you can customize to your taste. And our personal favorite item? The chips and queso for 99 cents an order!

As you can see, Pigeon Forge is one of the top vacation destinations. There is so much to do for anyone and everyone, no matter your age, what you like to do, and yes, what you like to eat! Shoppers will be thrilled with the Tangier Outlet Mall as well as all the other local shops, foodies will have the time of their lives, nature-lovers will be astounded at all the hiking, biking, horseback riding, and photography opportunities, and if you're looking for some thrills, Dollywood has some of the best roller coasters in the world! And you won't find nicer people anywhere in the world than in this little tri-city area. Whether it's your first time visiting or you're coming back for yet another round of east Tennessee fun, the folks here will make you feel right at home...and you'll never want to leave!

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