The kids and I have been cooped up in the house for far too long. We can’t fly right now, so we decided to go on a road trip adventure before school started. We drove a couple of hours east from Nashville to visit Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We’ve heard a lot of great things about Pigeon Forge from our neighbors. In this Pigeon Forge review you’ll learn about the amazing attractions, delicious food, and how they’re keeping visitors safe from coronavirus.
As we were planning our trip, I reached out to the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism to learn more about the city and all of its attractions. I want to say thank you to them for all of their help and for providing a media attraction card so that we could experience all of the attractions and share our thoughts with you.
Regarding the Pigeon Forge attractions & businesses mentioned in this blog, please check their respective websites (links below) for an update on their COVID-19 operational updates.
What Pigeon Forge is Doing to Keep Visitors Safe
Before we get into all of the fun times we had, I have to address the biggest concern that we had about visiting Pigeon Forge (or anywhere for that matter) right now. And I’m sure many of you feel the same way as our family does.
Traveling during coronavirus leads to a lot of uncertainties and potential risks. We purposefully shifted our visit from the weekend to the weekdays since we figured more people visit on the weekends.
We wore our masks everywhere we went, even when there were very few people around. The only times we took our masks off was when we ate, were in the car, or in our hotel room. Ok, we also took them off when we went into the hotel pool.
As a further precaution, we also brought along a cooler of drinks and enough snacks to feed an army. We weren’t sure how the restaurant situation would be and wanted options in case we didn’t feel comfortable.
Spoiler alert: We felt comfortable with everyone taking the risks of coronavirus seriously. The majority of people were wearing masks and kept as socially distant as possible while walking around and standing in line for attractions.
How did the workers make the guest experience safer?
Everywhere we went, workers were constantly wiping down doors, games, attractions, etc. All of them were wearing masks and taking coronavirus precautions seriously. We witnessed a couple of workers with their noses sticking out of their masks, but that was few and far between.
Watching the workers clean everything in between guests made me feel a lot better about visiting attractions and allowing my kids to have fun in Pigeon Forge.
Best things to do in Pigeon Forge with children
Pigeon Forge is a very popular tourist destination in the South. The city is bursting at the seams with attractions, restaurants, and shopping for visitors of all ages. Whether you are a parent traveling with children or a group of young adults seeking excitement and fun experiences, there’s something for everyone.
Awesome Pigeon Forge attractions you have to try
You could spend an entire week in Pigeon Forge and still not see and do everything. We were in town for three days and made the most of our experience. These are the best things to do in Pigeon Forge with children, according to Timothy and Scarlett.
As we planned out our days, we decided to hit as many attractions that were close to each other as possible. We picked everything we wanted to see and do, then grouped them by where they were located on Google Maps. This reduced our travel time between attractions and meant we spent less time looking for parking.
Coaster at Goats on the Roof
When we arrived to ride this mountain coaster, we were surprised to literally find goats on the roof. You can buy goat food inside the gift shop and feed it to them by hand in their pens, or you can pour a little in a cup, hop on a stationary bike, and pedal it up to them. The kids absolutely loved it.
After riding my first mountain coaster in Mont Tremblant with Scarlett this January, I was really excited about this attraction. Since I was the only adult, the kids had to take turns riding with me. The Coaster at Goats on the Roof did not disappoint. We rocketed down the mountain through the twists and turns into a huge spiral before coming to a stop at the bottom. The kids were so excited and wanted to go on the coaster again and again.
The Island in Pigeon Forge
At The Island in Pigeon Forge, you’ll find several attractions, shops, and restaurants. You could easily spend a whole day here as you explored it all.
You can buy an unlimited rides pass for $30 and add the ropes course for only $10 more. This pass entitles you to ride all of the outdoor rides at The Island in Pigeon Forge as much as you want for 48 hours.
7D Dark Ride Adventure. Inside this interactive ride, you wear 3D glasses while the chair moves in tandem with the on-screen action. As the movie plays, you shoot the bad guys to score and compete with your friends. There were three movie options and two were a bit too scary for the kids (Zombies! and Carnival), so we chose Los Banditos which featured robots trying to take over a train in the Wild West.
Arcade City. The arcade was filled with arcade games of all varieties. Most games were pretty quick and you earned virtual tickets based on your score. The tickets were stored on your game card and could be redeemed at the end for prizes.
Ropes Course & Quick Jump. The ropes course is an imposing structure in the middle of The Island. It offers three levels of terrain to traverse and explore, including two zip lines! I didn’t realize it later that there was also a toddler version called Sky Tykes that Scarlett could have gone on. Timothy climbed all three levels and explored almost every obstacle. He even did the two zip lines (his first time) and the quick jump from 3 stories high at the end.
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Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. After all of the excitement from the other attractions, it was good to relax in our enclosed cabin and soak in the views of Pigeon Forge and the surrounding mountains from the Ferris wheel. The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is 200 feet tall and offers unparalleled views that you won’t find anywhere else in Pigeon Forge.
Rockin’ Raceway and Arcade
At Rockin’ Raceway, you can play video games of all types inside before going outside to the race track. The kids and I bounced from game-to-game like a pinball until we blasted through all of our credits. Our favorite game was the Typhoon interactive ride that made you feel like you were on a roller coaster.
Neither kid was tall enough to ride on their own on the race track, so we took turns. As we drove through the course, I had flashbacks to the Pole Position race car game I played growing up. We had the track mostly to ourselves, so we could keep the pedal to the medal as we zoomed for the finish line.
Paula Deen’s Adventure Park
Paula Deen’s Adventure Park offers several obstacles for kids and adults to climb. There is a ropes course, log rolling, log climbing, and The Flying Ox zip coaster.
First, we tried the ropes course. It was better suited for Timothy at 9-years-old than it was for Scarlett at 5-years-old. She went through the first level of the course with us, but the top level was too scary for her. Because it was just the three of us, Timothy couldn’t go on the top without me.
We moved over to the Timber Towers with an 80-foot jump and The Flying Ox “zip coaster.” The free fall jumps offered two cords – blue and red. The blue cord is a slow descent the entire time, while the red cord provides 9 feet of free fall before the controlled descent kicks in. Timmy chose the red cord for the bigger thrill.
Timothy and I took turns watching Scarlett so we could ride the zip coaster. It is a combination of a zip line with a roller coaster. It was intense and amazing! Riders go through a couple of swings and loops as you soar through the adventure park.
Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud
The Lumberjack Feud is a show pitting two feuding families through a series of lumberjack challenges to see who wins the contest. This 90-minute show is entertaining and encourages audience participation to root on your “family” to victory.
The real-life lumberjacks and -jills compete in actual sawing, chopping, log-rolling, and other contests. The winner of each event awards a “cookie” to someone in the audience.
During the show, we enjoyed hot dogs, salted soft pretzels, and Icee drinks for lunch. Save your cup, because Icee refills are only $1.
Pigeon Forge Snow
When it is hot and sunny outside, head over to Pigeon Forge Snow to cool off and play in the snow. Don’t worry about bringing a jacket with you. We were wearing shorts and never got too cold.
Once inside, we raced the tubes down the track over and over again. And when we were done racing, there was a snow room to frolic and play in. It was so fun to have a snowball fight with the kids when the outside temperature was over 90*.
Rocky Top Mountain Coaster
The Rocky Top Mountain Coaster bills itself as the longest mountain coaster in East Tennessee. I’m not sure if it was true, but it is the longest one that I’ve ever been on. There were tons of awesome thrills as we zoomed around the track. Overall, the ride lasted 9 minutes and we went up to 30 mph!
The kids took turns riding with me because Timothy wasn’t quite big enough to ride on his own. When we were there, it was “Summer of Wonder.” This annual event is where the track and areas surrounding the ride are decorated in lights. If you enjoyed your ride, you can go again for 50% off.
MagiQuest in Pigeon Forge
We visited MagiQuest during the middle of the day because it was an indoor attraction and was a welcome respite from the summer heat. MagiQuest is actually four attractions in one. There is a mirror maze, an arcade, mini-golf, and MagiQuest adventure.
The mirror maze was really challenging and took us a long time to figure out how to escape. The arcade had a lot of fun games to play, but we skipped that to focus on the other attractions. Mini-golf was an immersive experience with black lights and a pirate theme.
We played MagiQuest previously at Great Wolf Lodge, so Timmy was already familiar with what to do. Scarlett was a quick learner and put her new wand to work. There were several quests to choose from and an exciting medieval world to explore for the game.
Beyond the Lens
As you enter Beyond the Lens, you’re stepping into the world of pop culture. There are countless interactive games and exhibits to explore as you wind through the attraction. The kids loved the dinosaur virtual reality motion ride.
And we all had fun jumping in the “alien egg pit.” If I hadn’t forced them to leave, they still might have stayed there all afternoon. Ball pits like this can be a haven for viruses and bacteria, so I was excited to see that they were using GermBlock antimicrobial pit balls.
As we pulled up to WonderWorks, I knew we were in for an adventure. The building looks like it was picked up and flipped upside down. It blew the kids’ minds.
Inside, there are virtual reality rides, a ropes course, and numerous interactive exhibits. We did the ropes course, but I think that Scarlett was a little too young for how spaced out the obstacles were. She made it through a few of them, but started getting scared halfway through. Timmy, on the other hand, loved every minute of it and was sure to explore every obstacle.
After he was done with the ropes course, he laid down on a bed of nails to get some rest.
Swimming at the pool at Black Fox Lodge in Pigeon Forge
What’s summertime without a dip in the pool? Since we don’t have a pool at our home, we always dedicate a little pool time whenever we travel.
The pool at Black Fox Lodge had a water feature for kids to splash in and a waterslide that was very popular with all of the kids in the pool. Timothy and Scarlett must have gone down the slide at least 20 times each. The cool water felt amazing in the summer heat and it was good to relax as the kids played.
Crave Golf Club
On our last night in Pigeon Forge, we visited Crave Golf Club. There are two mini-golf courses to choose from and, if you buy the right package, you can do both for one price. We chose to do the outdoor mini-golf course that was on the roof of the building. Each hole was decorated in a candy theme that made me hungry for dessert.
For an added twist, at every hole, you could spin the wheel to determine an additional obstacle for the hole. These obstacles included putting with one hand, standing on one leg, and putting backward. They added another fun dimension to the competition Timothy and I had to see who would win. (By the way, I actually lost.)
The Track Family Fun Park
Before we left for home, the kids wanted to go on a few more rides. Scarlett pointed at the merry-go-round every time we drove by The Track Family Fun Park. I didn’t want to disappoint her, so we stopped by on our way out of time.
The Track has rides for kids of all ages. We focused on the younger kid side so Scarlett could ride the merry-go-round and train ride, while Timothy drove his own go-kart. Adult sized go-karts were also available on another track.
Awesome places to eat in Pigeon Forge
It wasn’t all fun and games during our visit, we grabbed some delicious food in between attractions. Due to coronavirus, most restaurants were operating at 50% maximum capacity. So, when you visit Pigeon Forge, be sure to budget extra time for meals because the wait times can be an hour or more at peak times.
Some restaurants are closed on certain nights of the week, so plan your meals accordingly. For example, we missed out on visiting Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que because they are closed on Wednesday nights. For a list of all of the local restaurants, visit the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism’s website.
Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe
This was, by far, our favorite meal during our trip. Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe is a breakfast-only restaurant that closes at 1 pm every day. We enjoyed delicious pancakes for breakfast, but that’s not the main reason to visit.
Inside, there are over 100 animatronic chickens lining the ceiling that put on a show every 15 minutes. We had such a fun time watching the show that it was hard to get the kids to concentrate and finish eating their food. I highly recommend stopping by before heading out for the day.
Mellow Mushroom is a chain pizza restaurant that’s more upscale than most pizza joints. They have a nice bar with local brews, a huge fireplace in the middle of the dining room, and tasty pizza to nibble on. We ordered pepperoni, of course, and an order or garlic cheese bread. After a full day of attractions, we ate everything in sight.
Breakfast at our hotel – Black Fox Lodge at Pigeon Forge
Eating out for every meal can be expensive when you travel. To keep our costs low, we try to pick hotels that include breakfast for everyone or that offer complimentary breakfast as an elite status benefit. I’m a Hilton Diamond member, so we received complimentary continental buffets during our stay at the Black Fox Lodge.
Instead of a normal continental buffet, everything was pre-packaged to reduce the spread of germs and the virus. Since I knew that we’d be on the go all day and lunch would be later, we opted to pay a few dollars extra to upgrade to pancakes and sausage. The portion sizes were large and the pancakes were yummy.
Since we missed out on Bennett’s, we searched for another restaurant to try some local BBQ. Next to the Lumberjack Feud is Calhoun’s, which features an upscale lumberjack atmosphere. The sign outside advertised “the best ribs in America” and Timmy loves ribs, so we gave it a shot. As an appetizer, we ordered the Bacon Wrapped Beef Brisket Burnt Ends.
They were absolutely incredible! The meat was so tender it juicy, that they melted in our mouths!
Timothy ordered the ribs, Scarlett had chicken tenders, and I had the Hickory Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich. Timothy really enjoyed his ribs, but my brisket was too fatty for my liking. Next time, I would order something different.
Smoky Mountain Brewery
I love to try local brews, so we had to make a stop at Smoky Mountain Brewery. They had a lot of varieties to choose from, and our server let me try samples of a few. Although several were interesting, I picked the IPA. The restaurant offers a lot of food options and a live band while we ate.
We were tired and couldn’t think, so we chose our default option of pizza and “cheezy” garlic bread. Scarlett can be picky, especially when she’s cranky, so she didn’t want to try the garlic bread at first. But, once she had a couple of bites, she quickly devoured half of the garlic bread making me wish that I had ordered the larger size. I’m making a mental note for next time we visit Pigeon Forge.
The Bald Thoughts
Traveling in the age of coronavirus can be a scary proposition. Rather than fly someplace this summer, we decided to take a road trip and explore Pigeon Forge. I was happy to see (almost) everyone embracing masks and social distancing so that we could enjoy all that the city has to offer.
The kids and I had a fantastic time in Pigeon Forge. Our favorites activities were the mountain coasters, ropes courses, and tubing. Scarlett was so excited about our visit that she wants to come back for her birthday next year. We can definitely make that happen.