Things to do in Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
UPDATED 7/2020 | I didn’t know much about Sevierville, Tennessee, until just a few weeks ago when I visited for the very first time. I didn’t know what a fun destination it is to visit, nor which adorable blonde country spitfire hails from within the city limits and sadly, or even how to pronounce it. Now having spent just a few days exploring the area, I’ve got suggestions for your vacation to Sevierville and the surrounding towns of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Did you know Sevierville is within a day’s driving distance of the whole East Coast of the U.S.? That makes it super convenient for road trips and because there are so many outdoor activities and wide open spaces, it’s an ideal location to visit when social distancing is important.
How Do You Pronounce Sevierville?
But first, it’s a good thing I’m friends with the famous Tennessean writer Kristin Luna, because the day before I was scheduled to travel to Sevierville, she informed me that I was pronouncing it all wrong, saving me some serious embarrassment at the rental car desk!
I would’ve said Sev-ee-yay-ville, but it’s actually Severe-vuhl, named for John Sevier, one of Tennessee’s founding fathers. For future reference, all –villes are actually –vuhls in Tennessee. Nash-vuhl, Knox-vuhl and of course, the adventure capital of the South, Sevier-vuhl.
And aren’t you curious which famous superstar is from Sevierville? I know you’re probably thinking it’s Kristin Luna, but there’s another famous blonde in these parts — the fabulous Dolly Parton, of course. Dolly attractions in the area include Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner show and the countryfied theme park Dollywood in neighboring Pigeon Forge. All on my list for the next visit! (Check out cabins in Pigeon Forge for your visit.)
There’s more to do in Sevierville and the surrounding areas than you could ever imagine, whether you’re into hiking and the great outdoors or ridiculous activities. Here are a few unique spots you can only see in this part of Tennessee:
- Tickets to Titanic Museum in Sevierville
- 4 Attraction Pass in Pigeon Forge
- Great Smoky Mountain “Who Shot The Sheriff” Murder Mystery Dinner Show
Exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As you know, I am drawn to all things adventurous and outdoorsy, so during my visit I went on a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a gloomy, rainy morning, so I had to settle for a shorter hike than I would’ve liked. If you’re short on time like I was and would love a little help finding the most picturesque spots, check out this guided bus tour of Cades Cove from Pigeon Forge.
Even still, the 2.6-mile Laurel Falls hike offered a big payoff with a gorgeous 80-ft. waterfall at the end. I didn’t see any bears, elk or deer, so I was a little disappointed, but I did see an unusual bug. I did love just driving around the mountains, something I’m not usually onboard with. Windy mountain roads tend to make me carsick, but as the driver on my solo journey, I didn’t suffer nearly as much as I do when I’m the passenger.
Get carsick too? Check out my tips on avoiding motion sickness on road trips.
The weather prevented me from exploring as much of the park as I would’ve liked, but it gave me just enough of a preview to know I need to come back when I have more time.
Want to discover even more of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Check out the Simpler Time Smoky Mountain Tour to hear stories about the Cherokee people and the settlers who lived in the mountains, and learn how they survived. See a small family cemetery, 19th-century barn and an old fashioned spring house, then get a glimpse of settlers’ daily lives in a small restored cabin. Enjoy a guided nature walk featuring distinctive wildlife, plants and geology to life at every turn.
More Tours in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Adventure Tours in and near Sevierville, TN
White Water Rafting in Pigeon Forge
As for adrenaline pumping adventures, I checked out two that I’ll definitely come back for with a group of friends. USA Raft in Franklin offers two options for rafting on the Pigeon River, the very easy Lower Pigeon section, which is doable for kids as young as 3, and the Upper Pigeon, a more extreme course of Class III and IV rapids.
One of the USA Raft guides is reality TV star, Ewok, from the History Channel show Appalachian Outlaws. He’s more than willing to sign autographs and pose for photos so if you’re a fan, you’ve got to come by and raft with Ewok. I prioritized photos over adventure on this chilly morning, so I took the easy route, but I promised my guides that I’d round up an armada to hit up the big rapids later this summer.
Rafting on the Lower Pigeon River is definitely more relaxing than adventurous, but it’s perfect for kids and those who don’t want to get too wet.
Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park
Up at Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park, I was impressed by the grounds, 150-acres of woodlands with a river, America’s longest swinging bridge and an impressive 60-ft.-tall rock climbing wall.
I didn’t see the entrance to the zip-line course in my immediate surroundings, so I consulted the map. There were lines zig-zagging the property, but it looked like they were going from mountain to mountain. Surely that couldn’t be?
I heard a whizzing sound and looked up just in time to see a tiny person soaring over me – hundreds of feet up! This Mighty Goliath Zip Line Tour is no joke, y’all. At 2,230 feet long and 475 feet high, the five zip-lines are ideal for adrenaline junkies and people who just want to see if they have what it takes to step off that tree-top platform. It’s intense!
More Adventure Tours in Tennessee
- Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Adventure
- Moonshine & Wine Tour from Pigeon Forge
- White water rafting from Hartford
- Zorbing for Kids and Adults in Pigeon Forge
Exploring Scenic Cades Cove
The drive through Cades Cove is as scenic as it gets, with old barns and grazing livestock, green fields and the famous “smoke” dotting the mountaintops. On one sharp curve in front of a weathered farmhouse, I slowed to a stop and rolled my window down to say hello to a Chihuahua and a bulldog, two adorable country pups frolicking in the road. (Yes, I stopped the car to talk to dogs.)
To my surprise, these weren’t friendly country dogs at all – they were sassy rednecks! The little scamps bit onto my front tire and wouldn’t let go. I had to honk and holler at them to escape. The encounter had me laughing all the way to my next stop on my Sevierville, Tennessee, itinerary.
Even with inclement weather during my trip, Sevierville really surprised me with so many choices for adventure activities.
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