There are few travel destinations that are more familiar to Kentuckians than Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; however, there’s a good reason for that! Whether one is wanting to relax or be extremely active while on vacation, Pigeon Forge has a plethora of options for either party. It’s a great place that appeals to all travelers! Additionally, it’s drivable, convenient, and has unparalleled scenic beauty.
I started traveling to Pigeon Forge with my family at a young age. My Grandmother Linda, who is no longer with us, loved gathering the family together for a weekend in a cabin overlooking the Smoky Mountains. Each time I return is extremely nostalgic — reminiscent of strong, fond memories, of times that our family was complete, of times that were simpler. For that, and due to that, I will always love the Pigeon Forge area.
Where We Stayed
This trip was especially memorable because it ended up being a 25th birthday celebration for my best friend of two decades, Katie. We have spent the vast majority of our birthdays together; to get to do so again this year is a privilege that I do not take for granted.
On a Friday evening, we checked into the Ramsey Hotel & Convention Center. In the heart of Pigeon Forge and just steps away from the hustle and bustle, we couldn’t have been happier with the location. Better yet, we instantaneously fell in love with our room! It was ginormous — and complete with a fireplace + an oversized jacuzzi tub. Needless to say, that was catalytic to a relaxing weekend getaway.
Oh, and did I mention that there was 24 hour pool access?
You can visit the Ramsey Hotel & Convention Center at 3230 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.
Where We Dined
We started our Pigeon Forge getaway with dinner at Calhoun’s. Immediately upon walking in, guests are greeted by a welcoming, mountain lodge atmosphere. Known for their ribs, BBQ, and sides, Calhoun’s has been a family go-to for over 25 years. The Pigeon Forge location is conveniently located on the Parkway, steps away from many hotels, family activities, and entertainment venues.
Our second dinner was at the Local Goat, which receives two thumbs up from me! Known for their craft food and drinks, Local Goat prides itself on sourcing their food locally and sustainably as much as possible. Established in 2016, this was a menu that I had not explored in the area. However, upon asking around, I repeatedly received recommendations to dine there — thus, I knew that it had to be good (and it stood up to the hype!).
Above all else, I recommend the N’awlins Style BBQ Shrimp. Get the full pound and thank me later.
What We Did
One thing is certain: Pigeon Forge is chock-full of activities, especially for families. From the Titanic Museum , Dolly Parton’s Stampede, the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, to the Smoky Mountain Opry, WonderWorks, or MagiQuest — there is truly something for any traveler.
Katie and I, however, were most interested in checking out Dollywood. We have been to the park four times together in the past — all for the Festival of Nations.
Luckily, we were there for the first day of the Festival of Nations and the opening day of the park this year, too!
The Festival of Nations welcomes groups from around the world to share their culture, artisanship, and food with visitors of the park. It is a fantastic environment; knowing me, however, you can probably guess that I most fancy the wide variety of food!
An addition to the festival this year = live chef demonstrations. The 2019 featured chef is Chef Pepin of Cuba; luckily, I had the opportunity to attend his Cuban sandwich demonstration and I got the chance to interview him. He was just as lovable in person as you would imagine from his interviews and his live demonstrations. I loved talking with him about my trip to Havana in 2018!
If food is your forte, be sure to pick up your culinary passport to global cuisines. Offerings are vast: poutine and cheese curds from Canada, Cuban sandwiches and arroz con pollo from Cuba, empanadas from Ecuador, gluehwein from Germany, cannolis from Italy, bobotie from South Africa, beef bulgogi from South Korea, paella from Spain, chimichurri beef skewers from Trinidad, and so much more. It was all delicious!
While the Festival of Nations only lasts for around a month each year, the food in Dollywood continues to please year-round. The most iconic offering? The cinnamon bread, hands down. Do not miss it y’all.
I’m not much of a ride enthusiast, but I did love watching Katie at the park. That’s one thing that I love about our friendship; while we share a lot of commonalities, we do have different interests and we support one another in doing so.
Returning to Dollywood, much like the entire trip, was nostalgic for us. We certainly left with large smiles on our faces.
This trip was full of life-long memories, which is what is so special about Pigeon Forge. Located at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge consistently puts forth new and established entertainment for adults, children, and families.
Learn more about Pigeon Forge here, y’all!
Amazing views, gorgeous scenery, and a plethora of entertainment; if you aren’t planning your next trip to Pigeon Forge, what are you waiting for?
As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.
FTC: This is a commissioned post on behalf of Pigeon Forge Tourism; however, as always, all opinions are my own.