Hotel at a Glance: Music Road Hotel
Surrounded by breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains, this family-friendly hotel features an outdoor water park with a lazy river, 60-foot water slide, and indoor pool. The blue-tinged mountains aren't just a backdrop for the water slides, however—the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just a short drive away. Also nearby are 14 restaurants, ample shopping, and the Dollywood theme park. All these are accessible through the Pigeon Forge trolley, which stops at the hotel.
- Get lost in nature: Nature lovers can hike, ride horseback, or search for white-tailed deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- Kick your feet up in your in-room Jacuzzi or enjoy the sunset on your private balcony from the guest room.
- Fuel up with the complimentary hot breakfast, which includes eggs, bacon, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and biscuits with sausage gravy.
- Must-see attraction: At Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, guests can indulge in hickory-smoked BBQ pork loin while watching bluegrass bands, daring horse riders, and pyrotechnics in a 35,000-foot arena.
- Notable accolade: The hotel won a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2013.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee: Family-Friendly Attractions and Outdoor Activities in the Great Smoky Mountains
On US Route 441 in eastern Tennessee, there’s an old wooden sign at the entrance to the town of Pigeon Forge that touts the city as a "family vacation hub." Though it’s secluded in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge is home to some quirky destinations, including Dollywood, a Titanic museum that looks just like the famed ocean liner from the outside, and WonderWorks—an interactive children’s museum housed in an upside-down three-story building.
In Pigeon Forge’s historical town center, a cluster of old-fashioned specialty shops and restaurants forms the Old Mill Square along the Little Pigeon River. Inside the mill, a pair of 4,600-pound granite stones has been grinding grain since the early 1800s. Another nearby attraction is Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, located a few miles down the road in Gatlinburg. Here, exotic stingrays and four-eyed anableps swim with other sea creatures beneath a backlit waterfall. At the shark lagoon, you can stand inside an enclosed glass tunnel to get an up-close view of green eels, sand tiger sharks, and sea turtles.
If you have the time, it’s worth it to spend a least a day exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park, located roughly 10 miles south of Pigeon Forge. Here, you can hike more than 800 miles of trails that wend past waterfalls and pioneer-era log cabins tucked deep within the densely forested mountains. Or, take a bicycle ride on the 11-mile loop through Cades Cove, a broad valley known for its ample wildlife-viewing opportunities; deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and vacationing college mascots are known to frequent the open meadows. One of the best places to catch a glowing sunset is Clingmans Dome, the park’s highest point of elevation at 6,600 feet.