Kolt & Erin’s Guide to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge & Sevierville

Summer travel season is right around the corner! If you’re headed to East Tennesee this summer, this may help you with your trip! Erin is from about 30 minutes east of Knoxville, TN, and frequented the Gatlinburg area as a kid. We’ve since gone back several times. This is the definitive list to all things Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge.

Honorable Mention

I couldn’t publish this and not talk about Buc-ees right off of Exit 407. At the time of publishing, it is the largest convenience store in North America. Get the club melt, some white cheddar beaver nuggets, and an Iced Tea to kickoff your mountain adventure.


  • Blue Moose Burgers & Wings This is a great joint to catch a game, or to grab a casual meal. If you’re into spicy, they do spicy wings in all forms.
  • Joe & Pops Sandwich Shop – When you’re headed for a picnic in the Great Smokey Mountains, grab a few sandwiches from Joe & Pops!
  • Mellow Mushroom – This one is always good, even if it is a chain.


  • Ole Smokey Moonshine A Tennessee classic, and my favorite of the distilleries in the area. $5 gets you a taste of Rocky Top…and a $5 coupon to use in their store. Get it?
  • Sugarlands Shine – It comes down to personal preference. Mountain legend (who is my Father in Law James) says this is the closest to the “real thing.”
  • Ole Red Gatlinburg If you’re a fan of Blake Shelton, you must visit his Ole Red Gatlinburg location. It’s a little bit lower-key than the Nashville location if you’re looking for a warmup.
  • Tennessee Cider CompanyWe’ve only ever visited the location in the Tanger outlet mall. I’m not a huge cider lover, but Erin certifies it two thumbs up.
  • Buzzed Bull CreameryThis adult ice cream chain originated in Cincinnati! Their S’mores milkshake was incredible!


  • CinnaholicCinnaholic did little bite-sized cinnamon rolls for our wedding rehearsal brunch. They were fantastic…like “make yourself sick on them” fantastic. Highly recommend for breakfast in the mountains.
  • The Crazy Mason Unleash your inner child and go nuts with these wild milkshake creations. You can have a lot of fun with these. Remember, sugar and calories don’t count on vacation.

Things To Do

  • Dollywood – I mean come on. Dolly Parton’s version of Disney World? I could write a whole post on this. Basically, plan to stay all day and have an awesome time in the process. You must try the Cinnamon Bread!
  • Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede – I’ve never been, but Erin ranks it among the best things to do. You may be served without utensils…and drink from a cowboy boot! Yee haw!
  • Cades Cove – Travel back in time in this state park. You’ll see wild horses, bears, and more. The neat part about this is you drive through the park and get out
  • Patriot Park – We take our dogs to walk here. It’s beautiful at Christmas time!
  • SkyPark – Although one of our friends about had to be airlifted off the hill due to her paralyzing fear of heights, this is something you have to do just once. It was a super neat view of Gatlinburg and the mountains at night.
  • Anakeesta – This is an Erin Bacon-approved adventure.
  • Smokey Mountain Knife Works – A simply massive collection of knives of all shapes and sizes.
  • The Island – First of all, free admission and free parking. There are tons of shops and restaurants. If people-watching is your thing, this is the place to do it. There is a Margaritaville hotel here, Paula Dean’s Family Kitchen, an Ole Smokey, and so much more.a
  • Tanger Outlets – As established, I don’t shop. If you do, there’s an outlet here! I do know it’s always busy!

Final notes

Pack your patience. This is a popular place, and other people will be traveling here too. There will be traffic, but there will also be incredible sights, lovely nature, and time spent with folks you enjoy.

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