Gatlinburg, TN

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg During the Holidays

Marilyn Johnson

Many people consider where they should go during the holiday season, especially when the kids are out of school for winter break. There are many good reasons to consider visiting the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas in Tennessee this December. This season, the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area will give people plenty to do, see, and feel, making it the perfect destination for all.
Pigeon Forge Winterfest offers many opportunities to see millions of twinkling holiday lights!Courtesy: Pigeon Forge Winterfest

The atmosphere and activities abound in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area, providing a great place to make family memories. If you've ever wanted to visit these popular and family-friendly mountain towns and vacation areas in eastern Tennessee, now is the time to do it! Everybody knows Dollywood, but there is so much more to do. Here are the top 5 reasons to visit these areas in Tennessee this December:

  • Winterfest. Pigeon Forge Winterfest is a family fun time that is a true winter wonderland. The fest offers twinkling lights, events, trolley tours, holiday shows, and much more. The Festival of Christmas Past in Gatlinburg is especially a delightful way to experience Christmas in the mountains with old-time music, harp singing, storytelling, craft demonstrations-weaving, spinning, quilting, & basket making, historic toys and games, and children's activities. Great family-friendly Gatlinburg restaurants to try are Tennessee Jed's, Cherokee Grill & Steakhouse, and Three Jimmy's.

  • Holiday events. The Pigeon Forge area is jam-packed with holiday events that will please everyone, including parades, holiday light display tours, and southern winter charm. Visitors from all walks of life love experiencing the holiday season in the mountains. Holiday light lovers will genuinely enjoy Pigeon Forge's Driving Tour of Lights, which lasts from November 11 to February 13. Hop aboard a Winterfest trolley or drive along Pigeon Forge Parkway yourself to see over five million twinkling lights! Family-friendly food options in this area worth checking out are Mellow Mushroom Pizzeria, Blue Moose Burgers & Wings, and Little Black Bear Cafe.

  • Family fun opportunities. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg offer many options for families to have fun in the winter. One of the most popular stops is WonderWorks Pigeon Forge, an indoor theme park providing people with more than 100 interactive exhibits and attractions. The "amusement park for the mind" covers natural disasters, space discovery, imagination, physical challenge, a far-out art gallery, and a light and sound zone. The on-site Wonder Cafe offers kid-friendly food options, and there are many other national and independently-owned restaurants in the area with something for everyone.

  • Snow activities. Many people like to experience the snow in December and travel even from Florida to visit to be a part of it. The Smoky Mountains area offers some great snow activities in December, including ice-skating, snow tubing, snowboarding, and skiing. Another option is to rent a cabin and see the snow while cozy in front of the fireplace.

  • Lights galore. The area is lit with Christmas lights every December. There are lights in the parade, a festival of trees, and so much more. You certainly won't want to miss Lights over Gatlinburg at Skylift Park, home of Skybridge Gatlinburg and Gatlinburg SkyTrail. This attraction is one of the most popular lights displays in all of Tennessee. This year it features over 20,000 more light bulbs than the previous year, 10 NEW dancing trees along the SkyTrail, a HUGE 30 ft. multicolored, music-animated lighted Christmas tree, and the famous 200-foot tunnel of lights on the record-breaking Gatlinburg SkyBridge. So many photo ops for the entire family! Whether you want to drive around and look at lights or take a trolley tour, they are sure to delight.

Have you been to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for the holidays? I'd LOVE to hear your stories! Let me know in the comments.

Marilyn Johnson is a freelance food and travel writer covering the food and drink scene of Philadelphia, South Jersey, and beyond. Food news: Travel tips:

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Marilyn Johnson is a Philadelphia area-based food and travel writer focusing on food & drink in the Mid-Atlantic region. Email for Philly area news; for travel tips and opportunities.

Philadelphia, PA

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