Mountain Adventures: A Fun-Filled Weekend in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg & Beyond

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, nestled in the scenic beauty of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, offer a perfect retreat for nature enthusiasts and adventure lovers alike. These charming towns boast stunning mountain vistas, picturesque trails, and vibrant downtown areas brimming with local shops and dining options.

Whether you seek thrilling outdoor activities, serene hikes through nature, or simply wish to unwind while taking in the majestic mountain scenery, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have something to offer every visitor. With so many attractions and sights to explore in these towns, planning the ideal getaway can feel overwhelming, especially if you only have a limited time.

Don't worry, we've got you covered. This blog brings you our recommendations for a fun-filled weekend in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the area, featuring must-visit destinations and activities for the whole family.

Excited for a Smoky Mountain adventure? Let's start exploring!

Friday afternoon: Explore The Old Mill Square, Pigeon Forge

After you've checked into your cozy rental hideaway, start your mountain weekend adventure by immersing yourself in the charm of Old Mill Square.

Located in Pigeon Forge, The Old Mill district is a vibrant hub of shopping and exploration where you can step into a world of fascinating stores offering local souvenirs, arts and crafts, antiques, and unique collectibles.

Dating back to 1830, the heart of Old Mill Square is The Old Mill itself, a historic icon that continues to operate today, providing a picturesque backdrop for unforgettable moments.

Besides the mill, here are some other highlights of the area:

  • The Old Mill General Store: Browse through a selection of flour, grits, and other specialty products.

  • Pigeon River Pottery: Explore Appalachian arts and crafts.

  • The Old Mill At Sassafras: Find Southern fashion and accessories.

  • Farmhouse Kitchen: Stock up on essentials for a delicious home-cooked meal.

Visiting The Old Mill Square in Pigeon Forge, a historical site full of character, will undoubtedly get you pumped up for a weekend of fun.

Friday evening: Dine at the Old Mill Restaurant, Pigeon Forge

Located in the historic right at the Old Mill district of Pigeon Forge, the Old Mill Restaurant is a beloved family-style eatery renowned for its mouthwatering Southern classics and comforting dishes. The restaurant's inviting ambiance and exceptional cuisine create the ideal backdrop for your first dining experience in town, whether you're craving breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Savor Southern favorites like fried chicken, meatloaf, pot pie, hot biscuits, local sausage, country-fried steak, and chicken & dumplings, among other delicious options. Save room for their irresistible desserts, including timeless treats like pecan pie and Old Mill creamery vanilla ice cream.

With charming riverside views along the Little Pigeon River, the Old Mill exudes a nostalgic charm with its historic wooden interior, elegant chandeliers, and old-world allure.

Families will appreciate the kids' menu, and it's important to note that the restaurant operates on a first-come, first-served basis without reservations. Any wait for a table is well worth it for the exceptional dining experience that awaits at the Old Mill Restaurant.

Saturday morning: Have breakfast in the countryside aTLog Cabin Pancake House, Gatlinburg

Starting your Saturday morning with breakfast at the Log Cabin Pancake House in Gatlinburg is a delightful choice. This local gem, a beloved fixture since 1976, captures hearts with its traditional Southern breakfast brimming with hearty options.

For coffee enthusiasts, the refillable coffee ensures you stay energized throughout your meal. Indulge in the Plain Old-Fashioned Pancakes, a timeless favorite known for their fluffy texture and rich flavor, accompanied by house-whipped margarine and signature syrup. Generous portions prepared with care are offered at affordable prices.

The charming decor exudes a cozy countryside ambiance, creating a welcoming atmosphere for guests. The friendly staff adds to the warm experience, always ready to greet you with a smile.

Saturday during the day: Hiking and fishing at theGreat Smoky Mountains National Park

For you to enjoy most of your Saturday, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a perfect blend of outdoor activities, with hiking and fishing standing out as great choices. You can lace up your hiking boots and set off on a trail exploration, immersing yourself in the natural wonders of the park. The trails wind through lush forests, offering glimpses of wildlife and captivating vistas that inspire awe and wonder in both young and old adventurers.

After hiking, you can transition to the tranquil streams that meander through the park and cast a line. Fishing in the park's pristine waters presents an opportunity to connect with nature on a deeper level, as parents and children alike try their luck at reeling in the diverse trout species that call these streams home. From the elusive brook trout to the vibrant rainbow trout, each catch becomes a shared triumph and a tale to be cherished. Children will love to bait their hooks and cast their lines in the heart of one of America's most beloved parks.

There are many other amazing spots for fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The best way to discover them is by talking to locals and park staff. They will surely know the best hidden gems and provide you with the most updated tips. To know more about times, rules, and regulations, head to the park's official website.

Saturday evening: Have a fabulous dinner at Huck Finn's Catfish Cabin, Pigeon Forge

Craving some delicious fish after your adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Look no further than Huck Finn's Catfish Cabin, a cherished family-owned restaurant renowned for its amazing "All You Can Eat Catfish and Chicken" dinners.

The "All You Can Eat" menu includes a feast of catfish, chicken, or a delightful combination of both, accompanied by an array of unlimited side dishes. From freshly made coleslaw to beans with turkey ham, pickle spears, hush puppies, and sweet onion, every bite is a symphony of flavors.

For those seeking more variety, the à la carte options offer plenty of tempting selections like battered corn nuggets, gator tail, shoestring fried onions, southern chicken fingers, trout, country fried steak, southern pork chops, and the ultimate fried platter.

The ambiance at Huck Finn's Catfish Cabin exudes warm hospitality and offers reasonable prices that make dining here a true pleasure. The cozy interior, complete with charming checked tablecloths and wooden tables, enhances the Southern dining experience.

Saturday night: Enjoy a few beers at Smoky Mountain Brewery, Locations in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Wondering what's the best way to wrap up your first day of outdoor exploration? For grown-ups, we highly recommend doing so by grabbing a delicious craft beer at Smoky Mountain Brewery.

That's the place to indulge in well-rounded craft beers, all meticulously micro-brewed to perfection. With six flagship beers on tap at each location and a variety of seasonal brews throughout the year, this place has something for every beer enthusiast. Not too keen on beer? No problem! The extensive cocktail menu caters to diverse tastes, ensuring no one is left out of the fun.

What truly sets the experience apart is the unique atmosphere. It blends the cozy ambiance of a mountain lodge with Bavarian Alps vibes – in other words: the ideal setting for a night out.

Sunday Morning: Immerse yourself in themed fun at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge

No visit to Pigeon Forge is complete without spending a full day of fun at Dollywood. Co-owned by the country music legend Dolly Parton, Dollywood stands out as the premier themed park in the Smokies.

Kids and adults alike will love the variety of over fifty rides available at the park. From classics like Flying Elephants, Busy Bees, Lucky Ducky, and Lemon Twist to the thrills of Big Bear Mountain and Tennessee Tornado roller coasters, Daredevil Falls, and the Great Tree Swing, there's excitement and different levels of adrenaline for everyone.

For family fun, don't miss Dolly's Express, the park's old-fashioned steam engine, and be sure to explore Wildwood Grove, a section featuring more amazing family-friendly rides. Beyond the rides, the park offers live music, captivating shows, exhibits, award-winning dining, and shopping opportunities.

Dollywood is open from mid-March through the end of December each year. During the Christmas season, the park transforms into an even more magical experience with fantastic decorations and shows. If you visit Pigeon Forge in the summer, you'll also love Dollywood's Splash Country, a state-of-the-art waterpark featuring wonderful slides, pools, themed splash zones, and much more.

Sunday afternoon: Explore the Arts & Crafts Community in Gatlinburg.

What about discovering the independent artisans and crafts that create wonderful things around Gatlinburg? The Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community is an 8-mile loop featuring galleries, shops, and art studios, all selling pieces made by local creatives.

This is a historical trail; it all started back in 1937 with local artisans displaying their creations in their own homes. Popularity grew with the years, but this is still a route that feels worlds away from the tourist crowds, and you will feel like discovering true local gems. You'll find everything from poetry and paintings to wooden pieces, candles, and all kinds of handcrafted items.

The best part is that creators are most likely the ones who will receive you into their establishments, and you get to learn everything about their crafts directly from the source. Many times you can even see them creating objects and artifacts right in front of you. What a way to engage in insightful conversations and, to boot, support local and independent creativity, huh?

Sunday evening: Dine at The Appalachian, Sevierville.

To wrap up your weekend in the Smokies, we recommend taking a short ride to Sevierville's historic downtown for dinner. The Appalachian is an upscale dining spot specializing in Appalachian cuisine with a modern twist. The focal point of the open kitchen is a wood-burning hearth, where various dishes are prepared using traditional cooking methods.

The menu features outstanding dishes that offer a contemporary take on fresh Appalachian ingredients, with a particular emphasis on rich, smoky flavors. Regardless of your choice, each dish promises to be a delight for your taste buds. Here are our recommended standouts: Pork Belly, Appalachian Burger, Duck Breast, Fried Chicken, Shrimp and Grits, and Hanger Steak. The wood-grilled meats, ranging from filet mignon to dry-aged Porterhouse, are exceptional — served a la carte, impeccably cooked, and garnished with West Virginia Sea Salt.

For a special culinary experience, consider the Chef's Table Experience, featuring a unique five-course meal. The drink menu offers an extensive selection of beers, whiskeys, and cocktails.

What's more, the friendly and attentive staff and stylish decor of The Appalachian enhance the fine dining experience. The restaurant's black walls, colorful art, and touches of wood, stone, and brass create a very intimate and warm space.

Mountain Adventures: A Fun-Filled Weekend in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg & Beyond

With such a fun-packed weekend in the Smokies, you'll leave wanting to return as soon as possible — and you should! Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and the area are replete with attractions for the whole family, and the more you visit, the more amazing everything gets.

For more tips and recommendations on what to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, head to our destination blog. We've written about everything from the best restaurants in the region and the best breakfast spots in the area to a full guide to fishing and much more.

Wondering where to Stay in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and The Smoky Mountains?

While in town, why not enhance your stay with the stunning backdrop of the Smoky Mountains in a great rental property?

At Stony Brook, we offer an exceptional array of cabins and chalets in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Cosby, ranging from one to 16 bedrooms. As a family-owned service, we guarantee you'll have the best experience in the Smokies!

Previous Smoky Flavors: The Best Restaurants in and Around Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, TN The Favorite Food Followings in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Next