This happening tourist town is brimming with enough free activities to fill a trip itinerary! Experience mountain town charm alongside natural beauty at this classic vacation spot.
So, you're planning your Smoky Mountain vacation and want to save money, too. It's no secret that it can be tough to take a trip and save some dough. However, this doesn't have to be the case when you visit Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Luckily, the list of free things to do in Pigeon Forge is lengthy!
Of all 50 states, Tennessee is home to some of the most breathtaking sights around. Pigeon Forge happens to be a stone's throw away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so nature lovers will be eager to seek out absolutely awe-inspiring landscapes when they visit this town.
Fun Fact: Curious about the name? Pigeon Forge was named after the Little Pigeon River and an iron forge previously located in the town.
If it's not on there already, you have to add this budget-friendly city to your United States travel bucket list. Keep reading for our favorite free things to do in Pigeon Forge so you can start planning your (bargain) trip today!
Beauty is abundant in the lush, mountain-surrounded valley that makes up Cades Cove. Take a scenic drive on the 11-mile, one-way loop, and keep an eye out for wildlife and historic buildings!
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Depending on traffic, you'll need anywhere from two to four hours to make your way around the loop. Additionally, you may want to plan on spending a couple more hours at Cades Cove if you decide to get out of the car and walk some trails.
Photo Alert: Keep your camera ready on this drive! You're bound to get an exciting shot worthy of all the likes.
Sugarlands Visitor Center
Orient yourself in the area with a visit to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. A free 20-minute movie provides an overview of everything you'll need to know about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before you embark on your own adventure!
History exhibits and ranger talks presented at select times will also clue you in on the national park.
Once you're ready to hit the ground running, choose an easy hiking trail to wander:
- Cataract Falls
- Fighting Creek Nature Trail
- Gatlinburg Trail
Visiting Pigeon Forge without breaking the bank is a walk in the park… get it? Swing by Patriot Park to check out the Liberty Bell, state flags, and Patriot Missile.
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Honor veterans while taking in the views. You may run into a festival or 4th of July fireworks if you time it right!
There's nothing like the view of the Smoky Mountains from 6,643 feet in the air! Journey to the top of Clingmans Dome to take advantage of this astonishing perspective. If you catch it on a clear day, expect a viewing distance of around 100 miles. However, it may only be 20 miles depending on the day.
Clingmans Dome serves as the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in the state of Tennessee. So, prepare for a 10 to 20-degree drop in temperature at the top! We recommend packing a light jacket for this.
Pro Tip: The trail to the top is very steep. So, you'll need to leave pets, bikes, and wheelchairs behind, as they are not permitted.
One of the best free things to do in Pigeon Forge and the Smokies? Spotting wildlife! Grab a pair of binoculars and keep an eye out for some of our favorite Smoky Mountain residents, such as:
- Black bears
Don't forget to be respectful of these creatures who call the mountains home! Be sure to keep a safe distance.
The Old Mill Square
This charming shopping and dining destination also hosts free festivals throughout the year. One beloved landmark is The Old Mill Candy Kitchen. Rumor has it that they hand out free sugary samples here!
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Additionally, you can get an inside look at how the mill works when you take a tour for a small fee.
The Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community
Those who have a knack for scouting out the best handmade products will enjoy a visit to the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community! The community consists of independent artists, and it's the largest of its kind in the United States. The trolley is the preferred mode of transportation to weave through the eight-mile loop of delightful galleries, shops, and studios.
Browsing is free, but you'll have to drop some cash if you find something to take home with you! Keep this in mind before falling in love with a painting, candle, or other craft. However, if you want to use a little spare change here, your secret is safe with us!
Newfound Gap Road
For the less adventurous among us, the Great Smoky Mountains are best enjoyed from the comfort of the car. The Newfound Gap Road is a mountain route that will take you through the entire national park. Moreover, it's the only road that makes this possible!
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The drive is 33 miles long and ends up in Cherokee, North Carolina. It typically takes about an hour, but this can vary depending on traffic. For example, keep in mind that the peak months of June, July, August, and October may mean more driving time. Of course, you'll get to take in the sights longer if this is the case!
If you happen to catch the Smoky Mountains in the fall, consider yourself extremely fortunate! We have some tips on the Best Fall Foliage Smoky Mountains Experience and the Best Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains for Fall Colors.
Grab your backpack and your hiking boots. It's time to hit the trails! Over 800 miles of trails through the Great Smoky Mountains means the area is a dream destination for hikers. Do some research to determine which trail is best for you! A few of our recommendations include:
If hiking sounds a bit too strenuous for you, how about a lazy day at the lake? Stretching out more than 30,000 acres, Douglas Lake also boasts over 550 miles of shoreline.
This means there's more than enough room for all of your favorite lake activities: fishing, boating, swimming -- you name it!
Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook
No matter which season you visit, the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook never fails to amaze. There are four parking areas to choose from on the Gatlinburg Bypass. Once you choose your spot, prepare to feast your eyes on the splendor of the Smoky Mountains!
Photo Alert: This is one photo op you can't afford to miss. Bonus points if you catch it during the golden hour!
Shopping in the Smokies
We hope you were able to stash away some petty cash for a time like this! The shopping in Pigeon Forge is phenomenal, as the town is filled with a good mix of outlet malls and unique shops to browse. Of course, you can enjoy window shopping for free if you don't have any change to spare!
You'll find nine malls and shops by the hundreds in the area. If you fancy something at one of the local shops, we recommend grabbing it while you can. Many of the shelves in these stores are lined with unique treasures you won't find anywhere else!
Pigeon Forge Festivals
Pigeon Forge is a festival haven! You can often enjoy the hustle and bustle of these exciting atmospheres free of charge. Moreover, take advantage of possible free concerts!
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Let the enticing smell of festival food draw you into a good time at events hosted throughout the year.
Meet the Horses at Dolly Parton's Stampede
This beloved dinner show attraction features a lineup of talented horses. And, you can meet them all before the show for free! Stroll along the famous Horse Walk for a meet and greet with the stars of the spectacle.
Pro Tip: It may be hard to resist staying for the show after meeting the cast! Snag discounted Dolly Parton's Stampede tickets from Tripster so you can see the show for a steal.
The Island in Pigeon Forge
Much of the action in Pigeon Forge takes place at The Island in Pigeon Forge. This entertainment hub has something for the whole family: shopping, dining, and a slew of activities such as rides and a mirror maze!
One free fan-favorite activity here is watching the Island Show Fountain. Ooh and ah, as water literally dances to the music!
Pro Tip: Stop by Ole Smoky Moonshine while you're here! It's housed in the Ole Smoky Barn, an ideal setting to kick back and enjoy a jar.
Roaring Fork Motor Trail
The Roaring Fork Motor Trail will take you through an enchanting forest scene dotted with stunning waterfalls.
Two of our top picks? Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. Once you find one, hop out of the car and take in the watery wonder!
It's time to start crossing off your own list of free things to do in Pigeon Forge!
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Whether you choose to explore the great outdoors or do some window shopping, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, caters to travelers of all kinds. The best part? You can immerse yourself in this tourist city on the cheap! At Tripster, we're here to help with hotel discounts, show savings, attraction deals, and insider advice.
Have You Been to Pigeon Forge?
What was your favorite activity? Do you have any free things to do in Pigeon Forge to add to our list?
Leave us a comment below!