Whenever you need a break from all the activity, a few days surrounded by imposing mountains and gorgeous nature can make miracles.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a perfect destination for scenic drives, exciting hiking, and relaxing picnics. And two of its most popular towns, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, are waiting for travelers with serenity, spectacular views, fun things to do, and a cozy vibes.
The good news is Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are right next to each other so whichever you choose to stay in, you can still enjoy the other during your trip.
Pigeon Forge Vs. Gatlinburg: Location
There are only a few kilometers between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, the short distance making them very similar destinations. But they have many noticeable differences, a major one being the feel. Nestled in the middle of the mountains, Gatlinburg awaits you with a charming small-town feel and a delightful downtown area you can explore on foot in a day.
Home to over 4000 citizens, the quaint mountain town is visited by more than 10 million tourists who come each year to enjoy the mountains. Being at the base of the mountains, so close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is a big attraction for outdoorsy people who want to spend their time on the trails.
While not having the same exciting location for nature lovers as Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge surprises visitors with spectacular views of the Smokies. With the town and its downtown area more spread out, you can’t easily explore Pigeon Forge on foot, so you need to drive around or take other transportation.
Gatlinburg, with its more secluded location, might be the best destination for nature lovers, but Pigeon Forge welcomes people looking for a diversity of activities. The truth is that regardless of the season, there is always something going on in Pigeon Forge. The town is also close to Dollywood, and the famous amusement park is the focus of many people’s vacation.
Pigeon Forge Vs. Gatlinburg: Accommodations
The great news is that Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are only four miles away from each other. So, overall, there aren’t many significant differences between the cabins in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Also, no matter where you spent your nights, you’ll be close to the best sights in the Smokies.
What might make the difference for hiking enthusiasts, for instance, is that Gatlinburg hotels and cabins are located right near the park’s entrance. Other than that, you will find superb cabins, with lush amenities and breathtaking mountain views in both towns.
Pigeon Forge Vs. Gatlinburg: Things to Do
Gatlinburg’s biggest draw is its location, right at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, attracting millions of people who want to indulge in the 800 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, scenic auto tours, and much more.
Besides, the warm vibe of a small town, the perky local shops and restaurants, and the beautiful views, a great number of interesting attractions like the Ripley’s Aquarium, Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park, or Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park make Gatlinburg a great choice for a cozy, laid-back escape.
Though Dollywood is Pigeon Forge’s most famous attraction, the thrilling theme park named after Smoky Mountain native Dolly Parton, the town hides plenty of other activities. Home to major shopping centers like Tanger Outlets, Pigeon Forge is a great choice for a shopping therapy session.
Both towns spoil kids with fun activities. But there is no doubt Pigeon Forge has a bigger number of kid-friendly spots, such as The Titanic Museum Attraction, TopJump Trampoline & Extreme Arena, SpeedZone Fun Park, and many others.
And for those worry-free nights, when nature becomes to silent, Pigeon Forge surprises its visitors with incredible shows and entertainment. Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Smoky Mountain Opry, and Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show are some of the top shows you can enjoy in this seductive mountain town.
Gatlinburg vs. Pigeon Forge: Which is Right for You?
There is no doubt that, whether you choose Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, your vacation in the Smokies will be memorable. Though there are some obvious differences between them, both towns await visitors with excellent outdoor adventures and entertainment, as well as good lodging options, and family-friendly fun activities. Also, they are right next to each other, giving you the chance to indulge in all their hidden gems and perks during one trip.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, you can begin planning your unforgettable escape in the Smokies.
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central American, South America and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.