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The Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge can be difficult decision to make, especially when you’re on limited time. So we decided to make it a little less taxing as you undergo the  Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge dilemma with a guide to which town might be better for you.  Plus, following this guide just might help you more time excited about your plans and less trying to make them.

Pigeon Forge


One thing Smoky Mountain Guests can count on is a plethora of delicious meal options.  Whether you’re looking to start your engine with a filling or just a great cup of coffee, either town is a win!

East Tennessee is known for their pancake houses and both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have plenty of them.  Sweet or Savory and even a little of both, you can’t go wrong.

Fine Dining

But, If you prefer a more extravagant splurge in the Gatlinburg vs. Pigeon Forge debate, Gatlinburg is where you’ll find your fix. A great option here is a surprise dinner date at some of the best steakhouses this side of Tennessee. Don’t forget to make a reservation. Surprises are good, but somebody has to plan them!

Family Dining

Pigeon Forge offers great dining options as well.  In town, you’ll find a few more family friendly options  for the  Kids and picky eaters alike. You’ll also find more family style restaurants in Pigeon Forge.  Sit down to a meal and let everyone decide on a meal to share at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen or Mama’s Farmhouse.

southern style meal

The Attractions

A visit to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg means that attractions are important! Here are some of the main Gatlinburg vs. Pigeon Forge places that people come to see.

Gatlinburg offers plenty to do both downtown and outside of town.  Some of the most popular attractions in town include Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, The Gatlinburg Space Needle, and family friendly combination attractions like Gatlin’s Fun Center.

The Smoky Mountains

Obviously, the most visited national park in the United States, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is right outside downtown Gatlinburg.  With hundreds of miles of hiking trails and thousands of miles of fishable streams, the Smokies draw in more than 12 million visitors every year.

Pigeon Forge Fun

Pigeon Forge keeps the fun times going with plenty of great museums and even indoor mini golfing and indoor go-karts.  Combine food, attractions, and shopping by hitting up The Island in Pigeon Forge.

Undoubtedly, the biggest draw in Pigeon Forge is Dollywood.  Each year, this beautiful theme park draws in thousands of visitors. The variety of festivals and delicious food keeps people coming back.  Whether you want to ride a rollercoaster or see the sparkling lights at Christmas time, Dollywood is always an adventure. Plus, it’s been voted the Friendliest Theme Park in America time and time again.

We Love To Shop

Looking for a deal on a designer bag?  How about a unique, one-of-a-kind souvenir?  Depending on which of these you’re in the market for, you may need to travel between Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg to find them!

Pigeon Forge is known for it’s outlet shopping.  From the Mountain Mile to Tanger Outlets, there are plenty of name brand stores to spurge at in Pigeon Forge!  You’ll not only find the name brands, but also the deep discounts of a great bargain hunt.

Something More Unique

The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community

Gatlinburg is known for its kitschy shops.  From airbrushed T-shirts to handcrafted items to that souvenir coffee mug you buy from every town you visit; you’ll find those items in Gatlinburg.  Walking down The Strip you’ll be lured by countless shops you’ll want to wind in and out of.  Take a little drive just outside downtown and you’ll find the hidden gem of Gatlinburg – The Glades Arts & Crafts Community.  This lovely 8-mile loop is a wonderful drive, and you’ll find everything from an old-time style soda shoppe to a magic shop to hand forged knives.

The Layout

Getting around town can be a major factor for some deciding to visit Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.  Many of Gatlinburg’s attractions are located on the Parkway, affectionately known as “The Strip” to visitors and locals alike.

Walking from place to place is easy to do in Gatlinburg, and many attractions and restaurants are within walking distance downtown.  Even the attractions up the mountain – like Ober Mountain, Anakeesta, and The SkyBridge are all accessible from downtown.

downtown gatlinburg the strip

Definitely Different

Down the mountain a little further, Pigeon Forge also has their own “Strip” in the form of the Parkway.  However, Pigeon Forge is a little more spread out.  Most people consider Pigeon Forge to officially start at the numbered traffic lights – #1-#10 – and the distance between these two points is a little further.

Pigeon Forge does offer sidewalks to walkers; however, the distance between attractions makes walking a little more difficult.  Pigeon Forge requires a car whereas Gatlinburg can be enjoyed by foot, which could make your Gatlinburg vs. Pigeon Forge decision a little easier.

Gatlinburg Trolley Free

How far apart are Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?  There are only a few miles between these two locations: roughly 7.  This distance is not walkable and there aren’t usually a lot of Uber or Lyfts in town.

To travel between the two you’ll need a car and some patience.  The road between the two is curvy and many of our visitors aren’t used to mountain travel when they drive it the first few times.

The Cabins

Which town has better cabins – another Gatlinburg vs. Pigeon Forge decision.  Well, at American Patriot Getaways we have amazing cabins in BOTH!  Whether you’re looking for a honeymoon cabin in Gatlinburg or a large cabin for a big group in Pigeon Forge (or vice versa) we have what you need.  For every group size and budget, American Patriot Getaways can accommodate your trip.

Grande Mountain Lodge, a 5 bedroom rental cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN

No matter which town you choose, we have a cabin for you.  Check out our cabins with indoor pools for a big group or our romantic getaway cabins.  Of course, if you need help, our team of friendly Reservationist can help you narrow down your choice.  Visit our website or give our team a call at 800-204-5169 and book your trip to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg today!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest area information.  Check us out on Pinterest for easy recipes to cook in your cabin, decor inspiration, and more!

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