Wondering which town you should visit – Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg ?  We’ve got your guide to which town might be better for you.  Get the most out of your time visiting the Smokies when you read our guide deciding between Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.  

The Food

One thing visitors to the Smokies can count on?  Plenty of delicious meal options.  Whether you’re looking for a filling breakfast to fuel you for a day of hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or just a quick snack and cup of coffee before heading out on the town, both towns have you covered.  

Another thing visitors can count on?  Pancake houses.  Both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have plenty of them.  Whether you like them sweet or savory, there’s an option for you in both towns.  

Gatlinburg tends to offer more higher end restaurants.  If you’re planning a great date night dinner or just want to grab a bite at one of the best steakhouses, Gatlinburg makes a better option for high-end food.  

Pigeon Forge offers great dining options as well.  In town, you’ll find a few more family friendly options too.  Kids and picky eaters alike may find more foods appealing in Pigeon Forge.  You’ll also find more family style restaurants in Pigeon Forge.  Sit down to a meal and let everyone decide which protein and side dishes they’d all like to share at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen or Mama’s Farmhouse

The Attractions

When you’re trying to visit Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg you definitely take attractions into consideration.  Luckily, both towns have world class attractions many visitors love!

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.  

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 each and every year.  

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.  This Appalachian theme park draws in thousands of visitors each and every year.  The variety of festivals and delicious food keeps people coming back multiple times a year.  Whether you want to ride a rollercoaster or see the sparkling lights at Christmas time, Dollywood is always welcoming.  The park has been voted the Friendliest Theme Park in America multiple times.  

The Shopping

Three women shopping, carrying bags.

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 shop in Pigeon Forge!  You’ll not only find the name brands, but also the deep discounts you love when you’re on a bargain hunt.  

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 find countless shops to wind in and out of.  Take a little drive just outside of 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 

downtown gatlinburg the strip

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 Gatlinburg, Anakeesta, and The SkyBridge are all accessible from downtown.  

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 definitely requires a car more than Gatlinburg does.  

How far apart are Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?  It’s a few short miles, about 7, between the two.  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

Lake Life - a rental cabin on Douglas Lake

Which town has better cabins – Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg? 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.  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!

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