By Candice Gregg
Summer seems to go by within the blink of an eye and sadly, we don’t always get to relax as much as we would like to. Before worrying about getting back into the school-time routine, your family deserves to have one last getaway before summer comes to a close. What better way to get some quality family time than to make a little trip over to Pigeon Forge, TN? Located along the smoky mountains, Pigeon Forge entices hundreds of thousands tourists each year whether it be for bonding time, delicious food, or endless entertainment.
The first destination to be covered is WonderWorks. The building’s wacky exterior prepares its visitors for all possibilities of excitement and amusement. Covering over 35,000 square feet, this attraction has over 100 exhibits that will entertain each member of your family for the whole day. First, step into the Wonderzones. Each zone represents a different type of science with interactive exhibits that help make learning fun. You can feel the magnitude of a real earthquake, try to withstand 71 mph winds of Hurricane Hole, or even play a giant piano. You can even train as an astronaut for a day, feeling the weightlessness of what it’s like to be in outer space. Take a step back into history to 1912 and feel the exact temperature of the water in the Atlantic Ocean when the Titanic sank.
WonderWorks has physical activities for those who like to put their bodies to the test. Put on a harness, test your endurance and get ready for an adrenaline rush with the glow-in-the-dark indoor ropes course. Standing over 4 stories tall, this course has over 50 obstacles. This activity challenges both mind and body as you climb to the top of the course. Another activity bound to excite thrill seekers is the laser-tag arena. With twists and turns of a glowing labyrinth, team up against your opponents and try to outlast and outshoot in order to win the challenge.
Put your creativity to the test in the Imagination Lab. Relive your childhood and make colorful works of art with a gigantic version of a Lite-Brite. Play the multiplayer game Alien Stomper and work together to stomp the aliens back to their home planet and Save Earth. For the little ones, climb aboard the Fun Express! This station is specialized to entertain younger children with digital drawing and coloring, matching games, or even simple math.
Top off your day of fun with The Wonders of Magic, a show ranked as one of the top things to do in Pigeon Forge. Join Award-winning Magician Terry Evanswood in 75 minutes of mix of magic, comedy, music, and wonderment. You can even become a star as his assistant in part of his act. Performing professionally since the age of 10, Terry has curated his magic tricks to entertain people of all ages. From grand scale illusions to impersonations to Houdini-inspired escape tricks, your family will need to pick up their jaws before leaving the show from being amazed.
For pricing and more information about WonderWorks and The Wonders of Magic, please visit https://www.wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/
Hard Rock Cafe
After the fun you’ve had so far, you’ve probably worked yourself up an appetite. Head on over to the Hard Rock Cafe. Eastern Tennessee’s Hard Rock Cafe has been serving both locals and tourists alike for more than 10 years. Relocated from the Gatlinburg area, the Pigeon Forge location features 12,000 square feet, seating for more than 400 guests and allowing private event space for up to 450. One of the most iconic restaurant chains in the U.S., Hard Rock Cafe showcases memorabilia of America’s greatest music artists that patrons can admire before or after a fantastic meal.
With a variety of food, there is bound to be something that will liven up each of your tastebuds. Start off with an appetizer like the Classic Nachos: a tower of tortilla chips layered with beans, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, Pico de Gallo, jalapeños and onions. For the main course, enjoy your choice of hickory smoked BBQ, artisan crafted burgers, among other entree options. Finish it all up with desserts like a old diner-style milkshake or apple cobbler. If your night out falls on Friday or Saturday night, stick around for some live music.
To help brush up on music history, try their Rock Wall Solo™, a 52” interactive wall that allows you to virtually explore the world’s greatest music memorabilia collection within your fingertips. Explore one of a kind memorabilia by artists such as a bass owned by Gene Simmons, the frontman of KISS, a vintage lace dress owned by Taylor Swift, and three tiered rhinestone skirt owned by Dolly Parton. Take a piece of the Hard Rock Cafe home with you by picking out a souvenir for the ride home.
To view the menu online or to check for hours, please visit http://www.hardrock.com/cafes/pigeon-forge/
The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud
Another option for food is the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud. Based on the American folklore of a feud between two families, the show puts a spin on the rivalry to make it fitting for all ages. The exterior of the building showcases the neighboring families with their two houses being separated and once inside, you are transported into back in time! There are farm animals and a moonshine distiller to add to the atmosphere. For this kind of show, make sure you come hungry!
Seating in a theater style setting, food is served on the tables family style. Starting off with drinks served in mason jars, they have quite a few choices for beverages to choose from. Comfort food favorites like fried chicken, mash potatoes, and warm buttered rolls are served on metal dinnerware in true old-time fashion. Being that it is all you can eat, you can come back for seconds or even thirds. After dinner has been served, you won’t be able to keep your eyes the entertainment for the night.
The Dinner Feud has a show full of music, comedy and a friendly family rivalry, the Hatfields and McCoys are sure to keep you entertained without even leaving your seat. The feud begins over accusations of a stolen pig and the two families try to work out their differences. As characters in the show are introduced, laughter is bound to happen as the story unfolds. There is jaw-dropping stunts and amazing choreography for some musical numbers that are truly unforgettable. The show is filmed so you can take it home as a souvenir if you wish!
For seasonal show details and a full menu, you can visit https://hatfieldmccoydinnerfeud.com/
Alcatraz East Crime Museum
Another destination for family fun is the Alcatraz East Crime Museum. Designed with inspiration from the Tennessee State Prison and watchtowers and lighthouse of Alcatraz, the museum’s architecture is certainly one of a kind. With a first glance, you may not think of this attraction as family friendly. Dedicated to an atmosphere appropriate for all ages, the museum displays exhibits especially kid-friendly activities allowing them to become a junior detective. The museum is over 25,000 square feet so be sure to wear comfortable shoes for hours of entertainment and education.
For the kiddos, there are kid-friendly stops throughout the museum that is eye level for them with questions and answers for issues relevant to them such as safety, cyber-bullying, and internet etiquette. They can also meet McGruff the crime dog, one of the most iconic childhood educational figures. There are computer-interactive activities like defusing a bomb and finding out how observant you are. The kids can learn about history’s pirates and even try to find Black Beard’s missing treasure and win a prize!
The museum explores American history designed into five galleries focusing on criminal profiles, the penal system, victim’s stories, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and our justice system. There are also must-see temporary exhibits and educational artifacts. Some of their most popular and exclusive artifacts include Ted Bundy’s Volkswagen and John Dillinger’s death mask. This attraction also provides a history of crime and the processes used to help solve crimes.
To view information about temporary exhibits and the museum hours, please visit https://www.alcatrazeast.com/
The Escape Game Pigeon Forge
One of the final destinations that you should visit is The Escape Game Pigeon Forge. Popular throughout the U.S., get ready for riddles, teamwork, and working against the timer to win the game. This activity is perfect for any sized family. Make sure to show up 15 minutes prior to the start of your game to learn the ins and outs of what your mission will be.
The Escape Game has several types of interactive adventures, each of varying difficulties, where you must work together in a group and solve riddles to complete your goal to escape the room. Some examples of these adventures is a prison break after being wrongfully accused of a crime, trying your hand at catching a thief in The Heist, or even fixing a spaceship to get back home to Earth from Mars. Each of these adventures are 60 minutes long which packs a lot of fun into a short amount of time.
You can view all of the adventures and book your adventure today at https://theescapegamepigeonforge.com/
Located in the heart of the Smokies, Dollywood is the theme park and water park your family has been missing out on until now! With a combination of rustic attractions with those you’d find at the carnival, there are rides and attractions for all ages that will easily fill up an entire day (or two!). Committed to being inclusive and family oriented, Dollywood has a smart program that can help families that have smaller children in tow called Parent Swap. This allows everyone has a family to stand in line together and parents can take turns watching their children too small for the ride while the other parent can ride with their child who can ride and vice-versa so everyone can leave the ride without having to go through the line all over again.
If the kids are tuckered out from riding rollercoasters or you’re in need of some A/C, visit some of the shops or entertain everyone with seeing a show. There are seasonal shows so you can guarantee not to see the same show twice! Dollywood also has some of the finest foods and sweetest treats to offer. Your Dollywood experience cannot be complete without trying a funnel cake from Crossroads Funnel Cakes or ice cream from Blue Ribbon Cones.
For ticket information and more about the attractions Dollywood offers, please visit them at https://www.dollywood.com/
Whether you’re seeking good clean fun or maybe you’re a foodie at heart, Pigeon Forge has a lot to offer. You owe yourself and your family one last good time before getting back to the routine of school and work. Do yourself a favor and book your vacation today!