If you’ve never heard of Pigeon Forge, you’re not alone. It’s a relatively humble-sounding place nestled deep in Appalachian Tennessee, but its roots are fascinating and its potential for vacation fun almost unlimited.
Not only is it home to the Dollywood theme park, but there’s all sorts of other adventure to be found. Moreover, it has a rich and fascinating past.
First Nation stories permeate the area, with Muscogee, Chickasaw, Yuchi, and Cherokee traditions still growing strong in some places.
It’s worth stopping by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, which is about an hour and 15 minutes from Pigeon Forge, to learn more about these cultures and their histories. Of course, the area also has strong European roots, with settlers arriving late in the 18th and early in the 19th centuries.
Pigeon Forge gets its name from two different characteristics of the area: the passenger pigeons that used to inhabit the Great Smoky Mountains in great numbers, and Isaac Love’s iron forge, constructed around 1820 or so.
It is magical to think of the area hundreds of years ago, with the blue mountains rolling in the distance and the pigeons “so numerous that they darkened the sky as they flew into the valley, and the beech trees along the river were stripped of limbs by the weight of their great numbers,” as the City of Pigeon Forge puts it.
Today, you can’t see passenger pigeons. You can visit historical sites, eat traditional Appalachian fare, check out the town’s amusement parks, and generally have an old-fashioned good time – all on a pretty tight budget if you make the effort!
We’re here to help you do just that. Let’s take a look at ways to save so you can live big in Pigeon Forge.
Average Trip to Pigeon Forge Cost in 2023
An average one-week trip to Pigeon Forge for two people will cost around $3,600:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $100 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $500 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $125 per person, per day
- Transportation: $150 total
- Total Cost: $3,600
As you can see, a week in Pigeon Forge is relatively affordable for a couple. (Families will find that rates are similar, but must be doubled to account for four people.)
This stands to reason since Tennessee is not an expensive state. However, Pigeon Forge is a vacation mecca. “It’s estimated that just more than 6,000 people live in Pigeon Forge as full-time residents,” says the Dollywood website.
“That is a pretty small number considering more than nine million tourists come to the town annually. That’s about 1,500 tourists for every one resident, give or take a few.”
Because of this, you should expect to pay dining, drinking, and activity costs that are equivalent to other vacation towns: think Cape Cod, Miami, or San Francisco. Nevertheless, we have plenty of tips to help you save, so keep reading.
Pigeon Forge Trip Cost: Average by Item
Average trip costs are always a dicey proposition, because they depend so heavily on your dining and lodging preferences, the time of year you travel, and where you’re coming from.
The following costs are not guarantees but rather starting points for your research, so you can determine whether the trip is right for you.
Pigeon Forge caters to travelers, so you should expect to pay a little more in accommodations than you might in another American town. For a 3-star hotel with a pool and dining room, you’ll pay about $125 a night for two people.
If you don’t care about on-site dining and are fine with a relaxed vibe, you can spend about $100 a night. Smaller and cheaper inns will cost you closer to $50 or $75 a night.
Expect fewer amenities, though many still have offerings such as pools and continental breakfasts. It’s a good idea to do your price-shopping well ahead of time, because then you can set up alerts and get the best deals.
Note that if you’re the type who likes to compare costs and think before plunking down a credit card, you’ll benefit from searching for hotels (as well as flights) in incognito mode.
This prevents your browser from saving cookies, which it otherwise would use to jack up the costs that are returned to you on your next search. Keep your interest private during research to get the most accurate prices!
Overall, $100 a night will get you a nice hotel with a pool, WiFi, comfortable room, and other on-site services. If you’re looking to create a budget experience, this is one of the easiest areas to save though.
To get to Pigeon Forge, you’ll fly into McGhee Tyson Airport. (The town does have a local airport, but that doesn’t serve domestic travelers.) From a major hub, plan to spend about $400. From a smaller airport, your cost will be more like $500 or $600 per round-trip ticket. Budget $500 on average.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
Food and drink are not super cheap if you dine out in Pigeon Forge. As we’ve discussed, it’s a vacation town, so they charge tourists accordingly.
However, it does still have grocery stores, which means you can get snacks and lunch for much cheaper if you plan ahead and make use of your hotel room’s mini fridge.
Most hotels offer a free breakfast as well, so avail yourself of that to save a bit more. When eating out, plan to spend between $20 and $30 a plate for dinner, $15 to $20 for lunch, and a typical amount for cocktails and sodas.
Overall, budget about $75 per person, per day for food. If you’re happy living on the cheap, you can whittle that down to $40 or $50 pretty easily.
If you’re looking for a bit of a haunted experience, we recommend you check out:
- Little Greenbrier, which contains an abandoned schoolhouse, an old graveyard, and the Walker Sisters Cabin, all of which are accessible via a hike along the Metcalf Bottoms Trail
- The Old Mill, which is still a working grist mill today and is attached to a classic family-style restaurant with food, crafts, and traditional Smoky Mountain flavor
- Elkmont, an honest-to-goodness ghost town, filled with early settlements, buildings constructed during the railroad boom, and moldering structures from the 20s and 30s, when the area was a popular resort destination
These activities are all free or low-cost and will help you fill your day without paying a dime. If you’re an adrenaline-lover, here’s another free way to spend some time: riding the Tail of the Dragon.
This 11-mile stretch of road in North Carolina is only an hour and a half from Pigeon Forge and is one of the most popular stretches of road for motorcycle and racecar drivers in the United States.
First paved nearly 100 years ago, it contains more than 300 curves in its short stretch, making it a thrilling ride indeed.
Just be sure to practice the road at normal speeds before attempting it at high ones; there is a Tree of Shame for motorcyclists who go too fast without preparation, and a number of people have died there.
One of the main reasons people come to Pigeon Forge is for the amusement parks, which most certainly are not free. However, they’re more reasonable than, say, Disney Parks.
A 2-day pass to Dollywood is about $100, while a 2-day ticket for Dolly’s Splash Country is $75. You can check out all ticket prices here. Rowdy Bear Amusement Park – with rides, adventure courses, and axe throwing – starts at $50 a day for adults.
All told, you’ll want to put much of your budget aside for activities. Plan for about $125 a day to accommodate food, drinks, and 2-4 days at amusement parks.
There are two basic ways to get around Pigeon Forge: by car and by trolley. The trolleys are inexpensive, ranging from $1 to $3 a fare, and will get you to all the popular destinations in town and nearby, including Dollywood.
If you stay in the area and only take the trolley all week, a couple can keep transportation costs to $100 (or less!). If you are excited to go hiking in the Smokies, or you want to see nearby towns, lakes, rivers, parks, and so forth, consider renting a car for a few days.
At about $25 a day, it’s an affordable way to give yourself a bit more flexibility. All told, between trolleys and a few days of car rentals, budget $150.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other things to consider when planning your trip to Pigeon Forge:
- There are, like, so many trolleys, and you’re missing out if you don’t avail yourself of this old-timey way to travel. The trolleys stop all over Pigeon Forge, as well as Dollywood, Dolly’s Splash Country, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville.
- The autumn leaves are incredible in the Smoky Mountains. Consider coming for leaf season, where you’ll also find lots of harvest festivals, such as the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, Dollywood Harvest Festival, and David’s Carpet Fall Festival (a religious production).
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park has some of the most incredible views in America, especially during spring and fall. If you love the outdoors, plan on coming when the season changes. However, high winter when the trails are covered in snow is also an incredible time to come.
- Pancakes are, like, totally a thing. Pigeon Forge offers multiple famous pancake destinations, including the Smoky Mountain Pancake House, Sawyer’s Farmhouse Breakfast, Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin, and more. Try to grab some while you’re there!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about budgeting your trip to Pigeon Forge:
What are the main things to do in Pigeon Forge?
Amusement parks, walking and hiking, historical tours, and excellent eating are the main activities in Pigeon Forge. However, the weather is lovely in late spring, summer, and early fall – so you can’t go wrong lounging by a pool either!
Is it safe in Pigeon Forge?
Yes, Pigeon Forge is very safe. Practice normal precautions when it comes to protecting your belongings, leaving unnecessary valuables at home, and not walking alone at night. Luckily, public transportation is very good, so you shouldn’t need to.
What’s the weather like?
Fall and spring range from 50 to 70 degrees, so they’re very comfortable and pleasant times of year to visit.
Winter is rainy, cold, and sometimes snowy, but there are plenty of fair, crisp days to enjoy hiking or amusement park adventuring as well. If you want to visit Dolly’s Splash Country, opt for summer heat.
How should I pack for Pigeon Forge?
How you pack will depend on the season. When visiting in winter, bring lots of cold weather gear, including puffy coats, hats, gloves, and boots. Spring and fall are mild, but you’ll want to wear layers. Summer is hot and humid, so break out your shorts, tanks, and sandals.
Also remember to bring a water bottle, lunchbox, sunscreen (even for winter), medications, books, and activities for traveling (especially with kids).
Is it easy to get around?
Yes! The trolley system is comprehensive, with more than 200 stops in Pigeon Forge as well as select stops in Gatlinburg and Sevierville, two nearby towns with their own down-home fun to offer.
How do I stay up to date about events, etc.?
If you want to make sure you’re not missing anything good, keep an eye on the Pigeon Forge events calendar. It lists all the activities and shows that happen throughout the year, so that you can find out what’s happening while you’re there – or even plan your trip around the calendar.
So, What Is the Average Cost for a Trip to Pigeon Forge?
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$100 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$500 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$125 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$150 total|
|💲 Total Cost||$3,600|
The average cost of a one-week trip to Pigeon Forge is around $3,600 for two people. If you’re looking for a quick getaway somewhere beautiful, romantic, and affordable, this could be it!
So, with so much to see and do and the ability to visit this lovely destination on a budget, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Pigeon Forge has to offer. Happy travels!