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Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge | Visiting with Kids | Family Vacation Adventuring Together

Whether you're headed to the Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge area for a family vacation, honeymoon or just a couple's getaway, when you get to go on vaca you want it to BE A DANG GOOD ONE (right?!) lol.

For us, a dang good vacation means sleeping in, avoiding tourist trap food (ick!) and exploring new things together. And as parents that still seems to hold true in our world even after having a kiddo.

So whatever adventure you're setting off on, here's some things we learned on our trip that are worth knowing before you go!


We Found AMAZING Food...

There is NOTHING worse then LONG FREAKIN' waits in restaurant queues after a long day of exploring, ESPEICALLY if have kiddos. For us, over that 45 minutes with a kiddo in toe is just NOT going to happen unless it's a freaking amazing place.

Even worse still is waiting for your table only for the food to be greasy, tourist-y and expensive as heck. The good news though is for EVERY crappie tourist spot (think subpar burgers, reheated chicken fingers, plat plain pancakes, etc) there is totally AMAZING restaurant waiting to be discovered!

And we did just that! I didn't have time to research food before we went so we relied HEAVILY on google restaurant reviews to find the best spots. When we found an amazing spot, we also asked our server about other great places in the area (thinking great food knows how to find more great food, right?)

But enough talking... let's dive in. Here are our favorite food finds while we were there:

The BEST meal of the whole trip and the drinks were on pointe! We both opted for steak here about 2/3rds through our trip. I will say the parking lot is TERRIBLE. We almost got hit 3x while I was parking... so much so I got out and told Justin "you park, I'm done". But it was worth the frustration! The food was AMAMMMM-AZZZZ-BALLS. Cannot recommend enough!!! Appetizers came quickly, beer cheese was yummy and even our kiddo was happy. win/win/win. (She didn't love all the great food we had and spent a lot of time asking for grilled cheese or chicken nuggets). Service was FAST, professional and very helpful navigating the best eats to try. Steaks were cooked PERFECTLY.

Side Note, Not A Favorite, But A Happy Surprise From the Pirate Dinner Show...

You'll notice we opted to eat in Pigeon Forge a lot. Our cabin was half way between the two towns and although Gatlinburg is arguably more beautiful with better views, the traffic was CRAZY to try to get into town and the number of restaurants seemed far more limited/touristy (ie. Bubba Gump, etc).

Food To SKIP...

  1. Red Rooster Breakfast in Pigeon Forge - SKIP this place. Hard pass... Food was basic dinner food, lots of canned fruit topping waffles and pancakes (a personal pet peeve of mine) and TERRIBLE service! Thank goodness for Nicole (a different area's server) because Kim (our server) basically ignored us the ENTIRE time, EXCEPT to grab the last people's tip off the table.

  2. Smith & Son Corner Kitchen for Lunch in Gatlinburg | Bland and Just "OK" We didn't look at food for our Gatlinburg day until after we did the aquarium and played put-put. Then we walked a it and did the tourist "I'm hungry now and want to sit down, where doesn't have a ridiculous wait" dash. WRONG MOVE. We didn't have a terrible experience. Our server was attentive, which with it being rush time, we greatly appreciated, and the view nice, but the food... ehhhh. I had steak fajitas which were subpar at best. The hubs had a sandwich which he said was "ok" and the kiddo had a grilled cheese. The place looked really cool, so we had high hopes, but I'd try to find some place else if I had the choice.

Places we wanted to eat BUT the wait was too long...

Crockett's Breakfast Camp in Gatlinburg: we tried a couple of days to get in here, but they were so busy they weren't doing a digital wait list. With it being vaca, we decided to have a slow morning in the cabin every day, which means we were looking to eat around 9/10am, when it is VERY busy. For us it wasn't worth getting up early for with a kiddo, BUT if it would have been just he and I we might have tried getting up early on the day we did Gatlinburg to avoid the rush. The food online and reviews look amazing.

Pro Tip: Most of these places either take reservations if you plan a couple of days ahead (hah! as a mom though, who has time for that?) OR what we did, was use their google links to JUMP ON THE WAITING LIST when we'd load up in the car to head towards town to eat. This mean that a 45 minute wait was actually about 15 minutes once we got there, etc.


Things To Do...

I'm not going to lie. We did A LOT on our 4 day trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Here's a break down of what we did, that we loved

Day 1: Travel Day

Got into town around 5pm and we were all tired. We opted to keep it simple, by doing dinner and then chilling in the cabin.

Dinner @ 5 Oaks + Ice Cream @ Cruze

Day 2: Gatlinburg Town Day

Day 3: Jayell Ranch Adventure Day

Day 4: Smokey Mt Park Day

Day 5: Travel Day Home


Where We Stayed...

I really can't say ENOUGH about the cabin my husband picked and booked for us to stay in! I was looking at a less expensive option, but I'm so glad he convinced me it was worth a little extra...because it totally was! We stayed in an Airbnb that was in PERFECT location to do Pigeon Forge OR Gatlinburg.

Basically 1/2 way between them our cabin was pretty easy to get to, while not feeling like we were in town. It had plenty of parking for our SUV and the kiddo LOVED the two decks over looking a little stream. While I was napping one afternoon she and daddy even did some exploring down the hill to check it out.

There were other cabins around us so it didn't feel overly remote but we had plenty of privacy and the houses were NOT on top of each other at all.

The beds here were okay and the kitchen was well stocked. We really only made coffee there in the mornings, but it was a fully outfitted kitchen. The kiddo also loved the foosball table which we ended up playing every night before bed.

We also LOVED LOVED LOVED the upstairs loft layout as we slept on the bed across from the upstairs walkway with gorgeous windows and the kiddo slept on the pull out couch across from us. There was PLENTY of room, but she didn't have to be on a different level which, LET'S BE HONEST, would have probably meant her sleeping with me and daddy downstairs.

Hosts were super responsive and the check out was simple - didn't have to do 500 things plus pay a cleaning fee. 10 / 10 and would 100% stay in it again. Check out the Airbnb Here


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