When we say that nowhere on Earth does family fun quite like Dollywood, we’re not exaggerating. This attraction isn’t just an amusement park but a way of life for people in Pigeon Forge.
While it’s a top tourist spot in Tennessee, you’ll find other excellent spots nearby for the gang to enjoy.
Today, we’re diving into Dollywood and nearby attractions that offer fall fun for the whole family.
Great Family Fun at Dollywood
Dollywood is a premier family entertainment destination. It’s the brainchild of country music legend Dolly Parton. In 1986, the grounds opened for kids and adults to enjoy. Since then, it’s become bigger and better.
Today, it includes restaurants, lodging, and Splash Country, which has tons of wet and wild rides. At Dolly Parton’s Stampede, you can grab a bite to eat and watch skilled horseback riders perform barrel races and other fascinating feats.
You’ll find over 40 unique rides at Dollywood, so your family is sure to have fun! Many of these have set records over the years. For example, Lightning Rod holds the title of the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world.
We answered: Can You Visit Dolly Parton’s Childhood Home?
Where Is Dollywood?
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Centuries ago, Cherokee people occupied this area. Later, trappers and fur traders from Virginia and North Carolina moved in.
It’s easy to see why this area has attracted so many people over the years. The nearby Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers stunning views and a sense of tranquility. Once you step foot in the national park, you may forget how close you are to Dollywood’s excitement and bright lights.
Best Fall Events For Family Fun Near Dollywood
Pigeon Forge has no shortage of fun family activities. You’re sure to find plenty to keep everyone entertained. Here are a few of our top picks.
#1 Dollywood Harvest Festival
You and your family can celebrate fall from late September to early November with Dollywood’s Harvest Festival. The park stays open late during the celebration to offer seasonal treats for your eyes and stomach.
The Great Pumpkin LumiNights attraction might be the best part of this annual event. Thousands of hand-carved pumpkins line the park, and you can enjoy them long after sundown. Check out the massive, glowing owl sculpture made from the gourds at Hoot Owl Hollow. And throughout Dollywood, you’ll find colossal pumpkins weighing up to 1,500 pounds.
Of course, it’s not much of a harvest festival without a bounty of food. You can eat delicious regional favorites like fried green tomatoes, sweet potato casseroles, and pumpkin spice milkshakes.
Dollywood is huge. Get a better idea of how long you’ll want to visit with Dollywood: Ultimate Guide of Things to See, Eat, and Do.
#2 Leaf Peeping
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hot spot for leaf peepers. Folks travel from around the country to watch the forest turn all shades of red, orange, and yellow. If you head to the park for fall colors, you’ll want to know the best places to see them.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a driveable five-mile loop where you can see the leaves in all their colorful glory. This narrow, one-way road winds through the mountains, offering a glimpse of what this area was like centuries ago. It’s also a great starting point for several hiking trails if you want to immerse yourself in the forest.
For a bird’s eye view of the park, ride the Ferris wheel at The Island in Pigeon Forge. You’ll rise 200 feet above the trees in an air-conditioned gondola with panoramic views of the park.
#3 Ripley’s Fright Nights
If you’re into Halloween, you’ll love Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, voted Gatlinburg’s top attraction. Fall is truly its time to shine. Every weekend in October, you can see creepy shows put on by actors in their scariest costumes.
However, Fright Nights isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, children under six years old aren’t permitted. But if you’re in for an evening of terror, it’s a sight you won’t want to miss. We don’t know what Dollywood’s matriarch would think of the performance, but we can tell you it’s fun for most of the family.
Best Places for the Family to Stay Near Dollywood
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are hot family fall destinations near Dollywood, so you won’t have trouble finding a cozy place to stay. Whether you want to camp under the stars or pamper yourself, you can find it here.
Pine Mountain RV Park
The Pine Mountain RV Park is just off the main drag in Pigeon Forge. While plenty of remote places to camp are available in the area, this is the only one that’ll put you two miles from Dollywood. You’ll also be within ten minutes of the national park.
This highly-rated campground offers full hookups, pull-thru sites, laundry facilities, and restrooms. Many spots are waterfront, sitting right beside Mill Creek. A snack bar and on-site swimming pool are also available if you want to take a dip.
We have more camping options for you: 7 Best Pigeon Forge Campgrounds.
Berry Springs Lodge
Romantic, glamorous, and relaxing, Berry Springs Lodge is the ultimate place to pamper yourself. With only 13 rooms, the staff here give you their full attention. And they aim to please!
You’ll have a world-class breakfast each morning, a private hot tub for soaking, and an unbeatable view of the Smoky Mountains. You can even book an in-room massage through the helpful concierge.
However, the lodge is for adults only. If you’re visiting Dollywood for some family fun, you might have to save this destination for next time.
The Inn at Christmas Place
If you’ve ever wanted to celebrate Christmas year-round, you’ll want to book a stay here. The Inn at Christmas Place features traditional Bavarian architecture, themed rooms, and a two-story glockenspiel that plays seasonal tunes. You can have cookies with Santa Claus and enjoy festive lights and decorations.
But this hotel also has the standard amenities you’d expect from a high-end establishment. Hot breakfast, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a fitness center are just a few perks.
Is a Road Trip to Pigeon Forge Worth It?
Packed with family fun, a trip to Dollywood is great any time of the year. But autumn offers delights that no other season can deliver. Whether you want to scare yourself silly or admire the stunning colors of changing leaves, planning a fall visit is ideal.
Many Pigeon Forge attractions embrace certain themes year-round. But there’s something special about being in the area when nature is on prime display!
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site!
We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: