Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is an excellent place to plan your next vacation. Whether you love the great outdoors, you’re looking for a charming Main Street town, or you simply adore Dolly Parton (who doesn’t?); whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family-friendly vacation, or a big bachelorette party, Pigeon Forge has a ton to do for every kind of visitor. Famously situated at the gateway of the Great Smoky Mountains and noted as the home to the aforementioned country legend’s famous theme park, Dollywood, Pigeon Forge is an increasingly popular destination for tourists.
This is because there’s an absolute ton to do in Pigeon Forge. Of course, that also means it’s really easy to spend a lot of money on your trip. From resorts, restaurants and theme parks to transportation, entertainment, and shopping, all that fun can really add up. Fortunately, there are also plenty of ways to save money on your trip to Pigeon Forge.
If you’re planning to fly, one of the first things you can do is find ways to trim a few dollars off of your flight. Get started with a look at The Best Airline Miles Credit Cards. Use one of these and you may recoup some of your expenses in rebates, credits, and perks.
Or read on for 10 ways to save money on your trip to Pigeon Forge…
1. Visit Pigeon Forge During Off-Peak Seasons
As with most popular tourist destinations in the United States, you’ll get the best deals by planning your vacation around off-peak dates, which are typically from January through March. While Pigeon Forge is generally a popular destination throughout the year, the summer is the peak time for vacationers and visitors. Pigeon Forge is a particularly family-friendly destination, noted for its theme parks and natural attractions. When schools let out, families flock to Pigeon Forge.
The summer peak season usually continues into the fall. Visitors come from all over the nation to watch the verdant Smokies turn to a gorgeous palette of autumn colors. In other words, Pigeon Forge is packed with leaf-watchers throughout the month of October. This means that bookings are more competitive and attractions are more crowded. This, in turn, means that most experiences and accommodations will cost you top dollar.
By contrast, discounts and lower lodging rates are plentiful in the late winter. Of course, the Christmas holiday season is another popular time to visit Pigeon Forge, but once the calendar changes over to a new year, you’ll have access to the lowest rates. Take, for instance,
Dollywood, where visitors can save up to 30% a night on select dates between January 2 and March 9th. These rates, boast the website, are the lowest you’ll pay for park admission in 2023.
2. Get a Group Together
Whatever time of year you go, it’s cheaper to visit with a dozen of your closest friends! Pigeon Forge is a popular destination for college students on Spring Break, bachelorette parties, and family reunions. If you’re planning on traveling with a big group, this is a good time to reach out to a travel agent and find out if there are ways to bundle together flights, lodging and theme park passes for your whole crew. This is one of the best ways to score discounts per traveler.
Beyond that, you’re pretty much guaranteed to save money on lodging when you book with a big group. Thanks to Airbnb, Vrbo and the widening world of vacation rentals, it is now possible to save a considerable amount of money on lodging by getting together a bunch of your friends and relatives. According to Visit My Smokies, “staying with a group of people can help you save on a place to stay. There is a variety of gorgeous Smoky Mountain cabin rentals that provide enough space for groups both big and small.”
And if you’re looking for group discounts at Dollywood, the theme park offers a price break per person when you purchase 15 tickets at once.
3. Look for Local Coupons
Whether you’re traveling with a huge crew, a small family, or just with your significant other, you should arrive with coupons in hand. Lucky for you, these are pretty easy to find. Pigeon Forge has a ton of local websites that are loaded with discounts. For example, when you visit the Pigeon Forge Tennessee website, you can request to receive an official Pigeon Forge Travel Guide for the current year in your mailbox. The 2022 edition contains valuable coupons for local attractions, restaurants, theme parks, shops and more. The Travel Guide also contains all kinds of valuable tips for planning your trip and getting in all the top sites and experiences. Request your free travel guide and start clipping coupons before you get to the Smokies. You can also check out the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce for solid discounts on attractions throughout the region. One more pro tip—always look for coupons in those local attraction brochures you see in hotel lobbies and visitor centers. Never pay full price in Pigeon Forge if you can avoid it!
4. Take the Trolley
There’s lots to do in Pigeon Forge, which means that there are lots of places to go. Don’t waste money on taxis, Ubers, or Lyfts. You’ll spend a fortune getting from one place to another with one of these driving services. The same is true of driving, where gas and parking can really add up over a few days. Try getting around by using the city’s highly affordable trolley system instead.
My Pigeon Forge advises, “Not only will you save on gas using Pigeon Forge Mass Transit trolleys, you can sit back and relax without having to worry about traffic or finding a parking spot. The trolley is especially helpful for a visit to Dollywood. Catch the trolley at Patriot Park and get dropped off at the front gate entrance to Dollywood, all for the low price of $2.50 per person (children under the age of 3 ride for free).”
For just another $.50, you can get an all day pass, which means a single person can get around Pigeon Forge all day long for just $3. These days, that’s half-a-gallon of gas. Not only that, but trolleys are super charming.
5. Do a Bunch of Cheap Stuff
The Pigeon Forge website has an awesome list of fun, family-friendly activities that you can do for less than $20! All activities are concentrated in the Pigeon Forge and neighboring Gatlinburg areas and include golf courses, go-kart tracks, trampoline parks, river tubing, arcades and even a year-round, indoor snow playground. These are just a few of the countless activities surrounding Pigeon Forge that you can do without breaking the bank. Offset some of the costlier attractions and accommodations during your vacation with some of these highly affordable activities.
6. Don’t Miss the Free Stuff
Obviously, the only thing better than a bunch of fun, cheap activities is a bunch of fun activities that are entirely free of charge. And here’s the best part. The free stuff around Pigeon Forge makes for some of the most breathtaking and rewarding experiences you’ll have in the great state of Tennessee.
That’s because the Great Smoky Mountains form a magnificent series of natural attractions that won’t cost you a thing. My Pigeon Forge says “A visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free and you cannot put a price tag on the amazing experience you will have! From the views to the hikes to the wildlife to the roadside streams, your visit will be one to remember. And taking the kids for a walk down the Riverwalk Trail is completely free.”
While we strongly recommend seeing all the fun attractions that Pigeon Forge has to offer, the truth is, you could build an entire vacation just around hiking, exploring, and camping in the Great Smokies.
7. Do Dollywood on a Discount
That said, you really can’t visit Pigeon Forge without doing Dollywood. The theme park which is partially owned by its namesake, hosts more than 3 million visitors a year. The most popular ticketed tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee, Dollywood sits just near the gateway to the Great Smokies. Featuring an array of amusement park rides as well as music, crafts and food traditional to the region, visiting Dollywood is a must during your stay in Pigeon.
But it will cost you $84 per person. So before you schedule your visit, look for discounts on the price of theme park entry. You can start with the Dollywood website itself, which offers reduced ticket prices for select dates as well as coupon discounts for food and drink inside the theme park.
Beyond the Dollywood website, many organizations offer Dollywood ticket discounts as a member benefit including AARP and AAA. Military Discounts are also a feature at Dollywood and a popular perk throughout Pigeon Forge. If you or your spouse are a veteran or current service member, make sure you mention your status at Dollywood and at the wide array of ticketed attractions in Pigeon Forge where your discount might apply.
8. Get Dollywood Season Passes
The cost of a season pass to Dollywood is less than the cost of two tickets for entry. In other words, it only takes two visits to Dollywood to recoup your investment on season passes. If you’re planning an extended stay in the Pigeon Forge area, and you expect to make multiple trips to the theme park, season passes are a no-brainer.
And with a season-long calendar of events that includes theater performances, concerts, and even appearances by the legendary Dolly Parton herself, you may indeed wish to visit the park for more than just a day of roller coasters and rides. Spring for the season passes up front and save money in the long-run.
9. Get the Dollywood Package Treatment
This is another great way to save on tickets to Dollywood and other affiliated attractions like Dollywood’s Splash Country. Indeed, you can actually get complimentary family passes to the water park when you stay at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort and Spa. This is just one of numerous packages that allow you to bundle together the cost of lodging and theme park entry.
When you stay in a Dollywood Smoky Mountain Cabin, you’ll enjoy perks like discounted or even free theme park entry, as well as reserved parking, priority ride access, and spectacular mountain range vistas from the comfort of your cabin. And if you stay more than six nights in a Dollywood Cabin, you’ll get one night free.
Staying anywhere within the Dollywood resort also gives you access to reduced prices on in-resort meals, theater performances and Dollywood’s trademark Pink Jeep Adventure Tours. Overall, while there are more affordable ways to lodge in Pigeon Forge, if you desire the in-resort Dollywood experience, you’ll find great ways to save on just about everything else.
10. Get Away From the Hustle and Bustle
While there are numerous perks that come with staying at the Dollywood Resorts, this is hardly the most affordable way to lodge in Pigeon Forge. In fact, there are all kinds of attractive accommodations if you’re willing to stay just a small distance away from all the action. According to the Tennessee Smokies Visitors Guide, “While it may be tempting to want to stay right on the Pigeon Forge Parkway, it can be more expensive. There are plenty of great hotels, motels, cabins and campsites that are less expensive and away from the busier parts of the city.”
You won’t miss a thing by lodging beyond the center of town. The Pigeon Forge area is easy to get around and every drive is a feast for the eyes. Rolling mountains, lush hillsides, and breathtaking overlooks make every route the scenic route.
And if this is your first big trip since the start of the COVID era, you should be aware that some things about travel are a little different these days, especially at a crowded theme park like Dollywood. Before you plan your travel and book your accommodations, we strongly advise you to check out these 10 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Travel.