usic and mountain towns go together like pickin’ and singin.’ You’ll enjoy a lot of both in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee as well as a good amount of twang. Tucked into the foothills in between high ridges on the northern end of the Smoky Mountains, the setting lends itself to sitting back, gazing at the scenery and appreciating some good local music. Here you won’t be disappointed whether you go to a well-known music venue or just take in some good strumming at a back porch gathering.
Music has certainly been a part of the local fiber as early as the eighteenth century when hunters, trappers and traders passed through the valley before the area became an official settlement. But it’s the great country music star Dolly Parton that put this popular tourist destination on the map. Dolly hales from Sevierville and it’s nice to see that despite her international fame, she has not forgotten her roots. You can hear that in her music and experience it at the Stampede Theater and the Dollywood theme park. From Barbecue & Bluegrass, a concert series that features some of the biggest names in bluegrass music and tasty eats to Smoky Mountain Christmas that showcases live holiday shows, there’s always some kind of a musical happening at Dollywood. That’s in addition to daily concerts that highlight all kinds of music, including Southern gospel, authentic string bands and traditional, classic and contemporary country, to name a few. If you like music, you’ll love this park. Be sure also to take in the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame when you’re there. The museum contains all kinds of memorabilia, some of which is replicated in their gift shop.
For an action-packed and oh-so entertaining dinner show, go to Dolly’s Stampede Theater, also in Pigeon Forge. Part bluegrass, part country, part family fun hour, dinner here is an event you’re sure to remember. And as the name implies, horses add to the fun; it’s not quite a stampede but they do provide a lot of thrills for young and old.
All kinds of music–from Motown to country–take center stage at Smoky Mountain Opry, the area’s largest entertainment venue. They go all out here with showmanship and special effects such as pyrotechnics, acrobatics, lasers and more.
There’s an extraordinary love for quilting in the south and it’s extra special when you can take a piece of that tradition home with you. Iva’s Machine Quilting & Sewing Center in Sevierville ranks as one of the best places in this part of the country to learn about quilting and sewing. Check their classes and events schedules ahead of time to see what might be a good fit for you. You can also buy all kinds of materials here from sewing machines to patterns and thank goodness you can even purchase magnificent quilts as finished products. For a ginormous selection of quilts priced considerably less, go to Lidl Dolly’s over in Pigeon Forge.
Dudes can enjoy their slice of Southern culture–redneck fun–at Man Cave Metal and Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum. Both are so cool that the ladies enjoy them, too. At Man Cave Metal, shop for cool things such as Chevy tailgate benches, weapon concealment boxes and lamps crafted out of pistons and camshafts as well as all kinds of metal signs. You don’t have to be a gear head to dig this place. Nor do you have to be a car aficionado to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of the almost one hundred classic cars displayed at the Muscle Car Museum. They’ve got a gift shop there, too.
Religion has played a big role in these parts ever since the early nineteenth century when circuit riders preached in the valley and then subsequently created a large Methodist following that still exists today. It’s Bible Belt country and you can immerse yourself in it full on at His Place Christian Store where they sell a huge selection of bibles, Christian gifts, Southern gospel music, karaoke and more. They also personalize bibles on site.
Go there perhaps before you hit some of the distilleries in the area such as the Ole Smoky Distillery in Pigeon Forge or Old Tennessee Distilling Co. in Kodak, just south of Sevierville. Moonshine–just like churchgoing–has long been a a tradition of the South but generally speaking, it’s best not to mix the two.