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Top 7 Things to Do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in the Summer

A lively day in downtown Gatlinburg.
May 11, 2023

Summer is peak vacation season in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, and it’s not hard to see why! When school lets out for the year, millions of visitors flock to the cities of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to enjoy their world-famous family attractions. In addition to all of the wonderful year-round fun, summer brings a number of special events and festivals to the Smokies that you definitely don’t want to miss. To help you make the most of your next getaway, Timber Tops Cabin Rentals has put together a guide to seven of the best things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in the summer.

1. Experience Independence Day in the Smokies

Beautiful fireworks display.

Nowhere else in the country celebrates July 4th quite like the Smoky Mountains! When the clock strikes midnight on the 4th, the city of Gatlinburg hosts the First Independence Day Parade in the Nation. Featuring patriotic floats, marching bands, and thousands of spectators, this incredible parade is definitely worth staying up late for.

At noon on July 4th, the fun continues with a River Raft Regatta in Gatlinburg. In this fun competition, visitors and locals alike send unmanned rafts down the Little Pigeon River. Gatlinburg’s Independence Day celebrations wrap up with a spectacular fireworks show at 10 p.m.

For even more 4th of July fun, vacationers can head over to Pigeon Forge for the annual Patriot Festival. Held in Patriot Park, this popular event features big-name musical acts, great food, games, and excellent fireworks.

2. Cool Off at Dollywood’s Splash Country

From mid-May through early September, visitors to Pigeon Forge can enjoy some wet and wild fun at Dollywood’s Splash Country . Located adjacent to the Dollywood theme park, Splash Country is one of the very best water parks in the South. Guests will find a fantastic selection of exhilarating rides and slides that are great for guests of all ages. Whether you whizz down the TailSpin Racer or take a nice relaxing float on the lazy river, there is no better way to beat the heat than a trip to Splash Country!

3. Get Ice Cream at The Old Mill Creamery

Shops at The Old Mill Square in Pigeon Forge.

Going out for ice cream is another one of the best things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in the summer. While there are plenty of great places to grab a cone, our favorite is The Old Mill Creamery. Situated steps away from the historic Old Mill, this beloved creamery serves some truly unique homemade flavors, such as Banana Pudding, Salted Caramel, and Whiskey Ribbon (which is made with real moonshine).

4. See the Mermaids at Ripley’s Aquarium

During the summer months, Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg hosts one-of-a-kind live mermaid shows. Divers dressed in realistic mermaid costumes venture into the aquarium’s tanks to perform graceful acrobatics as small sharks and stingrays swim by. If you have young children, they will be absolutely transfixed by the aquarium’s beautiful mermaids. These “mythical creatures” are even available to pose for pictures and chat with your little ones!

5. Enjoy Live Music in Downtown Gatlinburg

closeup of hands playing a guitar

From late June through mid-August, downtown Gatlinburg hosts free live entertainment as part of the Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales celebration. Visitors walking the Parkway will be treated to awesome country and bluegrass concerts and stories from costumed characters. The Tunes & Tales performers arrive at 6 p.m. each evening.

6. Visit Dollywood for the Summer Celebration

Dollywood’s Summer Celebration is a can’t-miss event for any summer vacation in Pigeon Forge. Running from mid-June through early August, this incredible festival brings longer hours and visiting entertainers to the theme park. During each night of the festival, the park boasts amazing drone and fireworks shows that are set to original music composed by Dolly Parton.

7. Relax at Your Cabin’s Pool

Many of the cabin rentals at Timber Tops come with resort pool access, so you can cool off right at your home away from home. There’s nothing quite like taking a dip in the pool on a sweltering day in the Smokies! Better yet, stay in a cabin with its own pool so you can splash around in the privacy of your rental! We have cabins of all sizes for all occasions with private pools. Take a look at all our cabins with pools to find the perfect one for your trip!

Are you ready to start planning the perfect summer vacation in the Smokies? Now that you know all the best things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in the summer, it’s time to find a place to stay! Explore all our Smoky Mountain cabins perfect for summertime. We can’t wait to see you in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in the summer!

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