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1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

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Miami, Florida
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1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

I booked the flight tickets to Knoxville' airport (Alcoa) and will arrive at 10.30pm, Firday night. So thought was a good idea to stay that night near the airport and next day, Saturday early morning start my ' smokies weekend' .

I have a few questions and hopefully somebody will be able to help me (I tried google already and found too many options :) ).

1) Should I sleep near the airport and go to the smokies are next day or go directly from the airport to there? Do they have public transportation, from the airport, to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg?

2) Should I stay in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg?

Thank you!!


middle Tennessee
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1. Re: 1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

If it was me, I would stay near the airport 1ST night due to you coming in at 10:30 PM. (motels are in Alcoa/airport area) Get up Sat. morning and venture on. I'm "guessing" you are renting a car, which town to stay in would depend if ya get free miles on the car. If its limited miles then I would stay in Gatlinburg and walk. Cause almost everything there is within walking distance. Over in Pigeon Forge everything is spread out. I'm not sure about the public transportation from airport to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. I'm sure they have taxi's. (might be expensive) Hope this helps.

Miami, Florida
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2. Re: 1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

Really helpful! Thank you for the quick response. I’ll book the hotels according to your suggestions!

have a great day!


Athens, Georgia
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3. Re: 1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

Your going to love this area. Mtn valley is right (for which reason we like gatlinburg better) but enjoy going to both because they are different. There is a trolly system within the cities too. To give you a better idea of what it's like there is a great website that gives you a virtual tour down the parkway.


I agree with spending the first night near the airport but the next a.m. I would be on my way!

Knoxville, Tennessee
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for Pigeon Forge
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4. Re: 1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

Your post doesn't indicate what time of the year your are coming in so I'm assuming it's the summer time.

I would guess that the travel day from Miami wont' be more than a few hours with likely only one layover so even though you are arriving at 10:30 pm I would still recommend driving into Pigeon Forge that night as you shouldnt' really be that tired. Even on a Friday night the in rush of tourists and the traffic they can create will have calmed down to make it an easy and painless 45 minutes. The next morning on the other hand will likely be crowded and a slow go into town. It will save you a hotle move also.

If on the other hand your talking about this Friday the crowds should be pretty light at just about any time but many outdoor things aren't open now.

If you have a car I would recommend staying in Pigeon Forge but if you are without the ride I'd go with Gatinburg as you can walk around most of the city. I would encourage getting the car regardless in order to see more than just G'burg.

I love both cities for entirely different reasons. There's more to see and do in Pigeon Forge but fun to be had in both. Far better shopping (outlet malls) in PF. Good restaurants in both.

In either place you'll have a good time and find plenty to see and do.

Have a great trip!


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5. Re: 1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

Personally I like to stay in Gatlinburg. As kids our Mom used to get us motels in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. I think she did this because in general hotels in Pigeon Forge & Sevierville were cheaper than those in Gatlinburg. Also, as kids we mainly went to Dollywood and the Applebarn...with a day trip into the National Park. So, we spent most of our time outside of Gatlinburg. But, as an adult, I personally like to stay in Gatlinburg.

Pigeon Forge is more spread out. There are lots of attractions including go-karts, skating rink, Dollywood, Splash Country, the Old Mill, miniature golf and lots of shopping. Most places have adequate parking and is free (except at the amusement parks). You will need to drive between attractions OR take the fun time trolley.

Gatlinburg is a "walking" town. You can easily walk from most hotel rooms to the strip in downtown Gatlinburg. OR you can even catch the Gatlinburg trolley from most hotels and take it downtown--IF you dont want to walk. On the strip in downtown, you will find shopping, restaurants and attractions (aquarium, space needle, arcaces, mirror maze, mini golf, haunted houses, wax musuem, star cars musuem, sky lift, and etc). If you do not stay in Gatlinburg and want to visit Gatlinburg, then you will most likely have to pay to park your car at a lot OR take the trolley into town. So, IF you get a hotel room IN Gatllinburg--you automtically get a FREE parking space in town (at your hotel). I LOVE to stay in Gatlinburg!! I love being able to go out to Pigeon Forge, Townsend, Cherokee or Sevierville for the day & retreat back to Gatlinburg for the night life. I love to walk the strip in downtown at night--taking in the sounds, scents, lights, sights and atmosphere of the town being alive with people. I love being able to walk the strip each night--go to dinner--and then walk back to my hotel room. There are a few bars in downtown Gatlinburg too IF you are looking for some adult night life.

Overall, I would suggest choosing the town that meets your needs. I guess it just depends on HOW or WHERE you plan to spend your time on vacation.

Hope this helps!!

right over your...
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6. Re: 1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

I would want to get to the mountains the first night but will where you are staying let you check in that late.

Bedford, Indiana
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7. Re: 1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

If you have a car, Pigeon Forge is where you want to be. If you will be relying on public transportaion, GB might be best.

Lots more to do in the PF area and you can always drive over to GB when you go to the park.

8. Re: 1st time in the smokies...Pigon Forge or Gatlinburg?

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