Pigeon Forge, TN

Well you guys, it's official! My precious angel is 6 years old (and one week) now. I cannot believe it. If you need to find me just follow the path of peppermint flavored Oreo crumbs to the corner, because I'll be crying there. I mean is that normal? Is 6 just a year that brings emotions that other years don't? Should I go ahead and schedule out a week for corner crying and stuffing double stuff Oreos in my mouth when Lil turns 6? Goodness.

Anyways, now that I have put that attractive image in your mind, let's chat about what we did to celebrate LG's special birthday (you know...before the emotional Mom stuff happened)! This year I decided to take LG on a fun birthday trip to Pigeon Forge, TN with my mom and Lil. We stayed 3 nights and 4 days that were full of laughs, smiles and so much joy. The girl's didn't really know much about what we were doing or where we were staying, so the looks on their faces were priceless the entire trip! Like when we first arrived at the hotel and they saw the fountain light up...

I thought it might be fun to break up each day of our trip for you so that if you decide to plan a trip like ours, you can see how we filled each of our days! We were really happy with the order we scheduled everything, what we scheduled, where we stayed, where we ate, etc, so I wanted to share every detail. That way when you decide to go, you don't have to think too much or plan too much in advance and can just go and have fun! *Everything that is important for planning this trip to Pigeon Forge is either in bold or italicized from here on so you can reference each easily!


Day 1: We left early enough to get to the Smoky Mountain Opry for the 3 PM Christmas show. The show was lots of fun and full of Christmas magic. We sat in the Center Section of the theater in Row D with seats 11-14. The seats were perfect for the girls because they could see everything! The songs and dances were great and the actors were so sweet and visited after the show. The show incorporated every special part of Christmastime like Santa's workshop, Christmas carols, comedy that was hilarious for all ages, and the birth of Jesus. The entire show was amazing! I definitely recommend the 3 PM show because it's a little over 2 hours long. It does have an intermission, but the 8 PM show would have just been too late for kiddies! (Great deal on tickets linked here!)


We got out early enough to grab a bite to eat and head to the hotel. We turned into the Island at Pigeon Forge and was immediately in love with the whole area. We stayed at The Margaritaville Island Hotel which was incredible. The hotel is so close to everything -- all the shops, restaurants, and rides! The Island has a boutique hotel vibe which we really liked.


Other areas for tourists can feel really 'old carnival like' and this is nothing like that. Think Atlantic Station at Christmas, kinda, except so much better! We loved it. We parked valet at the hotel and didn't need our car the whole trip except for Dollywood. We stayed in the Fountain Suite 261 which was perfect for us. It has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living area, kitchenette, and two patios with one overlooking the fountain on The Island. The master has a king bed and beautiful walk in rain shower, and the second bedroom was perfect for the girls with built in twin beds and a tv. You have the option to sleep even more people since the couch is a pull out as well. My favorite feature was definitely the fireplace in the living area!


We enjoyed relaxing in our suite the first night watching from our balcony the lighted fountain show set to music, and hot cocoa by the fire!

Day 2: We let the girls sleep in, had a quick breakfast and relaxed before the big day of fun at Dollywood! The park didn't open until 2 PM that day, and since we knew we wanted to stay through the parade at 8, we didn't try to put a lot in the schedule that morning. Great decision by the way, because that night they were so tired and more than ready for their little beds!

Dollywood was wonderful, and the girls had a blast on all the rides and watching the Christmas shows. Some of their favorites were the bee ride, lemon twist spinning teacups, piggy ride, the carousel, the ducky ride, and the Christmas in the Smokies show. All of these rides were in the Country Fair section of Dollywood as well. They also got to see Santa, meet Rudolph, Clarice, and the Abominable Snowman! The Christmas lights were breathtaking, and every section was unique and full of fun and excitement. All of the workers at the park were kind and friendly too, which was so nice! We had a great time at Dollywood, and our only regret was not getting to see and do everything because of the time! I would get yearly memberships if we lived closer (or maybe we'll just get them anyway and go more often, who knows). We heard that the new section called Wildwood Grove is amazing, and they have fairies with fluttering wings walking around, a roller coaster, a frog ride, a bear ride, a treetop tower ride and so much more! We're just going to have to go back! As we were leaving, it started "snowing" and the girl's got to play and dance in it. The park does a great job of including little details like this that add fun and sweet memories. One of LG's favorite memories from the trip that she mentioned yesterday happened as we were leaving the park on the trolley. A couple across from us on the trolley carried on the sweetest conversation about the girl's first trip to Dollywood and asked what all they did and saw. When everyone on the trolley got off, the man shouted "It's Lila's birthday today everyone, let's sing Happy Birthday and wish her the best 6th birthday!" Literally every person was singing to LG and if I had a 20 ft ruler it wouldn't have even come close to measuring the smile on her face! (Best tickets for Dollywood here!)

As we were leaving Dollywood, it started "snowing" and the girl's got to play and dance in it. The park does a great job of including little details like the snow that add fun and sweet memories to your visit. One of LG's favorite memories from the trip happened as we were leaving the park on the trolley. A couple across from us on the trolley carried on the sweetest conversation about the girl's first trip to Dollywood and asked what all they did and saw. When everyone on the trolley got off, the man shouted "It's Lila's birthday today everyone, let's sing Happy Birthday and wish her the best 6th birthday!" Literally every person was singing to LG and if I had a 20 ft ruler it wouldn't have even come close to measuring the smile on her face! It's safe to say Dollywood brings Christmas spirit to everyone who is fortunate enough to visit!

Day 3: We woke up, got ready, and headed downstairs and outside to walk across to Paula Deen's Family Kitchen for breakfast. The restaurant sits above the gift shop downstairs and is so nice. The meals are served family style with refills of anything at no additional cost, and ours was delicious! We ordered Everyday Breakfast Casserole, Ooey Gooey Pancakes, Apple Cinnamon French Toast, Country Ham, Fresh Fruit, and Southwestern Cheesy Grits. Our sweet server brought us some fresh squeezed orange juice to try as well as Raisin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls that were to die for! We had a great breakfast together, then headed downstairs to the gift shop! The gift shop is the perfect place to get gifts for those Paula fans, or that you haven't checked off your list yet this year. Every year my extended family plays Secret Santa and I was able to get the perfect gift there for this year's game!

We spent the rest of the day riding all of the rides, the ferris wheel, and shopping in the shops on The Island! It was nice to get to have a day full of fun with the hotel so close. The shops are great and really unique. They have a beef jerky store, a five and dime, toy shops, a cookie shop, clothing boutiques, and so much more. The Margaritaville Island Hotel has a spa, the St. Somewhere Spa, in the hotel as well as their retail store. The spa is the perfect place to relax and unwind during your trip. If you have childcare covered for an hour or two, it is the best place to go to relax while the kids have fun on the island rides! It can be a win-win for everyone!

The Island at Pigeon Forge and The Margaritaville Island Hotel were so generous and gave us unlimited passes for all of the rides on The Island which was GREAT because the passes last for 48 hours. We were able to ride the ferris wheel in the daytime, at night to see the lights, and the next morning before we headed home so it's definitely worth it to get those passes! The girl's favorite rides were the Spinning Parrot roller coaster, the frog ride, and the Happy Swing ride! That night we rode the ferris wheel, looked at lights, ordered pizza from Mellow Mushroom (which is one of the restaurants in the Island) and watched a Christmas movie together!

Day 4: We checked out of the hotel, let the girls ride a few more rides with their passes, then we took one last ferris wheel ride to say goodbye to The Island! We had some sad little ones when we left.

I think they could live in the hotel and at the Island all the time! We headed to Gatlinburg to have lunch at the cutest cafe, Split Rail Eats. If you're looking for a cute little Hallmark style cafe, this is it! Everything was so yummy from the Cheesesteak Sandwich to the Peppermint Latte. My favorite place now for sugar cookies! Corbin the owner makes them and they are to die for! I'm seriously craving those cookies today! We can't wait to stop in again the next time we're in town!

We relaxed on our way home and didn't rush at all. We got to listen to the girls sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer about 55 times, saw lots of beautiful country and some pretty Christmas lights! We had a great trip to the Island at Pigeon Forge and loved our stay at the Margaritaville Island Hotel and getting to see the Opry and visit Dollywood was incredible!

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Please feel free to ask me any questions about our trip as I would love to help you plan a fun filled trip of your own to The Island of Pigeon Forge! So pack your bags, buy your tickets, bring your camera and have a blast with the people you love! Spending time with family is something I never get tired of doing... let's plan another trip!



Outfit details:

Believe Sweater | Smocked Name Christmas Dresses for Opry | Girls' Hat and Mittens | Girls' Red Coats | Dupe for Louis Vuitton Bag | Reindeer Boots | Poinsetta Earrings | Girls' Sleigh Ride Pajamas | Plaid Blanket Scarf |

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Emily M. Duncan

EMILY M. DUNCAN