Free things to do in Pigeon Forge, TN. RVers love free activities, free museums, and free places to go. Pigeon Forge and surrounding areas (Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountains National Park) have many freebies for RVers. Here's a list with some for you to enjoy.
1. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Admission is free. An easy way to see some of the park is to take the Gatlinburg trolley. Peak tourist season extends into the fall, when the trees are changing colors.
2. Drive the 11-mile Cades Cove loop. The scenery is stunning. I've seen RVs driving the loop. I'd suggest doing it in a smaller vehicle. There are picnic areas and scenic stops along the way. Part way through is the visitor center and gift shop. There, you'll find historic buildings, the Cable Mill, and displays. If you are lucky, you'll be there when the Rangers are leading a program.
3. Sugarlands Visitor Center is another one of the four visitor centers inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The center, including the gift shop, is open year round. Ranger-led programs (talks and slide shows) are conducted seasonally. There is a free 20-minute film about the park, as well as natural history exhibits.
4. Patriot Park is the hub for Pigeon Forge. The trolleys -- 50 cents per ride or $5 for a day pass -- come and go from Patriot Park. The parking lot is big enough for busses and large RVs. It's adjacent to the mill; the huge fall craft show takes place at one end of the parking lot, and there are touristy shops across the street. As you might expect, you'll find patriotic displays in the park.
5. Shows! Shows! Shows! We had a great time at the musical and comedy shows we went to, but the prices for adults are far from free. However, there is free show admission for kids at some of them, when you buy an adult ticket. If you are traveling with kids, be sure to ask if they have free children's tickets when you inquire about reservations.
6. You can watch wildlife from your RV park. Sometimes, this includes black bear! Deer, wild turkeys, ducks, geese, and assorted other birds and small critters live in or near the campgrounds.
7. Visit the Old Mil where you'll find plaques with pictures and narrative telling the history of the mine. Before you leave, step inside the Old Mill gift shop. You may also get a free sample piece of fudge or taffy from the candy kitchen!
8. Just outside the Old Mill is the Little Pigeon River. You'll find some great photo ops there, so use your digital camera to get free photos. Feed the ducks -- free if you bring along some treats, or a quarter if you buy duck food there.
9. Artisans show off their talents -- and hard work -- throughout the area at craft shows, independent shops, and full-blown tourist venues. The Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail is an 8-mile loop of shops. You'll often find the artist is there and more than happy to tell you about his work, including how it fits into the area's history.
10. Take a hike! Hiking trails seem to be everywhere. You can hike directly from your RV park. Hike up the mountain, and you'll see views missed by those who don't venture upwards.
11. The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company gives you another chance to learn area history. You'll find it in nearby Townsend, Tennessee. The free museum is open seasonally. The outside displays are always available.
12. Go to BUSH'S® Visitor Center in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee. About 20 miles from Pigeon Forge, you'll find the original A.J. Bush & Company general store, founded in 1897. Watch the free movie and tour the free museum. Besides the history of the Bush's company, you'll learn about growing, harvesting, and eating beans.
13. Use the Pigeon Forge Public Library free services. They offer free wi-fi. The Library hosts various music and arts programs. You may check out or swap paperback books, even if you do not have their Library card. If you show proof that you reside or work in Sevier County, you can get a free library card to check out books, movies, and CDs.
14. There's more to do at The Island in Pigeon Forge than shop. Enjoy live entertainment and watch the Island Show Fountains. Take part in the many events held there.
15. The Smoky Mountain Knife Works is the “World’s largest knife showplace.” Visit the Relic Room to see the historic collections that include arrowheads, confederate currency, alligator heads, and more. You'll also find free events at Smoky Mountain Knife Works, such as spoon carving demonstrations and presentations on basic camping skills.
16. Celebrate freedom, and everything from bluegrass music to bar-b-que to Bubba at Pigeon Forge festivals. Free events at community festivals include car shows, concerts, games, contests, art and crafts, and food…and so much more. Dates and times change, so check area current events calendars.
17. Second days are free at Dollywood if your first day starts in the later afternoon or evening. (Times vary with the season.) Dollywood season passes amount to free admission after you've used them just a few times.
18. Shopping! They say it doesn't cost anything to shop, because there is no charge to look. You'll find the Tanger Outlet Mall, other outlet superstores, mega tourist shops, and massive numbers of boutiques and galleries. Free to look. We all just look, right? Ha, ha, ha! I put this one last, because it is free only if you can manage to look without buying. Specialty food and drink shops abound in the area, and you may get free samples of jerky, ice cream, candy, moonshine, cheese, chip dip, soup, breads, flavored olive oils, hot sauces, BBQ sauces, popcorn, and who knows what all else. But, again, beware, as those free food samples are meant to tempt you into making a purchase.
Bonus: This isn't a free thing to do in the Pigeon Forge area. But, it is cheap, and certainly one of the best budget friendly tourist tips. Ride the Pigeon Forge Trolley. The cost (when we were there in late 2017) was 50 cents a ride. There are several routes. One takes you to Dollywood -- leave your RV parked in the trolley station parking lot, and ride the trolley, and you'll save about $15 on RV parking fees. Take the one to Gatlinburg, then for another 50 cents, ride the Gatlinburg Trolley to tour Gatlinburg and go into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Get the one day pass, $5.00 when we were there, and tour Wears Valley and other areas. It's an excellent and inexpensive way to get an overlook of the area -- you sit back and enjoy the sights, leaving the driving to someone else! You can board a trolley throughout Pigeon Forge, including at many campgrounds and RV parks.