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The 8 best hotels in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, from budget family stays with water parks to hotels perched in the hills with hiking trails across the street

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Scenic View Of Mountains in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
  • Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have tiny populations, but the sister cities see 10 million visitors each.
  • All those tourists equal lots of attractive hotels in these eastern Tennessee mountain towns.
  • Visitors come here for outdoor attractions like the Great Smoky Mountains, as well as theme parks.

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Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Tennessee, the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge can serve two very different purposes for tourists.

For some, the towns are a jumping-off point to explore the nearby mountains, especially the half-million-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park, full of hiking and biking trails and scenic drives to take in the views.

For others, the area is a headquarters of Southern culture, full of amusement parks, themed shows, and family-friendly attractions. I’ve visited the area on multiple occasions, both to ride the rollercoasters at the Dollywood theme park and to explore the stunning national forest. The area’s entertainment strips reminded me of Branson, Missouri, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, making this a ripe area for a family vacation.

Both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have minuscule populations – under 10,000 between them. But with about 10 million tourists heading to both cities yearly, the area is teeming with hotels. Whether you’re there for the thrill of Dollywood or to reach the summit of Clingmans Dome, Tennessee’s tallest peak, you’ll find a hotel on this list that’ll serve as a base of operations for the adventures to come.

If you happen to prefer a vacation rental for your stay, start with our guide to the best Airbnbs in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg here.

Here are the best hotels in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, sorted by price from low to high.

Country Cascades Waterpark Resort

Country Cascades Waterpark Resort
This hotel has a water park that includes a body slide with twists that fall four stories.

Book the Country Cascades Waterpark Resort

Located just blocks from the main strip, Country Cascades has been a Pigeon Forge attraction in its own right since 2011, with a water park that’s free for guests. 

The River Run, a body slide with twists that fall four stories, is the highlight for most who stay here, as well as the headliner of the hotel’s 75,000-gallon water park headliner. For less thrill-seeking visitors, there’s Splashaway Bay, a leisure pool with a beach-style entry. The property also has a glass-enclosed indoor pool for days when the weather turns sour. 

Brightly colored rooms are well-suited for families, with microwaves, refrigerators, and coffee machines standard. Rooms in the recently remodeled Country Tower have colorful accent walls that match bright bedspreads and drapes. Rooms in the Summit Tower are equally rainbow-hued and also feature views of either the water park or Mount LeConte.

Large breakfasts also come complimentary with all rooms, adding value. 

COVID-19 protocols can be found here.

Greystone Lodge on the River

Greystone Lodge on the River
A river out back and the surrounding mountains give this hotel a remote feel even though its right in the center of Gatlinburg.

Book the Greystone Lodge on the River

Even though it’s just steps from the center of Gatlinburg, Greystone feels like a remote vacation spot, thanks to its rushing river out back and aesthetic reminiscent of a Western lodge.

A modest pool area offers a break from hot Tennessee summer days, as does the shallow, quick-moving river just steps below the property. Rooms are modestly decorated in decor some may find dated, with beige tile and carpet and hardwood furniture that looks pre-renovation for other area properties. However, for the price, it’s a nice stay in a good location.

For those here for the attractions, Ripley’s Aquarium is next door and other spots, like the Gatlinburg Space Needle and Anakeesta, are a close trolley ride away.

Call the hotel at 800-451-9202 for the latest COVID-19 protocols.

Black Fox Lodge Pigeon Forge, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

Black Fox Lodge Pigeon Forge, Tapestry Collection by Hilton
Experience the best of both worlds at this hotel that’s a five-minute drive from Dollywood and less than nine miles from the national park.

Book the Black Fox Lodge Pigeon Forge, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

If you want to hit all the top Pigeon Forge attractions, this property is smack in the middle of everything. It’s a five-minute drive from Dollywood, under two miles from the LeConte Center, and less than nine miles from the national park. 

The 178 rooms include deluxe rooms with beautiful river and mountain views. The larger suites also include a microwave and refrigerator, making rooms especially attractive for families. The hotel’s exterior has a multicolored craftsman-style motif, and inside you’ll find TV consoles and bedframes with reclaimed-style wood for a sense of place. 

The expansive pool is another big draw, with a water slide and splash fountain. Another major perk for families, it gives kids an attraction without any entrance fees. 

COVID-19 protocols can be found here.

Riverstone Resort and Spa

Riverstone Resort and Spa
A lazy river with a rock wall and waterfalls makes for a serene place to relax.

Book the Riverstone Resort and Spa

The rooms here feel like you’ve rented out someone’s tastefully appointed home for the night, with full kitchens, dining areas, and dens. 

Landscapes fill the walls of the rooms, which feature deep-cushioned couches, leather armchairs, and stone-surrounded fireplaces. 

Downstairs there’s a pool area with a lazy river, complete with waterfalls that cascade from a rock wall. An indoor pool, a luxurious spa, playground, and a fitness center round out the amenities. After enjoying lounging around the property, it’s just a half-mile to Dolly Parton’s Stampede. 

COVID-19 protocols can be found here.

The Park Vista a DoubleTree by Hilton

room with mountain views at the Park Vista Gatlinburg hotel
Mountain View rooms at this hotel come with exactly what the name implies – plus private balconies.

The Park Vista a DoubleTree by Hilton

No hotel in the area serves up better views than the Park Vista. With its location on a hill overlooking Gatlinburg, the hotel takes in a wide view of the valley and the mountains beyond. Book a Mountain View room with a private balcony to best take advantage of the vistas. 

A large though somewhat dated indoor pool area offers activities on inclement weather days. However, hikers will especially enjoy staying here thanks to the fact that you can easily access trails right across the street from the property. 

While located outside of the city, the town’s trolley route heads right up to the property to deliver guests to the attractions. 

COVID-19 protocols can be found here.

Dollywood DreamMore Resort and Spa

Dollywood DreamMore Resort and Spa
Even if you’re not a big Dolly Parton fan, you’ll appreciate this hotel’s pools and chic style.

Book the Dollywood DreamMore Resort and Spa

While not located on the Dollywood amusement park property, nothing will make a Pigeon Forge visitor feel more a part of the Dolly Parton experience than this. 

Opened in 2016, DreamMore aims to cater to families and couples. A game room and an outdoor pool complete with a splash pond and waterfalls will keep kids plenty occupied. Meanwhile, for the adults, there’s a more serene indoor pool and a full-service spa.  

Rooms are among the most stylish in the area, with subtle butterfly and geometric patterned bedspreads and matching throw pillows. For parents with kids, there are rooms with a King bed and bunk beds to sleep the whole crew. There are also cabins and suites with bunks that can sleep as many as six. 

The on-site restaurant Song & Hearth serves up the kind of homey Southern cuisine you might expect from the property’s country music namesake.

Guests also get upgraded tickets to Dollywood that includes a TimeSaver Pass plus door-to-door shuttle service.

COVID-19 protocols can be found here.

Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg

Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg
Mix your mountain getaway with beach vacation vibes at the palm-tree dotted Margaritaville.

Book the Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg

Sitting at the literal and figurative crossroads in Gatlinburg, Margaritaville is just over a mile from the national park entrance and also steps away from many of the city’s top attractions.

The property’s Jimmy Buffett theme is apparent from the common areas to the rooms, combining a pastel island palette with a reclaimed-wood mountain vibe. Lounge areas are full of palm trees and cushioned swinging couches that look ready for a lazy afternoon, while brightly colored Adirondack chairs surround the outdoor fire pit for chillier evenings or roasting s’mores.

The swimming pool includes a tropical-themed splash pond, and the spa offers everything from indulgent massages to beauty treatments. 

COVID-19 protocols can be found here.

The Inn at Christmas Place

The Inn at Christmas Place
For those who wish it could be Christmas all year, now it can be at this holiday-themed hotel.

Book The Inn at Christmas Place

If you’re somebody who exudes holiday cheer all year, this is your hotel. As the name suggests, it’s Christmas all year here, with common areas and rooms always decorated for the holidays.

The old-world Bavarian style of the property makes it a destination in its own right, and its worth stopping by here for a look around even if you don’t book a room. The decorations, like the twinkly trees and garland-covered mantle, look ready for a holiday card background. Further adding to the Christmas spirit are performances by a two-story glockenspiel, and Santa makes an appearance five days a week.

Unlike most properties in eastern Tennessee, this one stays busy in the colder months, booking up near Christmas and in the summer, especially corresponding for the Christmas in July celebrations. 

COVID-19 protocols can be found here.

FAQ: Visiting Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Where are Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?

Just seven miles separate Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, twin towns on the eastern Tennessee border with North Carolina. Neither city boasts a population above 6,000, but some 10 million visitors descend every year to both towns for their proximity to the Appalachian Mountains and a multitude of family-friendly attractions and theme parks. 

Should I stay in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge?

Most hotels in the area are situated on the main tourist strips that run through these two cities along US 321 and US 441.

For those wanting to spend most of the time at the theme parks and attractions, Pigeon Forge may be better suited, while those wanting to be close to the national forest may prefer Gatlinburg.

How much does it cost to stay at a hotel in Pigeon Forge?

Prices vary depending on the time of the year, but it’s relatively affordable to visit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, especially compared to other Appalachian destinations like Asheville, North Carolina, or Greenville, South Carolina.

With so much competition among hotels, deals abound, especially in the winter off-season. Even in the peak of summer, a modest hotel can be had for $100 and a resort-style property is often within reach of $250.

When should I visit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?

Summer is peak season here, although spring and fall months also bring in the crowds. Expect extra traffic on mountain roads in the fall during peak leaf-peeping season.

During the holidays, both towns don decorations to bring in those hoping for a white Christmas, although snow is rare and highs in the winter often still reach the 50s. 

What is there to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?

Ask the outdoorsy types and they’ll answer quickly: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With 522,000 acres, the park boasts camping, wildlife viewing, biking, and hiking. Even those not looking to summit a mountain can find activities here, like the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a six-mile drive with stunning mountain views and easily accessible waterfalls. 

In town, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer a very different kind of entertainment, with amusement parks, attractions, and entertainment venues crowding the main strip in both cities. 

Popular attractions include the Dollywood Theme Park, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Anakeesta Theme Park, Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show & Adventure Park, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, TopJump Trampoline & Extreme Arena, Crave Golf Club, Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, Ole Red, and Gold Rush Stables. 

More great hotels for a vacation

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