While many people may think that Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN are basically the same, each town actually has very different things to offer. Although they are in close proximity to each other, and they both have some similar activities, they are also both very unique. So, which is better? I’m going to put these two Smoky Mountain destinations head to head to see who packs a bigger punch in the categories of food, entertainment, and shopping.
Gatlinburg: When it comes to specialty shops, Gatlinburg takes the cake. Home to Santa’s Claus-et, you’ll find everything is Christmas from music and ornaments to jams, jellies and coffee. The best part about this store is that it sells Christmas goods all year long. Gatlinburg’s streets are lined with dozens of shops selling tobacco and cigars (Gatlin-Burlier Tobacconist), personalized kids’ music and books (The Lollipop Guild), fishing equipment and licenses (Smoky Mountain Angler), American Indian jewelry and artifacts (The Silver Galleon), and many more. And one of Gatlinburg’s best and most popular places to shop, The Village Shops, is a collection of 27 stores and eateries in a charming European village setting. The NOC’s Great Outpost also has everything that the outdoor enthusiast could possibly want.
Pigeon Forge: If you’re looking for designer brands at great prices, Pigeon Forge has it all. Belz Factory Outlet World is Pigeon Forge’s largest outlet mall with over 65 stores. In over 450,000 square feet of brand name outlets, you will find Nike, Naturalizer, Totes, Coleman, and more. If that weren’t enough, the Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall offers an additional 196,900 square feet of shopping. At the “Red Roof Mall,” you will find low prices on books, furniture, clothing and more. The Christmas Place gives Santa’s Claus-et a run for its money. Lights, ornaments, stockings, gifts, wreaths, trees and music fill this magical shop with holiday cheer year round.
Gatlinburg: Gatlinburg has a wide variety of great food options, including: The Pancake Pantry (breakfast any time of day), The Hard Rock Cafe (burgers and smokehouse specialties), Smoky Mountain Trout House (the freshest local trout), The Peddler Steakhouse (the best steaks in town), Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and Geno’s Pizza (a local favorite with fresh made dough).
Pigeon Forge: A few of the great restaurants you will find in Pigeon Forge include: Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant (amazing Southern cooking), Kinkaku Japanese Steakhouse (sizzling hibachi entrees), Bullfish Grill (steak and seafood), and Johnny Carino’s (a great Italian chain restaurant).
Gatlinburg: In Gatlinburg, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies stands as my favorite entertainment, but the city also has a ton of other great things to do. Fannie Farkles has all your favorite arcade games, the Space Needle offers an amazing view, and Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre has wonderful live entertainment. Rafting in the Smokies and Wildwater Limited are also located in Gatlinburg, TN.
Pigeon Forge: In Pigeon Forge, Dollywood is an entire day of rides, shows, and tons of fun. The Titanic Museum Attraction is educational and fun, and Wonderworks is full of interactive exhibits, including an inversion tunnel and an anti-gravity chamber. Here, you’ll also find The Track (with bungee jump, go-karts and games), Dixie Stampede, The Lumberjack Feud, and The Comedy Barn. There are also a number of places to play laser tag.
Both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have amazing options for eating, shopping, and entertaining, but which is better? Well, that’s like asking, “Auburn or Alabama,” “deep dish or thin crust,” or “cake or pie,” (the answer to the last of those being – both). But at the end of round 3, here are my picks.
SHOPPING – Tie (Pigeon Forge for the brands, Gatlinburg for the specialties)
FOOD – Gatlinburg
ENTERTAINMENT – Pigeon Forge