Every two years, my 50+ person family gets together for a reunion. In fact, I just returned from this year’s reunion in Pigeon Forge, TN. With a myriad of attractions and activities, massive luxury cabins, and the great outdoors, a Pigeon Forge family reunion was the perfect choice for the Mercer family.
As one might imagine, planning a family reunion for that many people is a complicated process. Fortunately, Pigeon Forge offers a wide variety of options for families looking to host their family reunion in the Smoky Mountains. While every family is different in their own way, everyone can find something fun to do in Pigeon Forge.
If you’re interested in planning a Pigeon Forge family reunion, use this guide to get started.
Decide When to Visit Pigeon Forge
As one of the nation’s top family-friendly destinations, it’s no wonder the greater Pigeon Forge area is a popular choice for family reunions. With this in mind, deciding when to have your reunion is key. While peak season has the best weather and events, it also draws the greatest crowds. Off-season, on the other hand, experiences fewer crowds but a larger chance for unpleasant weather.
Pigeon Forge is busiest during the following times:
- Summer months, especially July
- October after Columbus Day
- Christmas through New Year’s Day
If possible, I’d recommend scheduling your Pigeon Forge family reunion during the off-season. Not only will you encounter lower prices for lodging and activities, you’ll also deal with less traffic and fewer crowds. Why let a little rain or snow get in the way of your family vacation?
Of course, all of this is dependent on your family’s personal schedule. If the peak season is the only time your entire family can get together, don’t worry! Prepare ahead of time and you’ll be good to go.
Determine What Type of Lodging is Best for Your Family
Next, you need to decide where your family will stay in Pigeon Forge. The greater Smoky Mountain area offers a variety of lodging choices, including hotels, resorts, cabins, and more. Naturally, each lodging option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Pigeon Forge Hotels and Resorts
In Pigeon Forge, you have a world of hotels to choose from. Whether you want world-class amenities or convenient accommodations, you’ll find a hotel that’s perfect for your family reunion. For families with 20-30 people or less, a hotel is a viable option. With larger groups, a hotel might not be the most feasible or affordable choice.
Consider that hotels tend to be more expensive per night than other lodging options. Since hotels rent per room, each family unit is responsible for the cost of their own room at top dollar. On the other hand, the cost of cabins or townhomes can be split equally between family members.
- Each family unit is guaranteed their own room.
- Complimentary bathroom amenities.
- Various amenities including free breakfast, WiFi, and kids activities.
- Conveniently located near top Pigeon Forge attractions, often with discount deals.
- Easily the largest expense of the entire trip.
- Each family unit pays top dollar for their unit rather than splitting the cost.
- Book up quickly!
- No place to congregate as a family, such as a living room or dining area.
Cabins in Pigeon Forge
When you have a large family such as mine, the best lodging choice for a Pigeon Forge family reunion is a gigantic cabin. Or, as we’ve also organized in the past, a cluster of 2 or 3 cabins within close proximity. In my experience, these lodging situations are ideal as it allows the entire family to be together for the majority of the trip.
In addition, cabins tend to be more affordable for families. While cabins in Pigeon Forge do have a nightly cost, this cost is split between the family members resulting in a lower per night price per family. For example, the cabin we recently rented had 15 bedrooms. Assuming (for the sake of explanation) that the cabin was $1,000 per night, each family would pay approximately $67 per night for their “room” in the cabin. Compared to the prices of some hotels, this is a steal!
- More affordable than individual hotel rooms, even at a group discount.
- Offers space for the family to meet and hang out throughout the day.
- Amenities such as hot tubs, free WiFi, and spacious kitchens.
- Stunning views of the Smoky Mountains.
- There is a cabin for every type of family, large or small!
- Often located further away from top attractions and up windy roads.
- Requires that guests bring food, toiletries, and other necessities.
- House cleaning is not included on a daily basis. Only before arrival and after departure for the next group.
Tips for Booking Your Pigeon Forge Family Reunion Lodging
No matter which choice of lodging ends up being the right choice for your family, these tips will help you along the way:
Book in Advance
Noting that Pigeon Forge is a popular destination, lodging books up fast. During our organization process, we hit a few road bumps and ended up booking our cabin less than a year in advance. This drastically limited our options to only what was available—everything else had been booked for months, even years!
Booking in advance not only helps you secure your cabin or block of hotel rooms for the exact time of your trip, it also helps you find better nightly rates.
Shop Around for the Best Prices
Whether you book a luxury cabin or several hotel rooms, it is in your best interest to shop around Pigeon Forge for the best rates, options, and availability. By doing your research, you can determine which lodging choice is perfect for your Pigeon Forge family reunion and get the greatest savings possible!
Plan Your Family Reunion Activities Ahead of Time
With my family, it’s a bit difficult to find activities that everyone wants to do. And in Pigeon Forge, that’s absolutely fine! There is so much to do in the Smoky Mountains, from indoor interactive attractions to outdoor expeditions to Broadway quality shows.
For families that want to (and have the ability to) do an activity all together, I highly recommend planning and scheduling that far in advance. Whether that means getting a group of seats at Dixie Stampede, scheduling a family hike up to Laurel Falls, or purchasing a group discount at Dollywood, organizing it prior to your trip is certainly beneficial.
In our family, we found that offering a few different activities each day works best. This tactic appeals to different activity interests, energy levels, and overall organization of the reunion. On any given day, members of our family would be out hiking, shopping, on a tour, or bringing their kids to one of the many attractions. For larger outings such as white water rafting, we scheduled those activities for later in the week and determined a concrete headcount during the first few days.
All Ages Attractions in Pigeon Forge
If you’re searching for attractions and activities the entire family will enjoy, I suggest checking out these options throughout Pigeon Forge:
- Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures
- Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show
- The Comedy Barn
- Smoky Mountain Opry
- Titanic Museum Attraction
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
- Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf
- Tennessee Smokies Baseball Game
With so much to do in the Smoky Mountains, your Pigeon Forge family reunion is sure to be a hit. Just remember to plan ahead of time!
Miscellaneous Family Reunion Tips
While organizing lodging and activities are the largest aspects of planning a family reunion, these quick tips will help you along the way:
Think About Transportation
While the majority of our family drove to Pigeon Forge, a few flew into Knoxville International Airport and rented a car. Depending on where your family lives, getting to Pigeon Forge can be just as expensive as the trip itself. Weigh these costs accordingly when organizing your reunion.
Food, Food, and More Food
If you decide to rent a cabin, your best option is to make your meals in the provided kitchen. During our Pigeon Forge family reunion, we always planned one large meal each night and had plenty of food around to make ourselves breakfast. Most of us packed a lunch to bring on our daily excursion, but Pigeon Forge offers a multitude of restaurants should you choose not to.
Remember to Bring Toiletries
Families who choose to reserve hotel rooms for their reunion don’t have to worry about most toiletries such as shampoo. On the other hand, if you’re staying in a cabin, I recommend purchasing the family size bottles of shampoo and other necessities. This is a cheap option that ensures you have everything you need for the trip! Don’t forget about toilet paper and paper towels, too. Most cabins only supply a starter pack of those items.
Remember to Budget Extra Money
I’m not typically one to purchase souvenirs while traveling. However, I am one to splurge on an extra activity or food. With this in mind, I recommend reminding each family member to budget for additional expenses, whatever they may be.
Start Planning Your Pigeon Forge Family Reunion
No matter if you’re a family of 15 or 50 people, choosing to gather in Pigeon Forge and spend time with family is always a good decision. When organizing your family reunion, remember to check Reserve Pigeon Forge for the best attraction and hotel deals and travel advice.