9 Fun Things You Can Do When It Rains During Your Smoky Mountain Vacation

three people completing an escape room game in pigeon forge tn

When it's raining in Pigeon Forge, it may be a good time to conquer an escape room game. Pictured: Gold Rush at The Island in Pigeon Forge (photo by TheSmokies.com)

East TN native lists best indoor attractions for a rainy Pigeon Forge day

As someone who grew up just on the outskirts of the Smokies, I can personally tell you that some days it will feel like you experience all four seasons in one day with rain at any given moment. In fact, According to the National Park Service, the Smoky Mountains average about 8-11 days of rain out of the month in the spring and summer. But still, I tell visitors not to worry if they see rain in the forecast. I’ve seen plenty of days where it’s raining one minute, and then it’s sunny and beautiful 20 minutes later. But fortunately, if the rain does stick around, there are plenty of indoor attractions to enjoy:

A trip to the Smoky Mountains is all about spending time outdoors. However, it does rain quite a bit in East Tennessee. Fortunately, there are several attractions that can keep you entertained if it rains on your trip to the Smoky Mountains. For example, in Pigeon Forge, you could watch a dinner show, try an escape room or visit one of the popular museums.

a child stares dubiously at a wax figure of Dolly Parton
Some wax figures are more realistic than others. Not everyone seems to be a fan of this Dolly Parton replica (photo submitted by Dr. Candi Overholt)

1. Visit the Hollywood Wax Museum

A wax museum isn’t exactly unique to the Smokies, but this is still a fun place to visit if you enjoy Hollywood and taking photos with celebrity “look-a-likes”. Plus, this entertainment center has a mirror maze and a few other add-on experiences, including the Castle of Chaos (a 3D reality experience) and Outbreak (a “stop the zombie” experience). I usually find the add-ons a little cheesy, but I do enjoy a good wax museum. The Pigeon Forge location is at 106 Showplace Blvd. Visit the website for more information and current ticket prices.

Inside the Escape Game at The Island
My group tried the Gold Rush escape room (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Try an Escape Room

Escape rooms seem to be a fairly recent trend that has taken tourist towns by storm. I’ve done escape rooms in various cities across the country, and Pigeon Forge has some good ones. I can personally vouch for the Escape Game, located at The Island in Pigeon Forge. You’ll have a few rooms to choose from, but my crew did Gold Rush. It’s a fun and high-tech escape game with multiple “rooms” that always results in a memorable experience. And since it’s at The Island, you can spend the rest of the afternoon shopping at various stores or wait out the rain at one of the many restaurants. We also love The Great Escape Room located right off the Parkway. We have a particular affinity for Poker Night at The President’s Bunker where an alarm sounds, you’re “locked in” and a nuclear launch is about to commence. Only you and your team can prevent nuclear Armageddon. Enjoy!

Alcatraz East Museum
Alcatraz East is a beloved attraction amongst true crime junkies (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

3. See the Alcatraz East Crime Museum

My disclaimer to this museum is always that there is a lot of reading involved. Even though the museum will say that it is appropriate for all ages, I think that younger kids could get bored here. But that being said, if you have any interest in true crime whatsoever, this is a fun little visit on your Smoky Mountain vacation. Plus, it is also located within walking distance of The Island in Pigeon Forge. Its location makes it easy to split up a group if not everyone is interested in the museum. Pro tip, booking your tickets with Tripster can sometimes save a couple of dollars off admission.

coach store in tanger outlets in sevierville
There’s several great stores at Tanger Outlets in Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Shop at Tanger Outlets

I always love a stop at the Tanger Outlets whenever I’m in the area. The walk between the shops may involve a little “outdoor” time, but overall, it will still be a nice little respite from the rain. I almost always find something to buy at either Kate Spade or Columbia. Visit their website before you shop for special offers and coupons.

Actors perform on stage at The Comedy barn
The Comedy Barn is more affordable than other shows in the area, but dinner is not included (photo by Marie Graichen/TheSmokies.com)

5. Catch a show

Pigeon Forge has a lot to offer in the entertainment space. If you’re looking for clean entertainment for the entire family, The Comedy Barn has been a tried and true tradition in the area for more than 20 years. Some may prefer the horse stunts at the Dolly Parton Stampede or a pirate-themed show at Pirates Voyage. I think which show you choose is a matter of personal preference, but all of the ones I just mentioned are backed by the Dolly Parton name. The main difference between those is that The Comedy Barn does not include dinner, but that does make it one of the more affordable shows.

titanic museum exterior in pigeon forge tn
The Titanic Museum is one of the most popular museums in the area (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

6. Visit the Titanic Museum 

It’s always a little odd seeing a large Titanic ship on the Parkway when you make your way into town. But even though it seems like an odd choice for a mountain tourist town, the Titanic Museum is a great museum that has fascinating relics from the time period. One of my favorite parts of the museum is receiving a boarding pass with the name of a passenger from the real Titanic and finding out that passenger’s fate at the end of the tour. Booking your tickets in advance is recommended since tickets may sometimes sell out. Here’s anothe pro tip: guests are now permitted to take photos inside the museum – something that was previously not allowed.

jars of blackberry moonshine in ole smoky
Sample the most popular flavors of moonshine at one of the Ole Smoky locations (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

7. Sample moonshine at Ole Smoky

There are several wineries and distilleries in the Smokies area, and it’s hard to pick a favorite! But Ole Smoky Moonshine is a solid choice because the Gatlinburg location, also known as, “The Holler,” produces all of the company’s flavors and is the country’s most visited distillery. There’s also a convenient location within The Island in Pigeon Forge. Samples are typically $7, which will go toward a purchase you make in-store.

grave mini golf course in pigeon forge tn with candy-themed decor
Crave has both indoor and outdoor courses (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. Try some indoor mini golf

Mini golf is one of the more popular things to do in the area, and there are certainly several good options to choose from. But if you’re looking to escape a little rain, I recommend Crave Mini Golf. They have a great indoor course, and you can also save $3 with promo code TSC when you purchase two courses. You can also redeem the coupon in-person with this barcode.

below view of sawfish at ripley's aquarium
Get a unique perspective on sawfish and more at the aquarium (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

9. Drive to Gatlinburg to visit the Aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is one of my personal favorites, and it was even voted the best aquarium in North America. Of course, like most aquariums, it has thousands of exotic sea creatures and a good number of hands-on opportunities for kids of all ages. But my favorite part of the aquarium is the underwater tunnel and the Penguin Playhouse. If you want to try another Ripley’s attraction in the area, check out combo passes and book another indoor attraction, like the Mirror Maze, Haunted Adventure or Super Fun Zone.

What’s your favorite activity around Pigeon Forge during a rainstorm? Let me know in the comments below.

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