Family haven for kid-friendly fun at Dollywood

Dolly Parton Performing Onstage at Dollywood
Catch a show in Pigeon Forge, and if you're lucky, you might spot Dollywood's namesake.

Families flock here for kid-friendly fun at Dollywood, go-kart tracks, and dinner theaters along "The Parkway," the main drag through town (HW 321). Cabins north of Dollywood boast stunning views but also steep roads. Elsewhere in town the roads are flatter and wider. Many cabin resorts are based here.

1. Alpine Mountain Village (Editor's Choice―family resort): or 1-888-493-2916

  • Highlights: Well-planned new resort where all cabins look distinctly different. Luxury décor inside, with open floor plans and upscale amenities―leather couches, granite countertops, flat-screen TVs, and community pool. Adorable small wedding chapel.
  • Resort community: more than 60 cabins (more under construction; expansions planned) featuring two to six bedrooms. Cabins closely spaced, but well designed so you're not peering into your neighbor's window.
  • Location: Pigeon Forge (less than 5 minutes off the Parkway)
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $140-$240, plus $40 cleaning fee (varies by size), 5% reservation fee, and $25 damage waiver

2. American Patriot Getaways: or 1-800-204-5169

  • Highlights: Probably the biggest selection in the area. Great budget options. Front desk service 24-7. Remote check-in made easy. Some pet friendly options. Military discounts.
  • Cabins: 350 individual cabins ranging from secluded individual units to homes located in various resort communities.
  • Location: Everywhere―Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and outside city limits
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $69-$190, plus $35 cleaning fee (varies by size). $30 processing fee, no hot tub fee

3. Big Cabins: or 1-866-305-8739

  • Highlights: Caters to big groups―family reunions, church groups, corporate retreats, and weddings. Supersized cabins sleep up to 58, and this company can accommodate groups of up to 300 by booking adjacent cabins. They'll cater meals, arrange group excursions, and book side-trips and tickets for the group.
  • Cabins: More than 40 extra-large luxury properties (plus more than 100 smaller properties available through sister companies Majestic Mountain Vacations, Legacy Mountain Resort, and Sherwood Forest). Big Cabins offer up to 12 bedrooms, and properties are fully loaded with amenities and open spaces for gathering. Some feature TVs, DVD players, and satellite TV in every bedroom. Some units are pet friendly.
  • Location: scattered throughout Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $138-$275, plus $45 reservation fee and $20 hot tub fee

4. Eagle's Ridge Resort: or 1-866-369-2946

  • Highlights: Convenient location, inventive package deals, good seasonal specials, solid management company. Sister resorts include Heritage Mountain Rentals, Hideaway Hills Resort, Country Oaks Cabins, and Summit Real Estate.
  • Resort community: 300 cabins, one to nine bedrooms (largest sleeps 30 people). Fairly closely spaced, all log style.
  • Location: Main resort sits five minutes off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Newer Eagle's Ridge North development, off Wears Valley Road, offers recently built cabins with more interesting floor plans.
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $114-$169, plus $40 processing fee

5. Fireside Chalets: or 1-877-774-4121

  • Highlights: Dynamic views of ridgelines from centrally located cabins. Range of units available, including one handicap-accessible cabin and hillside cabins with a view. Able to accommodate renters seeking mountainous views without navigating mountain-side roads.
  • Cabins: 130 individually owned units. Some are pet friendly.
  • Location: Pigeon Forge area
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $85-$170, plus $40-$125 cleaning fee (varies by size), $20 reservation fee, and $50 nonrefundable pet fee for pet-friendly rentals. No hot tub fee.

6. Heritage Mountain Rentals: 1-888-711-8981;

  • Highlights: All cabins and chalets offer wood-burning and gas fireplaces, jetted tubs, hot tubs, and privacy. Pet friendly units available. Heart-shaped jet tubs in many units. Wireless Internet access in some units.
  • Cabins: 107 cabins, some individually located, some in resort communities. Sizes range from one to five bedrooms.
  • Location: Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Arts & Crafts Community
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $100-$120, plus $40 processing fee; no cleaning or hot tub fees

7. The Preserve: or 1-866-361-8439

  • Highlights: Phenomenal views from the crest of a hill. Luxury décor and amenities. Floor plans that maximize the view with plenteous windows. No cabins blocking your view of the park. Pavilion, wedding chapel, sauna/workout room, community pool, and high-speed Internet access.
  • Resort community: 77 cabins built on a cleared ridgeline facing the national park. Units are built closely with similar floor plans, but they're designed so that you're not looking into your neighbor's window.
  • Location: Pigeon Forge (in the general vicinity of Dollywood)
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $164-$299, plus $45 reservation fee and $20 hot tub fee

8. Starr Crest: or 1-866-857-2123

  • Highlights: Huge views of the park from a high mountain perch. Upscale decor and amenities―think interior decorator meets rustic elegant.
  • Resort Community: 180 luxury cabins built closely on a dramatic incline. Roads are a bit steep, and some cabins sit on such a dramatic incline that the foundations appear as big as the cabins themselves. Not for those with a fear of heights. Cabins are closely spaced, but designed so that once you're inside, you won't see your neighbors.
  • Location: Pigeon Forge (near Dollywood)
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $129-$299, plus $45 reservation fee, $20 hot tub fee, and $250-$1,000, damage/security authorization

9. Sunset Cottage: or 1-800-211-4599

  • Highlights: Mountain views, indoor pools, pet friendly units available. Luxury cabins with upscale amenities. Economy cabins are also available.
  • Cabins: 275 cabins scattered throughout Pigeon Forge. Ample variety, from secluded cabins to individual units in resort communities. Cabins have from one to eight bedrooms.
  • Location: Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Wears Valley, Smoky Mountains area
  • Price of one-bedroom cabin: $80-$195, plus $100 refundable damage deposit, $35 cleaning fee, $50 nonrefundable pet cleaning fee, and $100 refundable pet damage fee.