When you’ve been in search of a purpose to make that pilgrimage to Dollywood — the Tennessee mecca of all issues Dolly Parton — it is time to begin planning (although honestly anytime is an effective time to pay homage to the “Jolene” queen). The opening of a brand new rollercoaster and a particular anniversary makes it the right time to have fun all issues Dolly Parton.
Positioned within the mountain city of Pigeon Forge, Dolly’s theme park began small in 1986. Since then, it is remodeled the world into a significant household recreation vacation spot. On the coronary heart of all of it is Dollywood and its adjoining water park, Dolly’s Splash Nation. The principle park is a 160-acre verdant property celebrating all issues Dolly, with rustic-themed rides, dwell nation and people music, artisanal craftspeople, Dolly-style vogue, meals (the cinnamon bread is legendary), a reproduction of Dolly’s childhood dwelling, and even a bald eagle rehabilitation space. A one-day ticket to the park is $89, although you are in all probability going to need no less than the two-day move for $109.
This 12 months at Dollywood is especially particular. When Parton made her annual look on the park’s opening day, she introduced the opening of a brand new curler coaster: Huge Bear Mountain, which would be the park’s longest at almost 4,000 ft across the Wildwood Grove part. The brand new journey is now open to visitors, however Dolly herself will not be partaking. “Y’all know in addition to you recognize my title I gained’t be using that factor,” the motion-sickness-prone Parton cracked.
This 12 months brings a beautiful commemorative event for the non-riders too: It is the fiftieth anniversary of the singer’s unforgettable ballad “I Will At all times Love You.” Parton additionally introduced the autumn 2023 opening of a significant new property, the Smokies-themed, 302-room HeartSong Lodge & Resort.
In your days off from the park, go for a hike in Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park. Try the gorgeous Metcalf Bottoms Path, which results in an outdated schoolhouse and the Walker Cabin, the place six “spinster” sisters refused to hitch their neighbors in promoting their property when the world grew to become a nationwide park within the Thirties. It was occupied till 1964 when Louisa, the final surviving sister, handed away.
The place to eat close to Dollywood
When you crave the complete Dolly expertise, you’ll be able to’t miss Dolly Parton’s Stampede, the dinner theater that includes performances on horseback and aerial stunts, accompanied by a four-course meal. It is out of your solely choice on this culinary subgenre, although: Down the highway are Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, Biblical Instances Dinner Theater, and Pirates Voyage Dinner & Present.
For a quieter choice, head to Sevierville, the Pigeon Forge-adjacent city the place Dolly attended highschool and is now honored with a statue. Gorge on lobster rolls and cornmeal-fried okra at Pinchy’s Lobster and Beer, whose mission is to mix New England-style seafood and Southern hospitality.
The place to drink close to Dollywood
Sevier County is technically dry, however fear not! There is a metropolis choice for liquor gross sales, a lot to the reduction of frazzled mother and father and recovering roller-coaster riders all 12 months spherical. Beer is on faucet at almost all main eating places (although a number of the dinner theaters are dry), however for a very distinctive pint, head to Gatlinburg’s Fox & Parrot Tavern. It is positioned alongside the eight-mile loop of the Nice Smoky Arts & Crafts Group, which encompasses a wealth of craftsman outlets together with pottery, blacksmithing and a few delightfully quirky yard artwork. The Fox & Parrot presents a pub menu and conventional draft beers.
Discovering a good cocktail is a little more of a problem, however you may be in good palms at Seasons 101, the upscale bistro positioned in Sevierville’s historic Central Lodge.
The place to remain close to Dollywood
The DreamMore Resort and Spa is your most Dolly-centric choice. The resort is even dwelling to Dolly’s secret track, entitled “My Place in Historical past,” stored in a locked wood field set to be opened on the singer’s one hundredth birthday. And beginning in June, the HeartSong Lodge & Resort will start taking reservations for the autumn.
For extra countrified lodging, there are rental cabins aplenty round Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You possibly can e book the Bear Cove Cabins straight via the park, or discover different choices on trip rental websites, like this charmer of a spot with a sizzling tub, a loft bed room, and a Ms. Pac-Man arcade recreation.