Here in Pigeon Forge, we celebrate the shift from summer to fall for two reasons: The beautiful changing colors in the Great Smoky Mountains and Tennessee Volunteer football. I enjoyed both over the long Labor Day Weekend – I spend Saturday in Knoxville for the first Vols game of the season and then took in the sights of the Smokies on Sunday, then spent Monday recovering from all the adventure! I had an absolutely amazing time, and I’d like to invite you to enjoy a similar experience. I hope to plan a few more fall weekends like this in coming months, so hopefully you’ll see me out and about!
Fantastic Fall Weekend: Itinerary Ideas
SATURDAY — Even if you’re not a sports fan, you’ll love taking in the spirit and pageantry of Tennessee football at Neyland Stadium of the campus of the University of Tennessee in nearby Knoxville. This SEC school’s team is steeped in tradition and is all about making the fan experience amazing. From the players’ famed Vol Walk to the stadium, to the Power T on the field, to watching Smokey the mascot run across the end zones after each Volunteer touchdown, a Vols football game is truly an amazing experience. Best of all, perhaps, is that downtown Knoxville is less than an hour away from Pigeon Forge and the peaceful Smokies. There’s really not a better way to spend a Saturday in East Tennessee!
Attending a Vols game is almost all-day affair – even if kick-off isn’t until the evening, you’ll likely want to join the other fans for some tailgating fun. All of UTK’s campus turns into one giant tailgate extravaganza before the games and the fun stretches almost all the way downtown! Anticipate spending a few hours socializing with other fans. www.UTSports.com
If you’re like me, you’ll want to head to your seats in the stadium at least 45 minutes before the game starts. I think seeing the players warm-up on the field and hearing the band practice is part of the fun. Tickets for the Tennessee football games are surprisingly easy to come by – as long as you’re not attending on a conference night! You can buy tickets in advance through the Vols box office or find a vendor on the day of the game. For most games, ticket vendors will line Kingston Pike heading into campus and along the Strip (Cumberland Avenue) immediately in front of campus. Plan on eating lunch/dinner at the game – nothing tastes better than stadium hotdogs and burgers right off the tailgate BBQ.
SUNDAY – After attending the game with 100,000 fellow fans crowding Neyland Stadium, you’ll likely be craving some peace and quiet. Grab a hearty breakfast then head to the hills. If it’s clear and sunny, it’s worth the drive and steep walk to check out Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The observation area on top of the highest area in Tennessee offers up to 100 miles in visibility, and means you can see up to three states at a time! While you’re in the park, check out rustic Cades Cove and cruise around to take in more breath-taking fall scenes.
After spending a few hours in the national park, come back into Pigeon Forge to enjoy some fun on the Parkway! Eat a late lunch at one of Pigeon Forge’s restaurants, and then check out the area attractions!
Plan your own FANtatstic fall weekend by following one of PigeonForge.com’s planning guides or booking a vacation package. You can also stay abreast of local happenings by following Pigeon Forge on Facebook and Twitter!