Dollywood

9 Reasons to Go to Dollywood this Fall

[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”20872686″]

Of all the most legendary, impactful people Tennessee can claim as their own, Dolly Parton is right at the top of that list. I had the pleasure of interviewing the spunky songbird back in NYC many years ago, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a person on this planet who doesn’t know at least one of her hits. She also founded this lil, ol’ park in the heart of the Smoky Mountains: Dollywood. You may have heard of it, yes?

courtesy of Timothy Wildey via Creative Commons

Funny enough, I didn’t first visit Dollywood until I was 27 years old young and married. Growing up in Middle Tennessee, we were season pass holders to Opryland (R.I.P.) and reserved our annual trip to the Smokies to stay with my Uncle Tom in his cabin (also R.I.P.—my beloved great uncle passed away a couple months ago). We water-skied the lake in his backyard, we biked Cades Cove, we explored the forested area he called home, but we rarely ventured into Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville or their surrounds.

Smoky Mountains

I guess I always just assumed Dollywood was for kids or families. But when SVV and I first visited as a newly married couple some four-and-a-half years ago because we had time to kill while staying with my sis in Knoxville, we were both blown away by how tastefully done the park was and how much fun it was even for us adults without tots in tow.

Dollywood

We revisited last month when my sister-in-law, who is a huge Dolly fan and always had wanted to visit her eponymous park, was visiting. Going on a Friday afternoon in late fall was clutch, as there were no lines and the crowds were minimal. I definitely recommend hitting up Dollywood during the week in the off-season!

Dollywood in Tennessee

Looking to make a similar trip and maybe even leave the kids behind? Here are some of the things us adults loved.

Dollywood roller coaster

1. The bald eagles. From my first visit to my second, I totally forgot about the not-for-profit American Eagle Foundation, which  is headquartered at Dollywood. There’s a 30,000-square-foot aviary and an outdoor rehab and breeding facility. How cool is that?

Dollywood bald eagle

2. The old-fashioned, wooden rollercoaster. YOU GUYS. This is no wimpy ride—and not for the faint of heart. I happen to LOVE coasters but took my rollercoaster-averse SIL on this coaster, and I think I nearly gave her a heart attack. It was/is SO FUN. All the thumbs up for one of the best rides in the South (if not the country). And there were plenty of other fast-paced coasters where that one came from.

Dollywood roller coaster

3. The hologram Dolly. In her Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, chock full of memorabilia spanning the singer’s lifetime, Dolly welcomes visitors to her humble abode, Tupac style.

Dollywood in Tennessee

Dollywood in Tennessee

4. The vintage cars. Sitting pretty around the Rockin’ Roadway, you’ll find a half dozen vintage rides just waiting for that photo opp.

Dollywood in Tennessee

Dollywood vintage cars

5. The scenic surrounds. Whereas many theme parks are plopped in the middle of busy cities or urban sprawls, Dollywood is so seamlessly integrated into the gorgeous Smoky Mountain terrain, foliage visible from every corridor, it just adds to the charm.

Dollywood in Tennessee

6. The live music. Any fan of folk or Americana or even classic country will dig the shows going on around the clock at this music mecca.

Dollywood in Tennessee

7. The adorable signage. I mean “Beaver Crossing?” I die. Pay attention to the details, as there are plenty of gems hidden throughout the park.

Dollywood in Tennessee

Dollywood in Tennessee

8. The food, particularly the funnel cakes. I was not-so-silently cursing SVV for ordering the standard fried plates of deliciousness when there were options like S’mores or Oreo funnel cakes on the menu. All the more reason to go back, I suppose?

Dollywood in Tennessee

9. The seasonal offerings. While we were there, the park was decked out in fall festiveness. Oh my gourd, I can’t get enough of autumn! If you go right now through Dec. 3, you’ll find that pumpkins and cornucopias have made way for all kinds of Christmas fun.

Dollywood in Tennessee

Dollywood in Tennessee

Like I said, plenty to explore, plenty to enjoy, plenty to photograph.

Dollywood in Tennessee

This trio of big kids was loving every moment of our time at Dollywood.

Dollywood in Tennessee

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
COMMENTS
  • November 24, 2014

    I hope to find a lot of smiles and laughter and joy!

  • November 24, 2014
    Andrea

    Hoping to receive time with family!!

  • November 24, 2014

    One of my FAVORITE weekend getaways is to the smokies – which, of course is not complete without a trip to see my girl Dolly.

  • November 24, 2014

    “If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.”

    And some art for the walls in my new house. And for my new house to have a finished master bathroom!

  • November 24, 2014
    Cammy K.

    I am really hoping for a new camera this Christmas! 🙂

  • November 25, 2014
    Susie

    Happiness and family!

  • November 25, 2014
    Andrea

    I’m hoping for a few good gift cards to do some post-Christmas shopping!

  • November 25, 2014
    Laura

    At the top of my Christmas list is a new purse. But as long as I get to see lots of friends & family over the holidays, I’ll be happy.

  • November 25, 2014
    Peggy Johnson

    I would love to find a camera

  • November 25, 2014
    Andrea C.

    The older I get, the less I care about presents! So, the one thing I’m hoping most to see is the joy on my childrens’ faces. Christmas really is magical.

  • November 25, 2014

    I hope to find some sparkly!

  • November 25, 2014
    Annie

    I’d love to find Dolly and Kenny’s 1984 Christmas album, “Once Upon a Christmas”

  • November 25, 2014
    Lynn

    I want a great trip with my family, with at least a little bit of relaxation time for myself in there somewhere!

  • November 26, 2014
    Tracy

    I have no clue what I want for Christmas, but am looking forward to being in Tennessee for a bit over the holidays! And eating at Tomato Head. That will make me happy.

  • November 26, 2014
    Kimberly

    I hope to find a packets of hot coco to keep me warm during the holiday season.

  • November 26, 2014
    Daniel

    Great stuff, Kristin! I had fried Oreos for the first time at Dollywood about 10 years ago. Let me tell you: game changer.

    • November 30, 2014

      Oh yummmm. I’ve still yet to have a fried Oreo but I do have a soft spot for fried Mars bars leftover from my days living in Scotland!

  • November 26, 2014

    Didn’t even know that this park existed!

  • November 28, 2014

    We’ve never heard of Dollywood. Looks like a lot of fun! 🙂

  • November 29, 2014
    Jaclyn Reynolds

    I hope to find new shoes under the tree! I have my eye on some cute leather ones!

  • November 30, 2014

    I’m dying for a Board and Bread weaving loom for Christmas! I’ve been hinting for one to my family, so we’ll see 🙂

  • November 30, 2014
    Caroline

    I’m hoping for a break from work!!

  • November 30, 2014
    Laurie

    hoping to find my annual mixed case of fun wines fromy husband!

    • November 30, 2014

      Can I come to VA and help you drink it? =)

  • November 30, 2014
    Christine

    I am most hoping to find a maid under the tree this year. And maybe some chocolate….Oh, and a massage. But mainly, a maid would be nice. 🙂

    • November 30, 2014

      Ha! We are totally on the same page…gonna have to add all three of those things to my list, as well. 😉

  • November 30, 2014
    Jillian

    I just really want to see all my cousins this holiday season.

    • November 30, 2014

      I hear ya! I got to spend all weekend with mine, and it was awesome. =)

  • November 30, 2014
    Heather smith

    I hope to find 3 happy and excited kiddos, and maybe some new athletic wear for work!!

  • November 30, 2014
    Amy W

    I’m hoping for new books, store gift cards and Season 1 of a show called When Calls the Heart. 🙂

    • December 1, 2014

      Guess what! You’re also getting a pair of Dollywood tickets =)

  • December 1, 2014

    Dollywood is so outrageous but this is what we Europeans love about Americans – you’re out there and you’re loving life!

    For Xmas, I’m hoping for a flight ticket of my choice, some extra time to go shopping for no other reason than ‘cos-I-feel-like-it, and a complete Masters dissertation!

Leave a Comment

GET MY POSTS DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX
+ Sign up and receive your free copy of my eBook