Nestled on the eastern edge of Tennessee is the popular Dollywood theme park. The Appalachian-themed park is the brainchild of the famous country singer, Dolly Parton, and includes amusement rides, a water park, and museum about the area. When your family starts planning a visit, you can choose from a variety of vacation rentals, including a Gatlinburg vacation rental that is right at the gates of Dollywood. In the area, there are a few small towns to make your base camp without staying in Pigeon Forge, the location of the amusement park. Here are a few towns and communities in the area to help you start your search.

1. Near the Gates of Dollywood

Dollywood is on the eastern side of the town of Pigeon Forge and offers a wide variety of vacation rentals where you can spend your holiday and get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. During the summer months, enjoy the nightly spectacle of Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors with its fireworks show. Around the Christmas holidays, the park goes all out with decorations and Christmas-themed shows, including Appalachian Christmas and Christmas in the Smokies. At the water park, spend the day splashing in the lagoon pool or defy gravity on one of the numerous water slides.

2. Downtown Pigeon Forge

If you and your group want to be in the thick of things, consider a vacation rental in the downtown area. This popular area offers non-stop fun and entertainment around the clock. During the day, you can visit Dollywood, enjoy some shopping at the outlet and check out a variety of activities. For the daredevils in your family, there is the Outdoor Gravity Park, where they can roll downhill encased in a plastic ball, or Flyaway Indoor Skydiving, where they can experience free falling without jumping out of a plane first.

3. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

To the southeast of Pigeon Forge is the mountain of Gatlinburg that sits next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Vacation rentals offer something for every group, from trendy in-town condos to secluded mountain retreats. During the day, explore the Great Smoky Mountains, National Park. The Alum Cave Trail runs about 5 miles round trip and offers stunning views of the rugged valley below you. The Rainbow Falls trail covers a little less than 6 miles round trip but the first mile is steep. Of course, the views of Rainbow Falls make the trip worthwhile. During the winter months, this waterfall freezes into an hourglass shape.

4. Sevierville, Tennessee

Just a short drive to the north, the town of Sevierville offers southern charm to visitors. A sister city to Pigeon Forge, Sevierville provides many activities so that there’s something for everyone in your family or group to enjoy. When you’re not visiting Dollywood, check out NASCAR-themed go-kart tracks or play a couple rounds of mini-golf. Small kids love visiting the local petting zoo. For a unique experience, take your family underground to explore the Forbidden Caverns.

5. Wears Valley, Tennessee

Recharge in the small town of Wears Valley away from the crowded areas of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg while still being within driving distance of Dollywood and all the other thrilling attractions. During your stay, stop by the Wears Valley Farmers Market to make a farm-to-table meal for your family at your vacation rental. Your thrill seekers can make a day of it at the Wears Valley Ziplines while the others spend some time looking for amazing antiques at Yesterday’s Antiques.

6. Oldham, Tennessee

Just to the southeast of Dollywood is the town of Oldham. You and your family can find a slower pace of life in a vacation rental with views of the mountains. After a long day at Dollywood, return to your vacation rental and unwind in the hot tub on the deck. If you prefer outdoor activities, this small area is close to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with its options for hiking and checking out the local wildlife. Take the kids to visit Lancaster Park & Animal Farm to get up and close with some friendly farm animals.

7. Cherokee Hills, Tennessee

To the north of Dollywood up Highway 449 is the town of Cherokee Hills with a welcoming feel as soon as you arrive. This area once belonged to the Cherokee Indians, and today, it still has a natural feel to it. Spend your days exploring the local area by bike or hop in the car for the short drive to the excitement of Pigeon Forge. Another fun way to see all the natural beauty is with a trail ride from one of the local stables, such as Five Oaks Riding Stables and Douglas Lakeview Stables.

8. Williamsburg, Tennessee

In the winter months, select a vacation rental in the town of Williamsburg as your home base. From there, you and your family can enjoy all the best winter activities in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Bring your skis from home or rent some at Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort that offers trails for all skiing levels. You and your kids can also enjoy some snow tubing at this resort. In Pigeon Forge, hop on the trolley and check out all the lights and holiday decorations.