Dollywood: Family Fun in the Heart of the Smokies

Dollywood Family Summer Vacation Theme Park

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know we’re always on the lookout for family friendly travel destinations that are within driving distance of Nashville, from Chattanooga to Atlanta.

Now that the girls are getting older and we got our feet wet at Disney World, we’re ready to explore more theme parks. Dollywood is on the girls’ must visit list and in my travel research I’ve been thrilled to find that it’s more than just thrill rides. I’m more of a show and family ride person (I love water rides), my husband and older daughter are the thrill-seekers, and my younger daughter is somewhere in between. We love the beautiful Smoky Mountains here in Tennessee and they’ve always been a favorite vacation destination.

Growing up here in Middle Tennessee, Dolly Parton has always been an icon in entertainment. Just like the country music legend herself, her namesake theme park offers fun and entertainment for the entire family.

My daughters are at the perfect age to enjoy Dollywood, nestled in the beautiful Smoky Mountains and an easy drive from Middle Tennessee. From the amazing new Cirque Shanghai show, featuring exciting stunts and acrobats, to live music, there are plenty of performances for down time. Let’s cut to the chase, though. My kids are all about the rides at a theme park and Dollywood has plenty to choose from, whether it’s The Eagle, America’s first winged coaster that gives riders the thrill of feeling like they’re soaring above the mountains, to River Rush, Tennessee’s first ever water coaster opening in May.

Dollywood Summer Family Vacation Plans

Dollywood is a great place to plan a summer family getaway and a great value. Check out my top 10 reasons your family will love Dollywood…

10 Reasons to Plan a Summer Vacation to Dollywood

Extended Summer Hours – The park will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 22 through August which means more summer fun (and time to sleep in the next day!)
Pretty Pyrotechnics – Cap off an amazing day at Dollywood with Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors, a synchronized fireworks production held each night during the extended summer hours
Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere – the new show Gazillion Bubbles: New Dimension is a interactive bubble performance featuring lasers, spectacular lighting effects, bubble artistry.
RiverRush – Tennessee’s first water coaster opens in May at Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Adventure Park.
Barbecue and Bluegrass – Great barbecue and live music through June 9.
Dollywood Express – When you need a little down time from thrills, the Dollywood Express is an authentic 110-ton, coal-fired steam engine that takes you on a relaxing ride through the park and scenic hills.
River Battle – Getting wet is just part of the fun when you’re spending a hot summer day at Dollywood. This is no ordinary water raft ride, though. It’s equipped with powerful soaker guns that are, as my girls would say, EPIC.
After 3 Next Day Free – Buy a ticket after 3 p.m. and get into the park free the next day.
Sha-Kon-O-Hey! – A wonderful tribute to the people and spirit of the Smoky Mountains. This 45-minute show is a must see
The Eagle – If you’re a fan of roller coasters (and I’ll totally own up to NOT being one) you can’t miss America’s first winged coaster which takes riders on a unique experience that feels as if they are actually soaring high above the Smoky Mountains..

Have you ever taken your family to Dollywood? What’s your favorite attraction?

For more information about Dollywood, check out the official Dollywood Facebook page!



This post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Dollywood blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.


  1. Rory Watson says:

    I love Dolly Parton and have always wanted to visit DollyWood. Unfortunately I live in England and flights are expensive these days. Reading your post helped me decide to save for a trip. Maybe “working 9-5” will eventually let m pay for it.
    At least I was able to see her in concert at the O2 here in London.

  2. Shannon says:

    My daughter and I are planning to go to Dollywood this summer and leave mountain-view Washington for a few days. It sounds spectacular! We are really excited since I have never been on a rollercoaster and neither has she. She’s also a huge thrill-seeker (much like her Uncle! When we went to Dublin with my parents back in college, he crawled over to the edge of this cliff and looked over it with his HEAVY camera and took some pictures. I was scared to death because people get blown off of that cliff!) and has never been on a rollercoaster because we never get to travel. She loves water rides as well and is really excited. We don’t have that much money so we set up a Go-Fund-Me campaign to raise money to go there. We would really appreciate it if you donated. 🙂

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