When you’re trying to decide where to go on vacation for a couple of weeks or maybe even longer, it’s not always easy to narrow everything down to a single location. That’s exactly why places like Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, are so popular. It’s a town that speaks to tourists, but it also has plenty of year-round residents that call it home because they actually love being there. It’s a great place for those that love to get out and enjoy nature and there is plenty to do if you’re looking for something to distract you during a getaway.
The truth of the matter is that people love Pigeon Forge, Tennessee so much that they often wonder if there are other towns similar that they might also be able to visit. As it turns out, there are quite a few towns across the United States that are similar. Here are 20 of them, ranked from number 20 all the way to number one. Whether you’re looking for a chance to get away from it all for a few weeks or you want to make one of these places your new residence, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the towns on this list.
The Magic of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
If you’ve never been to Pigeon Forge, it might be hard to understand why so many people decide to flock to this relatively small town on an annual basis. For the most part, it’s because there is some type of magic there that’s hard to qualify. Sure, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, but most people feel something special about the area in general. For those of you who have been, you know what it feels like. If you haven’t been there yet and you’re curious as to whether or not they will have anything there that interests you, you don’t need to worry.
This is the town that has one of the most famous theme parks in the country, Dollywood. It’s also the home of the Smoky Mountain Opry as well as a number of other high-quality shows and even outlet malls. There are also several dinner theaters in the area that give you an opportunity to enjoy a night out. Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede comes to mind. Enjoy go-kart races, water parks galore and miniature golf. Now that you know why so many people love Pigeon Forge, here is the list of other towns that are quite similar. Before you know it, you might find yourself checking off the list so you can visit every single one of them.
20. Townsend, Tennessee
There’s a lot to love about the small town of Townsend. It’s tucked away into the upper northwest corner of the state, right next to the Rocky Mountains. It’s an incredibly small town, one so small its size is matched only by its extraordinary beauty. There are only about 480 people that call Townsend home year-round, but tourists come all year long. If you love nature and you enjoy spending time hiking and exploring the wilderness, this is a place that’s hard to beat.
As a matter of fact, some of the people that now live there full-time came with the expectation of going on vacation and loved it so much that they decided to stay. If you think that it’s a small town struggling to survive because of its small size, think again. For the few hundred people that do live there, it’s not uncommon to find an individual that’s retired and makes more than the country’s median income. In addition, the average value of homes there is more than $300,000.
This amazingly beautiful town is located on the western edge of the state along the San Miguel River. Whether you love hiking, climbing mountains or you prefer to enjoy your days river rafting or even swimming, there is certainly no shortage of things for you to do. It’s a beautiful town where you can easily see the mountain peaks from the small but incredibly vibrant downtown area.
As a matter of fact, the tallest mountain peak in the area is an astonishing 14,000 feet. There is something to do there almost every month out of the year and the town routinely and vigorously supports various small businesses. This is indeed a great place to visit but if you plan on deciding to stay, you’re going to need a significant amount of money in your bank account in order to buy a house, as it’s hard to find one anywhere in the area that sells for less than $1.25 million.
18. Taos, New Mexico
Taos is definitely one of the most unique places that you’ll probably ever visit. It’s located In the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. One of the things that you’ll notice about it before anything else is the fact that the houses here are very different, featuring the adobe design that is so popular in the area. The truly interesting thing about these homes is that they can span vast distances and even be several stories high, despite the fact that many of them were built more than 1,000 years ago. In addition, the overwhelming majority of these homes have been continuously occupied for that entire time. If you’re looking for a place that offers stunning beauty, magnificent sunsets, places to go hiking and mountain climbing, and features a tremendous amount of Native American and natural history, this town is hard to beat.
17. Snoqualmie, Washington
It’s hard to believe that so much natural beauty can be found less than 30 miles away from a bustling city like Seattle, but that is exactly what you have here. The town itself is located right next to a popular natural attack attraction, Snoqualmie Falls. More than 13,000 people call this town home year-round. Like many of the other towns on this list, there are activities to do all the time. This is a great place to simply get out in nature and enjoy it at its fullest. This particular town has another thing in common with many of the other towns listed here. For anyone who wants to live there full-time, it’s important to have a steady income, as the average house there costs almost $900,000.
16. Sevierville, Tennessee
Let’s say that you’re interested in visiting Pigeon Forge because you want to go to Dollywood. That’s great, but wouldn’t you rather go to the town where Dolly Parton was actually born? If the answer is yes, then this is the town you truly want to see. As you might expect, this is a town that absolutely loves its country music. As a matter of fact, they host various activities centered around country music almost every weekend. They also have plenty to do outdoors, including zip lines, hiking adventures and white water rafting. What if you’re the type of person that prefers to simply get out in nature and enjoy a quiet hike by yourself? With a town that is centered in between the larger town of Knoxville and the Appalachian Mountains, you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy all that nature has to offer without being disturbed.
15. Nashville, Indiana
This is a relatively small town with less than 1,200 people, but they don’t let their size stop them from being one of the best destinations in the country. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in visiting a museum or enjoying outdoor activities, this is a place where you can do all of that and more. They also have a number of high-quality restaurants in the area and despite their small size, they have become well-known for being one of the premier wedding venues in the country. Just in case you’re wondering, the town sits only an hour or so from Indianapolis so if you get in the mood to visit a larger town, you won’t be driving all day in order to get there.
14. Moab, Utah
There is just something special about the painted canyons that exist near the Red Rock Canyon area where Moab sits. Even if you don’t particularly consider yourself fond of the desert landscape, there is something that can’t quite be equaled when compared to a sunrise or sunset in this area. As you might have guessed, it’s a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts, just because of its vast area and sheer beauty alone. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of places to go hiking and rock climbing. Despite the fact that this is a desert community, there’s also plenty of opportunities to go whitewater rafting here.
13. Maryville, Tennessee
This town of about 30,000 residents has all kinds of things to offer. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the more varied locations on this list. For starters, it’s a college town. That means that there are typically a lot of activities to do that would interest college students because the goal is to keep them interested in coming back year after year. As such, the town hosts a number of different types of activities and they have a bustling downtown area that offers everything from unique shops to eclectic dining opportunities.
The town also sits right next to Knoxville and is close to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. If you love nature, you have every opportunity to enjoy it because there are waterfalls practically everywhere you look. It’s also worth noting that this is a town that has temperatures that are actually enjoyable, even in the summer. If you’ve spent much time in the overwhelming majority of the United States, you know that’s not something that comes along very often.
12. Luray, Virginia
This small town has a lot going for it. At the moment, it’s home to just under 5,000 residents. It’s also home to the largest cavern system in the entirety of the Eastern seaboard, giving you multiple opportunities to enjoy exploration to your heart’s content. The downtown is small, but it’s definitely worth visiting. There is never a shortage of things to do, whether you’re talking about outdoor adventures, weekly concerts or going to your favorite restaurant. It’s also worth noting that this is one of the more affordable towns to live in. It’s true, the median income is just slightly below the national average but you can buy a nice home in the area for less than $200,000.
11. Logan, Ohio
This town is an outdoor lover’s paradise. It’s located on the Hocking River and you have multiple outdoor activities to choose from that you can enjoy practically year-round. Those activities include white water rafting, swimming, ziplining and hiking. If you’re the type of person that genuinely needs time out in nature just to get away from everything else, this is a place that will probably speak to your soul.
10. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
There are all kinds of things to do here. You can enjoy a vibrant downtown that includes great places to eat, various types of shows and plenty of outdoor activities. As a matter of fact, it’s a favorite destination for foodies and fishermen as well. If you’re into the paranormal, this is also home to a number of locations that claim to be haunted. Who knows, you might be able to satisfy your spooky side and enjoy some great cuisine at the same time.
9. Edina, Missouri
This small town in Knox County is best known for its outstanding golf courses. In reality, golfers come from all over the country in order to play on these courses because they have a reputation for being among the very best in the country. Of course, there is more to do there than simply play golf. Like most of the towns on this list, there is plenty to do in the way of outdoor activities of all kinds. The downtown area here isn’t as vibrant as some of the other towns, but if you enjoy being out in nature, you can certainly find plenty to do that interests you.
8. Doctor Phillips, Florida
There are a couple of things that make this town different. For starters, they have made it a point to provide more entertainment than every other town on this list combined Each day, there is something different. The town schedules unique entertainment daily, so you always have something different to enjoy. This place genuinely starts some new form of entertainment almost every 60 minutes. In addition to keeping up that exhausting schedule, the town is in close proximity to more than 140 different golf courses. Those are the two biggest things that make it special.
7. Cody, Wyoming
If you’re into the history of the old west, this is probably the town for you. It is commonly referred to as the cowboy’s town for obvious reasons. Ranches and rodeos are definitely a big thing here, as is a collection of five different museums that are collectively referred to as the “Buffalo Bill Center of the West.” You can also directly access Yellowstone National Park from this town.
6. Cherokee, North Carolina
This beautiful town that sits in River Valley is truly unbeatable. The town is rich with culture and history, mainly from the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans from which the town got its name. There is certainly no shortage of things to do here if you love nature. It doesn’t matter if you want a lazy afternoon hike or you prefer to pick up the adrenaline and go zip lining, there is something here for everyone.
5. Bryson City, North Carolina
This gorgeous town by Lake Fontana is also right next to the Smoky Mountains. It’s a truly beautiful area and it’s secluded enough to give you an opportunity to enjoy nature without being disturbed. As far as the downtown area is concerned, there’s plenty to enjoy. Take a stroll, eat at a variety of different restaurants or enjoy the many eclectic shops that are thriving in the area. When you’re ready for things to slow down, enjoy time on the lake, swim in the river or even go hiking.
4. Branson, Missouri
This is a gorgeous little town located in the Ozark Mountains. Don’t let its size fool you. There is plenty to do. Enjoy a trip to one of several museums in the area, delicious cuisine and countless numbers of shops. There are also plenty of opportunities for live music as well as more nature-driven activities such as zip lining, hiking and water-based activities.
3. Boone, North Carolina
This is a small town located on the western edge of the state, along the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are some truly spectacular views here, especially when you start hiking and climbing some of the higher peaks in the area. There’s also plenty of history to be enjoyed. People have been trading in that area since the 1700s. It makes it a great opportunity for anyone who wants to combine an interesting downtown vibe with time spent outdoors, especially for history buffs. This town is also close to Grandfather Mountain as well as Sugar Mountain. You can also drive to Banner Elk and enjoy time well spent at one of the best wineries in the world. It’s also a short drive from the town next on the list, Blowing Rock.
2. Blowing Rock, North Carolina
This is another gorgeous little town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s mainly known for its variety of outdoor activities but it’s also quickly becoming known as a great wedding venue. This is mainly because there are plenty of things to enjoy (and sights to be seen) without the town having become a major tourist destination, at least as of yet. If you want to visit a place that’s truly memorable and gives you an opportunity for some self-reflection, this is one that should be at the top of your list. What else can you do? See the Blowing Rock itself or take a short drive to visit Grandfather Mountain. If you’d rather stay in town, enjoy loads of unique shops and some of the best dining you’ll experience in the entire region.
1. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
This is the town that actually neighbors Pigeon Forge. The two are so closely linked that a lot of people almost wrap them all up into one, but they’re also very different from one another. Gatlinburg has many of the same outdoor attractions of Pigeon Forge, but it kicks things up a notch when you’re talking about places to eat and downtown life. There are also major attractions such as Ober and Anakeesta. As a result, a lot of people that want to try different culinary experiences or enjoy some high-end shops will travel to Gatlinburg. Since the two twins are so close together, you don’t have to spend a lot of time traveling between them.