Singing, “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene…,” Dolly Parton pulls at our heartstrings with the tale of a married woman coping with jealousy over a red-haired rival. Self-made in a male-dominated industry, Parton used her first chunk of earnings from her musical career to invest in businesses that would ultimately boost her hometown’s economy. From her $1 million donation toward COVID-19 vaccine research to donations of over 100 million books to children through Imagination Library, her charitable reputation precedes her.
If you weren’t already a fan of Dolly Parton — world-renowned country music singer-songwriter, businesswoman, and philanthropist, you might be now! Though her positive impact echoes across the world today, her roots are humble. She grew up in a one-bedroom log cabin with 11 siblings in the isolated yet majestic Great Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. As poor as her family was, however, they lived with tremendous heart and soul – Dolly grew up immersed in musical instruments and the sound and feel of Appalachian folk music.
Today, millions of people visit the Smokies each year to relax in the serenity of nature, enjoy the family-friendly entertainment, and indulge their curiosity about their favorite country musician. Whether you’re new to the mystique of Dolly or you’re a diehard fan, you can’t miss these Dolly Parton attractions in the Smoky Mountains!
Dolly Parton Smoky Mountain Home
Dolly has always sung passionately about her “Tennessee Mountain Home” and even used a photo of her family’s old log cabin for the studio album cover. The property never had running water or electricity, but according to Dolly, her family was rich in love. Given its strong influence on her life and trajectory, it’s hard not to be curious about the place where she grew up and whether it still stands. In fact, it does still exist in Locust Ridge, Sevier County, about half an hour from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can drive up Locust Ridge Road to view it from the outside. However, the home is not open to the public, and a tall fence surrounds the property.
Dollywood & Dollywood Splash Country
You can find a replica of Dolly Parton’s childhood home at Dollywood. Inside the two-room house, you’ll see a table seating six next to a small stove and pantry. Many of the objects are original Parton family treasures, giving you a very realistic idea of her early life.
As a bonus, visit the Home-On-Wheels in front of the Chasing Rainbows museum. Dolly Parton’s actual tour bus is still in pristine condition, with its German leather seating, cherry cabinets, brass fixtures, and three clocks for Nashville, Los Angeles, and Dollywood time.
The Pigeon Forge amusement park, Dollywood, was Dolly’s first business investment in the area. While you’re there, explore the 40+ amusement rides and roller coasters, world-class theatrical and live musical entertainment, award-winning dining, and shopping opportunities. If you’re extremely lucky, you might even bump into her there!
Head just a little further up the road, and you’ll land at the amusement park’s cousin: Dollywood Splash Country. The water park features 11 water rides and slides, plus two kid-friendly water play areas, a 1,500-foot lazy river, and a 25,000-square-foot wave pool.
Dollywood DreamMore Resort & Spa
If you plan on visiting Dollywood and Dollywood Splash Country during your Smoky Mountain vacation, plan to stay conveniently nearby at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort & Spa. Resort guests receive perks like:
- Priority access to the amusement parks
- A TimeSaver Pass for 8 Dollywood rides and unlimited shows
- Complimentary transportation to and from the parks
- Complimentary package from the shops to the resort front desk
- Early entry on Saturdays to the parks
If priority access to the rides and fun isn’t enough to get you excited about your stay, then know that you can look forward to premium amenities upon your return. The Dollywood DreamMore Resort includes a full-service salon and spa offering massages, facial, manicures, pedicures, and more. Alternatively, you can continue the splash-filled fun at the outdoor pool, indoor heated pool, or hot tub. The resort even has on-site shopping and dining – convenience at its finest!
Dolly Parton Statue in Sevierville
Have you always dreamt of snapping a photo next to Dolly? While it’s unlikely to get a chance to meet her, you can head to downtown Sevierville for a photo op with the Dolly Parton Statue. Located on the Sevier County Courthouse lawn, the beautifully-crafted bronze statue portrays a happy, smiling Dolly, sitting on a rock with her guitar in her lap.
Aside from its proximity to Dolly’s childhood home and renown for its amusement parks, Pigeon Forge is also best known for its dinner theater. What’s not to love about live theatrical, musical, and comedic storytelling served alongside a Southern homestyle feast? Some of the best Dolly Parton attractions are her dinner theaters, where family-friendly dining and entertainment collide. Check out one of the following while you’re in town!
- Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show follows the adventures of Captain Blackbeard and Quartermaster Calico Jack across land, lagoon, and sea, while you dig into a four-course feast. The Crimson and Sapphire crews sword fight with skeletons from the deep, perform acrobatic stunts in a fiery lagoon, and meet beautiful mermaids and exotic animals to recover the lost Davy Jones’ treasure.
- Dolly Parton’s Stampede is a friendly yet impressive competition of horse stunts, featuring 32 gorgeous horses, special effects, and music including an original Dolly Parton song. Come for the rotisserie chicken and hickory-smoked barbecue pork loin, and stay to say hello to the horses at the Horse Walk!
- Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud is a night of hilarity and absurdity as two feuding hillbilly families attempt to outperform one another at incredible stunts, feats of strength, comedy, singing, and dancing. Come hungry for the all-you-can-eat Southern feast of fried chicken, pulled pork barbecue, mashed potatoed, corn on the cob, creamy soup, and more.
Through her incredible works in the worlds of music, business, and charity, Dolly Parton has proven herself a force to reckon with. She has paved the way for other women in music, given back tenfold to her hometown, and benefitted innumerable lives around the world. We have the Smokies to thank for giving her to us! Whether you want to learn more about this homegrown American icon or are just looking for some good old-fashioned family fun, the Dolly Parton attractions of the Smoky Mountains won’t disappoint!