The Great Smoky Mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the world, with the timeless beauty of dense deciduous forests, layers of blue peaks, and abundant native wildlife. Not only is it a place of immense natural wonder, but this scenic little slice of Eastern Tennessee also makes a gorgeous backdrop for the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg nightlife. From authentic Tennessee moonshine to muscadine wine, craft beer fit for a true mountain hipster to margaritas and music, these venues will show you how to kick back and relax Appalachian-style.
Tennessee Whiskey Trail
In the 18th century, Scottish and Irish immigrants pushed west into the colonial frontiers, bringing their whiskey distilling methods along with them. Today, if there’s one thing Tennessee does the best, it’s the art of distillation. The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is a collaboration between Tennessee’s most famous distilling companies, a challenge inviting folks to try to visit all 30+ distillers scattered from Memphis to Gatlinburg. Eastern Tennessee alone is home to over a dozen distillers, and several are within the accessible range of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Visit each of the following distilleries during your Smoky Mountain visit as a fun evening activity and a way to taste the unique flavors of Appalachian shine.
- Junction 35 Spirits: A railroad-themed distillery in Pigeon Forge producing handcrafted moonshine, whiskey, rum, gin, and vodka.
- Old Forge Distillery: A Pigeon Forge distillery that uses grain from the historic Old Mill, the oldest gristmill in the country still in operation, to make award-winning moonshine, bourbon, cream liqueur, vodka, gin and rum.
- Ole Smoky Distillery: Tennessee’s first legal moonshine distillery and the most visited distillery in the world, specializing in moonshine and whiskey based on century-old traditions.
- Sugarlands Distilling Co.: A Gatlinburg distillery that combines age-old traditional recipes and an artisanal stone mill with innovative moonshine and whiskey flavors, served in a barnhouse venue where live bluegrass is always on the calendar.
- Tennessee Legend Distillery: A newer distillery whose moonshines, whiskeys, cream liqueurs and other spirits are inspired by the Smoky Mountain stories of the legendary moonshiners and ghosts of those who worked these lands before us.
Rocky Top Wine Trail
If an afternoon of distillery hopping is more than your tolerance can handle (please always drink responsibly), then a winery tour may be more your pace. Unlike the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, which covers the entire state, the Rocky Top Wine Trail is exclusive to the Smoky Mountain area. Start at any of the five local wineries to pick up a passport, and track your progress as you greet opportunity after opportunity to sample a total of over 70 wines. Once you have completed the free and self-guided tour, you’ll earn a complimentary wine glass as a souvenir. Take your evening adventures to each of the following wineries:
- Sugarland Cellars Winery: A Gatlinburg winery specializing in award-winning dry and fruit wines named after local historical figures or places, most known for their Loganberry sweet wine.
- Mountain Valley Winery: Home to Tennessee’s largest vineyards and over 200 award-winning sweet and fruit wines, such as Watermelon, Rhubarb and Red Velvet.
- Apple Barn Winery: An orchard that transforms apples into unique fruit wines, located on farmland on the banks of the Little Pigeon River in Sevierville.
- Hillside Winery: A Sevierville winery proud to use at least 85% Tennessee-grown grapes and fruits for their Italian-style wines.
- Mill Bridge Winery: Next to the Old Mill on the Little Pigeon River in Pigeon Forge, this pet-friendly winery specializes in hard cider in fruity flavors like blueberry and pomegranate.
Brewery Hopping In Pigeon Forge
Another fun way to spend your nights is to sample the wide variety of homebrewed craft beer in the Smokies. Smoky Mountain Brewery is an excellent place to start. This microbrewery is one of the largest in Tennessee and always has new and exciting seasonal special brews on tap. You can grab a bite of pizza, wings, burgers, and steak and then participate in weekly events like trivia, karaoke, singo (bingo with music), live music performances, and NFL nights.
If you’re looking for more international variety in your craft brew expedition, head over to The Casual Pint of Sevierville, a meeting place for craft beer lovers and a storefront where you can buy by the bottle or can while sipping on a cold one fresh from the wall of taps. The Casual Pint also offers regular social events, plus a full lunch and dinner menu of German-style brats, beer-battered sidewinders, wraps, flatbreads and pizzas.
For more fun and games, get a big friend group together to hit up Country Roads Axe Co. At this quirky bar, you’ll get set up like bona fide Viking warriors with real axes and throwing knives to play “Zombie Challenge,” “Axe-Tac-Toe,” or traditional bullseye throwing. The state-of-the-art digitally projected targets make throwing sharp objects much more interactive and score-keeping easy as the evening wanes over multiple beers. Order a massive handcrafted pizza for the whole team from West By God Coal-Fired Pizza, and keep the drinks coming on your own time from the wall of iPourIt taps!
Restaurants With Live Music
There is certainly no lack of venues dedicated to the enjoyment of original adult beverages in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Once you’ve pre-gamed the night at a local distillery, winery or craft brewery, move on to let loose over some live music!
Margaritaville at the Island in Pigeon Forge is easily one of the best restaurants to throw down with friends. Stop by early enough for a dinner of island-themed recipes, like crab cakes, fish tacos and jambalaya, and wash it down with one of their 18 original margaritas. Their exciting drink menu also boasts 17 mixed drinks inspired by the good life of the Caribbean, as well as 5 unique moonshine concoctions to pair with the live music to come.
Are you and your crew considered kings and queens of the road? If so, you’ll feel right at home at the biker bar, Iron Bar Saloon. Park your Harleys at Lumberjack Square and sip on some cold beer and munch on juicy burgers on the outdoor patio. Make sure to order an Iron Boar Lager, brewed in-house and dedicated to livin’ the good life on the open road, as the live rock music kicks off the evening.
The Listening Room is a cozy new cafe at The Mountain Mile in Pigeon Forge, where local and regional bands and musicians can come to perform live for an intimate audience. This Nashville concept features VIP shows every Friday and Saturday, complete with indoor and outdoor seating, American fare made with locally sourced ingredients, and a comprehensive cocktail menu split between two bars. The Listening Room should be your final destination after an afternoon of shopping and fun at The Mountain Mile entertainment center.
If you could use a weekend of new and exciting ways to decompress, plan a getaway into the Great Smoky Mountains nightlife! The nightlife is where you’ll experience some of the best aspects of Appalachian culture in action, such as the centuries-old craft of distillation and homegrown bluegrass music. Among the restaurants and bars of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, you’ll find a variety of opportunities to sip superb adult beverages, savor delicious Southern comfort food, and dance to live musical performances.