Smoky Mountain Christmas may just be my favorite Dollywood season. As a huge Christmas nerd, Smoky Mountain Christmas calls to my heart. But how do you keep yourself and your family warm during a Tennessee winter? Here are my top tips for staying warm at Dollywood during this season!
- Know how to dress! Check the weather and layer up. Hats, gloves, coats, scarves, the whole nine yards if it’s a clear night and cooler than 45. Sunny and warmer during the day? Lighter jackets, but hang on to those hats and gloves. They’re easy to pack into a bag or tuck in a coat pocket, and having warm hands and a warm head will make a big difference. Check out this post on how to layer for Dollywood! For planning purposes, the average high in Pigeon Forge during the month of December is 53 and the average low is 30.
Dressing kids can be the hardest task because they like to randomly remove the very things that keep them warm! Since my family is still in the stroller days, I bring a bag of just outerwear- two pairs of mittens each, a blanket for the stroller rider, and at least one extra hat. Since I can tuck the whole little bag in the stroller basket, it doesn’t bother me and I think of it as kid-tantrum insurance.
- Balance and plan! I’m often a spontaneous Dollywood visitor. I’ll have a few items on my must-do list, and then we try to hit all of our favorites. The joy of being a Season Passholder is the lack of pressure to do everything in a single visit. But in winter, I’m less spontaneous. I budget our time around the ability to warm up. We’ll spend some time on rides, then head to a show. More rides, followed by lunch in a climate-controlled restaurant. At Dollywood, there are lots of good options to warm up: shops, museums, or catch a show.
- Try something new. One of the best ways to kick the cold is to stand by a fire. There are a few open-flame options at Dollywood this season: DIY s’mores, blow your own Christmas ornament, or watch a master craftsman create a unique gift at the Blacksmith shop!
- Drink something warm. Seasonal beverages are on my must-do list this time of year. Drinking a warm caramel swirl hot chocolate (find it at the Sweet Shoppe) or coffee will warm you from the inside out. Need help finding coffee during your day? Check out this amazing resource that lists where you can find coffee!
- Eat something warm. A Red Velvet Funnel Cake (find it at Crossroads and Splinter’s) or a loaf of Cinnamon Bread (at the Grist Mill) is sure to warm your heart and your body! Want something savory instead of sweet? Try some White Chicken Chili or Winter Minestrone Soup in Market Square. Or, stop by Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse for a full meal worthy of the holidays with mashed potatoes, hearty meats, and sides galore! Limited indoor seating offers the bonus of warming up while you eat, too.
- Visit Rudolph and his friends at Holly Jolly Junction to warm up! Coloring, cookie decorating, and photo opportunities will warm you right up while also entertaining your kids, creating fun memories, and taking home Christmas-card-worthy photos.
- Similarly, you can use some indoor time to visit with the big man in red. Find Kris Kringle in Santa Land. If you need a little extra time to thaw, have your kids write a letter to the North Pole while they’re there—there are supplies and mailbox that will send that mail directly where it needs to go.
- Look for the warming stations! Yes, Dollywood thinks of everything. There are outdoor areas with heaters. Find them in three locations: on Showstreet near the Sweet Shoppe, in Country Fair near Demolition Derby, and in The Village near the train depot.
With the right plan, your family will feel the magic of the season more than the chill of the mountain winter. Layer up, take frequent warming breaks, and make memories.