Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer two completely different experiences. Gatlinburg is a destination where you park and walk the strip through the hundreds of stores and excellent restaurants. Pigeon Forge is more suited for driving to each destination.
Please click this link to get the routes and rates for the Gatlinburg Trolley. Parking is free at the Visitors Center on the Spur. http://www.gatlinburgtrolley.org/routes
Gatlinburg is full of fun stuff to do. There are many shops along the strip to keep anyone interested. The restaurants offer everything from a 4 star meal to hot dogs. Much of the parking in Gatlinburg is paid, but if you get lucky there are free spots along river road that runs parallel to the strip. Gatlinburg is about 15 minutes from the cabin along the beautiful Little Pigeon River towards Rt 321. You cannot beat the views. Roaring Fork Motor Trail is right there as well and the wildlife is abundant. So much to do!
Please click this LINK for the routes and rates for the Pigeon Forge Trolley. Free parking behind The Old Mill restaurant will give you a straight shot to Dollywood(as well as everywhere from Wears Valley or Tanger) without having to park in the park.
Pigeon Forge is overwhelming. There is so much to do you will need to block off days. Tanger Outlet Malls, many other name brand outlets, go-cart tracks, trampoline park, many mountain coasters/zip line adventures everywhere. The restaurant offerings are enormous (can I say pancake houses?) and it seems as if a new one pops up monthly. The famous Old Mill restaurant is an excellent choice for a southern style (huge) meal. They also have a real time forgery, distillery and country store on site with many local stores with in walking distance.
The Island area of Pigeon Forge is one of the newer parts of the strip. Margaritaville Restaurant, Paula Deens restaurant, Mellow Mushroom and many stores. They have a ferris wheel overlooking the Smoky Mountains with a fountain show in the center of the complex. The colors at night are awesome.