The Old Mill District is the historic heart of Pigeon Forge, a quaint shopping and dining area where you can spend several hours in peace and charm, browsing the unique shops and attractions, dining at the two fabulous restaurants, strolling the compact 3 or 4 block area, or just gazing at the river and the turning Mill wheel – and all this just across a bridge from the bustle of Parkway.
The anchor of the District is the Old Mill itself, one of the most photographed sights in the Smokies, with the wide river overflowing the dam and turning the water wheel of a National Register historical grain mill that remains very fully in operation today. The Old Mill supplies the adjacent restaurants (and a moonshine distillery!) with fresh grain and flour daily for their products, which you can also buy to take home, or shop online for nationwide delivery.
See our feature on the Old Mill Restaurant and Pottery House Cafe for the full story on the two restaurants, both hugely popular for their excellent food, and of course the unique ambiance. But gathered in the area are many more treats to explore.
Shopping the Old Mill District
The Old Mill also houses the General Store, which contains a surprising range of kitchenware and household gadgets, as well as jams and sauces, mixes, local honey, souvenirs, and the famous flour and cornmeal.
Across the parking lot is the Old Forge Distillery, the first such operation in Pigeon Forge, with (now legal) moonshine on offer and with tastings and cocktails. The distillery’s ground corn comes from the Mill of course, while its jugs are made at Pigeon River Pottery across the road. The distillery anchors Old Forge Plaza, with several artisan and craft shops including a blacksmith and a rock carver.
Across the road begins the area roughly known as the Old Mill Square, with a gazebo and rocking chairs for those waiting to dine, or just listening to impromptu music performances that break out frequently in this most musical, Appalachian region. Here are the majority of the major shopping attractions.
Shops here include the Pigeon River Pottery, where you can watch the clay being thrown on the wheel, and explore the hundreds of ceramic creations for sale, including sculptures and unique glazes to the serving ware, salt shakers, and other hand-crafted items.
Next door is the Old Mill Candy Kitchen, where you can watch the taffy being stretched and formed, as well as drive your kids crazy with delight at the countless candies available here. Here are chocolates, brittles, caramels, creamy things, soft things, hard things, nut things, taffy of course, and a special homemade fudge that is well worth craving.
Next up the road is the Old Mill Farmhouse Kitchen, which sells everything you need to recreates some of the flavors from the two restaurants. Here are corn chowder, soup and bread mixes, dressings, sauces and more, along with pottery and bakeware, and kitchen linens. Pick up some preserves, breads, cheeses, and sweeter baked goods – and put together your own gift basket if you want.
Circle back into the square from here and visit the Old Mill Creamery, located between the Old Mill Pottery and the Pottery House Cafe, for the crowning touch – ice cream! In an area with a lot of great ice cream places, this one makes our short list. Old fashioned ice creams, shakes and sundaes, with nuts and fruit and some signature flavors derived from the Candy Kitchen and even one from the Distillery.
There are numerous other shops throughout the District that aren’t part of the Old Mill family, but certainly part of the shopping fun. You can find jewelry here, eclectic fashion clothing, a cat boutique, knives, candles, a bookstore, gift shops, and a well earned espresso to take a breather from the fun.
The Old Mill District is found just a block away from Parkway on Old Mill Avenue, at Light # 7.