My husband was going for a hike, and I decided to stay behind. I had seen the museum before on previous trips to Gatlinburg, and it sounded like a hoot, so I decided to check it out.
You pay a $3 admission (kids under 12 are free) at the front counter, then an elderly lady gives you a short orientation. As it turns out, the museum houses her private collection of salt and pepper shakers, the result of 25 years of collecting! Room after room contain the collection, separated by subject matter (food/holiday/advertising/travel) and/or material (plastic/wood/ceramic). I went in as a goof, and ended up being totally fascinated! Who knew there could be soooo many??
I spent about an hour here, and it was great fun. The $3 admission can be applied toward any salt & pepper shaker in their gift shop (I bought an adorable black bear holding two honey pots). The museum is open Monday thru Sunday from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
Cades Cove is a one-way, 11-mile paved loop within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which showcases many historic buildings from the 1800's. Many open areas make for great wildlife viewing, including deer, black bear, wild turkey, and boar. Be warned - during the high tourist season, this loop can take up to FOUR HOURS to complete.
Along the loop are stops where you can get out of your car (or off your bike) and view historic 19th century homes, barns, churches, and even a working grist mill. These buildings are preserved to show the life of the early settlers to the area, before it was a National Park.
Several of the popular hiking trails originate within Cades Cove - just follow the signs.
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the park and parking at the trailhead is limited. The area is especially busy on weekends year-round and on weekdays during summer. Laurel Branch and the 80-foot high Laurel Falls are named for mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub which blooms along the trail and near the falls in May.
The trail is 2.6 miles roundtrip and considered moderate in difficulty. The trail is fully paved.
Access trail: Laurel Falls Trail
Abrams Falls is waterfall at the end of a hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TN) named after Cherokee Chief Abram, whose village was located nearby. The waterfall is ~20 feet high, but is very wide and impressive. Swimming is prohibited because of its depth and the quickly moving water. Very beautiful, and definitely worth the hike.
The trail leading to the falls is popular unpaved, up & down trail, 5.0 miles round trip - rated Moderate. Allow at least 3 hours, depending on your level of fitness. Be sure to bring extra water and food, as dehydration is a common problem along this trail, especially during the summer months.
This unique mini golf course is in nearby Pigeon Forge. The fun decor and beginner level course are perfect for families with kids...or for any non-serious golfer looking for a cheap way to have fun.
The course has a cute little cliche castle on one hole, but I didn't get a good photo of it. You can see some of the other statues and decorations in the photos.
Price: $7.50/person, $3.00 second game, kids four and under are free
This is one of my all time favorite aquariums. I've been here three times, and every trip is memorable. The aquarium is home to more than 350 different species, but the two things most people are interested in are the sharks and penguins. A moving sidewalk takes guests through a glass tunnel filled with sharks and other fish. If I remember correctly, it's the longest glass aquarium tunnel in the country. The "Penguin Playhouse" is new, and a lot of fun. There are glass tunnels that allow guests to crawl through the water where the penguins swim. The most "interactive" exhibit is the pool of stingrays. Guests can reach into the pool and pet them.
I've always loved jelly fish, and there's a great exhibit of them here. (See photos)
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 9am-9pm; Friday and Saturday, 9am-11pm
Price: $22.99/Adult, $11.99/Child, $5.99/Children 2-5, Children under 2 are free.
Most hotels offer discount coupons for this attraction. There are also printable coupons online. (Google!) There's an excellent website listed below.
This museum was a lot of fun. Though it's a little outdated, it's still interesting if you take the time to read the descriptions on the displays. There's a great website for the Ripley's attractions listed below.
Hours: 10am to 9pm daily (Hours change seasonally...call ahead)
Price: $14.99/adult $7.99/kids Kids 5 and under are free.
At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is Great Smoky Mountains National Park's highest point. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the second highest point east of the Mississippi.
The observation tower at the top of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top. The walk is paved, with frequent rest stops (benches), and takes about 40 minutes to ascend.
The walk is worth it - on clear days, you can see over a 100 miles. Unfortunately, air pollution and bad weather often limit viewing distances to under 20 miles. The day we went was beautiful though, and we could see to Pigeon Forge and beyond.
For those who collect stamps in the National Parks Passport, there is a stamping station at the base of the walk, so technically, you could get the stamp without ascending to the tower. But that's kind of cheating, right?
If you like miniture golf you will love Davy Crocket Golf. They are located just as you enter Gatlinburg. They offer two seperate 18 hole courses, each complete with mechanical characters and challenging holes. At our last visit the place was at least 4 years old and was still being well maintained. There is a large fort type structure in the middle of the first course where a canon shoots an imaginary canonball into the water at the front of the course. This is good fun for the whole family. They even offer little plastic clubs for the under 3 golfer. Most of the time you can find discount coupons.
One note - It isn't very handicap accessible.
This aquarium is way-cool. Must see! Several levels... from the walk-through shark tank thingy, to the manta rays that smile down at you... the fish tube kids can hide in... the manta ray petting pool... it's just dang fun.
And, for Titanic fans (of the actual ship, not of freaking Leonardo), they have a Titanic exhibit that's very worthwhile & moving. Way-cool if you are into history (even tho it's a tragedy).
Ripley owns alot of attractions downtown. This one is also located on the parkway. I have not been to this attraction yet, but it seems very popular. I shows two movies in 3D and has surround sound. You are suppose to "move" to the movie. Ripleys offers discounts on combo tickets to their attractions also!!!!!
This is the usual "believe it or not" stuff just like in the book. I went once and enjoyed it, but its not something you would do over and over. Like stated in the Theater page, they do offer combo tickets if you want to do more than one Ripleys attraction.
Take some time to enjot the Cades Cove Loop Raod. It is a short drice from Gatlinburg and well worth the time. You will love the history behind cades cove. You can pick up a pamphlet just before entering at a stop on your left.
The Cove is best seen via Cades Cove Loop Road, which is a one way paved lane that skirts the bottoms of the forested mountains which surrounds the fields of the valley floor. The Loop Road takes Smokies vacationers on a historical tour of early pioneer farms, fields, roads and trails, leaving the Smokies visitor with the feeling that they have witnessed something wonderful and wholesome.
Cades Cove Loop is open to auto, bicycle and foot traffic every day of the year from sunup to sundown with a few exceptions. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has designated that May through September on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the loop is reserved for hikers and bicyclist from sunup to 10am only. Auto traffic on those days is permitted in Cades Cove after 10am. Expect to spend one to two hours for the Cades Cove auto tour including a few stops along the way.
Go to "FORBIDDEN CAVERNS" in Sevierville, TN. Open daily except Sunday, April through November, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day, December, January, February and March.
455 Blowing Cave Rd. Sevierville, TN 37876 (865) 453-5972. My family and I went there and we all had a blast! We have a 5, 7 and 11 year old and all the kids enjoyed themselves. The caves are so unique and amazing to look at. The tour is about an hour long and you see so much...everyone was oooh and ahhhhing...hehe. It took us about 45 minutes to and hour to get there from Gatlinburg since the traffic was insane...worse than Disney. We went in mid October so make sure you leave Gatlinburg before 10am if you want to get there quicker. At least it was a nice scenic drive! It gets prettier the further away from town you get...the rural countryside is gorgeous on the way to the caverns. For a family of 5...2 adults and 3 children it cost approx $50...it was well worth it! Oh and also look for "ENGLISH MOUNTAIN" spring/drinking water at the local stores/gas stations. The water is bottled directly from the natural spring running through the cave! We all tried it at the water fountain at the caves gift shop and the water tasted as pure at "FIJI" or "Smartwater" that you find at your local walmart or grocery store. Overall it was a wonderful experience....I'd do it again in anytime! PS: the caves are always 58 degrees year round so bring a a hoodie or small jacket. Have fun!
I have been to many a aquarium across the world but this absolutely takes the cake! The number of weird sea animals you get to see here is amazing! We love animals and photographing them so we had a field day! Do check out their lethal weapons section it is unbelievable, you see tiny fish and octopuses with enough venom to kill 26 humans! One of the eels looked so grotesque I couldn't take my eyes off it. Also look out for the huge spider crabs! The jellyfish section is ofcourse the most popular area apart from the shark lagoon. So many sharks in the tunnel as you walk thru it and their jaws really make you feel glad you have the glass between you and them :))
Ray lovers get to touch one and see many, as they glide by the water they look so graceful! they really look like they are flying! :D
Open 365 days a year
HOURS OF OPERATION
* SUNDAY–THURSDAY 9 am to 9 pm
* FRIDAY & SATURDAY 9 am to 11 pm
* Memorial Day to Labor Day – 9 am to 11 pm daily
You will pay $19 pp