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
An easy non crowded means of seeing the mountains around gatlinburg. Once you get to the top there are telescopes that point to the horizons. Nothing great to see though, we searched in vain for bears on the trees but saw none!
Costs $7 pp. Allows you to take the elevator up twice in a span of 2 days :-)
Gatlinburg is a very nice town, touristy of course, but nice to explore for half a day.
There are some attractions you can visit if you want to (the aquarium, the sky lift, ober gatlinburg, etc), but we did not go to any of them. We choose to explore the town one afternoon by walking on the streets, checking out a handful of shops, taking pictures and buying home made jelly and natural honey :)
We wanted to get a feel of the town, but we really preferred to spend our time exploring the park, hiking up trails and enjoying the fresh air and the serenity of the Smoky Mountains.
This is a very nice cave to visit while vacationing in the Gatlinburg area. The cave is located in Sevierville, a short drive from Gatlinburg. The cave was open to the public in 1967.
Bootleggers used to come here and make moonshine. During the tour you will see an example of a moonshine still while visiting the caves. The guide will also point the entrance that it was used by bootleggers to bring in the supplies needed for making the alcohol.
You will also hear the legend of the cavern during the guided tour. The story is interesting and the lightning show that accompanies it is really cool.
The cave is closed from beginning of December to the end of March and is open from 10am to 6pm the rest of the year (except Sunday).
I do not recall how much was the ticket, but it was not expensive. The organized tour lasts about 1 hour.
They also have a really nice gift shop from where you can buy souvenirs. I got a very cool table lamp made of white onyx that has the shape of a mountain and has 3 bears on top of it. The lamp is entireley hand carved in a solid onyx block and it looks awesome. The best thing is that I got a really unique souvenir from here and I paid a fraction of the cost I would have paid in Chicago for something similar.
There are several stops where you can park your car and take a look at the chimney tops. It was really sad to see all the big trees dying because of the hemlock woolly adelgid infestation. The insect was introduced accidentally from Asia and it has spread all over the East coast of the USA. It attacks and kills only mature trees.
I was really impressed with the rangers efforts to save the tress. They found a cure, but it involves huge efforts: they have to spray all the trees, twice a year, with an insecticidal soap solution made with warm water.
Newfound Gap and Rockefeller Memorial
Newfound Gap marks the borderline between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is also the place where you will see the Rockefeller Memorial stand where president Franklin Roosevelt had his speech in 1940 to dedicate the park to the people on USA.
You will also see the memorial plaque that commemorates the 5 million dollars donation of Laura Spelman Rockefeller. Her donation covered the remaining amount necessary to buy the land needed for creating the national park.
There is a big parking lot here, but I can imagine that it can get pretty crowded during high season since this is a very popular spot in the park. It was not that crowded when we visited at the beginning of June, but maybe we were just lucky.
Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in Tennessee and the third highest in North Carolina. It is also the highest point along the Appalachian Trail, the 2174 mile footpath that runs from Georgia to Maine.
From the parking lot you have to walk about half a mile on a paved trail to get there. The walk is short, but it is not easy. It is pretty steep and you need to wear shoes with good ankle support. Make sure you have bottled water with you. You will need it for sure especially when you get to the top!
If you visit during spring or fall you may also want to have a light jacket with you since the temperature could change drastically due to high elevation.
The day we visited was very nice and clear and it was even getting hot at one point. We stopped few times on the trail to catch our breath and take pictures. The views from the tower were amazing and we ended up spending about 2 hours here.
Cades Cove: Cable Mill
The water powered cable mill was built by John Cable in late 1860s. The mill was operated by family members well into the 20th century when it was shut down because it could not compete with the modern steam-powered mills.
Cades Cove: Cane Mill and Molasses Furnace
Molasses making was one of the events that used to gather people together. Sorghum mills were used to squeeze the juice from stalks of cane. The juice was boiled down into molasses in the furnace located nearby.
Cades Cove is another must do while visiting the area. It is an 11 miles long one way road that is very-very slow. There are lots of cars here and everybody is stopping the car to take pictures of wildlife, so be patient.
Laurel Creek Road is the only entrance to Cades Cove today. The road was built and opened after 1934. Before its opening people were using narrow and unpaved roads to get to Cades Cove (you will see them during your visit).
There are also several hiking trails that you can enjoy if you want instead of driving.
The best time to go to Cades Cove is either early in the morning or after 3pm in the afternoon (close to sunset). Plan on spending at least 2 hours here, but if you want to stop the car and also explore the old buildings, then add 1 hour more.
We arrived at Cades Cove around 3:30pm and we spent almost 4 hours here. We saw lots of bears, deer, raccoons and wild turkeys. They are used to people and they do not run away. Just make sure you keep a decent distance from the wildlife, so they feel comfortable with you taking their picture :) You also need to keep your safety in mind. You really can not predict their reaction, so use your best judgment when approaching them.
There are also some very well preserved old buildings that make for a nice stop during your visit here. I had a great time exploring them and learning more about this area.
- National/State Park
Enjoy the park and its beauty
We had a really great time walking the park trails and enjoying its beauty. Sammy had a blast on the trails also. We stayed pretty close to the road and to public areas since dogs are not allowed to go deep into the forest. Our walks were so relaxing and refreshing! Too bad we could not stay in the area longer and enjoy the beauty and serenity for at least one more week...
The Ephraim Bales Place
In my opinion this is the best place to stop by and imagine how mountain life was at the time. The owners, Ephraim and Minerva Bales, lived here in the tiny house with their 9 children.
I was really surprised to learn that the original cabin had only one tiny window (in order to preserve heat inside the cabin). The larger window was added later on.
On their land you will see the house, a hog pen, a barn and a corn crib (all of them pretty well preserved).
The family owned 72 acres of land out of which they farmed only 30 acres, the rest of 42 acres remained forest. They lived here from 1890 to 1930.
It is worth to stop by, explore the place and take few pictures.
- Historical Travel
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Roaring Fork was the first auto tour we have done in the Smoky Mountains. It is a 6 miles drive through the forest. During this drive you will see several well preserved log cabins, grist mills and historic buildings. There are also some very nice spots where you can park your car and enjoy the forest and some hikes if you want to. At the end of the road you will see a very nice waterfall called "Place of a Thousand Drips".
"Roaring Fork" is the name of the stream that runs parallel with the road. It is one of the larger and faster flowing mountain streams in the park. If you can, drive this road after a hard rain. Everybody says that the
- Historical Travel
Victorian Gardens- Great Wedding Venue
This is a rebuttal for VBaker review from 4/20/2009:
First and foremost, let us indicate it is unfortunate that VBaker feels her wedding was ruined. Our staff is helpful, knowledgable and well trained in wedding coordination. VBakers wedding was $8500.00 and was contracted with several components included in her review. Guest Count: Our contract clearly states we are to be informed of any changes 60 days prior to the wedding date, not within the last week as accomodations were made with our vendors to provide the service neccessary to perform this wedding. Rehersal: We do not schedule rehersals one year in advance, we rely on our clients to inform us as to whether they want a scheduled rehersal and those are performed the day before the actual wedding date. We contracted a tuxedo rental vendor we use exclusively and they fit the entire wedding party. If the participants did not like the fit they should have indicated to the vendor and been refitted. Doves and mountian shoot: The doves could not be released (our clients did take pictures with the doves) due to inclement weather. (Doves cannot return without reference points and fog, rain ...etc hamper their homing mechanism. Likewise the rain made it impossible to shoot pictures outdoor that day. We let our clients indicate if they are willing to return to Gatlinburg and we will shoot the mountain pictures at a later time. Our clients opted for two additional parent albums to offset this componant.
We strive to make each client happy they chose our chapel and sometimes it is not possible to please everyone. It is unfortunate VBaker wrote this review, however the fact is we have performed 1,000's of weddings and this is one that we could not please.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Luxury Travel
The Gatlinburg Experience
There is alot to do in Gatlinburg. Whether you're into theme parks or nature, it's all here. Ride up the mountain to the ski lodge at OberGatlinburg. Ride the race cars or race your honey down the mountain on the bobsleds. If you love nature, like I do, then drive to Cades Cove and take your car through the mountain and possibly see a real bear. I have some wonderful shots of the bear I saw, the majestic deer. You will not regret this drive.
- Skiing and Boarding
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