People are literally shouting this out while they drive through the parkway connecting Sevierville to Pigeon Forge and further on to Gatlinburg. The life cycle return on behalf of the vernal equinox is celebrated with high intensity in the Smoky Mountains as we welcome warm weather, bright flowers and a total wake-up from the local ecosystem – not the least bit because it happens to coincide with the OTHER big celebration event going on in March and April – yep, Spring Break.
In March& April, we see groups of college students coming to enjoy the attractions, the mountains and a (hopefully) well-deserved break academia. As it gets into April, we see more families come in as public schools tend to do their Spring Breaks later in the season. At about this time, we see the two groups starting to mix, and we thought we would offer a list of recommendations, Things To Do In The Smokies that aren’t as well-known as Dollywood and the Aquarium and offer a reasonable price for admission to counteract rising gas and other travel costs.
Let’s get the list started!
Tennessee Museum of Aviation
Price: ADMISSION RATES: General Admission: $12.75 – Seniors (60+): $9.75 – Children (6-12 years): $6.75 – Children Under Age 6: Free
The Tennessee Museum of Aviation is open year round,we are a “living” museum, therefore our exhibits and aircraft change frequently. Bring your family to reminisce with veterans willing to share their memories with the next generation. Step back in time and explore history at our amazing Smoky Mountain Attraction.
As of writing, Sevier County is seeing more than a couple “escape games” coming into the area, but The Tomb was the first here and remains one of the more unique attractions. Going with an Egyptian pyramid theme, this attraction offers roughly 45 minutes of entertainment that challenges your brain to put clues together and advance to the next area. If you want your kids doing something to keep their synapses firing during the school break, this is a good place to go with!
When construction first started on this ride on Wears Valley Road, which is better known for local businesses, cabins and many other things that are decidely not attractions in and of themselves, it seemed weird and unwieldly to think an alpine slide would work there. Flash forward a few years and it is a HUGE hit for a very good reason – it’s fun for all ages and it’s quite affordable. Go check it out!
A long standing tribute to the spirituality of the region, Christus Gardens is a wonderful trip during any time of the year. It is a museum dedicated todepicting the lifetime of Jesus Christ with incredibly realistic dioramas, the famous “carrera face” of Jesus, and offers a convenient parking place in downtown Gatlinburg that allows for easy access to the rest of the city.
Price: $12.75 per adult; $9.75 per senior; $6.75 per child or less.
This one’s out on Dolly Parton parkway, further out then many of our examples on this list, but if you’re looking for some interesting attractions that are off the beaten path and not designed to cater extensively to the same tourism as Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, the Museum of Aviation is an excellent choice. Open year-round, this museum is a 35,000 square foot hanger filled with classic aero-machinas of all kinds. A great place to visit with smaller kids and seniors in particular.
Castle of Chaos/Hannah Maze of Mirrors/Outbreak (Dread The Undead)
Price: $15.00 per adult; $10.00 per child.
Ok, this is actually three attractions because all three are owned and operated by the same company as the Hollywood Wax Museum and located nearby, but they each have the same ticket prices you see above and each offer an attraction experience to please just about anyone in your group: Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors for those who prefer something lighter and more fantasy-laden, Outbreak for an older group who enjoy all thingszombies, and Castle of Chaos for a still older group who enjoy blasting the other undead away. Great for Friday night fun in Pigeon Forge!
Price: $3.00 per adult; Children 12 and under are free.
As you should be figuring out by now, the Smoky Mountains have quite a few unique museums, and one of the most unique by far is the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg. Why should you go to visit a building filled to the brim with 20,000 salt and pepper shakers? Why not? It’s exactly the kind of curiosity vacation towns were built on and it’s been in operation for over 25 years. If a business can stay in operation for over a quarter of a century, it must be pretty good!
Price: $13.00 per adult; $11.00 per senior; $8.00 per child.
One thing the Smoky Mountains are lacking in are zoos, compared to the other kinds of attractions you find around here, but Rainforest Adventures does a pretty good job of making up for that with an awe-inspiring collection of animals from around the world – snakes, lemurs, monkeys, crocodiles, tortoises, geckos, servals, sugar gliders, parrots and so much more are all waiting for you and your kids to visit them!
The Gatlinburg Skylift is one of many traditions still in operation after decades of providing visitors memories with their groups and families. The Skylift is a simple attraction – a two-person chair carries you up the mountain to a scenic overlook where there are frozen drinks, snacks, a gift shop and some of the best views of the mountains around with stationary binoculars. The Skylift isn’t a great place to spend a whole afternoon, but as a quiet, dignified yet exhilarating experience, it shouldn’t be missed – especially as the color comes back to the mountains during Spring.
We wanted to include at least one local restaurant that was ever so slightly off the beaten path but stil convenient from the main parkway and offered a great deal to everyone who stopped by. After much research, we found Bluff’s to the best cross-section of those parameters, offering a $5.00 lunch option, build your own burger, “bluff-a-lo” wings, sandwiches, appetizers, a pool table and more.
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