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Top Attractions in Gatlinburg

Davy Crockett

There’s a reason that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and it’s surrounding cities draw over nine million visitors a year. The natural beauty and calmness of the park lives up to it’s reputation as God’s Country. The areas stillness and slow pace is a nice change from the busy life of most major cities. The area, particularly the small city of Gatlinburg, is packed with a variety of accommodations and attractions. Think of one thing you’ve always wanted to do and odds are that somewhere in the area it can be done.

Gatlinburg is bordered on three sides by the National Park and is only two miles long, making it a popular walking community. The city’s Downtown Parkway is where most of the action is. The Parkway runs from one end of the town to the other and boasts a wide variety of museums, shops, hotels, shows, and dining attractions. With so many options, it can sometimes be hard to choose. Hopefully, this article can help narrow those choices down.

When walking down the Parkway, one notices two things: that the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Company must own stock in the city and that Gatlinburg seems to be the miniature golf capital of the world. You won’t become the next Tiger Woods on any of the mini golf courses, but there is plenty of fun to be had. Camp Thunder’s indoor 18-hole course is based around the Smoky Mountains and also houses go-carts and a indoor motion ride. Old Gatlinburg is the area’s largest indoor/outdoor course and features black lights, the newest mini golf craze. Both of these attractions offer pretty good deals and the scenery is nice, but the courses aren’t too elaborate. The area’s newest attraction is the Amazing Mirror Maze, which has the distinction of being the world’s largest of its kind. It’s building houses a circus-themed black light mini golf course and features a 15 minute light and sound show. Treasure Quest Golf is in a pretty small building but what it lacks in size, it makes up in it’s fantastic scenery. With an ancient jungle temple as it’s backdrop the course is enhanced by allowing players to go on a scavenger hunt for “buried treasure. The person who checks off the most items off their treasure list in each group wins a small prize at the end. Finally, we have the area’s most unique courses: Hillbilly Golf and Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini Golf. Hillbilly Golf sends players up the mountain in a rail car and offers two courses filled with unusual “mountain hazards” that every hillbilly must face. Davy Crockett’s is different in that it’s two courses are interactive; meaning Davy Crockett’s woodland friends guide you throughout. The courses are filled with unusual hazards and ways to get that “hole in one”. Get one on the 18th hole and you can win a free game.

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If it’s an educational, interactive time that you’re looking for, The Parkway is home to a number of oddities and museums including the Guinness World of Records Museum and the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. Both feature exhibits of astounding achievement and the strangest of the strange. The Hollywood Star Cars Museum features 30 cars from famous movies, television shows and music videos. Only visit this one if you are a true fan. There is also a brand new Hollywood Wax Museum featuring more than 90 celebrities. The World of Illusions is a bit expensive for a quick trip through it’s building. However, it is fun watching Superman’s x-ray vision, leaving your shadow behind, and making an unwanted family member disappear. Christus Gardens is a building dedicated to exploring scenes from the Bible. It’s 3-D life size dioramas are amazing and it’s gardens are beautiful. The end of the tour features a bust of Jesus that seems to follow you wherever you go. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a must see on any trip. It’s moving walkway allows visitors to move through the tanks and be surrounded by over 10,000 fish. It also features a number of interactive exhibits including a stingray petting pond.

If spooks and thrills are what you’re looking for, Gatlinburg tops the rest. The area is known to be a haunt spot and features a little known ninety-minute Ghost Haunt Tour. Hauntings is a live action ghost show in a sit down theater. The show changes up from year to year, but usually isn’t very intense. The Mysterious Mansion is set back off of the Parkway and looks like something straight out of the Addams Family with a hearse sitting in the front yard. The haunted house features secret passage ways, a spooky dungeon, and areas where you have to choose a way to get out. There aren’t a whole lot of monsters, but there are plenty of scares. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure is the cream of the haunted crop. The house is in the old original Grimsby and Streaper Casket Company and you have to take a elevator lift to the top of the building. From there, your tour through the dark begins. The entire house is packed with scares, jumps, and monsters.

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There are a number of attractions that don’t fall into any of these categories. The Space Needle and Skylift offer great views of the mountains. Earthquake the Ride is one to avoid. If you’ve ever ridden the one at Universal Studios, you will be sorely disappointed. There are many different arcades but Ripley’s Super Funzone is the largest and best. Finally there is the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and ski resort. A aerial tramway departs from downtown and whisks you up into the mountainside. The park has a ski lift, a black bear habitat, a alpine slide, indoor ice skating, go carts, water rides, and of course mini golf. This is definitely the best bang for your buck.