We love going often to Gatlinburg, TN, where Appalachian Mountain heritage is preserved and demonstrated in such fun ways. We like to make various crafts and on the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts 8 Mile Loop we can see over 100 workshops, watch artists at work, and shop for gifts and special treasures to keep. We also find especially fun and helpful the Dollywood Craftsman’s Valley. Sometimes you can even participate in workshops in the area to gain certain skills for practical creations, which the mountain people in past generations had to learn in order to make life’s necessities. We are so happy to see these skills are preserved and have developed into useful modern artistry as well. These are among your first Must-Sees at Gatlinburg.
Ripley’s is famous for the Believe It Or Not Museums in many tourist centers and here in Gatlinburg area you can choose among eight different Ripley’s attractions: Believe It Or Not, Haunted Adventure, Guinness World Records, The Moving Theatre, Mirror Maze, Old McDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf, Davy Crockett Mini-Golf, and Ripley’s Aquarium Of The Smokies. We highly recommend purchasing the all-inclusive combo ticket so you can spend a day or more visiting all of them. Thank goodness, this ticket is good for a year because we were so fascinated with the wonderful aquarium that we spent a half day there and ran out of time on this visit to do any others. So be sure to keep your tickets to reuse. Although we have written about many larger aquaria in various places in the world with other kinds of displays, our family found this to be our favorite Aquarium because the species and tanks were so very well labeled that we could easily know what we were seeing in each tank and learn some of the life habits of each species.
One of the favorites of children and adults is the Penguin Habitat. The great, fun thing is little people can go through a small, clear tunnel and emerge up inside the Habitat next to the penguins, only separated by the clear tunnel encasement. The penguins come right up to the awe-struck faces while parents can stand at the big window and take pictures!
Next our route led us to the walkway everyone loves. It appeared that we were walking through the waters of the enormous ocean tank, when actually we were protected by clear sides and ceiling of our tubelike pathway, so that the fish, huge sharks, and even REAL MERMAIDS swam over and around us! How amazing it feels to think you are in a real undersea environment. And we found it incredible that you can even arrange to have a birthday overnight party in here. How cool is that!!
Speaking of nights at Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, there are many nightly events to give you thrilling entertainment. Dolly Parton’s Stampede and her Smoky Mountain Adventure Dinner Theaters are a very good choice.
Instead of dinner theater if you prefer to attend a show after you dine at one of the numerous restaurants in Gatlinburg, choose the Country Tonite Theater, which in 2017 celebrated 20 years and has been voted the Best Show In the Smokies year after year. Whether you attend the afternoon or evening performances you will marvel at the enormous talent of singers and dancers. We simply couldn’t believe they could keep up the flawless, high energy dancing and never miss a step, a lift, or a swing! Their feet seemed to fly fast across the floor! We were so impressed, as we watched their faces, that all performers kept exuberant smiles and appeared to love what they were doing, and the entire audience simply loved it too! Much acclaim goes to the wonderful talent of 16 year old Miss Willow Osborne on her banjo (which she has played since she was four!) and 12 year old Shelton Tyson who sings and dances and presents himself winningly on stage with the confidence of a professional. These two are destined to be famous for their enormous talent for years to come. Sometimes comedy acts on a stage seem lame, but the comedy acts by Memaw in Country Tonite are hilarious! This fast-paced fun show with toe-tapping music is filled with your favorite country, gospel, and patriotic hits. The many changes of beautiful costumes reflect the colors and words of the songs…fantastic! Do not miss it! And once a month April through November the Country Tonite Theater presents a Celebrity Concert with big-name performers you have always wanted to see in a live show. Check the dates to see if you can book Celebrity tickets during your vacation time.
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