If you’re taken aback by the upside down house that rests beside the Pigeon River in Pigeon Forge, you wouldn’t be the first. WonderWorks, a combination arcade/science museum, is one of handful of Pigeon Forge attractions that not only stand out because of their rave reviews, but because of their outward appearance.

Constructed to look like it landed upside down in Pigeon Forge, WonderWorks is arguably the most unique building in the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s located right next door to the new Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud. WonderWorks bills itself as an amusement park for the mind, featuring over 150 interactive exhibits. It’s 55,000 square feet of fun for the whole family… And don’t forget to stick around for Terry Evanswoods’ thrilling magic show, sure to delight the mind and play tricks on the eyes.

Take your time and enjoy WonderWorks for all it’s worth. It’s a go-at-your-own-pace attraction where you can try out every single exhibit as many times as you want! Get your fill of each of the exhibits while you’re there, there are no limits. It’s a great place for families looking to keep their kids enthralled and entertained for hours! On average, people can spend two hours just going through all the exhibits once. Feel hurricane winds, the shaking of what an earthquake feels like, flip upside-down on a bicycle-like contraption, see how hard you can throw a baseball, design a own virtual roller coaster and then ride it, try laying on a bed of nails, and more! WonderWorks is a must-stop in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Inversion TunnelA word to the wise, it can get crowded, so pick a good time to go when you do. Try early mornings or late after dinner. I would avoid Fridays and Saturdays unless you’re prepared to deal with an influx of people.

A few more tips:

  • Don’t eat anything too heavy beforehand. There are rides that spin and flip, so try to eat after you go on any of the rides.
  • There are a lot of photo opportunities at WonderWorks (bed of nails, spacesuit), so pack your camera.

Terry Evanswood’s “The Wonders of Magic at WonderWorks” is rated as a 5-star attraction on Trip Advisor and was voted No. 1 of 62 Pigeon Forge attractions. They advise guests to: “Discover the Wonders of Magic at WonderWorks. Prepare to be dazzled by one of the world’s greatest magicians. Terry Evanswood, don’t miss this opportunity to participate in one of this areas true greats. His show is so amazing you will be asking yourself, “How did he do that?”

If you have tips that you would like to share about Wonder Works in Pigeon Forge, TN then please post a comment below!



100 Music Road
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

When Ripley’s announced they were going to put an aquarium in Gatlinburg, there were two questions that everybody asked:  Where? & When?  Well, they built it in the center of town, right off River Road at traffic light 5.  It is impossible to miss this complex that has become as much a part of the scenery of Gatlinburg as the Aerial Tramway to Ober Gatlinburg.  Opening in late in 2000, this attraction is more than a decade old and has become one of the most visited family attractions in the Smokies.

With an aquarium, you expect to see tanks full of fish.  Ripley’s has designed an aquarium that allows you to roam from tank to tank, making sure that you are able to see fish in as natural an environment as possible.  The aquarium boasts over 10,000 aquatic animals, some of which you can even hold and touch.  This is a world class aquarium, bringing you salt water animals from all over the world.  As you walk from tank to tank you explore places as diverse as the Amazon Rain Forest, the Pacific Ocean and coral reefs.  Each exhibit has been painstakingly designed to give you a sense of being close to the action – of being in the water with the fish.

Two of the exhibits are hands-on.  The Discovery Center lets you explore different aspects of the seas and get even closer to some of the fish you have been seeing.  Included in this area is a flowing water exhibit that allows you to pick up and handle a horseshoe crab, one of the oldest and most unchanged animals on the planet.  Being able to reach into the shallow water and touch these oddities of the undersea world is both unique and exciting.  As you near the exit of the aquarium, you will find yourself at Touch-a-Ray Bay.  This location lets you gets hands on with small rays and shark in a safe environment.  Divers and aquarium staff are on hand to teach you about the animals you are touching and make sure that everyone gets a chance to get hands on.

Ripley's Aquarium of the SmokiesOne of the most unique features of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a trip through the underwater tunnel which brings you through the world of a coral reef with a huge mixture of animals.  You stand on a moving walkway that passes through this amazing world.  Sharks soar past, inches from your head.  Sea turtles glide gracefully through the water and all this time you are moving slowly through a tunnel enjoying the amazing scenery and the spectacle around you.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a must do activity in the Smoky Mountains.  Thousands of visitors go through their exhibits each season, making this one of the most visited attractions in the area.  A well designed and maintained attraction with an experience that will stick with you for years to come.  Make the aquarium a stop for you and your loved ones on your next trip to Gatlinburg.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
88 River Rd
Gatlinburg, TN

Three Rivers Rambler

The Three Rivers Rambler is a train excursion that runs along to the Tennessee River.  This 90 minute train ride starts from the waterfront near downtown Knoxville and takes you on a ride through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.  You will pass a lot of the history that has formed not only Knoxville but parts of the country as well.  The end of the trip is a visit to the Three Rivers Trestle.  The Rambler runs on selected weekends and has become a huge draw for the Neyland Drive area of Knoxville,

The Trains

Depending on when you decide to take a ride on the Rambler, you might be pulled by Lindy – the 1925 steam engine or the slightly older 1890 steam engine that they are unveiling in the summer of 2012.  There are also times that they use diesel engines to pull the coach cars. These give you an entirely different feel to your train ride as the power of the diesel engines pulls you down the track.  While you are onboard the Rambler, you will be sitting in one of the two coach cars that date back to 1932.  The various cars of the train are connected and allow you to roam to the open air section fo the train or to the merchandise cars where they sell soft drinks and water; this is also where the restrooms are located.

Three Rivers RamblerThe Trip

The 90 minute ride on the Rambler takes you from the waterfront on Neyland Drive past downtown through the foothills of the Smokies and past lush pastoral landscapes and lots of history.  As you progress north from the boarding station, you will pass the farmlands that were the first settlements in the area, quarries that actually supplied some of the stone that helped to build Washington DC and many other points of interest.  While you travel along, feel free to ask questions of the staff members on board.  They are very knowledgeable and they have been asked your questions before.  They know the route and will be glad to share their knowledge with you.

The Trestle

The highlight of the trip is a visit to the Three Rivers Trestle.  The Rambler takes you to the point where the Tennessee River really begins.  The French Broad, after winding its way out of the mountains, and the Holston combine to form the Tennessee River.  The Tennessee then continues on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. You actually get to see the point where this new river, the Tennessee, is formed.  A highlight that lets you see a stretch of river that powers homes, moves the economy along and of course provides hours of recreation.

The Three Rivers Rambler offers a different way to experience the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.  You can sit back and enjoy the hour and a half ride through the outskirts of Knoxville, TN while you learn about the history of the city, the area and the country.  You also get to view the start of the one of the largest waterways in our country.  Try the Three Rivers Rambler out as a day trip the next time you visit the Smokies.

Three Rivers Rambler
2560 University Commons Way
Knoxville, TN 37919

Wheels Through Time Museum

Wonder how we got to the point of everyone having their own form of transportation, whether it is a car, a truck or a motorcycle?  Well, then you might want to step into the Wheels Through Time Museum in beautiful Maggie Valley, NC.  Celebrating all the ways that we get around and of course focusing on the motorcycle.  Yes, ladies and gentleman this is a motorcycle museum tucked into the corner of the Smokies.

The Wheels Through Time Museum boasts more than 300 classic and rare motorcycles from America’s past.  Harley Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, Henderson, Crocker and many more are lined up and cared for to show off the shine of the chrome and the paint jobs that might make you go back to the car for your sunglasses.  This is one of the best niche museums that you will find in the Smokies.

Among the motorcycles you will find:

  • 1917 Henderson Special
  • 1917 Traub
  • 1914 Hedstrom Prototype
  • 1914 Flesher Flyer
  • 1948 Panhead
  • 1949 Hot Rod Panhead ”Revised Modified”

Wheels Through Time MuseumAmong the classic automobiles:

  • 1932 Clobes
  • 1954 Cadillac
  • 1954 Eldorado Convertible
  • The Locomobile

Again, you are looking at a transportation museum, there is something here for everyone.  Bring the bike enthusiast, bring the car enthusiast, bring the family and get ready to learn enjoy and have a great time at the Wheels Through Time Museum.

Wheels Through Time Museum
62 Vintage Lane
Maggie Valley, North Carolina 28751
(828) 926-6266

Tennessee Museum of Aviation

Sevierville celebrates everything to do with Tennessee’s aviation history in the Tennessee Museum of Aviation.  One of the best niche museum you will ever walk through is combined with a hangar full of aircraft give you a knowledgeable and fun way to explore the world of aviation and of course how Tennessee has figured into that history.

The museum has been lovingly curated and tells not only about the history of aviation but it also weaves in the important roles that the people of Tennessee have played in the history of aviation.  From a timeline showing the evolution of aviation (this take sup an entire wall) to a wall depicting the Tennessee Hall of Fame, there is nothing like this museum.  Everything it labeled and the exhibits move from one era to another, from one topic to another.  It becomes very easy to know what the subject matter is and even the youngest in the family will enjoy the information they are absorbing.

The hangar is, maybe, the most exciting part of any visit to the Tennessee Museum of Aviation.  Most of the planes are still, airworthy aircraft that are flown on occasion.  Here is a partial list of what you might see in the hangar at any one time:

  • 1902 Wright Glider
  • Beechcraft SNB
  • Bell 222 – Airwolf
  • Boeing P-12E
  • Douglas A-1H – Skyraider
  • F-86 Sabrejet
  • MiG 17
  • MiG21
  • North American P-51D – Mustang
  • North American Rockwell OV-10 – Bronco
  • North American T-28 – Trojan
  • Republic P-7D – Thunderbolt
  • Sikorsky UH-34G
  • T-33

The Tennessee Museum of Aviation is located in Sevierville, TN.  If you come to town from I-40, you will find yourself on Hwy 66 (Winfield Dunn Parkway).  When you get to Sevierville proper, you are going to make a left hand turn onto Dolly Parton Parkway.  Follow Dolly Parton Parkway through the main part of town.  After you cross the turn off to Veterans Blvd, start watching for the Tennessee Museum of Aviation on the right hand side of the road.  From this point, follow the signs.

The Tennessee Museum of Aviation is a great museum to learn more about the history of aviation and Tennessee heroes of aviation.  Browse through the Hall of Fame, look through the exhibits and then stand in awe among some of the most famous types of plane sin the world.  Remember that most of them are airworthy and that they are all marvels of the creative spirit of the aviation pioneers that invented and designed them.  Spend the day with the family learning and marveling at the rich history of Tennessee in the world of flight.

Tennessee Museum of Aviation
135 Air Museum Way
Sevierville, TN


Don’t miss out on the Dollywood experience if you’re going to be coming through the Pigeon Forge/Great Smoky Mountains area during the summer. With a theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country Waterpark all on site, there’s something for everyone.

Based in the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is a 150-acre family adventure park open nine months a year (late March through December) offering more than 40 rides and attractions; award-winning live entertainment featuring country, bluegrass, gospel and mountain music; and a dozen crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region.

A family-friendly vacation destination, Dollywood recently just announced the addition of the new $20 million Wild Eagle steel wing coaster, the first of its kind in the U.S, for the 2012 season. Experiencing the freedom of flight, the new coaster’s innovative floorless design positions riders seated four abreast in a forward-facing position, with two riders actually seated on the “wings” along either side of the coaster’s track with nothing but air above and below them.

DollywoodThe Wild Eagle raises 21 stories into the sky atop Dollywood’s highest peak.  Taking off from the Wilderness Pass area, riders will experience the sensation of flight as the coaster’s massive track swoops and soars around the park.  Wild Eagle reaches a top speed of 61 miles per hour and maneuvers four inversions including a giant loop, a “zero-G” roll, and a giant flat spin. The two-and-a-half minute journey also includes a 135-foot first drop.  Located 210 feet above the coaster’s loading station, the ride provides spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains.

Wild Eagle is yet another one of Dollywood’s award-winning lineup of high speed roller coasters.  Thunderhead, twice named the world’s best wooden coaster, consistently ranks among the best in the world.  Mystery Mine, a 1,811-foot-long steel coaster, was named Theme Park Insider’s best new theme park attraction when it opened in 2007. Not to be outdone, Dollywood is a two-time Golden Ticket Award winner for Best Shows and three-time winner for Best Christmas Event.

DollywoodThe Barnstormer, Dollywood’s newest thrill ride, was a huge hit when it opened this past summer and is situated on a ridge alongside Craftsman’s Valley.  Passengers are seated back-to-back on two giant pendulums that swing 81 feet in the air.  The journey to the treetops reaches a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour and rotates 230 degrees.  It’s big, red barn theme complements the Barnstormer’s barnyard setting which includes a large children’s play area.  Lil’ Pilots Playground features a 22-foot by 16-foot wooden bi-plane while Granny’s Garden & Pig Pen offers play structures and water fountains.

As far as other attractions, there is no shortage of yearly festivals at Dollywood. It’s actually home to five of the South’s largest festivals including the popular BBQ & Bluegrass festival that usually runs mid-August through September.

For the Christmas holidays, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival features the wildly entertaining Christmas on Ice.  The spectacular indoor ice skating production, with spins and spirals choreographed to the sounds of the holiday season, features the Ice Theater of New York.  The show joins the park’s award-winning lineup of Christmastime shows, including the perennial favorite Christmas in the Smokies.

Driving Directions

  • Off Interstate 40, take Exit 407 toward Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg.
  • Follow TN Hwy. 66 South which becomes US 441.
  • At Traffic Light No. 8 in Pigeon Forge, turn left and follow the signs to Dollywood.

GPS Navigation Systems

Use 1198 McCarter Hollow Road, Pigeon Forge, TN 37862 to locate Dollywood’s entrance.


Go-Kart Tracks

Who doesn’t like to ride go-karts.  For small children this might be their introduction to driving.  For young adults this is the height of competition, racing around the track at breakneck speeds trying to see who can cross the finish line first.  For the older ‘kids’ in the group this is a chance to be a kid again.  To climb into the go-kart and race your friends, no matter how old they might be or to chase your kids around the track , this is the thrill of racing a go-kart, this is the reason that you will find go-kart racks and other family adventure venues all over the map in the Smoky Mountain area.

You will also find that there are several different types of tracks in the Smokies:

  • Slick Track – Slick tires on a track that has been oiled.  You will find yourself slipping and sliding around every turn.  Not for the timid, the slick track is harder to find then it used to be but a lot of fun.
  • Wooden Track – These became big in the Smokies in the early 2000s.  Wooden tracks allowed the owners of these tracks to take the go-kart tracks ‘up’ instead of out.  Climbing around a tight circle before a steep descent is the norm with these tracks.
  • Kiddie Tracks – Designed for those younger kids in mind.  You can probably find a track in town that will let all but your youngest children drive around and around and around.
  • 3/8 Scale Tracks – The fastest tracks that you will find.  These are almost half scale cars that go FAST.

The TrackThe Track – This is one of the biggest family fun parks and go-kart locations in Pigeon Forge.  Along with the go-karts you can play in the bumper boats, bungee jump, ride the Skyflyer or play in the Kid’s Country.

NASCAR Speedpark – This might be the premier place for go-karting in the Smokies.  With a 3/8 scale track that gets you as close to NASCAR action as you are apt to find.

Cherokee Fun ParkCherokee Fun Park – Located in beautiful downtown Cherokee, NC, this fun park has a little bit of everything.  Go-karts, an arcade, rides and more.  Walk around downtown Cherokee and then spend a little time in the fun loving atmosphere of the Cherokee Fun Park.

Christ in the Smokies

cits1One of the perennial attraction sin Gatlinburg, for years, was Christus Gardens.  Several years ago, Christus Gardens closed and it was thought that the location where it had been for years, was going to become a set of condominiums.  Well, that deal fell through and the management team of Christus Gardens opened a new attraction:  Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens.

Much like Christus Gardens, Christ in the Smokies depicts various scenes from the bible and life of Jesus in life-sized dioramas, with painstaking detail.  From the architecture to the clothing that is one by the models in the dioramas, the artists at Christ in the Smokies have made sure to be as historical as possible in an attempt to let people get a better feel for the heroes of their faith.  You get to walk scene to scene and experience the various parts of the bible like never before.

cits3One of the most moving and emotional exhibits is the depiction of the Last Supper.  The Christ in the Smokies staff has duplicated the Leonard da Vinci fresco in every detail.  From the items on the table to the colors on the clothes of the Disciples and Jesus, they have copied the entire scene.  You get t a better sense for the meeting of these friends for the meal they were sharing and for the emotion of the scene.  As you take in the scene you feel like you are there, like you are actually taking part in the least meal that Christ took with the disciples before he was arrested.

Another highlight of the tour is the gardens.  In the center of the garden is the face of Jesus carved into a marble block.  This marble sculpture has been carved to give the impression that the face of Jesus follows you wherever you stand in the garden.  It is a trick of the eye and a true testament to the artists that designed it.  This amazing piece of art has been in the same spot in this garden for decades. It has become a tradition for people of all ages to bring their families back for this unique experience.

cits2Christ in the Smokies Museum & Gardens is one of the most wonderful museums of its type in the southeast.  There are always new exhibits going into the museum and you will find something new every time you walk through the doors.  Add Christ in the Smokies to your itinerary next time you are in the Smokies, you might just find that you are blessed by the experience.

Christ in the Smokies Museum & Gardens
510 River Road
Gatlinburg, TN

Dollywood’s Splash Country

Dollywood's Splash CountryDollywood added on to their amusements here in the Smokies when they built Splash Country in 2001.  And though the number of months they are open each year is limited due to the climate, while they are open they are one of the best waterparks in the country.  With activities aimed at each and every member of the family and acres of fun, water themed attractions to explore.  From an enormous wave pool to a lazy river and everything in between, Splash Country has it all.

Here are a few of the many features and areas in Dollywood’s Splash Country.

Dollywood's Splash CountryBear Mountain Fire Tower – 7 slides adorn this multi-level kid’s play area.  With slides, ladder, splash down pools and water dripping all over the place, this area is an oasis for childrens that are a little older and who need a little less supervision in their play time.  Oh, and by the way, on top of the Fire Tower is a bucket that dumps 300 gallons of water all at once.  You probably find your child standing in the splash zone.

The Cascades – A swimming area with a few slides that becomes the perfect place to let the younger members of your party float and swim and play in the cool water on a hot summer day.

Down Bound Float Trip – Otherwise now as the Lazy River, this is the float spot for most people visiting Splash Country.  Grab an inner tube and hit the water.  The jets in the Lazy River keeps the water flowing in the right direction and also keeps you floating in the right direction as well.  You get watch the other activities happen around you as you spend some time floating in quick contemplation.

Dollywood's Splash CountryLittle Creek Falls – This is an area especially for the youngest members of your family.  A wading pool for the little ones is only about ankle deep in places for the adults.  Your youngest can play in the water and enjoy the freedom they have by being in a place designed just for them.

Mountain Waves – A fantastic wave pool that houses thousands of gallons of water and is big enough to fit even the largest crowds.  Throughout the day you will hear the klaxon go off letting everyone know that the waves at the wave pool are about to begin.  The water starts to undulate and then the people in the deepest section are riding waves and troughs that are 5-6 feet deep.

Dollywood’s Splash Country
1198 McCarter Hollow Road
Pigeon Forge, TN

Ripley’s Moving Theater

Ripley’s has several attractions in Gatlinburg.  One of those, that brings the people in year after year is the Moving Theater.  This is called a 4D experience due to the fact that the seats you are sitting in move along with the action on the screen.  This gives you that completely immersive experience of being in the movie.

The concept is pretty easy to grasp.  You buy a ticket at the box office, the way that you would at any other theater.  You choose the show you want to see and then you step into the lobby to wait your chance to go into the theater.  But when you enter the theater, this is where the traditional experience at a movie changes.  You pick your seat in a line of chairs that have seat belts and hand holds on them.  You sit down and strap yourself in.  The movie starts and the cation starts as the chair you are in begins to jiggle, shake and move in correlation to what you are seeing on the screen.  Swaying left and right, the action sequences that are being played out in the short film you watch is even more impressive due to the fact that you are moving along with the action.  The 3D effects that you are experiencing with your eyes is made all the more amazing when your equilibrium is set into motion by the motion of the chair you are sitting in.

Ripley’s Moving Theater is easy to spot.  The top of the theater is adorned with a gigantic animatronic T-Rex.  Certainly they have had shows in the past that featured dinosaurs of every size and the T-Rex will make sure to be visible and loud enough that you will hear him before you see him.  The Moving Theater is located right on the Parkway and if you are walking the strip, you will pass this landmark at some point.  ALso, if you are looking for Ripley’s Haunted Adventure then you will find the Moving Theater located right next door.

Bring the kids to Gatlinburg’s only 4D experience.  Step off the Parkway and into the cool recesses of a theater.  Strap yourself into one of the seats and prepare to take an adventure.  With 3D glasses in place the fourth dimension, that of movement, awaits you around the next action sequence and chase scene.  Get your blood flowing at Ripley’s Moving Theater.

Ripley’s Moving Theater
904 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN