Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in downtown Gatlinburg has been around for about 20 years now. And it's still one of the top tourist attractions in the Smokies, providing guests of all ages with a fascinating underwater look at the mysterious realm of the world's oceans. The aquarium's self-guided tour takes you through multiple themed exhibit areas where you'll see everything from octopi to barracuda to eels. You can actually pet stingrays and even take a journey through the see-through tunnel running under Shark Lagoon, possibly coming face to face with several species of these intimidating predators of the sea.
It's hard to believe, but it's already time to go swimming in the Smokies! We're coming up on Memorial Day weekend, and the temps are well up into the 80s, so the conditions are just right for Smoky Mountain visitors to get their splash on. And as of last weekend, one of the area's most fun places to get wet has opened its gates for its 19th season.
Last week, we told you about the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage in Gatlinburg, which is one of the area's top nature-themed special events in the Smokies. If you missed it, however, you still have a chance to learn all about our natural surroundings here in East Tennessee. Anyone planning to be in the area this week should attend Wilderness Wildlife Week, currently taking place at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge through Saturday, May 11.
One of the best (and most beautiful) aspects of springtime in the Great Smoky Mountains is the emergence of the many species of wildflowers that call our area home. It's a phenomenon that attracts visitors from all over the world as they venture into the national park – often with cameras or binoculars in hand – to hit the trail in search of spring's multicolored blooms.
Some of you may read this and wonder, “Who is Sweet Fanny Adams?” For those of you in that category, we'll tell you it's the name of a theater in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, and this unique venue will be beginning its 43rd season in the Smokies next weekend, on April 18.
One of the first decisions any traveler makes when planning a trip to a fun destination is where to stay. And that goes for a getaway or vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains as well. The decision can seem like a tough one, though, because every town in our area – Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville – has a great selection of accommodations, and each one has a tempting lineup of attractions, shops and restaurants to choose from.
Between cool attractions, entertaining shows, unique shops and restaurants by the score, there's already so much to do in Gatlinburg, it's enough to make your head spin. And if that weren't enough, you'll also find a full calendar of special events taking place in the city throughout the year.
Millions of people come from all over the world to visit the Great Smoky Mountains each year. They shop, they play, they hike, they sightsee. And three times a day, on average, they eat. Fortunately, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are home to dozens and dozens of restaurants, a wide range of eateries that's geared to accommodate virtually every cuisine preference and every budget.
It looks like we've been experiencing some true East Tennessee weather lately. Freezing temperatures and snow one week, and then highs in the 70s just a week later. And in the middle of winter, no less! We're hearing that these pleasant days aren't here to stay, unfortunately; another cold snap is on its way. But for this week at least, let's make the most of it and find some ways to have some fun – and adventure – in the great outdoors, especially if you might be visiting the Great Smoky Mountains this week.
A lot of people visiting our area recently have been wondering if they can still visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park in light of the government shutdown, which has been dragging on for over a month now.