When it’s too hot or too cold outside for you, head inside for adventure, relaxation, food and fun in the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether you’re a kick-back-in-your-cabin stay inside kind of person or you want to get out but stay inside at museums and aquariums or you want indoor adventure, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have everything you could want.
So Many Museums!
Alcatraz Crime Museum
Among the Smokies most famous indoor activities are the plethora of museums Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville have that entertain and fascinate. A few of our favorites continue to be Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge – a great stop on your visit to the Smoky Mountains, with a unique look through American crime history – from the Salem Witch Trials to gunslingers of the West, prohibition and organized crime to the O.J. Simpson chase and trial, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and white-collar crime.
The adventure begins outside with the museum building designed as a prison with guard towers inspired by the Alcatraz lighthouse in San Francisco, modern-day watch towers and an inmate trying to escape!
Inside the 25,000 square-foot museum are two floors and over 100 interactives among the many galleries. “Five unique galleries burrow deep into the studies of criminal intent, criminal profiles, the penal system, victims, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and the Judiciary Branch of government.”
Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Reach the museum at (865) 453-3278
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Gatlinburg’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! has eight fun, and sometimes heart-stopping, and super weird adventures. Attractions include an Odditorium – a place where people can marvel at artifacts Robert Ripley collected, as well as people – or replicas and videos of people – with amazing and unbelievable talents. There’s a haunted house like no other, along with an amazing aquarium filled with unique and fascinating animals. Two themed mini-golf adventures are part of the Ripley’s Gatlinburg family of fun and bizarre.
There are so many adventures at the 85,000-square-foot Aquarium of the Smokies, including sharks, eels, weedy spinefish, green sea turtles many other creatures in the ocean realm of the aquarium. Piranhas and poisonous dart frogs inhabit the Tropical Rain Forest. You can Splash with the Rays, Sleep with the Sharks and interact with penguins on a trip. Check out the penguin cam to get a look at the family you could meet. You can touch a jellyfish too!
The aquarium has sensory-friendly nights for a quieter experience – perfect for those families of children who experience autism or other sensory processing disorders. Families receive $3.00 off admission – just mention “Sensory Nights” at the admission windows to receive the discount. Upcoming dates: Nov. 25th & Dec. 30th, 2020.
Find the aquarium at 88 River Rd, Gatlinburg, (865) 430-8808.
Another favorite museum is the hard-to-miss Titanic Museum Pigeon Forge, sitting larger than life at 2134 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. The ship-shaped building was designed half-scale to the original luxury cruise liner, which was 882 feet in length, and at the time, the largest man-made moving object on Earth. The museum ship seems to be in motion cutting through the sidewalks and onto the streets of Pigeon Forge – towering above and beckoning visitors.
More than 1,500 people – 70% of the passengers and crew – perished on that fateful night. The ship – the most luxurious at the time – sank within three hours. Learn why as you tour through 20 rooms and listen to passenger stories. Feel the icy water, hear the captain’s commands on deck, send an SOS.
Each guest entering Titanic receives a boarding pass for an actual Titanic passenger or crew member. You are first class or third class or perhaps an ensign or a maid.
Inside the ship, “passengers” and “crew” experience what it was like to walk the hallways, parlors, cabins and Grand Staircase of the Titanic. Be surrounded by more than 400 artifacts directly from the ship and its passengers. Visitors touch a real iceberg, walk the exact replica Grand Staircase and third-class hallways, reach their hands into 28-degree water, and try to stand on the sloping decks.
Check out our blog post dedicated to The Titanic Museum Pigeon Forge.
For physical adventure, head to Ober Mountain.
Start your day at Ober Mountain by boarding the Aerial Tramway in downtown Gatlinburg and avoid the drive up the mountain while taking in, arguably, the best views as you soar above Gatlinburg for more than 2 miles. The cable car has been taking passengers from downtown Gatlinburg to the Ober amusement park and ski area since August 1973. Check out this video for a taste of what you’ll experience!
At Ober’s Wild Encounter, visitors can meet some of the wildlife that resides in the Smoky Mountains.
Meet the black bear family that includes Minnie and BJ and their grown 6-year-olds, Holly and Chief. River otters play in the underwater viewing area. Raccoons, skunks, flying squirrels, turtles and snakes muck about in the Nocturnal House. Bobcats and birds of prey also are part of the family here.
Some of these guys hibernate so they aren’t ALL out and bout in the winter. Ober’s Wild Encounter is open every day 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more on the wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, check out the National Park Service site for pictures and other viewing information.
Bumper cars on an ice rink! That sounds like a lot of silly fun! Lighted round cars spin and bump as you play on about 1/3 of the entire ice rink. Check out this great Ober Mountain bumper car video and plan your sibling revenge.
“Everyone had such a good time in our group, we couldn’t stop laughing,” one TripAdvisor reviewer wrote.
The ride is open daily.
Lace up for year-round skating for Ober’s 140 feet x 75 feet indoor ice arena. The “centerpiece of Ober Mountain’s enclosed mall,” the rink welcomes beginners and professionals alike.
The handrail around the perimeter helps novice skaters keep their balance. The rink is large enough to play host to Christmas specials, the Tennessee Special Olympics ice skating competition and Ice Skating Institute Team competitions each year.
Buy tickets here.
Fun for all ages, the classic merry-go-round carousel makes everyone smile with sparkling lights and colorful horses. Children over 36 inches and adults can ride the carousel all day for just one $3.50 ticket per person.
Nearby is the Market Mexican food stand for those breaks or for parents watching older children on the ride.
After you’ve worked up an appetite on the slopes or when you just want to take in the view at the top with dinner or a snack, Ober offers seven eating experiences.
Sit down at Seasons of Ober Restaurant and take in spectacular Smoky Mountain views while dining on hand-cut steaks, chicken or pork and homemade sides that include cinnamon apples and sweet potato casserole. Some of Season’s signature dishes include a strawberry avocado salad, fried green tomatoes and a center-cut pork chop.
The Ober Loft Lounge offers a full wine list, spirits and beer along with bar bites including chicken wings and fried pickle chips. The loft lounge is a great place for an Apres ski cocktail.
Also on the mountain is The Market, a sit-down Mexican eatery; Sidewalk Café with burgers, pizza and more; and Fudge Shop for some homemade confections. Fudge is a southern favorite that comes in many flavors – with and without nuts. It is rich and delicious and tastes like nothing else!
Indoor Mini Golf
Crave Golf Club is a candy-themed wonderland with indoor and outdoor courses and a Spin Zone table located at the beginning of each hole. You spin the disk before teeing off and follow the instructions for your first turn. If someone in your group spins a candy or ice cream icon, mark it down. If you collect 19 candies or 19 ice creams, exchange your card for a prize at the concessions counter.
Spend all day here – golfing, playing mini bowling and enjoying the Escape rooms – 60-minute real-life adventures where you work together as a team to solve mysteries and escape.
Flyaway Indoor Adventure
If you’re looking for some adrenaline pumping adventure, check out Flyaway indoor skydiving in Pigeon Forge.
In this vertical wind tunnel, visitors get a skydiving experience without jumping from a plane or falling from the sky.
“You can break the bonds of gravity and body fly.” Check out this video for what to expect.
Flyaway’s instructors will teach visitors all they need to know to body fly indoors so no experience is necessary. Participants attend a 15-minute training class where body control techniques and safety procedures are discussed. Flyers receive a suit, helmet, and other safety equipment. Following a short review of the basics, a group of five flyers then enters the wind tunnel with their instructor and take turns flying during a 15-minute session. Each person receives about three minutes of airtime, according to the Website.
What a thrill!
Flyaway is located at 3106 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, (877) 293-0639
Your Cabin, Of Course!
Ready to book your Smoky Mountain stay and start planning your indoor adventures?
Find a cabin near all the action or far away from it – we have both! Give us a call at (888) 876-6509. Be sure to check out all our amazing featured deals. Search for cabins with swimming pools. See our blog post on cabins with game rooms.
You can also contact us online by searching our Pigeon Forge cabins with views or cabins with theater rooms. Check out our Pinterest boards including Things to Do in Pigeon Forge Also, see our cabin discount/specials page.