This past week, we traveled down to Gatlinburg, TN. At first, we were not sure we’d actually be able to go… we actually didn’t know for sure until the day we were expected to arrive.
We have a time share condo, nearly at the top of a mountain, through Club Chalet. Normally, I love staying there, this time however, things were just… off. They take thousands of dollars a year for maintenance fees, do they renovate or upgrade their units? No. They actually built a new club house. Which, wouldn’t be a problem, if they actually did SOMETHING to these units, and its just simple stuff we bring up every time we are there. The upstairs tub doesn’t drain, the flooring in the upstairs bathroom is peeling from the floor, I’m pretty sure that the cob webs over the tubs have been there for the past four years. This time we traveled down there, the dishes hadn’t been washed, and what was supposedly washed had food baked to it… gross. Our bed sheets hadn’t been washed; there were dark stains, hair, and what not all over them. And the floor, not sure when it was last mopped/vacuumed, our feet were black after only a few moments walking on the floor barefoot. So, I think its time Club Chalet allocated some of their fees to upgrading their cabins.
What does the Gatlinburg area look like in the time of COVID-19? Not too different than it usually looks… maybe not so crowded in certain areas.
One of our favorite spots in the Ripley Aquarium. Its usually pretty crowded, of course the day we went it rained so it was still crowded. If you travel down during the pandemic, this is a place I highly suggest you skip. No one in the aquarium was social distancing and half were not wearing a mask (outside of the workers). The aquarium is built to funnel people in, so it was crowded in all the walkways, there was no way to stand 6 feet apart in most areas, and when you skip the huge hoards of people, you miss a good portion of the animals.
Adult (12 & up): 37.99
Child (6-11): 19.99
Child (2-5): 9.99
A new place on our list was Anakeesta. Sounds really cool on paper, and it was neat, but unsure if it was really worth the cost. Easier to social distance here than the aquarium though. The tree top walk would have been amazing, had it been finished. During the storm not too long ago, a few trees fell taking a bridge or two with them. Currently there is only about 4 bridges, and only 8 people at a time on them and the platforms, however the employees were not counting how many people they were allowing to walk out. It was kind of scary, all these extra people on the bridges, especially having to turn around.
Anakeesta was supposed to have two restaurants, but when we got up there, we learned that the smoke house was still being built and wouldn’t be ready until the end of the month. We ate lunch at the restaurant, I forget the name, right at the top. We sat for a long time before our server came to ask for drinks and when our food arrived, it was lacking -not worth the price, in my opinion. You actually have to pay extra for a bit once you get up top, so we didn’t do much other than what was included in the lift price and lunch.
- Adults (12-59): 21.99
- Children (4-11): 17.99
- Seniors (60+): 19.99
The rail runner is 12.99 for a single rider, 14.99 for tandem. The zip line ranges between 30.99 – 34.99 depending on age. You can ride the ski lift, chondola, or take the shuttle up to the top.
You may have heard that they opened the Sky Bridge recently. Very cool right? I was under the impression that the whole thing was glass, that is not the case. Its a 680 foot long suspension bridge, with two glass panels in the middle. Not as cool as I thought, but still very cool.
The Sky Bridge is located at the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. The crowd are thinner early in the morning, just be careful on the bridge, the glass panels will be slick. The only way up is to take the ski lift. Cost is moderate:
- Adults (12-64): 24.95
- Junior (4-11): 17.95
- Senior (65+): 20.95
- Child (3 & under): Free
You can add the premium photo package to your tickets for an extra $2 per person. There is little to do once at the top other than enjoy the few with a drink, but your bands are good all day, unlimited trip to the bridge and viewing patio. In my opinion, it’s worth it for the view alone.
An awesome place to go if you have a muscle car enthusiast, is Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car museum in Sevierville.
The museum has over 90 classic cars on display, the cars change periodically so if you’ve been before stop back by and see something new!
My kids really enjoyed seeing all the different makes and models, some really rare, plus the cute decor.
The price is excellent. One of our cheaper excursions of the week.
- Adults: 11.00
- Children (8-12): 5.00
- 8 & under: Free
Not sure how popular the museum is, but when we visited there was hardly anyone there, so no worries about crowds and social distancing. Their gift shop didn’t have any toys, so we got out of there pretty cheaply.
My husband saw an ad for the Smoky Mountain Railroad, so we decided to do that this time around. The train wasn’t too crowded, but it was super long. Buy your tickets early and pay extra for first class, trust me. Prices depend on which train trip you take and when… we did the diesel ride for the Nantahala Gorge Excursion. Here is what I paid, per ticket:
- Adult (13+): 56.00
- Child (2-12): 32.00
- Infant: Free
We did not purchase boxed lunches, and the walk from the train to the area with restaurants is super long with a long wait… I recommend bringing snacks or purchasing them before you get on the train. I also highly suggest checking their Facebook page before booking, otherwise you’ll see a better deal and they won’t honor it because you’ve already paid and taken the trip.
The model train museum is free after the train ride, its basically where they funnel you to. The shops around the train station offer free items or discount items with train tickets, as well.
With rain in the forecast most of the week, we decided to hit up an indoor Waterpark. We ended up at Wild Bear Falls, located at the Westgate resort in Gatlinburg.
Its a cute little water park with just a couple bigger slides, a few hot tubs, pools, and a fun zone. The kids had a really good time and the price wasn’t terrible…. being Westgate owners we recieved a couple dollar discount.
Admission is 24.95. Children 3 and under are free.
All employees were required to wear a mask, as were guests outside of the water area. The place was pretty big so social distancing was not an issue. There is a cafe on site, with reasonably priced food items, or you can head into town for lunch, your admission is good all day.
The Nascar Speedpark in Sevierville was a kid favorite!
Several Nascar themed racetracks, cute kiddie rides, ywo mini golf courses, arcade, and a restaurant.
It is a full day of fun in the sun. As long as your child can reach the pedals, there is a go kart they can drive or ride. Kids and adults alike will have a blast here. There is a track just for adults, that go about 30 mph, you must have a drivers license to ride.
Each mini golf course is 18 holes, with separate “themes” but minimal decor.
The cafe was a bit pricey for what it was, so we only purchased slushies.
- Adult: 27.99
- Child (6 & under): 23.99
You can save $2 per ticket by purchasing ahead of time, and you virtually skip the line. Your wrist bands are good for all day, come and go as you please. Tickets do not include arcade, vr gaming, or rock climbing wall.
The rock wall is actually closed due to COVID, but everything else is up and running. All employees are wearing mask and disinfect all karts before &after every rider. Lines are marked with 6ft social distancing markers, but its hard to get people to comply with them.
The best restaurant of the week was Monster Mash Burger in Sevierville…. we went twice. The staff was amazing, Michael did so much for us and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even his job to take care of customers.
The food was delicious! With a decent price for everything and pretty big portions. And the horror/monster theme made the atmosphere exciting. I’ve never been to a restaurant quite like it. They even have two movie screens showing classic Halloween movies, with custom horror movie poster type decor.
Other places we’ve visited and recommend are:
- The Mellow Mushroom, both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg locations
- Crockett’s Breakfast Camp
- Davy Crockett mini-golf
- Gatlin’s Mini Golf
- Cade’s Cove
- Star’s Cars
- Sugarlands Distillery
You can read about past trips to Gatlinburg here.
Remember that wild animals call most of these areas home; please lock up all trash and vehicles. 🙂