Roaring Fork Motor Trail:
Driving around the Smoky Mountains can get a bit tedious—like the western route through S-curves best suited for motorcycle madness and Indy enthusiasts.
But nestled near downtown Gatlinburg is a short but scenic loop with historic buildings and spectacular flora and fauna. The 5.5-mile jaunt’s star attraction is the Roaring Fork mountain stream.
Up for a hike? Try Rainbow Falls trail, a 5.4-mile roundtrip trek. The trailhead is just past the Ogle farm house.
It’s miles to any ocean from here, but step into Ripley’s Aquarium in downtown Gatlinburg and you’ll almost feel the swells.
Walk through the clear tunnel and you’ll become one with the ocean as sharks, sea turtles and colorful tropicals glide above and around you.
Watch your clock—stingray, fish and penguin feedings are scheduled throughout the day.
Ride an enclosed 110-passenger aerial tram from downtown Gatlinburg to new heights.
Once at the top of the mountain, frolic in the amusement park that features kiddie rides, a zoo, mini golf and indoor ice skating.
A traditional chair lift will up you even further. Ride it to its 3,600-foot pinnacle or unload part way up and take a bobsled-type ride down. A mountain coaster ride is slated to open soon.
Named after country megastar Dolly Parton, Dollywood is on the smallish size as far as amusement parks go, but big on variety.
With animal, musical and magic shows, there are plenty of entertainment options for those who don’t cherish careening on coasters. An on-site museum details Parton’s life and includes a realistic talking hologram of the country music star.
Rides are standard fare—roller coasters, water rides and kiddie carnival. Nothing too high-tech or Universal-like here, but there’s enough to do to fill up a vacation day.
Magic Beyond Belief with Darren Romeo
If you think David Copperfield is amazing, catch Darren Romeo’s rendition of magic. Not only is Romeo a supremely talented magician, he’s also a master vocalist, singing as he performs creative illusions that he perfected in Vegas.
It’s a fresh and fun approach to the canned music that so many magicians pull out of the hat. Seriously, Travel Beat fans—wave your itinerary wand over this one.