Grab your flying goggles and head for the skies with Sky High Air Tours. You and a friend can soar 1,000 ft over Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, with spectacular views that are just not possible to imagine from the ground. In the fall, the view is unmatched anywhere. The vintage open cockpit airplane, called the Waco Biplane, takes you up for 8-30 minutes depending on the package you purchase. They range in price from $99 – $275. Dan and I rode together – it is 2 people max. The boys opted to watch our 15 min flight from the hanger, as they were a little nervous to join us. I’ll admit to being a little nervous, also, but Mark (the pilot and owner) was great….and the flight is so smooth and easy that even in the open cockpit I was not frightened at all (this coming from a woman who refuses to ride roller coasters!) We took the 15 minute tour, which is well worth the price, but if you can afford it try the longer tour which takes you out over Douglas Lake. I promise that when you hear the engine wind down to begin the landing, you’re going to wish you had purchased the longer tour. While you are up, each person gets a headset so you can hear Mark tell you about what you’re seeing. It’s not like a guided tour though (unless you specifically ask), which I appreciated. I just wanted to soak it all in – every minute of it. Bring cash – you’re going to want to leave a tip!
Just a few hundred yards from where you take your biplane ride, stop in the Tennessee Museum of Aviation. The front part of the museum includes thousands of historic artifacts, while the back part is a 50,000 sq ft hanger packed with vintage aircraft. In the exhibits area features a “Wave Wall” which traces significant milestones in the history of aviation from before the Wright Brothers. There is piece of the USS Arizona, which the boys found fascinating. We also saw pilot uniforms from multiple points in history – how interesting to watch them evolve. The hanger was our favorite! We saw two Republic P-47 Thunderbolts from WWII (there are not many of these left), a full scale replica of the 1902 Wright Glider, several MiG fighter jets, and much more!
RainForest Adventure Discovery Zoo is a small little zoo that is jam-packed with tons of fun! Designed by one of the contractors who worked on the Disney Animal Kingdom project, it features over 600 different animals. My favorite exhibit was the marmosets. They were so adorable and so curious. I could be wrong, but I swear they were talking to me with sign-language. Elliot liked the rats…they had multiple rat exhibits in different stages of life, and he watched the 1-5 day old babies for a long, long time. Their eyes weren’t even open yet, and the mama was giving them a bath. Most of the zoo is inside, but there is also a small petting zoo outside with goats, sheep and emu. This was Cooper’s favorite! Be sure to pick up a bag of food from the giftshop so you can feed them. Honestly, I was very impressed with the Zoo. Places like this can be hit or miss across the country, and this was definitely a hit. It’s a mom and pop run business, with more than 20 years under their belt and a focus on exotic animals of the rain forest. Absolutely worth the stop!
Sometimes when you’re on vacation you need something just for the kids – and this is it! Yes, you can jump too…but this trampoline jumping park was the most epic “get the wiggles out” stop for our boys. Especially because we had been driving for so long earlier in the day. Jump for an hour or two at Sevier Air – with dodge ball, a “high dive” jumping station, interactive jumping games, ninja warrior park, wipe-out station and tons of jumping space. Don’t miss the bottom floor while you’re there. You’ll find a two-story ropes climb and a cafe with snacks, frozen yogurt and more. We also noticed that they have small rooms in this area, perfect for birthday parties.
The highlight of our trip was working with Hank and LouAnn at Uncle Hank’s Knives. Uncle Hank’s sits in the oldest brick building in Sevierville, right in the parking lot of Smoky Mountain Knife Works. It’s here that you can take classes from Hank and make your own knife! The boys started with half a ponyshoe each, and Dan and I used half a horseshoe…and with Hank’s lead we moved from firing and hammering then to sanding… to hardening… and finally to sharpening and polishing. Hank has worked with kids as young as 5 years and as old as 90 years. In fact, he had just recently finished a workshop with a 90 yo man- plus his son, grandson and great-grandson, all together. Our knife making session took about 3 hours for four knives (and the time flew by) but you can make a smaller knife in as little as 30 minutes. Just be sure to make a reservation as soon as you know you are heading to the area. Appointments are all private and they fill up fast.
Our plan was to spend about an hour here….three hours later we had to drag ourselves away. SO MUCH FUN! Start by writing your wish to the fairies, then bring it across the 335 ft swinging bridge spanning the gorge from Foxfire Mountain to Prosperity Mountain where the fairies live. Once across, offer your wish up, build a cairn, climb the tree canopy, and hike to Lost Mine Falls. After you make it back to Foxfire Mountain, walk along the river or challenge the kids on the Little Adventurer Obstacle Course (don’t let the name fool you – it’s a challenge, for sure!) Don’t miss a stop at Wyile Cider House to sample the hard ciders and pick up a few bottles. Bring the kids, too…there is an alcohol-free cider also.
While we’ll be the first to tell you that Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant is a “must eat” Sevierville location (here is our entire Sevierville Restaurants list) we absolutely want you to consider visiting the entire Apple Barn Village. See the original barn from 1972, which was refurbished and opened with tons of yummy treats. Be sure to stop in the Cider Room, also. You can watch apples from their 4,000 trees being pressed into cider, which you can sample! If you want something a little more potent, then stop in the Cider House, featuring hand-crafted hard ciders. There is also a candy shop and ice creamery that the kids will love. And for the parents, don’t miss a tasting at the Apple Barn Winery.
The Visit Sevierville website offers several different driving tours, and we really recommend them. Because of the time of year we visited, we opted for the Fall Driving Tour to Douglas Lake. We started in Downtown Sevierville at the Dolly Parton Statue in front of the Sevier County courthouse. Celebrating the queen of country music, Dolly Parton’s statue is the Sevierville’s attraction to visit – and be sure to get a selfie with her. From there we visited an art gallery, drove by the Kyker Farms Corn Maze (they we’re not yet open) and took a walk along the Douglas Dam with great views of Douglas Lake.
Without a doubt, we highly recommend the glamping tents at The Ridge Outdoor Resort. You can come take a tour of our tent here. For complete details about the The Ridge, the tent, and other questions our readers asked about our stay, see this post! We also love these 30 cabin rentals in the area! They’re mapped for you below
We adore the small town mountain feel of Sevierville. It was not our first visit – it certainly will not be our last. Here are a few things we are anxious to check out on our next trip. Forbidden Caverns One of Tennessee’s 8,350 caves, you can learn about the different formations and more. Adventure Park at Five Oaks Horseback riding and ziplining adventures on a 70-acre natural park. The Smoky Mountain Deer Farm Exotic Petting Zoo Walk among the deer and other animals, and even hand feed them. Nascar Speedpark Go-karts and other family rides, plus unlimited mini golf and an indoor rock climbing wall. Sevierville Festivals From the Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival in May to the Sevierville Smoky Mountain Harvest Fest in November, there is always something fun happening here. We’re more than ready for them to open again!