Airworthy “Warbirds” are the foundation of this 50,000 sq ft facility, located on the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport in Sevierville. This unique location helps to bring aviation history to life with unscheduled flight demonstrations.
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.
Aviation enthusiasts will appreciate the professionally designed Exhibit Gallery, containing artifacts tracing aviation and military history, uniforms, aircraft models and hundreds of aviation memorabilia. It is interesting to watch the different flight uniforms evolve.
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.
The 35,000 sq ft Aircraft Hangar features aircraft engines and cockpits, military vehicles, and magnificently restored vintage “Warbirds.” The collection of trainers, fighters, helicopters, jets and amphibious aircraft will definitely satisfy the interest of any “Warbird” fan. Whether you’re a seasoned pilot or just have a passing interest in flight, this is a must-see while visiting the Great Smoky Mountains. Travel off the beaten path and explore the fascinating realm of flight at this hidden treasure.
Next time you visit the Great Smoky Mountains, consider adding Townsend to your travel itinerary. This small community on the doorstep of the national park offers a more tranquil alternative to the hustle and bustle of traditional destinations like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. Yes, you’ll find attractions, shops, restaurants, accommodations and special events in Townsend, but everything’s just done on a smaller scale and at a more laid-back pace. One of the great things about Townsend is that even though it’s a more peaceful experience, visitors are only a half-hour from Pigeon Forge and a stone’s throw away from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Click to read more about Townsend, Tennessee.
Visiting the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee can be a fun-filled adventure. Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville comprise a 25-mile corridor of tourist destinations that can fill a lifetime’s worth of vacations. With everything from attractions and shops to restaurants and overnight lodging providers, these three communities are an enchanted gateway to the most visited national park in the nation.
But what if you’re looking for something a little more laid-back in a Smokies vacation? A place where the pace is a little slower and there’s not quite as much traffic. A place that still offers shopping, dining and fun but on a much smaller scale. A place that is still on the front doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains.
If that’s what you have in mind for a mountain getaway, then say hello to Townsend, Tennessee, a historic community that for years has billed itself as “the peaceful side of the Smokies.” Read on for an introduction to this beloved alternate mountain destination, which is a short drive from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. So in some cases, you can still get a full dose of Smoky Mountain fun and also take a side trip to Townsend for a slightly different flavor of experience.
Here are some of the many wonderful things you will find to do in Townsend
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
This cultural attraction is located about a mile from the Townsend entrance to the national park. The proximity is fitting since this self-guided museum tour tells the story of Townsend and the greater East Tennessee region through the centuries, from early Native American habitation to white settlement to the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The tour proceeds in chronological order, and along the way, visitors will discover archaeological relics and antiquities as well as modern-day, interactive exhibits that make it fun for all ages to learn about area history. There’s also an outdoor component to the museum. Guests can tour a number of restored historic structures, including a granary, private homes, train depot, church, barn and corncrib, saw mill and print shop.
This popular swimming hole is technically within the boundaries of the national park, but it’s a very short drive from the traffic light in Townsend. It’s a spot where the Little River forks, and that juncture forms a natural place to wade in on a hot summer day and cool off in the bracing waters. There’s usually plenty of parking, either in the lot or along the shoulder of the road. It is a rocky area, so you’ll want to watch your footing as you make your way in and out of the water, but the water is generally shallow, so it’s fun for old and young alike.
Little River Railroad & Lumber Company Museum
This attraction tells the story of how the railroad and lumber industries helped bring commerce and prosperity to rural East Tennessee. It also goes further back in time to explore how Native Americans and pioneers influenced the development of the region. The museum offers a self-guided tour with railroad-related exhibits inside and a number of displays outside the main building, including a Shay 2147 vintage caboose, two vintage flatcars, a portable Frick steam engine and a wooden water tank that was used at the train station in nearby Walland, Tennessee.
As a matter of fact, the original Walland depot was one of the first exhibits moved to the current museum site when it was founded in 1983. Today, that building houses the museum’s indoor exhibits-primarily a collection of photographs, papers, tools and smaller artifacts related to local railroad history. The original Little River Railroad & Lumber Company was responsible for the creation of Townsend as a community, and that industry thrived until the formation of the national park in the 1930s.
There is a lot of information in a small building. Take your time and look through it.
Not far from the little river railroad museum is a swinging bridge. This is a public swinging bridge and worth the detour. Just a little natur stroll. We saw ducks and walked on the bridge.
Here’s another fun way to cool off in the Little River: Rent an inner tube, settle into it and then set off on a float downstream. You’ll find several tubing vendors in Townsend. In some cases, they’ll transport you to a put-in location and then you float back to their main outpost. Sometimes, you might put in at the outpost, and then they’ll pick you up at the take-out spot. Different packages are available, depending on how long you want to spend floating on the river.
We had a fantastic time tubing as a family. You can even get a tube for your pup.
Billed as the “Greatest Sight Under The Smokies,” Tuckaleechee Caverns is a set of underground caverns located just outside Townsend. The caverns were discovered in the middle 1800s, and they were opened to the public as a tourist attraction in 1953. The tour leads guests to a number of unique underground features and rooms, including stalagmites, stalactites and what they call “the big room,” which is large enough to contain a football stadium. Also look for the 210-foot-tall Silver Falls, which is the tallest subterranean waterfall in the Eastern U.S. The tour altogether totals 1.25 miles round trip.
The story of how the caverns were found is a fascinating story.
Those are some of the main things you can do for fun in Townsend, but that’s not all there is to the community. You’ll find a wide variety of restaurants ranging from national fast food chains to local restaurants serving down-home flavors. There’s plenty of barbecue, Southern cooking and more to be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Townsend also hosts a number of special events every year, including the Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival, the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon and several different custom-auto shows.
This content posted by Smoky Mountain Vacation Info. and reproduced here with excerps from us.
Looking for activities in Pigeon Forge TN you can enjoy with your kids? You’ll find all kinds of fun things to do! Whether they love theme parks, museums, or games, there are activities for every interest in Pigeon Forge. Check out 5 of the best activities in Pigeon Forge TN for kids:
Do you want to find something fun and educational for your kids to do? Take them to WonderWorks! This attraction is an interactive museum your whole family will love. The building is commonly called the upside down house, so you definitely can’t miss it! Once inside, you can find fun in all of the Wonder Zones. You can feel how cold the water was the night the Titanic sank. Feel what hurricane winds and an earthquake are like. Lay on a bed of nails and get in a roller coaster simulator. Test your skills at virtual sports. Jump on the giant piano and on the Alien Stomper. There’s so much to do at WonderWorks!
Located at The Island in Pigeon Forge, Arcade City is a great place to take the kids if they love games. You’ll find all kinds of fun claw games where you can grab prizes. Win points by playing basketball and skeeball. Try to stop the light to win the jackpot, and try to get a ball to drop in the jackpot slot in other games. Once you’ve gained all the points you can, you can trade the points for prizes, such as stuffed animals, plastic figures, and so much more!
Dollywood is one of the most popular activities in Pigeon Forge TN. Kids and adults will both find things to entertain them at Dollywood. There are shows everyone will enjoy watching, from comedy to singing and dancing. Small children will love riding Busy Bees, while older kids will enjoy The Scrambler and the Dizzy Disk. Have a kid who loves thrills? Take them on The Barnstormer or the Tennessee Tornado. You’ll find plenty of snacks your kids will love around the park, from frozen lemonade to giant cookies from the Spotlight Bakery. Everyone will love their day at Dollywood!
If you’re looking for maximum entertainment, you need to take your kids to The Track in Pigeon Forge. You’ll find go karts for kids of all ages. The most popular is the Wild Woody, where the track winds up to 3 stories tall! After you ride go karts, get on some of the kiddie rides or splash each other on the bumper boats. Play a round of mini golf where you’ll spot animals you might see on a safari. Once you’re done outside, you can play games in the arcade!
What child doesn’t love to jump on trampolines? Your kids will love spending time at TopJump, an indoor trampoline park. There are open areas where you can just jump around. There’s also a climbing center where you can test your skills. Kids also love seeing how far they can get in the Fire & Ice Ninja Course. For small kids, the Kid Zone is the perfect place to play! Your whole family will find something that will entertain them at TopJump!
You’ll love the wide variety of activities in Pigeon Forge TN. Check out these other attractions you’ll want to try while you’re in town.
Rain or shine, snow or sun, there’s never a bad time to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies! This immersive facility is regularly recognized as one of the top aquariums in the United States. In 2016, it was named by USA Today as the best place in the US to see penguins! There are so many exhibits to explore and animals to see, that you could spend the entire day at Ripley’s and still have more to do. Once you’re done checking out the fish, the kids can enjoy the aquarium’s new gigantic indoor playground! If you’re looking to escape the cold and still have an adventure, Ripley’s is the place to go.
Drive at the Blake Jones Racing Center. If it’s too cold outside for go karts, head over to Blake Jones Racing Center. One of the few covered Figure 8 Slick Tracks in the area and the only indoor Electric Go-Karts and Spin Zone Bumper Cars.
Escape Game Rooms
The Escape Game in Pigeon Forge Located at The Island, this real-life escape game requires guests to work together to try to escape a locked room. Find clues, solve puzzles, and get out in under 60 minutes!
Kryptology Escape Rooms is a fun, challenging way to spend time with your family during the winter. When you take on the challenge at Kryptology, it’s like stepping into a real-life video game. You’re given 60 minutes to find clues, answer riddles, and solve puzzles while trying to discover how to escape the room your placed in. Each room has a different immersive theme, like “The Orphanage” or “Vanished in Roswell”. Even though the rooms and challenges are very exciting, every room is family friendly and safe for younger children. You should plan on spending a total of about 90 minutes with Kryptology from start to finish.
A wonderful way to experience the beauty of the Smokies is with a scenic drive. There are some great options in the area (including the Foothills Parkway), all with beautiful overlooks along the way. Pack some snacks, drinks, and a jacket and camera for when you want to hop out for a bit.
Anyone who has driven through Cades Cove knows that is one of the most beautiful parts of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Cades Cove is situated on an 11-mile one-way loop road that gives you the chance to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Along the way, there are plenty of pull-offs if you want to stop and take in the scenery. You’ll definitely want to take your time. Some of the animals you could potentially see include black bears, white-tail deer, coyotes, turkeys, and more!
What better way to pass a busy day than shopping? Head over to the Tanger Outlets in Sevierville to get great deals on clothes, accessories, electronics, home goods, specialty foods, toys, tools, and more! The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is the largest collection of crafters and traditional artists in the United States.
Visit an Amazing Museum Attraction
Visiting one of the many amazing museums in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is a great way to spend a rainy day. All of the museums in the Smokies pride themselves on offering one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibits. With so many different options to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to check out our blog, 7 Best Museums in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, for a full list of the best museums in the Smokies.