If you’re looking for museums in the Sevierville and Smoky Mountains area, you’ll find no end of options. But unlike the stuffy museums that you might find in the larger cities, the Smokies have their own take on how to honor history, science, and art. We’ll look at the top ten attractions and why they’re worth a visit.
1. Forbidden Caverns
The Forbidden Caverns are a series of caves that take you hundreds of feet below the surface, so you can explore a wonderland that lies directly below your feet. Take a guided tour and learn more about how the rock formations that were shaped long before settlers ever came to the area. The Forbidden Caverns is something of a demanding interactive museum, so it’s not for the faint of heart.
2. Tennessee Museum of Aviation
The Tennessee Museum of Aviation pays homage to the aircraft that have graced the skies during both peace and wartime. If you visit the 35,000 sq. ft. hanger at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport, you’ll learn about the history of air travel. From the first Wright brother’s first flight to how airstrikes were coordinated during WWII, the restored originals and replicas bring the past to life for those who visit. We recommend taking the tour with a docent as many are veterans with first-hand experience of these aircraft.
3. Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum
The muscle car has enjoyed a fabled mystique in our country for a reason: these vehicles are a tribute to a highly stylized culture of a bygone era. And while muscle cars may never enjoy the same reverence that they once did, this museum ensures they’re never forgotten. At Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum, the vehicles are constantly on rotation, ensuring no two visits are ever alike. The majority of the models are from mid-century, you’ll also see a few late-century and even early 2000s cars on display.
4. Pigeon Forge Titanic Museum
The Titanic has endured in history for its ill-fated voyage, in part due to the tragedy that occurred and in part due to the enormity of the watercraft. At this museum, you’ll see a replica of the famous ship that was constructed to be half the size of the original. Inside, it’s a 30,000 sq. ft museum that features 20 galleries filled with real artifacts from the ship. Designed for families of all ages, each guest is given a boarding pass at the time of arrival that features the name and history of a real passenger on the ship.
WonderWorks was created for kids who have a sense of adventure, but its appeal stretches far beyond the younger demographic. Stretch out on a bed made from nearly 3,500 nails, or challenge one another to the ropes course. Get twist turned upside down on the Inversion Tunnel or the Xtreme 360. This is a bit of cross-section between a children’s museum and an amusement park where everyone can learn more about the forces and physics at work in our favorite rides and activities.
6. Alcatraz East
If you can’t make it out to San Francisco, this crime museum near The Island in Pigeon Forge may just tide you over. At 25,000 sq. ft. and featuring more than 100 interactive exhibits, Alcatraz East will have you reliving some of the most infamous car chases, gunfights, and smoke outs. The museum is modeled after both the first state in Tennessee and its namesake in San Francisco. If you’ve ever wanted to take a lie detector test or get your mug shot taken without actually committing an infraction, this is the perfect place to visit.
7. Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center
Wax museums have endured in the public eye because of their ability to capture life-like qualities in all of our favorite stars. So while you may never have the chance to meet Tom Hanks on the street, you can at least take a photo with him! From music to movies, you can learn more about all your favorite public figures. Of course, there’s more to do than just tour the wax figures. Try out a 5D theater, walk through a zombie-filled hallway, or check out the magical maze mirrors that will leave you guessing how to get out.
8. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
Salt and pepper shakers are more than just a way to dispense the ubiquitous spices. This museum features works of art that just happen to be a little more functional than a painting on the wall. Started by an avid collector who wanted to show off her treasure trove of shakers, the collection is now 20,000 shakers strong in nearly every theme, color, and design from every era. Take a trip back to the 16th century and see just what would have graced a table back in those days!
9. Gatlinburg Pinball Museum
Whether you want to learn about the history of this famous game or you just want to play a round or two, this museum is perfect for the pinball lover in you. Remember when the only thing on the menu was a few slices of pepperoni, a few sips of soda, and a few chances to beat the high score in your local pizza parlor? The limited-edition machines are sure to get your heart pounding with nostalgia.
10. Christ in the Smokies
Inspirational and beloved by visitors and locals alike, Christ in the Smokies features wax figures that depict different parts of the Story of Christ. These figures are brought to life with lighting, music, and oral narration that gives the details of each event. There’s also a prayer garden where you can visit to reflect on the life of Christ and its larger impact on Christ’s followers.
The culture and history of this area are both on full display in our top ten picks. We invite everyone to learn more about different slices of Sevierville and the Smoky Mountains by visiting at least one of these attractions during their stay.