These days, many families are pursuing homeschooling or virtual learning. Maybe you’re among them—and maybe you’re also planning on visiting the Great Smoky Mountains this summer with a home base in Sevierville, Tennessee.
If so, there are more than a few destinations in town that definitely can support childhood education. (And that’s not even counting the ecological lessons available amid the natural spectacles of the Great Smokies themselves…) Here are some first-rate examples!
Tennessee comes packed with astonishing caves, and Sevierville has it’s very own well set up for visitors (despite the name): Forbidden Caverns. Tour this subterranean wonderland, and you’ll have both geology and history to sink your teeth into. The limestone formations down here include spectacular stalactites, ornate flowstone, and what’s touted as the biggest wall of cave onyx anywhere.
There’s also a cave river in Forbidden Caverns, long an attraction for human visitors. Those visitors included American Indians, who harvested the cave’s flint for making arrowheads and other tools. Later, the cave became a covert site for moonshine production.
History and aviation technology come together in dramatic fashion at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation, an all-ages showstopper. Set on the Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport, the museum includes a fine collection of vintage aircraft, among them genuine warbirds that occasionally perform flight demos. Highlights of the hangar include the 1902 Wright Glider, a P-51D Mustang, the Lockheed T-33 Silver Star, and the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt “Wicked Wabbit.”
The museum’s exhibits are also engrossing. Check out Evel Knievel’s Skycycle X-2, used in the daredevil’s failed jump of the Snake River Canyon, and a piece of wreckage salvaged from the USS Arizona battleship, sunk at Pearl Harbor.
Sevier County Heritage Museum
There’s some deep and fascinating history in Sevier County, and this museum—right across from Sevierville’s famous Dolly Parton statue—delves into it. Here you’ll find loads of absorbing artifacts, including historic military uniforms, antique furniture, and old-school tools. The museum also includes many historical photographs and newspaper clippings.
Get up close and personal with more than 600 live animals hailing from the world’s tropical and temperate zones at Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo. The menagerie includes everything from scorpions, tarantulas, and crocodilians to lemurs, squirrel monkeys, macaws, toucans, and bat-eared foxes.
More critters from all corners of the globe await hands-on appreciation at the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo. Here you’ll find kangaroos, emus, reindeer, zebra, fallow and sika deer, elk, Highland cattle, camels, and more on display.
Besides the thrill of feeding and petting some of these lovely beasts, you can also get a sense of their natural cycles: checking out the spring flush of deer fawns and elk calves, for example, or tracking antler development across the year.
A bit under-the-radar, the Blowing Cave Mill is another fabulous portal into Sevierville’s history. The grist mill, set at the base of English Mountain, was built in the late 1800s to process corn and wheat. It’s an impressive-looking structure that evokes the past—and serves as a heck of a backdrop for a few family photos.
Other Educational Attractions Close By
With Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg just a stone’s throw away, Sevierville visitors have plenty of other educational attractions within easy reach. For instance, dive into the dramatic backstory of one of the most famous disasters of all time at Pigeon Forge’s Titanic Museum Attraction. Over in Gatlinburg, you can learn about underwater ecosystems and sea life at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, host to such marvels as Shark Lagoon, Stingray Bay, and Penguin Playhouse.
Education & Entertainment on a Sevierville Vacation
From historic structures and vintage airplanes to animals from all around the globe, reinforce at-home learning on a trip to Sevierville, Tennessee—and have a blast while doing so!