Planes Trains Automobiles
The view of the Smokies is spectacular no matter how you see it. The pastoral farmland set against the backdrop of the grandeur of the mountains is stunning from the air, inspiring as it whizzes by the windows of a train, and breathtaking as you drive the curvy roads. See it from all perspectives and don't forget to take in all the attractions that showcase the planes, trains and automobiles to today and yesterday.
Planes (and more!)
While in East Tennessee take to the skies at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation (135 Air Museum Way, Sevierville, TN 37862 Ph: 866-286-8738/1-866- AV-MUSEUM www.tnairmuseum.com) which features flyable war bird aircraft. This mega-museum features an ever-changing cast of aircraft from Russian MiGs and Thunderbolts to the PBY Catalina. Better still, the museum is located at Sevierville's airport so plane owners can make impromptu flights around Sevierville.
If you love helicopters or always wanted to learn about them, inside Halsons Helicopter Headquarters Museum (2491 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-429-2929/1-877-359-6929 www.helihq.com) you'll find everything from a timeline detailing the development of the helicopter to full size displays. Witness historic sights of vertical flight, form Leonardo Da Vinci's famous "Air Screw" to life-size replica of Airwolf form the 80s TV Show. Strap yourself in and fly a combat mission, shoot down enemy planes and experience the exhilaration of flight in full-motion simulators, do a barrel roll or a loop without ever leaving the ground. The interactive area brings out the kid in all of us, as helicopter flight simulator games let you experience everything from flying a Comanche to jumping out of a Chinook. Afterwards, you might just decide to take a ride in the real thing. Try Scenic Helicopter Tours (2491 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-453-6342/1-877-428-6929 www.flyscenic.com) to provide your family with the adventure of a lifetime.
Break the bonds of gravity. Flyaway Indoor Skydiving (3106 Parkway Drive, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-453-7777/1-877-293-0639 www.flyawayindoorskydiving.com) gives you the chance to test your skills of human flight during a single flight session or as a participant in a personalized coaching program. After a short orientation class, you too can achieve the dream of flight at the nation's first indoor skydiving simulator.
The 5th annual Pellissippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival (10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville, TN 37933 Ph: (865) 694-6528 www.pstcc.edu/balloon) will be back on September 26 - 27, 2008. We look forward to seeing you for another exciting festival filled with music, food and of course, balloons. The festival, held on Pellissippi campus, is the college's largest fundraiser generates funds for the Pellissippi State Foundation to support the educational, cultural and service goals of Pellissippi State. Festival activities also will include tethered balloon rides, during which guests are lifted 60 feet above the ground in a tied-down balloon; a balloon glow around the campus pond choreographed to music; balloon launches, weather permitting; arts and crafts and food vendors.
Recapture the romance of the railroad with a Tennessee train ride through the scenic countryside of eastern Tennessee. Three Rivers Rambler (Neyland Drive, Knoxville, TN 37902 Ph: 865-524-9411 www.threeriversrambler.com) invites passengers of all ages to experience the grandeur of train travel. Railroad buffs will find a trip aboard the Three Rivers Rambler especially appealing because of Lindy, a restored steam locomotive built in 1925. Lindy (also known as 203) pulls the passenger cars of the Three Rivers Rambler all the way from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville to the Asbury Quarry near Marbledale...and back again. During the rail journey, passengers travel through farmland alongside the Tennessee River, across the Three Rivers Trestle and past historic sites. The 11-mile round trip lasts approximately one hour and 20 minutes.
Ride the Atomic Train on a 12-mile tour through the once secret K-25 Manhattan Project site and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Blair Community. Secret City Scenic Excursion Train (2010 Highway 58, East Tennessee Technology Park, Oak Ridge, TN 37830 Ph: 865-241-2140/1-800-887-3429 www.techscribes.com/sarm/srm_scs.htm) departs from the Heritage Center (formerly K-25) near Oak Ridge and winds along Poplar Creek and Highway 327. The round trip is 14 miles and lasts about one hour. The trains are pulled by 1950's vintage Alco diesel locomotives. The Secret City Excursion Train is sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum (SARM) (www.southernappalachia.railway.museum ), a non-profit organization, dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and operation of historical railroad equipment, and the preservation of the railroad history of the Southern Appalachia Region.
The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company (7747 East Lamar Alexander Pkwy., Townsend, TN 37882 Ph:865-448-3060 www.littleriverrailroad.org) preserves the heritage of the site of the sawmill, and headquarters of this operation, which logged huge portions of what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, from 1901 until 1939. The Little River became famous far beyond its remote mountain origins, due in large part to its innovations in railroad motive power, which included invention of the first 2-4-4-2 articulated Mallet, and the smallest 4-6-2 Pacific ever built for North American standard gauge.
Want to take home a train? Visit Smoky Mountain Model Trains (1933 Pittman Center Road, Sevierville, TN 37876 Ph: 865-428-8595/1-888-995-8595 http://discoverattractionsinthesmokies.com/_attract/smokymountaintrains.htm), which has everything for the model railroader, is an authorized dealer for: Lionel, LGB, MTH, Railking, K-Line, Aristocraft, Walthers, Atlas, Bachman & More. Stop in and see the live running displays from N to G guage to compare size.
The Cherohala Skyway (www.cherohala.org), named for its path through the Cherokee and Natahala National Forests: "Chero...hala", is well known in motorcycling and sports car circles for its long sweeping corners and scenic views. Winding up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 15 miles in North Carolina and descending another 21 miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee, the skyway has several rest area facilities, but no gas stations, restaurants or overnight accommodations. Remember, the temperature is about 20 degrees cooler at the higher elevations.
On your way to Tail of the Dragon (TN Highway 129, near Deals Gap at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line www.tailofthedragon.com), be sure to stop at the Green's Classic Cars (901 E. Broadway, Lenoir City, TN 37771 Ph:865-988-4828 firstname.lastname@example.org). Greene's is known for its selection of classic street rods and muscle cars.
Love the thunder of full throttle dragsters? If so, then the English Mountain Dragway (Lewis Road, Newport, TN 37821 Ph: 423-625-8375/865-428-7049 www.englishmountaindragway.com) is the place for you on Friday and Saturday nights. An IHRA sanctioned track, it offers a point system to competitors, cash to Pro Class and Foot-Brake winners each week, electronic timing, and first-rate racing accomodations.
Saturday night is race night at Newport Speedway (767 Industrial road, Newport, TN 37821 Ph: 423-623-2182 www.cockecounty.com). This 4/10 asphalt oval offers five classes of racing: rookies, street stock, limited late models, late models, and road hogs-enduro/demolition racing. The track offers plenty of seating with a great view of the track, and full concessions. The gates open at 6:00, racing starts at 7:30 every Saturday evening during the season.
Experience a collection of muscle cars totaling over $9 million at Floyd Garrett's Muscle Car Museum (320 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37876 Ph: 865-908-0882 www.musclecarmuseum.com). Everything from Big Block Chevys and Mopars to Shelby Mustangs, rare engines and specialty cars; like a 1940 Ford Coupe that was confiscated for running moonshine. A muscle car lover's favorite.
The main attraction at Carbo's Smoky Mountain Police Museum (3311 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-453-1358 www.mypigeonforge.com/Attractions_ShowRecord.asp?business_id=36&)is memorabilia concerning the life of legendary "Walking Tall" Sheriff Buford Pusser (1937-74), including his "Death Car" - a 1974 Corvette. A true American hero, the tough, no-nonsense sheriff of McNairy County inspired a slew of Walking Tall TV shows and movies, most recently a remake of the original 1973 film starring wrestling superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Carbo's Smoky Mountain Police Museum also houses an interesting display of weapons, uniforms, badges and more from the United States and around the world.
Open for its 44th season, the Smoky Mountain Car Museum (2970 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-453-3433 http://mypigeonforge.com/smoky_mountain_car_museum.asp ) features Hank Williams, Jr.'s Silver Dollar Car along with the one used by James Bond, "007", in movies like "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball". See Stringbean's Cadillac, 265 HP Duesenberg and 1937 V12 Packard Convertible as well as Elvis' Mercedes CPE. Featuring a Historic Gas Pump Globe display.
Fulfill a need for speed with one of the many race tracks.
NASCAR Speedpark (1545 Parkway, Seviervville, TN 37862 Ph: 865-908-5500 www.nascarspeedpark.com) has eight thrilling tracks from the kid friendly Baby Bristol to the Smoky Mountain Speedway where guests must be 16 years of age with a valid state-issued license and at least 64" tall to ride in the 5/8 scale NEXTEL Cup style cards. Don't have a license? Don't worry you can still experience the Smoky Mountain Speedway track in a Rookie car, which doesn't go as fast.
Race with the wind at Pigeon Forge's only sprint car track at Speed Zone Fun Park (3315 South River Road, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-908-7255 http://mypigeonforge.com/Attractions_ShowRecord.asp?business_id=649&). Enjoy one of three go cart tracks. A 1,200-foot-long go-kart track, fest wedge track, vertical and horizontal human slingshot kiddie track and mechanical bull.
Smoky Mountain Speed Park (3275 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-429-INDY www.bodyflight.net/speedpark) has an intermediate track with curves and dips, trampoline ride, gyro ride and kiddie rides. Go-carts and thrill rides galore.
Family vacation fun at The Track (2575 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-453-4777 www.pigeonforgetrack.com) features wooden or classic go-kart tracks, water blaster-equipped bumper boats, themed mini-golf - all without an admission charge!
CAN-AM racing, bumper boats, skid racers, bungee jumping, mini golf, NAS KART Racers, junior racers, kiddie rides and arcade can all be found at Fast Tracks (2879 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-428-1988 http://thegreatsmokeymountainsparkway.com/_pigefor/pffastra.htm).