Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s newest downtown attraction offers something for everyone. If you want to get away….without actually having to get away, Anakeesta is the perfect adventure for you!
Convenient Downtown Location
Anakeesta is located at traffic light #5 in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. If you are already downtown you won’t need to park again because of its central walkable location. You can park on-site at the Premier Public city lot or there are two nearby city parking garages across the street at Ripley’s or at the McMahan Garage located at Traffic Light #3.
Enjoy a Scenic Ride on the Chondola
The name Anakeesta means “Place of the Balsams” in Cherokee or “a place of high ground” so it’s appropriate that you start your adventure by traveling to the top of the mountain.
The Chondola gives you the option for a 4 person chairlift with a safety bar or an enclosed gondola cabin that seats up to 6 up 600 ft to the summit of the mountain.
There are fewer gondola cabins available (8) and passengers are given the option to wait in a special line or continue in line for a chairlift. The gondola cabins are 32″ wide and 49″ deep and perfect for families with younger kids or the elderly.
Incredible Dining Views
The views from the Cliff Top restaurant at the top of Anakeesta are hard to beat! We enjoyed a great buffet during our visit and we also tried a few menu items that included “Bucket of Chips” ( homemade potato chips, bleu cheese, applewood bacon, balsamic glaze) and their “Famous Fried Green Tomatoes” (tomato chutney & buttermilk ranch)
Anakeesta Smokehouse is another dining option for BBQ lovers, along with wraps and salads and then you can enjoy a sweet treat with ice cream at Pearl’s Pie in the Sky.
Extreme Adventure on the Dueling Zipline
You can take your Anakeesta adventure to the next level on the Dueling Zipline with friends or family ages 7 and up.
Anakeesta offers my favorite style of zipline course because the participant does not have to use their glove to handbrake. You just hold onto the handle and relax and enjoy the experience as you travel 150 feet above the ground while the brake system and staff take care of the rest.
The course does include (2) 50ft hight rappels but don’t worry, it’s a very smooth rapel similar to a climbing gear
A few ziplining tips:
- All participants need to wear close-toed shoes.
- There are lockers available to use to lock up your valuables at no additional cost.
- Phones, cameras, and GoPros are at your own risk.
- Wear clothes that comfortable. For females, I highly recommend wearing leggings or longer athletic shorts because the harnesses make your clothing ride up which is awkward if you have on shorter shorts.
- Participants must be at least 7 years old and 70lbs. to participate.
- You don’t have to make a reservation to zipline, but they are strongly encouraged.
- Don’t forget to bring cash to tip your guides. Our guides (Dillon, John, and Tailor did a fantastic job!)
Walk the Tree Canopy Trail
The elevated 16-bridge trail is another stunning feature that is absolutely gorgeous both day and night!
I highly recommend that you stay at Anakeesta long enough to experience the Tree Canopy Trail both ways. A walk through the forest on the lighted bridge at night feels magical like something out of a movie.
One of a Kind Fun on the Rail Runner Mountain Coaster
Anakeesta is home of the only single rail mountain coaster in the US that can reach speeds up to 25 mph+ on 1600 feet of track! You can make this adventure as EXTREME or extremely slow depending on your comfort level. You control the handbrake which means that your speeds are determined by you. Riders can go solo or tandem with a small child.
Single Riders must be at least 48′ tall and the max weight is 270. No one under age 7 can ride alone)
If you ride tandem you can’t exceed 270 combined pounds weight and your passenger must be between 3 to 7 years old and a minimum of 38′ tall
If you tend to enjoy your speeds more on the extreme side, make sure that you still pay attention to the signs that tell you to brake during specific parts of the track. I was definitely more cautious on my first ride than my second. If you decide to ride for the second time, your ride is half off.
Shop at Magical Firefly Village
Many parts of Anakeesta are wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly. There are plenty of cute shops to visit and explore.
You can also check out and purchase your photo taken from the Chondola ride up.
The landscaping is both stunning and inspirational and that little house makes me wonder what’s behind that yellow door.
At the top of Vista Gardens, you will find plenty of photo opps that are perfect for families or just taking in the scenery.
Memorial Forest Walk
There is a beautiful tribute to the community and those who fought the fires that burned more than 15,0000 acres of the city of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on November 28, 2016.
Kids can pan for their own special treasure and take home a souvenir. Guests can purchase a bag that contains dirt and arrowheads or colorful crystals to use on the sluice.
Children’s Treehouse Village Playground
Kids and adults will enjoy exploring the Children’s Treehouse Village Playground.
The playground has lights at night and offers kids plenty of opportunities to burn off some extra energy by climbing and crawling throughout the structure.
Relax and Unwind
What I really appreciated about Anakeesta is how laid back and relaxing it is. There are plenty of seating areas throughout the Magical Firefly Village designed to encourage a slower pace and appreciation of nature.
You can’t help but feel a sense of wonder as you gaze at your surroundings.
Enjoy the Evening
It’s hard to believe that you didn’t have to travel far from downtown Gatlinburg to feel so far away…in a good way. The campfires are such a wonderful way to share your highlights of the day with family and friends.
Admission is good for all-day access. If you purchase your ticket after 5:00 PM you can return free the following day.
Included in the price of admission is Anakeesta’s Chondola ride, elevated 16-bridge Tree Canopy Walk, Children’s Treehouse Village Playground, Vista Gardens Walk, Memorial Forest Walk with interpretive signs, shopping and dining opportunities at Firefly Village, and gorgeous scenic views of Gatlinburg.
*3 and under are free, prices do not include tax.
Enjoy Anakeesta All Year
The Season passes cost less than two trips to Anakeesta and if you are a local or frequent visitor it would make sense to invest in an annual pass so that you can experience all of the gorgeous seasons there.
You can find out more information from the Anakeesta Theme Park in the Mountains of Gatlinburg website.
Disclosure: This post was part of a hosted media trip from Visit Gatlinburg. All opinions are my own.
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