By Guest Blogger Natasha Frye

As a mom to four kids under the age of 11 who loves to travel, I’m always looking for new vacation spots. Especially those within driving distance and with plenty of entertainment options for the whole family. We find ourselves visiting Gatlinburg, TN almost yearly because it fits this description perfectly. It’s only about a four hour drive from the Triad, and there are a wide variety of activities for all age groups to enjoy. It was here when we stumbled across Anakeesta Mountaintop Park.

Getting There

Located in the heart of Gatlinburg, Anakeesta Mountaintop Park offers a lot for a very low price. Cost is always a factor that I take into consideration when making plans. Admission to Anakeesta includes all day park access and unlimited scenic rides that take you 600 feet up to the top of the mountain, and back down again. General admission ($32.99 for adults, $19.99 for kids, and $25.99 for senior citizens). We rode the Chondola (an open-air 4 seated chair) for our first ride during the day, which was exciting, especially for my older kids. However, we chose the enclosed gondola for our other rides since I was a little nervous with my toddler on the Chondola. Anakeesta also offers Ridge Rambler trucks to the top and back, but we didn’t take advantage of those.

Once you arrive at the top, you find several fun attractions that are also included in the all-day ticket. The views from the AnaVista Observation Tower are incredible. We spent several minutes overlooking Gatlinburg and the surrounding forest.

Things to Do

The whole family enjoyed the Treetop Skywalk and the additional views it offered. It has been expanded since we visited, so I can only imagine that it is even better now.

I think the highlight of the experience for my kids was the Treehouse Village Play Area. They had so much fun playing, climbing, and exploring the bridges and treehouses in the netted play area.

Everything I’ve previously mentioned is included in the general admission price, which makes it well worth the cost in my opinion. There are other attractions for families to enjoy for an additional price such as: gem mining, a mountain coaster, and a zipline adventure. We didn’t do any of those and still had plenty to keep us busy for several hours. Anakeesta has added two more play areas and a splash pad since we were there!

Dining, Shopping and Nighttime Options

Also at the top of the mountain are several places to dine and shop. We chose to go back into Gatlinburg to eat because we love the variety of food choices in downtown Gatlinburg as well.

After a full day at Anakeesta we decided to ride back up that evening, and I am so glad we did! Everything is lit up at night: the gardens, the observation tower, and the treetop skywalk. The views during the day were spectacular, but it was a whole new, exciting experience to be there at night to look down on the lights of downtown Gatlinburg. It was a wonderful way to end our day.

Overall, our family had a fantastic time in Anakeesta. We will definitely visit again, especially since it has expanded so much since we’ve been there. Gatlinburg is one of our favorite places to visit for many reasons, and Anakeesta is on our list of favorite things to do there. I highly recommend it to families who are looking for an experience that people of all ages can enjoy.

*Some photos shared with permission from Anakeesta

Want more Day Trip ideas? Click here!

Want to see more blogs like this and get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to our free weekly newsletters here.