Museums in & Around Gatlinburg
When it comes to fun in the Great Smoky Mountains, the possibilities are endless. This area is one of the top family vacation destinations in the country for a reason, and vacationers keep coming back, again and again.
In addition to the breathtaking natural scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains, numerous attractions, diversions, curiosities, and more around every bend.
So once you’ve reached your fill of nature and are seeking different kind of wonder, these museum attractions are sure to delight and entertain and keep your curiosity peaked.
Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum
The kooky, the quirky, the absolute absurd, who doesn’t want to shake it up a little on vacation? Shake the salt shaker, I mean. Well, if you are seeking to visit a museum that is truly one-of-a-kind (in fact it’s the only one that exists in the United States, they do have a sister store in Spain), why not visit the Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakes.
Where else can you explore and view over 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers from all over the world?
You will see salt and pepper shakers big and small, of all shapes, colors, designs, textures and materials. Pairs you had never imagined coming together as one for the purpose of decorating your table, tickling the mind. There are animals like penguins, vegetables of every kind, shakers honoring Mt. Rushmore, shakers honoring the Beatles and your non typical kinds like: skulls, witches, tombstones and more.
For a fun rainy day diversion or just because be sure to visit the Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakes in Gatlinburg.
Visitors can even purchase their own quirky shakers to commemorate their visit. In fact your $3.00 admission to the museum goes towards this purchase. Now that’s more than you can shake some salt at!
Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens
Many Christians long to walk the roads Jesus actually traveled in the Holy Land. However for many the length and cost of this journey puts it out of reach. Though it’s not quite the same as visiting the land that Jesus once lived in, Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens has sought to recreate an inspirational experience that walks visitors through the stories of the Bible.
Guests to Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens, will journey through some of the most significant stories and scenes from the Bible. With dramatic lighting, music and effects, and life-size figures of Biblical characters and scenes from Christ life visitors can relive the important scenes that occurred over 2,000 years ago.
This tour also features ancient Roman coins, a large Christ sculpture, the prayer garden and more. For many people a visit to the Christ in the Smokies Mu
Titanic Museum Attraction
The tragic sinking of the world famous luxury liner, the RMS Titanic, is a true-life story of infinite intrigue and mystery. Many people’s interest became even more piqued after the 1997 Hollywood motion picture, Titanic, hit theaters. Interest in this infamous ship and its quick demise has continued to build and today visitors to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area can live the experience at the Titanic Museum Attraction.
As co-owner Mary Kellogg describes, “[This] ship-shaped museum celebrates the lives of the 2,208 Titanic passengers and crew. [It is one of] only two permanent, interactive Titanic Museum Attractions with over 300 artifacts at each location in the country.”
Visitors don’t just learn more about this grand ocean liner and its fateful night, but they experience it as the passengers themselves experienced this colossal ship and its short journey before sinking. Guests to the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge will walk replicas of the ships hallways, parlors, cabins, and famous grand staircase. In addition they will experience this “simulated” tour surrounded by 400 artifacts from real passengers that were aboard the ship.
Beyond just the ship itself, visitors will relive that horrific night by touching a real iceberg, putting their hand in 28 degree water, and trying to stand on slanted decks, just as passengers did that tragic night as they sought to save themselves.
Upon entering the museum guests receive a boarding pass of an actual passenger or crew member from the Titanic, take on this role, remembering and reliving their experience until they discover the actual fate of their person at the end of the tour in the Titanic Memorial Room where 2,208 names line this historic wall. Other virtual experiences include the chance to sit on an actual lifeboat and hear true passenger stories.
This museum was designed by one of the original Titanic expedition explorers. As Mrs. Kellogg explains, “[One of the owners] John Joslyn was the second person to put a Titanic expedition together in 1987. His team spent 44 days at sea and they did 33 dives to the Titanic. The first Titan Television specials was co-produced by John. Over 300 Titanic descendants have visited our museums and each say the same thing – ‘thank you for sharing our family story.'”
As Mary Kellogg concludes the Pigeon Forge Titanic Museum Attraction truly is an unforgettable family experience, “it is a family entertainment-educational experience. This museum was designed and produced with PASSION.”
Hollywood Star Cars Museum
Cars have long defined an era, a feeling, a sense of their own character. Famous cars that have appeared in popular movies and television shows have had a similar impact on pop culture and been imprinted on our minds.
Who can forget the famous car, “The General Lee,” – a 1969 Dodge Charger, that the hunky actors Tom Wopat and John Schneider jumped out of the popular series The Dukes of Hazard’s? Or what about the cars of comic superheroes and villains, such as the original Batmobile?
Visitors to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg can take a trip through time and see some of the most famous cars that defined an era or moment in pop culture. Visitors will see cars that have been stars or characters in their own right from famous movies and television series over the last 50 years. These cars are displayed in recreated movie settings with sound, lights and action to recreate that original feeling that so enraptured audiences at one time.
Some of the cars featured in this museum include: the 1969 Dodge Charger “General Lee” – used in the famous television series The Dukes of Hazzard, The Flintstone-Mobile – from the Universal Studios 1994 movie The Flinstones, 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse-Driven by Paul Walker in The Fast and the Furious 2001, and many more.
Many of the cars featured in the Hollywood Star Cars museum were designed and created by George Barris. Well known as the first car customizers on the Hollywood scene, Barris has designed numerous cars that have been used in famous motion pictures and TV series. His cars have been featured in the original television series: Batmobile, Munster Koach, Beverly Hillbillies, KITT from Nightrider and many more. His own collection includes The General Lee, Starsky & Hutch, Torino Green Hornet and Monkee Mobile.
Hollywood Star Cars museum is a fun excursion for the whole family. Not only is it a blast from the past, but kids, youth and parents can appreciate and relive legendary motion pictures and television moments as they experience this museum.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium
Ripley’s is known for the strange, mysterious and unexplained. Established in Gatlinburg in 1970, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium has been wowing and mystifying visitors for over 44years.
The original Gatlinburg Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium History museum was built in 1970. However, it was destroyed in a massive fire caused by a faulty light fixture in a neighboring shop on July 14, 1992. The current museum has been completely rebuilt. As Mary Phillips Director of Sales & Marketing for Ripley’s Attractions explains, “Some of Ripley’s most prized and unique possessions were consumed by the blaze. The current museum opened in 1994, with a tribute to the city’s firefighters included among the collections. Artifacts salvaged from the blaze sport ‘I Survived The Fire’ decals. It also has nearly twice the amount of exhibit space as the original.”
In fact the current Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium 12,500 square foot, museum has over 500 exhibits and artifacts. With 16 themed galleries, spread over three floors, these oddities are sure to keep you intrigued and entertained for hours.
Visitors will experience and explore this museum and come away with many tantalizing facts, historical trivia and much more. Families can participate in many interactive exhibits and have fun while learning. They will see strange and original primitive artifacts such as shrunken heads, cannibal skulls. Unexplained visual illusions and strange animal creates such as the Spiny Porcupine Fish that can expand their body, doubling their size, just by gulping air or water.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium is fun for the whole family. As Mary Phillips describes in more detail, “During your visit, marvel at our collection of weird and unusual relics and rare treasures as you explore through some of the weirdest finds imaginable. Inside a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium you can visit an unbelievable variety of artifacts and displays in our unique interactive galleries that pay tribute to the odd and strange. Amazing Exhibits, Unusual Art, Unbelievable & Genuine Artifacts from Around the Globe! Now with 2 new galleries and many interactive exhibits throughout, all ages have something to enjoy for all generations!
To understand how Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium came to be, it’s important to know more about its founder. As Mrs. Phillips explains, “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium continues the legacy of Robert Ripley, the Incredible Mr. Ripley, the Man Behind “BELIEVE IT OR NOT!” Robert Ripley, the cartoonist, the explorer, the reporter, adventurer, illustrator, collector and seeker of the odd and unusual, is a man who lived a life that can only be summed up by the statement he himself created; ‘Believe It or Not!'”
As Mrs. Philips continues, “Ripley was one of the most famous people in the world during the first half of the 20th century. Born LeRoy Ripley in 1890 in Santa Rosa, California, “Roy” was an avid artist and a great athlete at a very young age. He pitched semi-pro baseball at age 13 and also illustrated the posters advertising the games. At age 14, he sold his first cartoon to LIFE Magazine for eight dollars. By age 15, Ripley was working at the San Francisco Bulletin and soon moved on to the San Francisco Chronicle. [He went on to work for the New York Globe and …] Ripley came upon a slow sports day and decided to draw up nine unusual sports event in small sketches. The cartoon was originally titled, ‘Champs and Chumps’, but after much deliberation, the title was changed to Believe It or Not!. The rest is history!”
As Mrs. Phillips concludes, “Once the cartoon took off and became immensely popular, Ripley became a world traveler, seeking stories of bizarre and unusual proportion to put in his internationally known feature. In an era when not many people traveled outside their own hometown, let alone out of the country, he became a compulsive traveler and journeyed whenever he could! He ventured into unconventional areas in India and the Orient and visited people and cultures that most Americans never knew existed. His favorite destination was China… It was also during these travels that he picked up many strange and unbelievable souvenirs that later became an extensive collection of amazing oddities and stories that serve to entertain the public even today.”
Visitors Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium can enjoy some of the artifacts Ripley gathered during his many travels and quests. Guests to the Gatlinburg Odditorium will step back in time and visit some of the cruel and inhuman torture devices, such as the “Iron Maiden.” This medieval torture device contained a hinged door front with a cabinet that displayed various spikes, short enough that victims wouldn’t die instantly, but instead experience a slow and agonizing death.
For the truly exceptional and insanely weird, Ripley’s Odditorium is a place not to miss.