City of Pigeon Forge Hosts Veterans Homecoming Parade on August 27, 2016!

Join the City of Pigeon Forge for a very special event, the annual Veterans Homecoming Parade on Saturday, August 27, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. along the Parkway! Patriot floats and music honor America’s heroes, so bring your lawn chair and join the fun!

The Veterans Homecoming Parade will begin in the northbound lanes of the Parkway at the Methodist Church next to Food City. The parade route continues northbound to Jake Thomas Road at traffic light #5.

For more information, call the Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events at 800-251-9100.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg Gets A Gold!

This aquarium is the sparkling gem of Gatlinburg. Beautiful inside and out, and uniquely crafted to showcase the amazing array of aquatic life that lives there, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is simply not to be skipped!

Don’t let the notion that you’ve seen plenty of aquariums cause you to miss what I guarantee you will remember as one of the highlights of your stay in the Smokies. I’d been meaning to go for years and am now considering a family pass!

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Brand New Exhibit! Touch a Jellyfish! (photo credit: Christine M/Red Pin Adventures)

The absolute high point of my visit had to be taking the 340-foot-long glidepath (think moving sidewalk) through a glass tunnel with sharks and other sea creatures swimming by overhead and beside me. I was close enough to see the impressive teeth, and experience the smooth gliding movements of these magnificent creatures, in a safe environment. Can’t say I didn’t get chills, though! In addition to huge sharks, there was a green sea turtle, large stingrays billowing by, sawfish scooting past and many other interesting creatures!

“Touch a Ray Bay,” an indoor lagoon environment where visitors can get up close and personal, even petting the stingrays if they want to, was another very interesting feature of this aquarium. It injected another dimension of adventure to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies experience. And be sure get hands-on at their brand-new exhibit, “Touch a Jellyfish!” Both are such fun and educational experiences.

There were clownfish and other gorgeous, brightly painted fish like the blue tang, exotic-looking jellyfish and darling penguins. Everywhere we turned we were met with something interesting and/or very beautiful.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies usually has a traveling special exhibit and this summer’s is “Pearl Harbor.” This special interactive museum gallery is both educational and fun. A Dive Show, featuring an employee in diving gear feeding the sea creatures, rounded out a very exciting and interesting visit. Another gold medal for a Gatlinburg venue! For more info, visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Laurie Crater Battles Writer Blogger Laurie Crater Battles is a professional journalist, writer, mom, wife, hiker, biker, coffee and animal lover who makes her home in Farragut, TN.

Mountains of Scenic Views on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway!

This all-around fabulous attraction gets a lot of press in the winter time, with skiing at the forefront of its spate of fun activities. However, this reviewer went in the heart of summer and was truly wowed at the family memories to be made at the top of the mountain! Hop on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway in downtown Gatlinburg. You’ll be transported high above the treetops, into a world of scenic views that’ll have your cameras in play right away!

Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway

Don’t miss Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg September 23 – October 30, 2016!

After a nine-minute ride (2.1 miles) on the Ober Gatlinburg Aeriel Tramway, you’ll step out onto a mountain of fun at the main center of attractions. There is a huge indoor ice-skating rink, for heaven’s sake! The amusement complex also offers an arcade, mini-golf, seasonal water raft rides, a fun and fast Alpine Slide, and the new and very popular Ski Mountain Coaster!

Ober Gatlinburg was planned with the entire family in mind, and also offers hours of fun for the smallest people in your group! There is an indoor carousel, an outdoor playground known as “Kiddie Land” and a very special space known as the “Wildlife Encounter,” where you’ll find birds of prey, bobcats, river otters, bears and other animals.

My favorite part of the Ober Gatlinburg experience was the Scenic Chairlift. This attraction will take you even higher to a point that provides a breathtaking view of Gatlinburg and the surrounding Smokies. You’ll be sorely tempted to buy the ride photo! What a beautiful memory! This was a true “Gatlinburg” experience. You know you’re in a very special place as you breathe the clean mountain air and enjoy the peaceful, expansive view. I’ll be bringing all of my guests back and insisting on this attraction!

Back down at the center of things, your family can fill up at The Market, Sidewalk Cafe, The Fudge Shop, LeConte Deli, or head into the Seasons of Ober restaurant, where you can order a steak and other homemade entrees, and enjoy the view over a leisurely meal. There’s also the Loft Lounge that offers signature drink specials and a huge dance floor.

In short, Ober Gatlinburg is a mini-vacation in and of itself. You can play and eat all day long and you’ll never hear the kids complain of boredom. I give this venue five stars out of five!

And don’t forget to celebrate Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg from September 23 to October 30, 2016! Tickets for the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway are $12 roundtrip for adults, $9.50 for children ages 5-11, and free for ages 4 and under.

laurie-crater-battles-heysmokiesLaurie Crater Battles is a professional journalist, writer, mom, wife, hiker, biker, coffee and animal lover who makes her home in Farragut, TN.

COWBOY! The Life & Times of Billy Kincaid at Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre in Gatlinburg!

Cowboy! The Life & Times of Billy Kincaid is now showing on select dates this September, October and November 2016 at Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre in Gatlinburg. Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre is a “must-do” venue for theater and comedy lovers visiting the Smokies. Nestled in Gatlinburg in the heart of all that’s fun to do and see, this quaint venue boasts the intimate environment that’s picture perfect for the type of show these talented actors pull off. The audience is engaged as actors occasionally enter the small spectator area, bringing their at-times slapstick hilarity to life for the laughing crowd.

Cowboy The Life & Times of Billy Kincaid at Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre

The Theatre, in its 40th year, features an acting troupe with true synergy. The musical comedy performed here features very engaging and professional singing and dancing, guaranteed to reel you in for a show you won’t forget! There are currently several shows to choose from, though this reviewer settled in for a night of laughs courtesy of Billy Kincaid of Cowboy! The Life & Times of Billy Kincaid.

Billy traveled far and wide (though curiously never left the Theatre), encountered several famous people from the annals of American history, and made the audience love him. He was sincere, he was a great singer, he was clumsy! Just when you thought his circumstances would undo him, Billy rose from the ashes. This particular show, due to some grown-up themes, might be best for theater buffs over 18.

The Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre box office is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on show days for your convenience. Shows begin at 8:00 p.m. Cowboy! The Life & Times of Billy Kincaid is playing on select dates in September, October and November 2016. Visit or call 865-436-4039 for dates and reservations!

laurie-crater-battles-heysmokiesLaurie Crater Battles – journalist, blogger, hiker, biker, mom, wife, animal and coffee lover who makes her home in Knoxville.

We’re Celebrating the National Park Service’s 100th Birthday with a #HeySmokiesVacayGiveaway on August 25th!

Let’s celebrate 100 years of one of America’s best ideas: the National Park Service! HeySmokies is celebrating in a BIG way! You could win a #HeySmokiesVacayGiveaway on the big day – August 25, 2016! How do you enter to win this fabulous vacation getaway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Just visit us on Facebook and Like and Comment to win! 

HeySmokies Vacay Giveaway August 25th

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, is your park! Known as “the people’s park,” it’s an extra special place to explore, learn, be inspired, and to simply have fun! Of the 407 national parks, we think the Smoky Mountains is the greatest and that’s why we want to celebrate with you, our loyal fans!

The #HeySmokiesVacayGiveaway includes:

Two-Night Stay at SpringHill Suites by Marriott Pigeon Forge (King or Double Queen Suite)!
2 1/2-hour Hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with A Walk in the Woods for 4 Guests!
Tickets for 4 to The Comedy Barn Theater!
Tickets for 4 to the Country Tonite Theater!
$40 Gift Certificate to Hard Rock Cafe Pigeon Forge!
Tickets for 4 to Impossibilities Magic Mindreading & Mayhem! in Gatlinburg!
Tickets for 4 to NASCAR SpeedPark in Sevierville!
Tickets for 4 to Ober Gatlinburg!
Tickets for 4 to Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo in Sevierville!
15-minute Adventure Flight with Sky High Air Tours in Sevierville!
Tickets for 4 to Sweet Fanny Adams Theater in Gatlinburg!
Whitewater Rafting for 4 on the beautiful Pigeon River with Smoky Mountain Outdoors!
Tickets for 4 to Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge!
Tickets for 4 to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge!

A vacation package valued at over $1,500! 

Enter the #HeySmokiesVacayGiveaway contest by leaving a post on our Facebook page about what you like best about the Great Smoky Mountains and “Like” the post so we can collect your entry. Easy, right? A randomly drawn winner will be selected to win. Deadline to enter is 11:59 pm ET August 24, 2016. Winner will be selected on August 25, 2016 and announced on our Facebook page!

Check out our HeySmokies video for the #HeySmokiesVacayGiveaway!