Hi all – I hope everyone is having a great start to the week!

In my recent post about the town of Gatlinburg, I promised that I’d dedicate an entire post to my favourite spot we visited while there: Anakeesta.

Promising “Magic in the Mountains”, Anakeesta is an award-winning outdoor theme park located on a 70-acre mountain, 600 feet above the city of Gatlinburg. At $34.99 USD per person, Anakeesta tickets aren’t cheap, but they’re also not that expensive, especially considering what you get. Both Tania and I felt the tickets were excellent value for the money, as several things are included in admission. Most attractions in the area will run you at least $20 or $25 a person anyways, and we felt that Anakeesta offered the most value out of any of the other attractions, by far.

To get to Anakeesta, you have to take a chairlift ride up to the top of the mountain. (Don’t worry if you’re scared of heights – you can opt to ride in an enclosed chondola instead.) Don’t ask me why (knowing full well I have a fear of heights) I insisted on the chairlift. The views were amazing, but it can be a little unsettling when you look back at the city of Gatlinburg from 600 feet in the air! I will say that, for whatever reason, coming down was definitely a lot less scary.

When we arrived at the top of the mountain, we strolled around Magical Firefly Village, a quaint area that has lots of cute shops, dining options and live music. There were fun, festive fall decorations everywhere!

Next, we headed to Vista Gardens Arboretum, which is beautifully landscaped with lots of flowers, trees, waterfalls and art installations. In the center of Vista Gardens is the AnaVista Observation Tower, the highest point in downtown Gatlinburg! I will say that there’s really no bad view at Anakeesta – wherever you are in the park, you’ll have an incredible sightline of the Smokies – but if you’re looking for the very best view, you’ll find it at the top of the observation tower. We were truly blown away by the scenic beauty of the mountains around us. There aren’t many moments that leave me speechless, but this was one of them!

After descending back down the tower, we decided to quench our thirst with a local craft beer from The Watering Can Bar. Anakeesta has lots of different bars where you can grab a brew with a view!

The next activity we wanted to do was the Treetop Skywalk. At 880 feet, this is the longest treetop skywalk in North America, and the bridges are suspended 50-60 feet in the air. They’re rope bridges, so they can get a little shaky, but if you can manage that, then this experience is totally worth it! We were completely immersed in the forest, and the fairy lights lining the path felt magical. There were interesting educational placards along the route that teach visitors about Smoky Mountains nature and wildlife.

As we were leaving the Skywalk, we got to see some other visitors ziplining through the trees! It was fun to watch, but I was admittedly too chicken to try it myself. I should note that some of the attractions at Anakeesta, such as the zipline and mountain coasters, will incur additional charges on top of your general admission ticket. However, everything we did – Vista Gardens, the AnaVista Observation Tower and the Treetop Skywalk – was included in general admission.

Before leaving, we stopped at the Smokehouse Restaurant for a bite to eat. This restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating – we sat outside and you really couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere. I will say that neither of us were impressed by the food – I didn’t even take a picture of it, which tells you something! We ordered a brisket platter with cornbread, potato salad and mac and cheese for $24, thinking it would be enough to share, but it was barely enough for one person (and neither of us eat a lot). The food itself was just okay. That’s the only less-than-positive thing either of us had to say about Anakeesta – the rest of the experience was fabulous.

It was getting late at this point, so we boarded the chairlift to head back into downtown Gatlinburg, and here’s where we had the most amazing experience yet – we actually saw a young black bear wandering through the bushes on our way down! (The image below is just a screenshot from a video, so apologies for the poor quality.) I’d been secretly hoping we’d see a black bear in the Smokies, but as we weren’t spending any time hiking the actual park, I had my doubts – so this was an unexpected treat!

All in all, we had an amazing day at Anakeesta and it was definitely a highlight of the trip for us both!

Have you ever been to an outdoor adventure park like Anakeesta? I know there’s a few similar parks here in Ontario that offer treetop trekking, ziplining and other fun activities. I really would love to try ziplining one day but my fear of heights has held me back… if I ever ‘man up’ and decide to do it anyways, I’ll let you know!

One response to “Anakeesta”

  1. […] Ranch, spending the day at Dollywood, tasting moonshine in Gatlinburg, seeing a black bear at Anakeesta, eating fried chicken and biscuits at the Loveless CafĂ©, and sharing my love of downtown Nashville […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: