When it comes to Tennessee attractions, theme parks are probably not the first things on your list of places to visit. You might think about catching a country music show, watching a Tennessee Titans game or visiting Graceland in Memphis, but visiting theme parks in Tennessee is probably not the first thought that pops into your head.
The fact is that there are several parks, big and small, dotted all across the state that entice visitors from all parts of the world. With its mild climate and four distinct seasons, Tennessee hosts a constant stream of year-round entertainment that brings visitors back year after year.
As far as theme parks go, Tennessee is perhaps best known as being home to Dollywood, located in Pigeon Forge near Gatlinburg. Dollywood entertains thousands of guests everyday and is the second top tourist attraction in the state after the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is also one of the Top 50 most visited theme parks in the United States.
Nestled in the lush foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, this 125-acre park was opened in 1986 by country music legend, Dolly Parton. Dollywood offers a rags-to-riches tale and showcases the rich heritage of the Smoky Mountain area where Parton was born and raised before heading to Nashville and superstardom.
The park includes over 40 rides and family-oriented attractions, including the award-winning wooden roller coaster, “Thunderhead". If rides aren't your thing, Dollywood hosts several annual art and music festivals and the park's live shows are never ending. The live entertainment celebrates the very best in country, bluegrass, gospel and classic rock ‘n’ roll music presented by some of America's most talented performers.
Guests can also revisit the past and enjoy the famous craftsman displays and shops in Craftsman's Valley, with live demonstrations from many talented artists who make everything from candles and pottery to musical instruments. The park also features the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, which houses the country's largest collection of non-releasable bald eagles.
Adjacent to Dollywood theme park, Dollywood's Splash Country offers 30-acres of summer vacation activities ranging from a relaxing tube float on the Lazy River to the thrilling Big Bear Plunge white-water rafting ride. With 23 water rides to choose from, you're sure to have a great time beating the summer heat at this Tennessee attraction.
The Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area also features several other small amusement parks scattered throughout where you can find go-karts, miniature golf, bumper boats, laser tag, water games and loads of family fun! At Wonder Works in Pigeon Forge, you might arrive thinking you know everything, and leave thinking a little more about everything. Touted as an amusement park for your mind, Wonder Works leaves a lot to the imagination for adults and children.
There are great Tennessee attractions for those of you planning a trip to the Chattanooga area. Lake Winnepesaukah, or Lake Winnie, is a 9-acre lake that features a small family amusement park that features over 35 carnival rides, an arcade, midway games and miniature golf. And although it's not a theme park, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the famous Tennessee Aquarium, the second largest freshwater aquarium in the world. The 12-story structure features birds, snakes, river otters and turtles in their natural habitats, and fish that are indigenous to the Tennessee River.
If you're planning a visit to Nashville, be sure to check out the water parks, Wave Country and Nashville Shores. Wave Country is the oldest and the smallest of the two parks and is conveniently located a mile from the famous Grand Ole Opry and Opryland Hotel. A few miles away from there is Nashville Shores, a 385-acre recreational park located on Percy Priest Lake that includes a water park and marina as well as a miniature golf course.
As you can plainly see, the theme parks in Tennessee have something to offer kids of all ages. Do yourself a favor and start making plans to visit one of these great Tennessee attractions today!
Kelley Falgout is the publisher of http://www.FamilyThemeParkVacations.com - a continuously growing database of all theme parks, amusement parks and water parks located across the United States. Be sure to stop by and enter our Photo Contest as well as find out more about theme parks in Tennessee.